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Mike Riley on post-signing day coaching moves: 'I think it's bad for our game'

Nebraska coach Mike Riley said he’s open to a discussion on possible recourse for recruits who lose a coach in the aftermath of signing day.

Secondary coach Charlton Warren left Nebraska on Friday for a similar position at North Carolina, the latest assistant at a major program to bolt in the wake of Feb. 4, when college prospects signed binding letters of intent.

“I think it is an issue,” Riley said Friday. “I think it is unfortunate for the student-athletes. I think they feel somewhat deceived, and I think that’s bad for our game in general.”

A key figure with several Nebraska recruits and the lone holdover from the staff of former coach Bo Pelini, Warren wanted to move closer to family in the South, Riley said.

Last week, Stan Drayton left his job as Ohio State running backs coach for the Chicago Bears, drawing criticism from the high school coach of Ohio State signee Mike Weber. Jeff Ulbrich departed UCLA as defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, prompting linebacker Roquan Smith to renege on his televised announcement to sign with the Bruins.

Smith, in fact, bypassed the letter of intent altogether, opting Friday to sign a financial-aid agreement with Georgia that binds the school to him, but allows Smith to remain on the market as a recruit.

Assistant coaches at Texas, Florida, LSU, Notre Dame and Georgia have also departed in the past week.

“There, frankly, is something there that I don’t feel comfortable about,” Riley said.

Some coaches and administrators have supported the inclusion of an out clause in the letter of intent that would allow prospects to leave without penalty under specified circumstances, such as the departure of a coach.

Riley, who left Oregon State in December, said it’s a worthy conversation. The coach said he planned to meet Friday with a group of Nebraska defensive backs to assure them “everything is going to be OK.”

“After signing date,” he said, “we need to talk about that -- what can be done, what are the kids' options? Can they be allowed to make another choice?”