GameDay: Oregon State coach Mike Riley recalls his first Civil War

Mike Riley’s first memory of the Civil War came when he was in seventh grade: Oregon was still playing its home games at Hayward Field. His dad was the defensive backs coach for Oregon State and Riley remembers defensive back Thurman Bell making a play that helped secure the game for the Beavers.

Now, almost 40 years later, Riley is still pitted in the rivalry. Although overmatched when compared to the Ducks on paper, Riley will coach an Oregon State team on Saturday fully aware of the damage it can do when it plays a complete game. Only two weeks ago, the Beavers knocked off then No. 6 Arizona State at Reser Stadium and last year, came just one point shy from beating Oregon for the first time since 2007.

Riley took the time Tuesday during the Pac-12 Coaches Teleconference to talk about his group’s upset over the Sun Devils this year, the preparation going into this week’s game versus Oregon and his first memory of the Civil War – a rivalry going on its 118th installment Saturday.

You guys already had a huge upset against Arizona State, what does it take to pull of an upset like that? 

You got to have confidence. And then its no different than any other opportunity to win. It’s about preparation and building even more confidence to perform and play 60 minutes. Usually if you can beat a team like that you’ll have to be able to finish it, because they’ll have enough in them to respond.

Can you draw anything from the game with Oregon from a year ago?

Can you, I would hope so. I would think that our guys could remember the competitive nature that we had and the way we played. Its another daunting task but another exciting opportunity and I think that’s what our kids feel.

Would you go back and watch the film from last year’s game?

We do for sure because in general the coaching staffs are the same. If there’s been a coaching staff thats been there for awhile, history can be a factor. In this case with Oregon we certainly look at it to help us out in the future.

Do you remember your first memory of the Civil War?

I remember going to Hayward Field, I was in the seventh grade. I think the year was 66, I don’t know if it was the first one or not. I remember Thurman Bell making a great play to win the game and I remember my dad coaching the DBs. All that time it was really fun to be a part of, just kind of on the edge with your dad coaching and it was exciting and I feel very thankful to this day to get to be involved in this game.

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Justin Wise

Justin Wise

Justin Wise is the senior sports editor at the Emerald. He also works as the Oregon campus correspondent for SI Campus Rush. He can be reached at [email protected]