Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Most Exciting New Year In Years

With the holidays winding down, and my schedule freeing back up again, I just wanted to recap what has been the most exciting December for Beaver Nation in years. with the departure of Mike Riley to Nebraska, the department took the opportunity to reboot the whole franchise, so to speak, of the Oregon State Beavers.  Dr. Ray and Bob DeCarolis aggressively pursued not only a huge increase in funding for their facilities, but also laid the groundwork for taking a huge step forward in coaching. They created a vision that boosters could get behind in order to bring in the money required to compete in the toughest conference, top to bottom, in the nation.

They rewarded that donor base with the biggest hire, and series of hires, since Dennis Erickson prior to the 1999 season. Not only did OSU land the most unexpected big name they could have landed in Gary Andersen, but Andersen has since put together a staff of amazing and dynamic coaches.  Consider the following:

Dave Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator
In his last two seasons at Colorado State, Baldwin amassed over 6200 yards per season and averaged over 33 points a season.  This year he oversaw a 4000 yard passer and 1200 yard rusher for the Rams. He was also a very successful Offensive Coordinator at Cincinnati, Michigan State, New Mexico and Utah State.

Kevin McGiven, Quarterbacks Coach
The former Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach for Utah State, McGiven orchestrated a very dynamic offense that had over 2500 yards passing and rushing even though McGiven had to work with four different quarterbacks this season.  They had four different players get over 400 yards rushing and seven that got over 100.

T.J. Woods, Offensive Line
I have already posted about Woods, but another coach on teams that have architected consecutive 6000 yard seasons and rushing powerhouses.  Woods also gets players ready in a hurry, having multiple all conference and freshmen All-American linemen.

Brent Brennan, Wide Receivers
We know all about Brent, and while he has been a great coach for the Beavers, he also is a plus recruiter.

Kalani Sitake, Defensive Coordinator
In conference Rival has always had a ridiculously tough defense, one that ranked as highly as their offense would allow.  This year they led the conference in sacks and in the past has had one of the toughest front sevens in the conference.

Chad Kauha’aha’a, Defensive Line
Chad’s defensive lines have been responsible for top 5 defenses against the run, yards per game, yards per play and his defense held all 13 teams they faced below their rushing average for the season.

Ilaisa Tuikai, Linebackers
Ilaisa is a up and coming recruiter and coach who led the Utah defensive line to the conference lead in sacks in 2014 and has coached 3 All Pac-12 defensive linemen in two years.

Derrick Odum, Defensive Backs
Had 4 top 20 national rankings in takeaways as a defensive backs coach at SMU.  Had the number one pass efficiency defense in 2007 at SMU.

A running backs coach will be named later, but one of the things that stands out when you look at this list is that these are all coaches with Division I coaching experience, and Division I coaching success.  They have all worked on powerhouse squads and turned in nationally recognized performances in the highest level of the college ranks.  Not only that, they are all known as plus recruiters and have churned out all conference, all american and high draft NFL draft picks in their times at their respective jobs.

This is a big difference from the coaches we have had in the past, many of which were getting their first job at OSU in their perspective field or position group, and had almost no Division I position or recruiting experience.  While great coaches and great guys, Perry, Brasfield, Langsdorf and Locey, Heyward would all call OSU their first Division 1 job, and their first year recruiting to the a Big 5 conference team (before that term even existed).  Only Garrett, Brennan and Bray had held major college position group experience prior to being a Beaver coach.  Also, Garrett and Langsdorf had never been offensive coordinators when they were hired by Mike Riley. So all those coaches came in with a lot of questions around them.

This staff has no real question marks.  If you want to see what they have done you can look at their past jobs and see.  This is new territory and I would be lying if I didn’t say it is exciting.  There is a lot to look forward to in the coming months and coming years, but for the first time in a long time, all eyes are on Oregon State and at least within the conference, they are concerned glances and not knowing ones.

A few thoughts

As I am working on my second piece in the TJ Woods, Offensive line triumbrant, I had a few thoughts that I wanted to share for those who thought my musings had any merit:

1. I have already ran into people that have told me about a lot of differences between Mike Riley and Gary Andersen.  The football stuff seems to be all positive. I was pretty critical of Riley, at least for me, this year, and I felt like he need to take more control over the offense, more responsibility for the play calling, and more responsibility for putting his players in position to win. I have heard from many people that Riley lost this team the last few years, and I would have to agree, because the last few years looked nothing like the 2006-2009 seasons.

