Author’s note: I wrote this post several months ago, but wasn’t sure when to publish it. With the first game of the Wayne Tinkle era scheduled for tonight, I knew this would be my last chance to share this post. That said, I am going to the game tonight and plan to write something from it to kick off this new chapter in OSU basketball.
Has there been a more polarizing figure in OSU athletics than former men’s basketball coach Craig Robinson?
He was recently hired to do analyst work for ESPN, which will provide OSU some financial relief from having to pay the rest of his contract. His replacement, Wayne Tinkle, has hit the ground running by landing four marquee players. So the Craig Robinson chapter should be closed.
Yet, some fans still can’t resist taking pot shots at Robinson.
And my question is why?
Sure, he didn’t win enough games, but neither did the three previous coaches before him at OSU, and I sure don’t remember as much vitriol surrounding Eddie Payne, Ritchie McKay, or Jay John. Which is funny because Robinson accomplished more than any of those coaches did.
He represented OSU with class, bought much-needed publicity to the program, and he and his players were good stewards in the Corvallis community.
And let’s not forget the mess Robinson inherited from Jay John — a squad that went 0-18 in Pac-10 play the previous season. Yet, Robinson led the Beavers to .500 record and a CBI Tournament championship during the 2008-09 season, his first at OSU.
He also landed some great players himself in Jared Cunningham, Roberto Nelson, Devon Collier, and Eric Moreland — the best influx of talent the Beavers had since the Payne days.
That shinny new basketball practice facility next to Gill that Tinkle and future OSU coaches will use to wow and impress potential recruits? Under Robinson, it went from wish to reality. He deserves a ton of credit for that practice facility.
How quickly and easily so many Beaver fans are to gloss over those accomplishments. But most upsetting to me is that when Tinkle was hired to replace Robinson, many fans said they were happy to finally get a coach that had a vision and integrity.
To those fans: “Are you freakin’ kidding me?!?”
To say that Robinson didn’t have a vision for the program is quite frankly, STUPID. He played college ball for a legendary coach at Princeton, and played professionally overseas. He has a degree from an Ivy League school, and was successful in the financial world. He’s a sharp guy.
And don’t get me started on the “integrity” bit. Robinson didn’t have to wear OSU colors and throw in OSU mentions every time he could when he was attending his famous brother-in-law’s events, but he did. He clearly was proud and honored to represent OSU — and he did it well.
Ultimately, Robinson’s downfall was that he was probably over his head jumping from Brown to Pac-10. Also, he needed a stronger group of assistants, something that Tinkle has made sure to surround himself with. (It makes me wonder, what kind of budget did Robinson for making assistant coach hires?)
Overall, Robinson left the OSU basketball program in way better shape than he found it — and I bet Bobby D, Wayne Tinkle, and those snarky Barometer columnists would be the first to say that. Yet, many fans simply harp on the negatives.
But you know what, Robinson is having the last laugh. While fans rip him, he has taken the high road. There’s been nary a peep about him, much less from him. But would you expect anything less from an individual who was all class while at the helm of the Beavers?
Sadly, there’s a lot of Beavers fans who can’t say the same about themselves. (RW)