Mike Riley has been at Nebraska for only 29 games, yet there is an air around the program that his job is on the line as the Cornhuskers get ready to open Big Ten play against Rutgers.
The 64-year-old Riley said he knew what he was getting into when he left Oregon State to come to Nebraska in December 2014 for, as he called it, "one last great adventure." This is a school that has won five national championships, went to bowl games every year from 1969 to 2003 and where two of the previous three coaches were fired after nine-win seasons.
With no conference titles since 1999, a fan base that has sold out every home game the last 55 years has become edgy after a 1-2 start. The howls about Riley, who is 16-13 at Nebraska after going 93-80 overall and 6-2 in bowl games in 12 years at Oregon State, and athletic director Shawn Eichorst, the man who hired him, have grown loud after the 21-17 loss at home to Northern Illinois on Saturday.
Asked Monday whether he thinks he's now coaching for his job, Riley said: "Oh, I always do. But I don't try to dwell on anything like that because I've got so many other people I need to help."
"Yeah, they are," he said.
Eichorst, who made no announcement last month when a one-year contract extension for Riley was finalized, made a surprise appearance in the postgame interview area Saturday to give the coach a vote of confidence.
"The resources and help provided by Shawn and the administration here are awesome and we understand the expectations and we embrace that," Riley said. "We are here to perform and compete and recruit at the highest level. And we did not perform like that on Saturday."
More losses for Vols
Tennessee will have to regroup from its devastating 26-20 loss to Florida without a few of its key performers.
Coach Butch Jones said linebacker Cortez McDowell and wide receiver Jauan Jennings will miss the rest of the season and that safety Todd Kelly Jr. is out indefinitely.
Jennings had been ruled out indefinitely before the season. McDowell, who hurt his wrist against Florida, started Tennessee's first three games and had 24 tackles. His injury hampers a linebacker corps already missing Darrin Kirkland Jr., who suffered a season-ending knee injury last month. Tennessee (2-1) hosts Massachusetts (0-4) on Saturday.
In other injury news:
•Linebacker Peyton Pelluer of No. 18 Washington State broke one of his feet in Saturday's victory over Oregon State and is done for the season.
•Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton is back with the Beavers after taking a scary hit in the loss to Washington State and being removed from the field on a stretcher.
•Mississippi receiver A.J. Brown has a sprained MCL in his left knee, but could be ready for the team's game against No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 30.
•Auburn dismissed former starting quarterback Sean White following an arrest early Sunday on a charge of public intoxication, coach Gus Malzahn said. White had been suspended for the Tigers' first two games for undisclosed reasons.