Mike Riley had already received some job offers when he approached Jonathan Smith about joining his Oregon State football staff.
Smith had already called Riley to ask for his opinion of some coaches and the next time they talked, Riley brought up his idea.
"I said, 'Hey, think about this,' " Riley said. "And then I said, 'But don't tell me right now, think about it. And don't worry about my feelings — make a decision based on what's good for you.'"
Twenty-four hours later, Riley had his response. Smith welcomed the two-time OSU head coach back into the fold.
"I was pleased with that because I was just about having to make a decision about another place," Riley said. "So the timing of it was great."
A full-time return to Corvallis was quite comfortable for Riley.
Not only is it his hometown and home for a big part of his life, but his daughter, son-in-law and grandkids live in Corvallis.
"I frankly missed living in Oregon and living in Corvallis," Riley said. "We loved it, we made the most of that move and enjoyed it. There were lots of parts that were really, really good and good people. But this is kind of home for me. Even though you've been around the circle in coaching, we all felt like that. Especially (wife) Dee, I think, is really excited about being back."
Riley has been hired as an assistant coach. He will have a specific position group to coach and area to recruit, although neither has been defined at this point.
He brings a wide variety of options to the table with experience in all aspects of football coaching.
In addition to being a head coach at OSU and Nebraska, Riley went to the NFL to coach the San Diego Chargers for three seasons and then to the New Orleans Saints as the defensive backs coach for the 2002 season before making his second return to Corvallis.
He also coached the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League (1987-90) and the San Antonio Riders of the World League of American Football (1991-92) and was an assistant at USC from 1993-96.
"I think the guy brings unbelievable value in recruiting," Smith said. "He's respected across the country but especially on the West Coast. All his ties to coaches, JC coaches, and his ability to evaluate players. We can run off a long list of guys who have been here, played here, that he evaluated (and) got here. And so the recruiting piece was a starting point of like he would bring great value.
"I think you look at him schematically on the football end. He's known for offense and he's been able to do great things offensively, but he really started his career as a defensive guy. Been a defensive coordinator, coached in the NFL for two years as a position coach and so he gives me some flexibility on what side he could end up doing."
Riley said he is just fine with returning to an assistant's role, noting he could have settled into it for the rest of his career after his time with the Saints.
He said that he feels good about his ability to help out and that he can also serve as a sounding board for Smith when needed.
"One thing I'll have is some perspective," Riley said. "This is a pretty big world, college football. A lot of stuff goes on, players, all the different parts of it. I've been through most of the situations you can just about name, and after you're in it for a while you encounter a lot of things that go on so I hope I can be of help in navigation of some of this as it goes forward."
Smith is taking on his first job as head coach but has been headed on this trajectory since graduating from OSU.
Riley wants to be a part of a new era of success for the Beavers.
"I think the first thing he wanted to do, which is right on spot, is get the right people here," Riley said. "And these things are triggered by the combination of good people, smart, good evaluation and recruitment and football coaching. You have to have all those things to make this thing work at any place. He already knows that and that's kind of philosophically what he's looking for."