Oregon State athletic director Bob DeCarolis is prepared to offer football coach Mike Riley a lifetime contract to remain at the school as a preemptive move against any offer USC could make to Riley if Pete Carroll does leave for the NFL next week, according to a report in the Oregonian.
"Mike's said he wants to be the Joe Paterno of Oregon State," DeCarolis told the Oregonian. "So we'll put something together to make [his contract] a lifetime deal."
The report notes that USC has not formally asked permission to speak with Riley. Carroll has not accepted an offer to coach the Seattle Seahawks but his hiring is expected Sunday or Monday.
As soon as news of Carroll's involvement with Seattle surfaced Friday morning, Riley's name was mentioned as possible successors.
He was a finalist for the job in 2000, when USC hired Carroll.
A person close to Riley told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Friday that he "would definitely be interested'' in the USC job, should Carroll indeed leave, but that "he's also in a good position at Oregon State and likes his life in Corvallis."
The decision, the source said, "would be a tough one."
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com.