That being said, there are going to be those who are not as big of fans of Andersen. People who were used to how Riley operated  — and how he took care of people and looked out for everyone from the bus drivers to the bystanders at practice. Andersen is all about football and is a guy who players will love and thrive under, but who also is very focused on one thing, and that is his team. The family atmosphere will be there for the Beavers, but that circle will be smaller and more focused.

This is probably what the Beavers need right now. You see it in sports all the time, where a new coach comes in, brings excitement, and is someone that addresses the needs that their predecessor couldn’t. The success of Coach Robinson after Coach John is a good example.  There are lot of reasons for his early success, but some of them were just him being a better fit for which players Jay brought in. He then changed a lot of what he did to try and attract different players, and they didn’t fit what he knew. Coach Tinkle comes in and the players are playing great for him because they needed something different, and Wayne is brining a whole lot of that. Competent coaches can maintain that — and exceptional coaches can grow that.

While I think that Mike Riley was a very competent coach, I honestly think that Andersen will be excellent. What that means in the long run is anyone’s guess, but people need to realize it will be different. He is a different coach with different agendas and a different personality. To expect everything to stay the same, but for the team to just play with more passion is not going to happen. We need to embrace a new reality that holds NOTHING from our past.  Just as this year’s men’s hoops team looks nothing like last year, we need to realize that will be the same with Andersen. He is going to create new routines, new traditions, and a new legacy — and we will need a few years to find out what that is.

There will be no Hip Hip Hoorays after a win, but there will be something new, and it may just be “This game is over, we are now focused on the next one…” and they go home.  I don’t know, but in nine months we will find out.

2. I am already tired of the comparisons and the need to put down or point to the mistakes of past coaches while complementing current ones.  I understand many need this, but I say move on. I will always thank Mike Riley for what he did and the great memories. I will always thank Craig Robinson for the new practice facility and taking the program to a new level, even if it wasn’t as high of a level as we wanted. But we have new guys and they are home run hires. As people begin to worry about Coach Andersen taking awhile to get his coaches, or how we worried when Coach Tinkle’s players lost to Western Oregon, we have to realize that there is risk in everything, but we need to look forward.

I see nothing about Coach Tinkle that says he cannot take us to the NCAAs as soon as next year. I see nothing about Coach Andersen that says we might win a Civil War as early as next year. I see nothing about these guys that is worrying me in the least. Give it a few years and a few recruiting cyclesm and then we can see if there is reason for worry. Otherwise, it all looks up and onward, so I am choosing not to look back or downward.

I know people will do what they want, but if you talk to me and I sound exasperated, that is why.

3. You know, there is a difference between op-ed and feature writers and beat reporters?  Many don’t. I see a lot of people trashing The Oregonian and their coverage of OSU sports. Now I am not a fan of Ken Goe or John Canzano, so I don’t read them. The last time I read anything from Canzano, John Kerry was trying to unseat President George Bush. For Goe, it was President Obama gearing up for his second campaign.

They are writers of musings and opinions of their own, and have a huge avenue to do that.  If you don’t like them, the lack of banner ad impressions and clicks on their articles will send that message far more than a “I hate that $*@(# Canzano, but I will keep reading him because like a car crash I cannot look away.”

Unfortunately, what gets lost in all this vitriol over their column writers is the really great beat reporting by Connor Letourneau and Gina Mizell.  Both of them have done a fantastic job covering football and basketball. Gina wrote some amazing articlea breaking down plays and games, and Connor’s work during the basketball coaching search, and shortly after the Tinkle hire, were some of the best sports writing I had read from The Oregonian in years.

They are doing exceptionally well and I REALLY hate to see them lumped in with the two other guys who are world apart in my mind. So please, if you don’t like Canzano and Goe, stop reading their articles, but do take time to check out what Connor and Gina are doing because it is great and will really help you see The Oregonian in a new light.

4. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. This season is super busy for this father of two young girls, and I have been sick on top of that. That being said, we are going to have a lot of new features the coming weeks and a new look to the site for 2015. I am sorry if there is not a lot for the next few weeks, but we are hitting the ground running in 2015, so be sure to check us out!

Stoked Brennan’s Staying!

Many in Beaver Nation breathed huge sighs of relief and exchanged high-fives after learning that Gary Andersen decided to retain Brent Brennan. During his four years with the Beavers, the wide receivers coach has proven to be an excellent coach, a strong recruiter, and a great all-around guy.

