I'm well aware of all the statistics. I've seen the conference record. Watched the failed 2 minute drills. Witnessed the Civil War drought. Heard how there are always "diamonds in the rough" found in Corvallis. I understand why people are calling for Riley to be fired and, if it happened, I would deem it fair. I can't bring myself to call for it though; some things just run deeper.
College football has been marred by mistakes in the last few seasons. Player after player lands in trouble and it becomes increasingly difficult to not get jaded and cynical about the whole sport (although Beaver fans have been cynical for some time). The entire sports world has been riddled with these sorts of mistakes, from Ray Rice to Jameis Winston. All of sports media has become fixated on these issues.
Riley is a counter to that. He is lauded as a good guy nationally and locally. He has been quoted as saying he relishes the chance to help develop his players into good men. His interviews with the media have sometimes featured him doting on his grandson. By all accounts, he is a good guy in a world full of negative examples.
When I was in school, a couple of my friends and I started a little sports talk show on KBVR (the OSU radio station). It was short-lived. We had little to no audience, but it was fun for us. One of us discovered that we were able to put in requests for interviews with OSU staff and players, so we figured we could just shoot for the top and ask for Mike Riley. We expected nothing, but we were contacted and our potential interview questions were requested. During a later broadcast, Riley joined us on the air and was incredibly gracious. For every question we asked, he answered far and beyond what we could have imagined. He occasionally added nice information that we had not even asked about. The interview went for a little over a half hour and Riley could not have been a nicer guest.
It was just a half hour, but it meant a lot to our goofy little show. It made our day and is something that we still remember fondly. Riley did not need to do the show, yet kindly gave us college kids his time and did so willingly.
This is the kind of guy I want to root for. This is the kind of coach that any fan should want to cheer on. This school means a lot to me and this is the sort of representative that I want for my alma mater. More so than any pro team, OSU is a part of me and I want to cheer for the Beavers without any reservations.
I want my school to be something I can be proud of. That means the team needs to play better; the current level of the OSU football team is not good enough. Winning is important in being respected, but the people matter too. With Tinkle, Casey, and Rueck, Oregon State has several coaches that have built themselves on character. All are proven winners and are able to achieve that while maintaining integrity. Integrity matters. For me, it matters the most.