Growing Up With The Game- Kevin Riley
Oct. 5, 2009
BERKELEY - This article first appeared in the Cal Football Kickoff Game Day Magazine, Oct. 3, 2009
Kevin Riley can't remember how old he was when he first began pacing the sidelines at Beaverton High School as a ball boy and water boy for his dad's prep squad in the Portland suburb. The youngest of Faustin and Rhonda Riley's four children grew up with the game.
When Kevin's father would retreat into a makeshift office in the family's kitchen to watch film, he often had company.
'I didn't know what I was watching all the time, but I just hung out with him,' said Kevin.
'I wasn't always cognizant of it, but he was always around,' confirmed Faustin.Kevin's brothers, Mike and Mark, were playing prep ball for Faustin at the time. Although his focus might have been on the older duo, he was also helping his youngest son develop a foundation that would serve him well down the road, a road that wasn't always smooth.
'Sometimes it was frustrating for him, because we beat the snot out of him,' joked Faustin. 'Getting banged around is nothing new for Kevin.'
Although he claims to have not been quite as hard on Kevin because he was the youngest, Faustin was hard enough that when Kevin threw an interception in the first game of his junior season on what his dad deemed a risky pass, he was pulled for the rest of the game.
'I kind of messed with him the first half of year,' admitted Faustin. 'But, when I finally let him go he did really well.'
Kevin rapidly developed after the benching and a year later was named Oregon's 2005 Gatorade Player of the Year. Still, there were not a lot of big-time schools interested in him but fortunately Cal was.
Both father and son knew Cal was the right place for Kevin to continue his football career, but Kevin was so excited after visiting Cal that Faustin had to slow him down just a bit.
'My dad was real big in my recruiting process,' remembered Kevin. 'I was almost a little too jumpy to decide on Cal because I was so excited. My dad told me to take it slow, get all of my choices and make the best decision.'
'I did make the best decision,' continued Kevin. 'I couldn't be happier about the place I'm at.'
Much of Kevin's decision was based on the connection and familiarity he had with Cal head coach Jeff Tedford, whom he had met and admired since the days when Kevin attended football camps at the University of Oregon, where Tedford was the offensive coordinator from 1998-2001.
Much of why Tedford has had success with his signal-callers, six of whom have gone on to be NFL first-round picks, is the challenges he give them. He has challenged Riley often since he arrived for training camp as an immature bright-eyed kid in August of 2006 and continues to challenge him.
Tedford's strategy certainly seems to be working with Riley blossoming this season. After four games, he is among the Pac-10 and national leaders in passer efficiency rating and total offense and the signal-caller for an undefeated Bears team.
'That's why I came here,' said Riley. 'I knew Cal would be a good program and was going to keep getting better, and I wanted to be a part of that.'
So does Faustin, so much so that nearly every Saturday morning in the fall, just a few hours removed from coaching his high school team on Friday nights, you can find him at Portland International Airport hopping on a plane with Rhonda to see Kevin play for the Golden Bears. By early Sunday afternoon, he's back on the job with his coaching staff preparing for his team's next game.
When asked how much longer the 59-year-old Faustin can keep up the frantic page, father and son had slightly different answers.
'I don't think much longer,' quipped Kevin. 'I think he enjoys watching the Cal Bears more than coaching right now.'
Faustin wasn't quite so sure.
'I've thought about stopping a few times,' he admitted in reference to his coaching job. 'But I can't imagine what it would be like without it.'
He also can't imagine what it would be like not coming to see Kevin play at Cal.
'I really enjoy the whole experience at Cal,' he offered. 'The time we have spent down there, the people we've met and the things we've done have been great. I just felt like something really special was going to happen at Cal and it has. You couldn't ask for anything better.'
Those are pretty powerful words from a father that has asked, and received, a lot.