Recruiting Riley calls Hawaii Bowl win 'absolutely essential' for Beavers
OSU looked at five possible games before dominoes put them against Boise State Dec. 24 at Honolulu
The Oregon State Beavers would be happy playing in any bowl game, after ending the regular season on a five-game slide.
Coach Mike Riley is especially pleased that they signed on for duty at the Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24, 5 p.m. PT, against Boise State.
"It's awesome," Riley says. "It's a great place to be, and we've had a history there with recruiting. Boise State is a very formidable opponent. Considering everything, it's a great game for us."
OSU athletic director Bob De Carolis feels the same way.
"We're pretty fortunate," he says. "It's a great landing spot, a nice location for the game. Who doesn't want to be in Hawaii, especially with the cold weather we've been having? It's a great trip for the kids."
Riley spoke with ESPN's chief brokering agent through last week, learning there were five significant bowl possibilities that involved Oregon State -- the Advocare V100 at Shreveport, La.; the Heart of Dallas, the BBVA Compass in Birmingham, Ala.; the Little Caesars Pizza in Detroit and the Hawaii.
"As the week progressed, it became obvious there was a sweepstakes to get Notre Dame," De Carolis says. "Hawaii was in the picture for Notre Dame. Everybody else was holding tight to see what would happen. When Notre Dame went to the Pinstripe Bowl, the dominoes started to fall."
Hawaii Bowl officials like the matchup between two West Coast teams, OSU and BSU, who met five times between 2003-10, Boise State leading the series 3-2, with the home team winning each game.
"The proximity to Hawaii made the most sense," De Carolis says. "And it projects to be a pretty competitive game."
Riley returned to Corvallis Wednesday after more than a week on the road recruiting. The veteran coach made stops in Washington, Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas and California.
On Monday, driving from San Francisco to Sacramento, his rental car got a flat tire, delaying him for nearly 90 minutes.
"Cars were whizzing by on the Interstate," Riley says. "I was lucky I didn't get hit. A (state) cop was nice enough to stop and help."
The other bowl game Riley had serious interest in was the Heart of Dallas.
"That was intriguing because of recruiting possibilities," he says, "but Hawaii is a good trade-off."
Oregon State has commitments from two defensive linemen in Hawaii -- 6-2, 240-pound Fitou Fisiiahi of Honolulu and 6-4, 300-pound Kalani Vakameilalo of Kapolei.
And the Beavers are recruiting two D-ends, 6-3, 240-pound Lamone Williams of Kahuku and 6-3, 220-pound Hercules Mata'afa of Lahaina.
The Beavers have 21 verbal commitments and could take as many as 27 in their 2014 signing class. That would mean a couple of grayshirts.
OSU coaches have about 15 more players they are actively recruiting, including four O-linemen and five D-linemen. "Recruiting linemen is like gold on both sides of the ball," Riley says.
There is no word yet on the chance that tight end Connor Hamlett, who injured a knee in the first quarter of the Oregon game, will be available for the Hawaii Bowl.
Riley says winning the Hawaii Bowl is "absolutely essential. It would give us a winning season. We have to get the guys ready to get a win."
The Beavers will get in nine practices before the bowl game -- five in Corvallis, beginning Saturday, and four in Honolulu.
Boise State quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith, a former Oregon State star QB, keeps in touch with Riley, who started him as a walk-on freshman in 1998.
Smith visits Corvallis during every offseason to spend time with Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, talking football.
"I still give Coach Riley a ton of credit for starting me on this path of coaching," said Smith, who, after two seasons as an OSU graduate assistant, spent six years as quarterbacks coach at Idaho and two years as offensive coordinator at Montana before coming to Boise.
De Carolis isn't sure how well Beaver Nation will travel, with the high price of tickets and the Christmas holidays.
"It's a challenge to get there, if you're trying to get a commercial flight," he says. "We have a good contingent of Beavers on the island, and I'm sure plenty of family members will make the trip. We'll see."