Mike Riley talks history, on and off the field 

June, 1, 2010

Last month I had a chance to sit down with Oregon State Beavers coach Mike Riley. We hit on many topics in an hour, including how he developed one of the Beavers' more dangerous plays, the call from a junior college coach in California that dramatically changed the Beavers' program and what it was like playing for Alabama in the early 1970s.

The full interview is presented below. After two questions, the pay wall will come down.

How did the Alabama Crimson Tide find you up here coming out of high school?
They didn't find me. I found them. My uncle was a baseball coach at Alabama. My dad grew up in Alabama. All of my relatives outside my mom and dad are in Alabama. I recruited myself. I wrote letters for two years. I got a scholarship very late.

What was it like being at Alabama in the early '70s at a time of so much change?
We didn't even know the historic time we were going through. We were just guys going to college. My freshman year was the first time an African-American played in a college football game for Alabama -- John Mitchell. I think John is still coaching for the Steelers. [He is.] He sent me a picture. Back in the day, coaches could be with the player when they signed the letter of intent. My uncle was the baseball coach, but Coach [Bear] Bryant always gave him an area to recruit for football, so he had the Florida panhandle, and we call it "L.A." -- lower Alabama. John Mitchell sends me this picture of him and his mom and dad at the kitchen table, and my uncle is with them as he's signing the letter of intent.