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Friday, January 1, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Husky Football -- Riley's Stock Skyrockets In Corvallis

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Oregon State isn't exactly the hotbed of coaching in college football. Most coaches who leave Corvallis do so after being fired. .

However, since guiding the Beavers to a 5-6 record last season, Mike Riley is being linked with the vacancy at Washington. Still, nothing is official.

"I haven't received anything from anybody," OSU Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said. "No one has asked for permission (to speak with Riley). As far as I know, no talks are happening right now."

Things may change next week as Washington continues its search. So far, the unofficial short list includes a pair of former Husky assistants (Idaho's Chris Tormey and Toledo's Gary Pinkel), a pair of former NFL coaches (Dave Wannstedt and Dom Capers), as well as Jim Donnan of Georgia.

Add a pair of assistants, Alan Borgues at UCLA and Rich Brooks of the Atlanta Falcons. Brooks had been a head coach for the St. Louis Rams and Oregon Ducks.

Riley is believed to be the only Pac-10 head coach on Washington's list, and he seems like an odd choice considering his 8-14 record in two seasons at Oregon State. Skeptics believe he'll stay another year with the Beavers before bolting for a possible future vacancy at his alma mater Alabama after next season.

But he may have to lead the Beavers to their first winning season in two decades before leaving.

"It's a great form of flattery that people are interested in him," Barnhart said. "It lets you know you're doing the right thing.

"I've enjoyed working with Mike tremendously. He's done good things for Oregon State, and we've made some good progress. We've closed the gap significantly with the other Pac-10 schools. We've done a good job in recruiting, but we still have a ways to go. The project is not done."

To ensure Riley finishes what he started two years ago, Barnhart plans to restructure the coach's contract, which expires after the 2001 season. Riley's package is worth $185,000 and could increase to $200,000 if incentives are reached.

"If it works out that someone is interested in Mike," Barnhart said, "obviously, we've got to protect the Beavers."

Administrators at Virginia Tech had a similar idea a month ago when Beamer was the leading candidate for jobs at Auburn, Clemson and South Carolina. They reworked a deal with the Hokie coach that could pay him as much as $1 million if incentives are reached.

"As I understand it, there's a stipulation in his contract that says he cannot interview with another team," Tech spokesman David Knachel said. "So, no, I don't believe he's talked to Washington. And I don't think he will."

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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