From a strict coaching perspective, look at who has flourished under Brennan’s tutelage: James Rodgers, Markus Wheaton, Brandin Cooks — just to name a few. Plus, his wide receivers this year made huge strides as the season progressed. Wide receiver, is without a doubt, the Beavers’s biggest strength heading into 2015.

A cursory look of his Twitter feed reveals a coach who loves his players and the Corvallis community. He has the WRs over to his house for holidays and other special events, and often attends other OSU sporting events with his family. He also enjoys American Dream Pizza 🙂 In a nutshell, he epitomizes the family atmosphere that OSU cultivates.

That’s why I was shocked that Brennan wasn’t the first coach Mike Riley announced would be joining him at Nebraska. Rumor has it Riley was only allowed to bring four OSU assistants, but still, it seemed like a no-brainer that Brennan would be one of the four chosen ones.But for reasons we might never know, he was left behind. It’s entirely possible he told Riley he didn’t want to leave, but all that matters is Brennan is still a Beaver!

And Brennan have plenty of talent to work with next year, and could help salvage this year’s recruiting class, especially if he can get Lavon Alston and Paul Lucas to sign with the Beavers. But more importantly, Brennan will provide much-needed continuity for the holdover players in wake of Riley’s still shocking move. And him staying is easily Andersen’s first win as Beavers coach!

Speaking of the other assistants that aren’t going to Nebraska (at least, not yet), it would be nice to see running backs coach Chris Brasfield and cornerbacks coach Rod Perry retained. The running backs were the most consistent part of the OSU offense this season, and recruits love him. Unfortunately, all is quiet on the Brasfield front.

Perry has been one of the Beavers’ best coaches, and players such as Jordan Poyer, Raashad Reynolds, and Steven Nelson are proof of that. Even though Andersen announced today that SMU secondary coach Derrick Odum is joining his staff, he could coach the safeties, while Perry focuses on the corners.

I would’ve liked Joe Seumalo retained as well, but he’s reportedly headed to UNLV. So I thank him for his dedication to OSU. He coached up some great players and some strong defensive lines. He also was very popular with the players. He will be a great asset for the Rebels.

And while the waiting game continues to see who Andersen fills the rest of the staff up with, Beaver Nation has to be stoked that there will be at least one familiar face on the sidelines next season. Go Coach Brennan! (RW)

What a Win for the OSU Women!

If the Oregon State women’s basketball entered this season a little under the radar despite amassing 21 wins and making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, it isn’t anymore. After Tuesday night’s 70-55 upset of No. 6 North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the No. 14 Beavers are firmly in the national spotlight.

UNC, a perennial powerhouse, entered the game with an 9-0 record and had defeated four top-25 teams, including Stanford, 70-54. Simply put, this was an unexpected and huge win for the Beavers, who moved to 8-0 for the first time in program history, and will likely move up in the next rankings.

Ruth Hamblin scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked five shots to lead the Beavers, while Jamie Weisner added 14 points. Last year’s leading scorer Sydney Wiese scored 13 points despite shooting 2-of-12 from the field. But the real key to the Beavers’ success was defense. They held the Tar Heels to 27 percent shooting from the field, including 1-14 from behind arc. Simply put, that’s fantastic.

But the big picture here is that the Beavers are in the midst of a remarkable turnaround. While a lot is being made of the impact that Wayne Tinkle is having on the men’s team, Scott Rueck’s performance is equally impressive, if not more. Remember, this program is only five years removed from the LaVonda Wagner disaster, which decimated the roster to the point that Rueck had to hold open tryouts just to field a roster.

Slowly, but surely, Rueck  has changed the culture, built confidence, and recruited very well. The result? A program that is on the rise — as evidenced by last year’s success and now this season so far. The Beavers are set for next several seasons, as there’s only one senior and a handful of juniors on the roster. Plus, Rueck recently landed a commitment from the program’s first 5-star recruit: South Salem’s Katie McWilliams!

Looking at the current squad, you can’t help but be impressed how well-rounded it is. There’s a nice blend of size, athleticism, and skill. There’s the 6-5 Hamblin who makes it hard for opposing players down low. Alongside her is Deven Hunter, who provides toughness and does all the dirty work. Senior Ali Gibson provides the crucial leadership and is clutch. Weisner is one of the best shooters in the Pac-12. And Wiese could be one of OSU’s top players ever when all is said and done. Off the bench, players such as Gabby Hanson and Sam Siegler provide a nice combo of defense, offense, and energy.

