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Thursday, January 31
Ex-Chargers coach Riley lands with Saints

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Former San Diego Chargers head coach Mike Riley will join the Saints as assistant head coach and secondary coach.

Longtime Saints assistant Rick Venturi will move into the defensive coordinator position vacated by Ron Zook.

Riley was fired by the Chargers on Dec. 31 after going 14-34 in three seasons as head coach.

"We are very pleased to be able to hire Mike because of all of the experience he brings to the table and I have known and trusted Rick Venturi for many years, he is a natural fit," Saints head coach Jim Haslett said Thursday.

Venturi, entering his seventh year with the Saints, moves up to the position left vacant when Zook became head coach at the University of Florida. He served as assistant head coach-secondary coach for the last two seasons.

He has served as a position coach, defensive coordinator, assistant head coach and head coach in his 20-year NFL tenure.

His head coaching stints were on an interim basis -- 11 games with the Colts in 1991 after Ron Meyer was fired and eight games with the Saints in 1996 after Jim Mora's resignation.

Before joining the Chargers, Riley spent two seasons as head coach at Oregon State. Before his stint at Oregon State, Riley served as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator-quarterbacks coach at the University of Southern California from 1993-96.

Riley served as the head coach of the San Antonio Riders of the World League of American Football from 1991-92. Riley led the Riders to a record of 11-9 over two seasons, including 4-6 in 1991 and 7-3 in 1992.

Riley spent the 1987-90 seasons as the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, where he earned a record of 40-32 and two Grey Cup Championships. He was named the CFL Coach of the Year following the 1988 and '90 seasons after each of his team's Grey Cup victories.

Saints safety Sammy Knight issued a statement praising both coaches.

"I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Rick Venturi and his ability to not only coach a position but to communicate with players and teach that position," Knight said. "And I have known Mike Riley since my college days at the University of Southern California, when he was an assistant coach on the offensive side of the ball. He is a great motivator and his experience on the offense will help bring fresh ideas to our defense."

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