Yesterday reports broke that Ben Howland would not be the next head coach of the Oregon State Beavers. I am not going to lie, as my twitter blow up with Raju will attest, I was disappointed. Now there are known issues with Howland, and he has not been able to get a job in a while for a reason other than his ability to coach. He has won everywhere. won conference titles at all the schools he has coached at and has been to three final fours.
THAT is what i wanted. That is the resume I want to see come to OSU and resurrect the program. I was in love with his record enough to ignore other factors that may not make him a great fit for Oregon State. Ultimately, he could be a terrible interviewee. He could have a personality that doesn’t fit the department and as people are beginning to realize, culture is as important as skill in producing winners.
Or it could just be about the money.
So I was sad when Howland said no (or was told he should say no). I then began tearing my clothes with weeping and gnashing of teeth in a truly biblical pout session about who was the front runner as a coach. Damon Stoudamire. I still remember booing the crap out of that guy every time he touched the ball because he went to Arizona, instead of playing his days at Gill. Beyond that, I remember mocking his poor decision making as a member of the worst era in Blazer history, even though I am convinced he is, at heart, a good guy.
All of that is tertiary though, as I said with Ben Howland, if he was a winner. If he had taken a team to the NCAA tournament a few times and had taken a team that was in dire straights and turned them into a winner. The Fred Slacks of Coaches so to speak. The reason I want this is because Oregon State has failed with most coaches that have not had this in their past.
– Ralph Miller followed up a successful tenure in Iowa with probably some of the best basketball to be seen in Corvallis.
– Pat Casey was the leader of a very successful George Fox baseball team before coming to Oregon State
– Mike Riley was a head coach in Canada and the WLAF before coming to Oregon State.
– Dennis Erickson had been a head coach since birth it seems
– Scott Rueck had been the head coach of National Champions George Fox in his time there
– Steve Simmons was the head coach of Northern Illinois for six year prior to coming to Oregon State
– Kelly Sullivan resurrected the Auburn and Willamette University programs prior to coming to Oregon State
– Jim Zalesky was the head coach at storied Iowa before coming to Oregon State
– Linus Rhode was the head coach of a prominent local soccer academy prior to coming to work at Oregon State.
– Tanya Chaplin is one of the few coaches at Oregon State that had no prior head coaching experience but has been able to build and maintain a nationally prominent program.
That is an impressive list across many sports. Now lets look at basketball specifically. The last four basketball hires have been Jay John, LaVonda Wagner, Craig Robinson and Scott Rueck. Only one of those had successful previous head coaching experience and he is the one that is winning. Since Ralph Miller left, Oregon State has not had a single men’s basektball coach leave because they took a better job. They have all been fired and in most cases have all moved to much lower divisions to continue being a coach.
Whoever OSU hires, be it Damon Stoudamire, David Grace or any other coach that has not won as a head coach, they are going to fall into the wait and see category. Craig Robinson had been a head coach of two years at Brown. That is not necessarily a Fred’s Slacks type resume but that was what was available to the Beavers, and that is two more years as a head coach (with a solid winning percentage) than both Grace and Stoudamire have. I have nothing against Grace, and both of those guys could end up being dominant coaches who can recruit and game plan and have the skills to hang conference and NCAA banners in the Gill rafters.
I just don’t think it is realistic for Oregon State fans to be super excited about those hires or to think that they are going to be big time winners in the Mid Valley. Both Craig Robinson and Eddie Payne were able to recruit really well to Oregon State, both of them bringing in legit NBA talent, even if Cunningham and Benjamin haven’t panned out in the pros. (well Cunningham still could) Recruiting isn’t the big issue, it is what you do with those recruits against teams that have equal talent. Ben Howland makes you excited because he wins and he won at UCLA when they didn’t have top talent.
I am not going to lie and say I am not disappointed as an outsider. And as an outsider, I am not going to be excited by a hire that is not a proven winner. To be honest, there is probably a reason why schools like Marquette turned down a proven winner. So while I am sad he is not going to be our coach for the reasons stated above, I cannot help but think we also may have dodged a bullet.
I just cannot be heart broken anymore. I am going to have to be wooed by the next coach and that can only be done with wins and integrity. Next year is going to be tough in the big W department, but if OSU has a 26 game winner and an NCAA birth in the next three years, I am not going to care much about the pedigree of our coach.
I just have been burned a few times before…