This team is built for success and is clearly enjoying it right now. They play well together and hard every second of every game. It’s a testament to the incredible job Rueck and his staff have done. And that’s why Beaver Nation, amid the excitement surrounding men’s hoops and football, need throw some support behind the team that’s really rockin’ Gill right now. The Beavers have served noticed that they are ready to take the next step…

Go Beavs! (RW)

 

Coach TJ Woods, Our Next Offensive Line Coach? (part 1 of 3)

The offensive line hire for the Beavers will be very important as they make the transition to the Gary Andersen regime and a new style of offense.  The methodology for blocking a pro style offense versus a read option spread attack, pistol style offenses, air raid passing attacks or whatever the Beavers choose to utilize in their offense.

Much of the blocking done by the Beavers the past decade plus has been a kind of zone blocking scheme with counter, trapping and passing type fakes in order to create running lanes.  Their combo blocking scheme that utilized a “whatever is in front of you” method relied on reads, on discipline and on being able to get a lot of push at the point of attack in a unified way so that running backs could get through the holes and lanes without getting drug down from behind them.

In some of the more ‘modern’ styles of offense, blocking takes on a more simplistic style.  A single double team by the interior linemen while the rest man up on their assigned defenders is often all that happens on a read option play.  It requires an aggressive attitude and the ability to drive a defender into the next line of defense.

Or if it is a passing heavy attack, linemen will need to be able to pass block exceptionally well, but also be able to sustain their blocks should the pocket break down.  They will need to be able to keep defender hands down and win one on one battles in order to allow the quick hit pass plays to be effective.

There is a lot of different methods for blocking, different designs and schemes so whoever the offense. you are going to need someone that can adjust and excel to coach them.  TJ Woods was the offensive line coach for Wisconsin and his resume is impressive:

  • 1st Team All American lineman at Azusa Pacific
  • At New Mexico coached two NFL linemen in Erik Cook and Byron Bell.
  • At Utah State was Tight Ends and Special Teams coach for his first two years and had the best kick-return team in the conference and one of the top return units in the nation.
  • His first year as the USU offensive line coach, “the Aggies’ offense established school records for total offense (5,945 yards), rushing yards (3,675), total points (437) and total touchdowns (60)”
    • He also had two all conference offensive linemen, the first time USU had achieved that in 27 years.
  • His second year they were one of 19 teams to pass and rush for over 200 yards per game en route to over 6000 yards of offense and 454 points (35 points a game).
    • They were also one of four teams in the nation that year to have a 1500 yard rusher each season.
    • They again had two first team all conference linemen and one second team.
  • His first year at Wisconsin he had two rushers with over 1400 yards and anNCA record of over 3000 yards for a rushing duo (an average of 230 yards per game on the ground).
    • As a team they rushed for over 3500 yards and passed for over 2500 en route to being one of four teams in the nation to accomplish this feat.
    • They set a school record with 3,680 yards rushing
    • They also averaged 6.85 yards per play
    • They averaged 6.3 yards per rush
    • Three members of his offensive line made the All Big 10 first team, including one sophomore.
    • True Freshman center Dan Voltz was named first team All Freshman.
  • His second year at Wisconsin the Badgers broke that record with over 4000 yards rushing and getting 6000 yards of total offense for the second straight year.
    • Heisman runner up Melvin Gordon had 2300 yards on the ground
    • The Wisconsin offensive line only gave up 12 sacks all season
    • They averaged 6.9 yards per rush on the season, with Gordon averaging over 7.
    • Four of the five Wisconsin linemen received all conference honors (2 first team and 2 second team)

Woods is a dynamic coach that knows what he is doing.  The techniques they work on is all about being physical and moving bodies.   Watching film of him in practice you get a small taste of what his coaching style is like, but the proof is more in the pudding with him as he gets the most out of the guys he has. Watch this video to see his demeanor and some of what he is looking for.  He relates well and is demanding but also rewarding in his practices. I have seen nothing but success and heard nothing but positives about the man as a coach and a recruiter.  Oregon State could do far worse than TJ Woods and I for one think he would be a great coach and mentor for our current offensive line.  Harlow, Mitchell, Lauina, Andrews, Stanton and a healthy Isaac could see a ton of improvement from Woods not just because of his skill but because of the system they are going to run and how much less it will demand of them.

