From the Assistant's Point of View: Daric Riley Q&A
By ODU Athletics
ODU added four new assistant coaches following the season. ODUSports.com will sit down with each coach to discuss their career, joining the Monarchs and much more. Today we introduce outside linebackers coach, Daric Riley.
Q: You’ve been here a little over three months. How has it been so far?
A: I can’t believe it’s been three months. It feels like it’s been a year. It’s been good. Did some recruiting when we first got here in January. Getting to know the players and going through spring practice. It’s been good.
Q: You worked with defensive coordinator David Blackwell last year at East Carolina. How has it been to work with him.
DR: This is the second year working with him, and I worked for him back in 2007-08 at Clemson when I was his GA. I’ve known him for a long, long time. His brother and I coached together in 2001 at Pikeville (Kentucky) and that’s how I got to know David. He came down to clinic us as a staff when he was at Pittsburgh. His brother and I were good friends and that’s how we got connected. Working with him has been great because you get to learn how his mind thinks. How his past has influence to where he is now and where he’s coming from. To understand why he calls this defense or that call, and a great chance for me to grow. We’ve had a lot of good laughs, most at my expense. Once a GA always a GA.
Q: What’s it like to be the new guy on the coaching staff?
DR: You want to come in and accept it and do your part and fall in line with the head coach’s decisions. I’ve enjoyed it. At some point I’d like to be the old guy. That would be really nice. I think this is my 13thjob in 20 years. My wife is tired of moving, but she’s only moved twice.
Q: How did you get into coaching?
DR: I had an extra semester to go. I double-majored at Charleston Southern and the extra semester was the fall of 1999. I was working at a bar and my position coach, Todd Knight (current Newberry College Head Coach), said you should come with me and become a football coach. I had just finished playing in the fall of 1998, so I said alright and went to practice in the spring and I really enjoyed it. I came to fall camp, and the second week of camp Coach Knight’s father passed away. Coach Knight was the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, but now he had to go. He told me the linebackers coach was going to be the defensive coordinator and I was going to coach the secondary. I had finished playing with these guys and I’m still going to school, and coaching. At that point I was no longer under anyone’s tutelage, I had to step up and get those guys ready for a game. I got them ready and we had a pretty good game in the secondary and they told me I did a pretty good job. Throughout that year they told me I need to keep coaching, and then spring came, I graduated, and I didn’t have a place to go yet. I tried to get a couple of coaching jobs and at the end of the spring I got a job at Fairfield University (Conn.). That’s how I got into it, I had a lot of positive reinforcement from the coaches at Charleston Southern.
Q: Charleston Southern struggled as a team when you were there. What were you able to learn from that and take with you in your coaching career?
DR: The biggest thing I learned there was to enjoy the moment. We didn’t win a lot of games but I enjoyed when I was out there. I can remember to this day I was running on punt team and the return was going to my left and I got blindsided, my feet are in there, the guy is talking junk and I’m laughing. It’s like that’s what it’s all about.
Q: You were at Clemson right before they turned into what they are now. Could you see it coming?
DR: You knew it was coming. I remember Billy Napier (current Louisiana Head Coach) was telling me as I was walking into the GA office, and he said it’s coming boys. They had all these guys on scout team, Tajh Boyd was the quarterback, Andre Ellington at wide receiver, you knew that it was there. Kevin Steele got there in 2009, he brought a business-like mentality. He was a good fit. He was hard on me but he made me a better coach. When Coach (Chad) Morris came in, he was the right offensive mind for those skill guys. We had the fun and gun offense with Coach Morris and the business-minded approach from Kevin Steele and it just kind of meshed. They were the right coaches at the right time. You could see it, we all know, Clemson was like a woken giant.
Q: You’ve coached FBS, FCS, Division II, etc., what are some of the similarities and differences you’ve noticed?
DR: You can’t forget the field is the same. I worked at Pikeville College (now University of Pikeville) and there is nothing out there. I called coach Knight and said there is nothing here. He says ‘you got football players? You got a whistle? You got a space to play ball?’ And that’s the thing you can’t forget. The players are the players. They all have the same mindset. They all want to get better and you have to figure out how to make that happen.
Q: How have you changed as a coach from when you first started coaching to now?
DR: It changes every day. I think you change with the kids. I’m calling them kids now, I’m 41. That’s a big part of it. You used to be able to yell at them, and they’d do it. Now you have to find that button. And once you find that button, then they give. You show the kids you care about them as people, and it’s not just about the wins and the losses. I definitely changed because I have a family now. I bring my family around to show the players I’m not just a guy with a whistle. I’m an actual human that has a dirty car because my daughter is throwing gold fish all over the place. So they also get to see me on a different level.
Q: When you first started coaching social media wasn’t around, now it’s a big part of what you do. How do you handle that?
DR: Click, don’t type, is what compliance always told us. I just try to be me, whatever it is. A photo with the family or just me who I am. I’m not trying to put stuff out there that I don’t believe in. I try to be me and push the programs twitter account, try to get that out to as many people as possible.
Q: The new S.B. Ballard Stadium is being built. What does that mean for recruiting and how exciting is it to play in a new stadium?
DR: It helps legitimize the program. Any time you have a shovel in the ground it shows the administration is in support of the fans and the players. When Coach Blackwell and I walked into this building, we’re like, wow, these people had a plan. And you can see that with the stadium. It’s coming out in phases and you can add to it as you go. They’ve got a great plan and vision for where they want to go and we’re excited to be a part of that.
Q: What do you like so far about Norfolk?
DR: We’re close to campus, about eight minutes away. But we’re close to the zoo, we’ve been to Waterside a bunch, there’s just so much to do. We’ve walked around Ghent, there’s a park we can walk our daughter to and let her run around until we get tired. That parts been great. I’ve enjoyed the area, it’s nice because we don’t have to go to other places. We can go to the beach, and then come back home.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time, away from the office?
DR: I’m a peloton guy. I like to work out, I like to run. My wife and I got road bikes, we used to ride bikes a lot before we had our daughter. That and whatever it takes to get our daughter out. We’re teaching our daughter sign language. She can verbally communicate but to help relieve her of some of her stresses and just try to have her pick that stuff up.