So What Now?

With the loss to the Huskies, OSU now faces a do-or-die game with the ducks in the Civil War, and not just in terms of bowl eligibility — but also the possibility of two straight seasons of six or fewer regular season wins. While many disagree with the state of the team, here is what I do know:

1. Money is not flooding into the program. With two capital projects on the horizon, one that is desperately needed in terms of the Valley Football Center renovation, losing fan and donor interest in the program is the toughest hurdle the athletic department has right now.  OSU is financially in debt and is using its TV money to pay off debt, while other Pac-12 teams are using it to better their programs. OSU has the lowest paid staff, the lowest recruiting budget, and has visibly shrinking attendance.

2. Recruiting needs to pick up. The last two classes might have some very amazing players, but in terms of star ratings, OSU has finished 8th or lower in the Pac -12 the last four years.  There is a very star-studded group of high school seniors coming to the game this weekend. Should three of the half dozen players decide to go with the Beavers, it will be the first class in more than a decade to finish in the top half of the conference rankings, according to Rivals. If they don’t, then the Beavers are in danger of another 8th-ranked class. Should that happen, that would mean that seven of the teams OSU plays every year will have an entire team of players ranked higher than the Beavers. While the ASU game shows that doesn’t always mean that the Beavers are going to lose all those games, it does mean they have to play far better than their opponents week in and week out.

3. The Civil War series needs to change. The Beavers are going to be odds-on underdogs in this year’s edition of the century-old series. It will be the seventh straight loss for OSU if it happens. That one game is the game that means the most to every fan. It is the one game that forgives all the previous sins of the season, and it is the only way that OSU can lay claim to the few fans within this state who are poachable away from the dark side. This state cannot support an 80,000 seat stadium for either school. Both institutions have about 35,000 die hard, game-attending fans. Then there are about 20,000 fans that they fight over.

The last six years, there has not been much of a fight. With student attendance at Oregon State overshadowing the ducks by about 1,000 students a year, there are more and more Beaver fans being created every year.  And they need a win. They need to remember what it is like to be kings of the state. They need to remember what it is like to answer every retort with one simple word:


So how do we do it? How do we get more money, get better recruits, and win the Civil War? That is the $64,000 question. We all have ideas, from a clean sweep of all coaches, to a few new tweaks, to even just a “wait and see” approach because we are so close. I have my ideas that I will go over after the season.

What can’t be stressed enough is this: If Mike Riley wants to keep his staff and his team as it is, he needs to win this week. Watching the Husky game, I honestly feel like it has nothing to do with talent this week. There is enough talent on the Beaver team to win. It is about what team comes the most prepared. What team is ready to play and who makes the fewest mistakes. Outside of the ASU game, that has not been the Beavers as of late, and that is on the coaches.

A Civil War win clears all of that up and gives Mike Riley the time to figure out on his own what he wants to do. A loss, and I am afraid that the fans will decide for him, one way or another. So it is another big week, and Mike has his back against a wall. As many top-10 teams will tell you, Reser is a very dangerous place to be when Coach Riley has an ultimatum game plan.

So hopefully, he pulls another rabbit out of his hat, gets his team ready for the challenge of their lives, and the players respond. Otherwise, next year could be one with more changes than we have seen since the new millennium .



5 thoughts on “So What Now?

  1. Building the Dam (@BuildingTheDam)

    “Money is not flooding into the program” and “Recruiting needs to pick up”, both of which are $ issues (“OSU has … the lowest recruiting budget), as is building the other half of the stadium, and yet the rare opportunity for an 8th home game was not capitalized on. This is an 8-figure gaff because some people “didn’t want to do it”.

    “Losing fan (read “customer”) and donor (read “investor”; NO ONE donates a material amount of money; they invest it with the expectation of a reasonable use of that money to return a reasonable result) interest in the program is the toughest hurdle the athletic department has right now.”, and yet the program just essentially conceded a 3rd consecutive game to recruiting rival Washington by failing to do much of anything to put the team in position to get the win.

    I’m struggling to see how Coach Riley or anyone else is going to pull any rabbits out of their hat with any consistency with the current epidemic of cultural, systemic, and leadership problems.

    1. Peter Riley Osborne Post author

      I agree. While I know you and I are the same in our support of the players and anyone that chooses to wear the Orange and Black for the Beavers, it has come to a time when the loss of faith in the current regime has surpassed those die hard, orange colored glasses fans ability to hope for change.

      There are people I want to keep, I want this recruiting class to continue to grow and get elite players, but ultimately, I want the players that are here, that work so hard and so long for success to be put in the best possible position to succeed. I no longer think that is happening at OSU and I think it is evident in how they practice and how games are managed. The style of offense or of defense is not the issue, neither is it the effort of the players. I put this on the coaches and I think that there is a very real future of futility for OSU if they don’t make changes this year. Another year of hoping things change is another year farther from fixing the issues. For every game that is close to being a win in the last three years there are some that were just as close to being losses. This team has the talent to be sitting at 8 wins right now, maybe nine, but they have not been allowed to reach that level of victories.

      As a reader pointed out to me, Danny Shelton was held to his worst output of the season, so the talent of the line is not necessarily the issue. Imagine if every week looked like the ASU game, where the players looked energized, alert, prepared and the opposing coach was scrambling for answers. That can be fixed at OSU with these exact players, but it requires more changes than I think the current staff are willing to do. Or at least the head of this staff.

  2. blowcheese

    That is a good look at the big picture. I believe the time has come to decide (and decide WHO decides) if Oregon State stays in the Pac 12. As Peter pointed out we need more money to build facilities and attract coaches and players. Without this the losing will become structural, the debt will grow because the fanbase will not donate or pay for ducats, and guess what- the whole Athletic Department drowns in a sea of Red. At that point school administrators will look at dropping to D2 because they will have to..

    THIS CANNOT HAPPEN. Too many people have too much vested in the school to lose the association with the big time that only sports can provide. OS is a solid academic institution but let’s face it- It Needs To Win To Stay In The Game. Be irrelevant and you go away. Donors lose interest on the academic side too if a school is not keeping it’s name out there somehow. Sports is the biggest banner there is.

    So… will the State Legislature be interested in passing monetary legislation to assist both of the revenue producing sports schools in the state (dux get to play in the sandbox too or it never passes)? Does it take a budgetary shortfall of grand canyon proportions before they care? Is it possible to get AHEAD of this? Sure it is but WHO will do this?

    I will talk about it at least:-)

    This has nothing to do with the CW. I have decided to hope for the best because i EXPECT the absolute LEAST on Saturday. This program with it’s coaches who even refuse to cop to this game counting for more than any other game have done this to me.

    1. Building the Dam (@BuildingTheDam)

      Where this is really going to begin to hurt is with recruiting and retention, both specifically for the football team, and on a broader scale. Should Oregon St. lose the Civil War as expected, it will be 3 years in the last 5 with no bowl game, but really, only 1 “attractive”, upper tier bowl in 6 years. And even if the Beavers do pull the upset, they will be 9th, or maybe 10th, in the Pac-12 among bowl eligible teams, and will have to settle for an at-large bid in a minor bowl.

      A number of us have cited recruiting problems, particularly in some positions, as a fundamental issue, and yet recruiting is getting much more difficult, relatively speaking, with each loss, and each year without a quality bowl trip, or too often, ANY bowl trip.


Let us know why you think we are a bunch of crap sacks... or if you love us. Or just want to say hi.