My next report will show the differences between the systems and the final piece will be an evaluation of how our line really played this year, because I think it will shock some people. Maybe even myself.

 

More Hoops Thoughts

The Beavers took care of business Monday night, cruising to an easy 71-43 win over Grambling State. With the win, they improved to a surprising 7-2 on the young season — which is probably five or more wins than expected at this point. Coach Tinkle has this team surpassing expectations so far. Here’s some quick thoughts.

Like father, like son. Gary Payton II has been better than advertised so far, as OSU’s “Mr. Do-Everything” player. And Wednesday night, his versatility was on full display, as he recorded the second triple double in OSU history with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. The last Beaver to do so, none other than his father. Oh, and he also recorded six steals. While Payton is the Beavers’ best player, I’ve been most impressed by the fact that he doesn’t force up shots. He takes what the D gives him and is always looking to get teammates involved. Speaking of…

Buying into team concept. The Beavers are playing great team ball. They are looking to make the extra pass, maybe too often. But the end result is that their shot selection has improved leaps and bounds from the last season. And the neat thing is they aren’t sacrificing aggressiveness. By spreading the ball around, players are getting more comfortable and showing what they can do. With a lack of proven scorer, the Beavers will need a little from everyone this season to be competitive.

Making big strides. Perhaps the biggest improvement so far within the program has been player development. And arguably, no player has benefited more than Victor Robbins. Yes, the competition hasn’t been all that, but it’s great to seem him aggressive and not be afraid to take shots. He’s showing off the skills and promise that made him a pretty big signing for the Beavers a couple years ago. Quite frankly, he might be the Beavers’ best pure scorer. I’m also liking the improvement shown by Malcolm Duvivier and Daniel Gomis.

Defense, Defense, Defense. You expected defense to emphasized a lot more under Tinkle, but did you think the Beavers would improve this much so soon? Their execution on the defensive end has been night and day. I don’t care how bad your opponent is, holding a team to nine points in a half is damn good. So far the Beavers have been one of the top defensive FG percentage teams in the country. Defense and hustle will be the key for the Beavers this season, so they must keep it up.

There’s no question about it — the road will get much tougher for the Beavers, especially once Pac-12 play begins. But they are playing with a lot of confidence and as a team, two things that can’t be underestimated. If they continue to grow, they might fight and claw their way to a few surprise wins. At the very least, they should feel good knowing that the future is bright under Tinkle and Co.

At the beginning of the season, I said I’d be thrilled with eight wins, so the Beavers are very close to exceeding my exceptions. But what do I know? I wasn’t on the Tinkle bandwagon before he was hired. I am now.

Also, a quick shout out to the No. 14 Lady Beavs who play No. 6 North Carolina later today. At 8-0, they are off to their best start in school history, and playing the Tar Heels will be a great test for them. Kudos, for scheduling UNC, too. If you want to be the best, you gotta play the best. The turnaround engineered by Scott Rueck has been nothing short of amazing, and will only get better. Regardless of how they do today, the Beavers are talented, deep, and young. Their future is bright already and will get brighter.

Go Beavs! (RW)

 

 

Welcome Gary!

On Dec. 6, i wrote a post about what’s next in the coach search. An error in scheduling left that post unpublished, so it never saw the light of day. That being said, the announcement of Gary Andersen as the new Beaver coach brought a huge “Huzzah!” from Beaver Nation.  The hiring was a national story, and an unlikely coup from the Beaver State

Not only was Coach Andersen’s hiring a surprise, it is also a great fit for the new needs of Oregon State. With the announcement today of a new, $43 million football facility and the void of an actual football coach to work in it, Gary’s arrival was perfectly timed. Andersen himself is also a perfect fit, in my mind, for what OSU needs. My proof is in the post that publish:

1. Recruiting to Corvallis:
I talked about the difficulties to recruiting to Corvallis. Especially when competing against the ducks 37 miles away or USC or UCLA or any number of Pac-12 recruiting powerhouses. So I wanted to make sure that whoever we got was able to bring in talent equal to or greater than what we have gotten in the last couple decades.

