LINCOLN, Neb. -- First-year Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said he's intent to stick with Mike Riley through the end of this season despite growing public pressure to fire the third-year football coach now -- after a 54-21 loss to Minnesota on Saturday.
"It's not like I've got a coach to hire this afternoon at 3:30," Moos said Monday. "Mike Riley deserves to finish the 2017 season. That's how I operate."
Riley is 19-17 at Nebraska as the Cornhuskers (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) prepare to play at No. 14 Penn State on Saturday. Nebraska has missed a bowl game just twice since 1961 and will play its Nov. 24 finale against Iowa to avoid a fourth straight home loss for the first time since 1968 and '69.
Moos was hired last month after the September firing of AD Shawn Eichorst. Formerly at Washington State and Oregon, Moos said at his introductory news conference that he would wait until the conclusion of this season to announce any decision on the future of this coaching staff.
But after an overtime loss to Northwestern on Nov. 4 and the blowout defeat in Minneapolis, calls for change have intensified.
"I applaud this fan base," Moos said, "because they've been patient and they haven't had the product -- at least from my observation in the short time I've been here -- that I feel that they deserve. It's why we're taking a real hard look at this and one of the reasons I am out to hear their disgruntled thoughts on the state of the program."
Moos spent last Wednesday in Omaha and Thursday in other parts of Nebraska, listening to the concerns of Husker fans who have sold out Memorial Stadium for an NCAA-record 360 consecutive games.
"It's no time to go hide in a corner," Moos said, "and I think people are appreciating that."
Moos said he's met with Riley and plans to speak with the coach again, likely this week. The AD said he thinks he's "on schedule" after watching three games to form an analysis on Riley's program.
Until Black Friday, it's business as usual, he said.
"I've got a coach. He's got a staff," Moos said. "We've got players. All that's in place. I don't think there's anything gained by breaking up that furniture, even though it's not producing like we want it to."
Nebraska was dealt another blow against the Golden Gophers as quarterback Tanner Lee suffered a head injury. He did not play in the second half of the defeat and has entered the concussion protocol, Riley said, with his availability in question against Penn State.
The embattled coach said Monday at his weekly news conference that he's "not making excuses" or directing blame for the Huskers' poor play.
"I love this team," Riley said. "I love our approach every week. We have had very few issues, except for the games. And I appreciate that, the work that they try to do to get ready. I'm positive that the fans will forever love their team."