Final take: Putting a close on Satellite Camp Week
Click Here to view this video.
LOS ANGELES - It was hard to know what to expect for Nebraska's first ever week of Satellite Football Camps.
The HuskerOnline.com team had the opportunity to attend all the events this week in Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Los Angeles - four camps in five days. It was supposed to be five camps, but the Wednesday event in Houston was called off due to weather.
As Friday's final camp at Santa Monica College came to an end head coach Mike Riley turned to me and said "isn't this fun?"
I'm guessing most 62-year olds that traveled nearly 6,000 miles over the course of a week extending from the Eastern to the Pacific Time Zones aren't going to have this type of reaction.
That's what makes Riley different. He was the cog that made NU's Satellite Camp tour work. Riley's demeanor and energy level was the same all week. His positive attitude sets the tone for the entire staff.
What was even more impressive was the amount of people that came out to reconnect and/or meet Riley for the first time.
You had everybody from former Oregon State and CFL stars who played for Riley, to former Nebraska players who lived in the cities of the camp that wanted meet the new Husker head man.
One of the notable former NU players in attendance at the Dallas camp was 1979-80 starting quarterback Jeff Quinn.
The Ord native now lives in Dallas and wanted to see Riley and his staff in action first hand.
"I'm just impressed with the staff he's put together," Quinn said. "They're just a bunch of great guys. The recruiting they're doing already is fabulous and I think it's only going to get better. I think this Satellite program is only going to get better. A lot of alumni guys I keep in touch with are saying the same thing. We are all excited about this. It's going to be fun."
The other common theme I heard from former players in attendance were the similarities of Riley's demeanor to former head coach Tom Osborne.
"That's the first thing I saw," Quinn said when comparing Riley's demeanor to Osborne. "Just the same type of man - all of us love Coach Osborne. This is a great hire and (Riley) is so much like Coach Osborne. I think that's why it's going to be good. I think the evenness, the attention to details with everything Coach Riley does I think is going to be a great benefit to this team."
According to former Husker and NFL defensive back Tyrone Legette (1988-91) those might have been the missing traits that held Nebraska back the last few years.
"Coach Riley could be the missing piece for Nebraska," the 1991 All-Big 8 safety said in Atlanta. "Him bringing his professionalism to the game where kids can respect that a little bit more.
"That might be what's missing and that's the leadership."
Even former Oregon State standouts quarterback Matt Moore (2005-06) and linebacker Keith Ellison (2005-06) stopped by on Friday night to see Riley.
The current Miami Dolphin back-up QB Moore was wearing a Nebraska hat given to him by former Husker quarterback and Big 12 player of the year Zac Taylor (2005-06). Taylor is currently Moore's position coach with the Dolphins.
"When Coach Riley got hired by Nebraska the next day Zac put this hat in my locker," Moore said.
Moore is looking at attending the Wisconsin vs. Nebraska game on Oct. 11 during the Dolphins bye week. Hopefully that means we'll see Taylor back at a Husker game as well. The Oklahoma native hasn't been back to a game since he played his final snap in the Cotton Bowl in 2006.
As Riley introduced me to Ellison, he referred to him as one of his all-time "favorite people" from their time together in Corvallis. After a short pro career, Ellison is now a successful high school coach and teacher in Southern California.
James West, a linebacker that played for Riley in Winnipeg was another former player who stopped by in Atlanta.
Riley called West a key cog on their 1984 defense that helped them win the Grey Cup over Hamilton 47-17. The two hadn't seen each other in several years.
"Mike is truly more of a great friend more so then anything else," West said. "He's relatable and he wants to make you feel important in terms of the whole process. As a player you try to be the best student athlete as it pertains to college football, but as a professional he made us feel as important as anybody else.
"He's just a great friend. Overall I value his friendship more than anything else."
It's Riley's unique ability to be able to collect people and their stories over the years that makes him successful. He makes every person feel important when he talks to them.
You really saw that during this Satellite Camp tour. Riley was in his element and the way he now represents the Nebraska brand is exactly why Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst made this move.
There's no question these Satellite Camps will only continue to evolve and get better the next couple of years.