As the Utah State University coach, Gary recruited 18 Rivals 3* recruits in four years. In the previous four years, before he arrived, Utah State got a total of three Rivals 3* recruits. So to a small, college town, surrounded by much bigger fish like Utah and BYU, Coach Andersen was able to recruit six times as many 3-star recruits as the previous regime.  So I have no doubt that Andersen can find some success on the mean recruiting streets of Corvallis, Oregon.

2. Recruit Beaver Nation Back:
I remember Coach TInkle saying that the first recruit he needed to sell was Beaver Nation. The announcement of Gary Andersen as our coach not only blew people away, it made them more fired up than I have seen since a cool Thursday night in 2008 when the Beavers beat USC. Immediately, a lot of the anger and hurt over the Mike Riley departure, the decline of football relevance in the conference, and the performance of the Athletic Director and President Ray melted away. People were ecstatic over the plans for the Valley Football Center and then, in a perfect marketing move, the Beavers released the real big news, the hiring of a top-20 coach in the country.

Cheers were heard, at least cyberally, and wallets sprang open to greet the new regime with a as fancy of a red carpet as the blue collar fans of OSU roll out. Gary Andersen’s name alone scored them their first 5* recruit: Beaver Nation.

3. Critique Every Aspect of the Program:
This part was about addressing everything from the cook to the weight training to the coaching of the team. I wanted someone to come in and do a clean sweep of anything that the new coach felt was impeding the program. Time will tell what Gary does in terms of this, but the best thing I can say is that Gary’s teams always played above their talent level or to their potential. They played hard and played smart.  There are always games you want back, but overall, I think that we have gotten a coach who has strong ideas, is detail oriented, and aggressive. So I suspect this might be something he takes care of well. We will see.

4. Focus on Defense:
This is probably the best part of the hire — and the part that I am most excited about. Offense is great, and I love it. That is why I like defensive-minded coaches, at least ones such as Coach Andersen. He knows what he hates to defend and will employ this at OSU. Unlike Wisconsin, where he had stricter guidelines for what he could and couldn’t run, the Beavers will embody not just a strong adherence to his 3-4, aggressive defensive philosophy, but they will also run the offense he hates the most.

I expect to see a different looking defense, and I expect to see much different results. Ultimately, I just wanted that whoever we got as a coach to put our team in the best position to win in a conference whose teams put up an amazing number of points week in and week out. I don’t expect OSU to turn into Stanford, but I do expect that under Andersen, OSU will be able to win when they score 35 points. Defensive focus is the difference between winning the close ones and blowing a lead. I think all of us would rather do the former and have seen enough of the latter.

So Wednesday, Beaver Nation got something to cheer about in a story big enough to be highlighted by every national media outlet in America. Today we won the coach search, and hopefully that is not the last big football win.

Home Run Hire!

Needless to say, Bobby D. and President Ray knocked it out of the park by hiring Gary Andersen to replace Mike Riley. While Andersen is a “Out of Left Field” pick, he’s a fantastic one.

He built up Utah State’s program and won there, which is no easy feat. And maintained his successful ways after moving onto Wisconsin. Plus, it never hurts when a coach is part of the Urban Meyer coaching family tree. Andersen knows how to dig deep and get things done — which is the kind of approach and attitude he’ll need to thrive in the deep and competitive Pac-12.

The good news is OSU appears ready to play with the big boys. In addition to the Andersen hire, the university also announced on Wednesday plans for a $42 million expansion of the Valley Football Center, which will help a lot in selling the program’s vision and atmosphere to recruits.

Speaking of which, many of OSU’s current recruits reacted favorably to the news of Andersen’s hire. Here’s hoping that Andersen sways some of the players he was recruiting at Wisconsin to look at the Beavers. And good news, Andersen has had success recruiting linemen on both sides of the ball, and also has strong Polynesian connections.

It will be interesting to see how Andersen puts together a coaching staff at OSU. If he can convince defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to join him, I am sold. It also would be great if he chooses to retain at least Brent Brennan on staff, at least for continuity’s sake.

My guess, because Brennan has been out recruiting for the Beavers this week, is that he’s staying put. I also wouldn’t mind Chris Brasfield, Rod Perry, and Joe Seumalo staying either. But overall, it will be nice to see some changes at OSU. Some assistants clearly needed to move on. 

There’s still a lot to be determined, and it will be interesting to see how things fall into place during the next few days and weeks. But one thing for sure: This hire is a much-needed boost for Oregon State, the football program, and Beaver Nation. It signals a beginning of a new era — and that OSU will keep swinging for the fences.

