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Former Husker coach Mike Riley named USFL coach of year

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Mike Riley, 2015-17

Record: 19-19 (.500)

Riley had the shortest stint as Husker head coach since Pete Elliott, who coached the team one season in 1956. A surprise hire by then-NU A.D. Shawn Eichorst, Riley clicked with fans off the field and won praise and appreciation for his handling of the Sam Foltz tragedy. But on the field, his teams struggled with week-to-week consistency and execution, losing games to underdogs like Purdue and Northern Illinois. 

Former Husker coach Mike Riley is the USFL Coach of the Year for the 2022 season.

The league announced its individual awards on Wednesday after completing its first season on Sunday.

Riley guided the New Jersey Generals to a 9-1 record and the North Division title. New Jersey lost 28-24 to the Birmingham Stallions on April 16 in the first game in the football league’s history, then went the rest of the regular season without another defeat.

Riley was at Alabama from 1971 through 1974, when the Crimson Tide lost one regular-season game and captured four SEC championships under coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Before joining the Generals this year, Riley’s career included serving as the head coach of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers from 1999 through 2001. Riley also has been the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, the college programs at Oregon State and Nebraska, the World League of American Football’s San Antonio Riders and the Alliance of American Football’s San Antonio Commanders.

The Generals dominated the USFL’s individual awards for the 2022 campaign. In addition to Riley’s honor, New Jersey wide receiver KaVontae Turpin won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award and running back Darius Victor won the Offensive Player of the Year Award.

Houston Gamblers defensive end Chris Odom was named the Defensive Player of the Year.

After playing its entire regular season in Birmingham, the USFL will conclude its first year with three postseason games in Canton, Ohio.

In the semifinals of the USFL playoffs on Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the Generals and Philadelphia Stars will square off at 2 p.m. CDT on FOX and the New Orleans Breakers and Stallions will meet at 7 p.m. on NBC.

Saturday’s winners will play in the USFL championship game at 6:30 p.m. July 3 in Canton. FOX will televise the title game.

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