Final Thoughts on Craig…

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)

4 thoughts on “Final Thoughts on Craig…

  1. Tyler Hansen

    I couldn’t agree more. I thought/think Robinson is a mediocre basketball coach who, like you said, was in over his head jumping from Brown to the Pac-12. But he brought in lots of good talent, resuscitated the program and represented the team and university very well in a national spotlight.

    The fault lies with absurdly unrealistic OSU fans who, after going 3-33 in Pac-10 play from 2006-2008, suddenly thought the Beavers should be playing at an elite level. The last three OSU teams DID underachieve under Robinson in (especially in 2011-12) and he was rightly let go, but OSU fans still have delusions of grandeur about where this team is heading and how much worth the program has.

    For some fans to say Robinson lacked vision and integrity is definitely stupid. Living in Corvallis made me realize how whiny a big chunk of OSU fans are. They expect the world, and in Pac-12 basketball, you’re very often not going to get it if you’re Oregon State. It’s a sad reality of the post-1980s.

    Wayne Tinkle is surely a better game coach than Robinson, and he has recruited well so far. But when he and his staff run out of family members to sign and there are some lean seasons mixed in with success, don’t start whining all over again and throwing around lame accusations if Tinkle ever leaves.

  2. Charles

    I agree that muchof the blame lies with him; he was a bit over his head at this level and he assembled a woefully inexperienced staff. What did not help, and what was underreported by the media, however, was that the Athletic Department did not allow him to hire a fourth assistant coach until the end of his tenure. It was not Craig’s choice to suddenly decide to hire a player personnel director (Joe Kennedy) in 2013; he finally had OSU’s blessing to hire one. I don’t think that hire was what kept Craig from succeeding at OSU, but if our AD was not 100% committed to allowing Craig to succeed then I can’t lay all the blame at Craig’s feet.

  3. RJ

    Nice post. I think some of the vitriol comes from how Robinson framed certain losses or situations with a lot of spin. The famous “enormity of the moment” line, saying that N’Diaye might end up leaving OSU early, saying that this 2014-15 team might be even better than last year. I think a lot of fans got sick of being treated dumb… the same way a lot of fans are tired of the way Riley has responded to questions the last two years.

    The fact remains though that Robinson did a lot of good for OSU. He took a job when no one else would, got the fan base at least temporarily reinvigorated, took us from the basement of the Pac-12 to slightly above it, and was integral in getting the practice facility underway. I never had a problem with the guy besides his on the court decision making and that’s fine. Any Beaver fan who takes cheap shots at Robinson for being a bad guy or driving OSU into the ground is immature at best and most likely delusional.

  4. 1220beav

    Thank you Raju. I am glad that you see some of the same things I have been seeing. I have been sorry to discover that Beaver nation has it’s racist, knuckleheaded, bigoted good ole boys club, reminiscent of Mississippi, Louisianna, etc. Craig’s run, in my mind, was as good/bad as any coach since Ralph! That is damning by feint praise, but the numbers do not lie. Craig’s legacy is better than anybody since Ralph’s, i.e., facilities, recruiting good citizens, etc.


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