Welcome aboard, Coach Andersen! (RW)

Coaching Search Thoughts

There are a lot of names being thrown out there to replace Mike Riley, from Beau Baldwin to Pat Hill (Come on Canzano, really?). And in recent days, the hot rumor is that Bobby D. and President Ray are swinging for the fences — which is awesome news. But just in case if they come up a little short, here are the top 3 coaches I hope they take hard look at.

First off, I think it’s in OSU’s best interest to hire someone who understands the Pac-12 landscape, especially if it’s an assistant coach from a fellow conference school. He would understand OSU’s challenges and what it would take to recruit to Corvallis. He also would know what it takes to go head-to-head against other Pac-12 programs.

1. Justin Wilcox, USC Defensive Coordinator. Despite being only 38 years old, Wilcox has been defensive coordinator at four schools (Boise State, Tennessee, USC, UW), and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a head coach. He’s no stranger to Oregon, having attended Junction City High School and the University of Oregon. OSU, as strange as it seems, could be the perfect place for his first head coaching job. Wilcox would bring much-needed intensity to the defensive side of the ball, have a lot of recruiting connections, and be hungry to prove himself. Plus, it would be fun to see him go against his alma matter in the Civil War. My only question about him is can he put together a good staff, especially on offense?

2. Scott Frost, Oregon Offensive Coordinator. A year older than Wilcox, Frost is another young up-and-comer. Frost has an impressive resume. He’s played for some legendary coaches including Bill Walsh, Tom Osborne, Bill Belichick, and Jon Gruden. Also, while he may be making waves for his offensive prowess, Frost has coaching experience on the defensive side of the ball, having coached linebackers and then becoming defensive coordinator at Northern Iowa. So he would bring a strong knowledge of both offense and defense, lots of energy, and probably could slow down the Ducks offense. If Frost is the guy, it could mean keeping Chris Brasfield, too, who has been one of the Beavers’ best coaches and recruiters the past two seasons. But is Frost ready to be a head coach?

3. Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington Head Coach. The lone non-Pac-12 coach in my top 3, Baldwin is still a familiar name to Beavers fans — for the wrong reason. He led EWU to a shocking 49-46 win over OSU in 2013. And this season, the Eagles hung with Washington before falling late. The bottom line is Baldwin’s offense can put up points quickly and is exciting. Plus, he’s younger too (42) and probably wants to move up to the next level. But that’s the major question surrounding Baldwin. The track record of FSC coaches moving up and being successful is dismal. And the last EWU coach to make the jump, Paul Wulff, is a prime example. During his four-year stint with Washington State, he went 9-40! Baldwin probably would do better than that, but the question remains, and is valid.

Thoughts on Hoke: There’s been a lot of chatter about former Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who coached at OSU from 1989 to 1994. He just doesn’t excite me. He didn’t exactly light the world on fire at San Diego State or Michigan. And if you can’t win a lot at a school like Michigan, how can you expect to at OSU? Plus, the fact that he continued to play a QB who obviously had a head injury continues to rub me the wrong way. That said, I’d still prefer Hoke over Bronco Mendenhall…

Who are your top 3 candidates to replace Mike Riley?

Five days in, and there are a few details that I feel need to be addressed.

I’ve had a chance to talk to a lot of people close to a few programs and here are some things that I think need to be addressed, and that are kind of outside of hiring news and speculation.

1. This is a terrible time for the players:
While much of the focus has been on coaches, administrators, and the recruits, the players left behind are probably in the worst state. Their leader, and high-integrity one at that, just left. He took some their position coaches and hit the road. Regardless of who is responsible, who is to blame, and whether this is good or not, all of these players came to OSU to play for Mike Riley — and he is now gone.

Not only is he gone, but the staff is gone too. As I talk to many people around the program, some parents, some players; I am left feeling their pain. Their strength coach is gone, their operations officers are gone — everyone who could guide them or tell them things will be OK is gone. In some cases they are angry, in some cases they are are still in shock, and in many cases, they are excited but nervous about what is next. There are thoughts of transferring or staying, but there is no way for them to be 100 percent certain until their new coach comes through the door and they get a chance to decide if they want to follow him or someone else.

This is a terrible time for any team, especially in this situation, because there is no interim coach coach left behind to help through the transition and no familiar name or face to assume the mantle of leadership. There is nobody, and that is the scariest part. So, many players just have to put on a brave face and go about their lives hoping that the next guy will be as good to them as the last guy, and will prepare them for football and life as well as the new Nebraska Cornhusker coach did.

So no matter what, lets not forget the ones left behind, the players who had to say goodbye to their coaches, mentors, and men they loved, and will have to try and embrace new ones. The average coaching tenure is four years, so this is not something that is unique to anyone. But when you have had the same face for more than a decade, it is slightly more uncharted territory.

2. While not the best, OSU still has something over any job out there:
Well, it may not be one thing, but despite the disadvantages of location, size, facilities, and finances, there are a lot of key advantages to the OSU job.

  • Arguably, the second best conference in the country is the Pac-12. It is also one of five major conferences, so it has an advantage over 2/3 of the 120 something schools in Division 1 Football and is probably better than a quarter of the 65 jobs in the Big 5 Conference fraternity. It also is one of few that has an opening, so the list of potential jobs for the 2015 season is much smaller, and OSU is close to the top.
  • Currently Sports On Earth has the OSU job as the fourth best job in the country, behind Florida, Michigan, and Nebraska. With Nebraska filled, it is now third. Florida and Michigan both fired their coaches after four years. OSU had its for 11 consecutive and 14 overall. You are going to get a chance with OSU that is for sure.
  • OSU doesn’t have a single, or small group of top donors, that dictate the program. Unlike our in-state rivals, coaches at OSU have some autonomy and freedom to do what they want. They are not badgered incessantly by boosters, and the school is totally in charge of hiring and firing. That bodes well for coaches who may have to come in and change a culture. That can take four years or so. While I am not super stoked about the potential of Brady Hoke being the next Beaver coach, he was barely able to get his guys in and his system in after Rich Rod was fired, so who knows what next year would have been like?  At OSU, you will get a chance for sure. Sometimes, to our chagrin, you will get too much of a chance.
  • OSU is a cheap (compared to a lot of major university towns) town, has no traffic, and has a pittance of the media pressure that other big name schools have. The difference between working at OSU and working at Michigan and Florida is akin to the difference in distance between the earth and the moon.

There are a lot of reasons to like OSU and its commitment to growing as a school and its facilities (multiple announcements this week of capital campaign potential) and that is why the Beavers should be able to pull a top name this hiring cycle. Who knows what next year’s jobs are going to look like, but at OSU, a new coach will be given a chance, given the resources he needs and will be able to start with a relatively healthy program that has won nine games as recently as two years ago. This is not the WSU or UW job, where you are undoing a decade or more of disrepair. This is a program that wins at a decent rate, has an intimidating stadium, and a fan base that when inspired can house a winner.

3. The Garrett hire may have been the match that lit the fuse of this explosion of change
When I first saw Garett coaching, I thought he was great. It was spring and he was active, attentive to every detail, more involved than his predecessor in how the players performed, and seemed to know his stuff.  I was excited because I was expecting a crisper, more prepared product on the field.

The Portland State game quickly erased any of those notions.

This was a rough year, and a rough year for precision in the offense and the defense. The thing is, had Garett had more experience as an OC, been more aligned with Mike Riley, and had he been an exceptional game-time tactician, this team had the talent to win at least three more games, if not more. But halfway through the USC game when he took over play calling duties, to half way through the Civil War game when he lost them, OSU was sporadic, had little flow to its offense and forced players to work from difficult positions.

Talking with connections I have on the duck team, I found out that the Beavers had obvious tells for when they were running screens and when they were going to run the fly sweep. Those are huge plays for the Beavers that rely on a little deception. If teams know a screen is coming, it has ZERO chance of working.

Those are the details that Garrett should have been all over. That is an oversight that an offensive coordinator cannot have. If you have a tell, like the pass to Chris Brown on fourth down in the Cal game, it makes everyone’s job harder.

Had Garrett been a bit better, OSU was close enough to win more games. Win more games and maybe the conversation with Riley is more constructive at the end of the year, and maybe he is still here, but making changes to his staff.

Instead, you have an inexperienced play-caller calling plays, a sputtering and too predictable offense, and a restless fan base.  I don’t know John Garrett from Adam, and he could be a genius, but he was not a good fit for OSU. His presence did not elevate the Beavers as anyone hoped and he did not build upon the momentum his predecessor left for him last year. So that may be the biggest mistake of Mike Riley’s career at OSU, and certainly was the last.