For years, OSU has been the “Little Engine That Could” in terms of competing with the big boys with a small-child budget. Repeatedly, Mike Riley and his staff stayed at comfortable, but not competitive salaries, while spurring offers from other universities and their deep pockets and impressive facilities. Just last year, Coach Cav turned down an offer to coach at the T. Boone Pickens-funded Oklahoma State Cowboys in lieu of staying with Mike Riley at OSU.
Frugality is great, especially when your budget is one that doesn’t strike fear into your opponents. The problem is that frugality and getting by cheaply or incurring debt creates a mindset of apathy and complacency. While no one really felt it in their day-to-day jobs, in hindsight, everyone from Dr. Ray to Bob DeCarolis to Mike Riley felt that things were kind of stuck. The looming buyout of a coach that had lost the excitement and hope of a fan base and the mounting debt surrounding the department (some self inflicted, some not) created a “Well, this is the best we can do right now” mentality that trickled its way into the media and message boards and Beaver Nation.
So when we look back at December 2014 and the events that transpired into the new year, we have to realize one very important thing: The change of the name on the Head Football Coach office door is just a fraction of the changes that happened, and not the biggest one.
- The 2014 total pay of all football coaches at Oregon State was $3,847,200. This includes all nine assistant coaches and Mike Riley
- Head Coach Gary Andersen will earn $2.45 million a year.
- OSU’s two new coordinators will make between $750,000 to $1 million a year, meaning those three coaches alone will cost more than the entire staff did last year.
- Equipment was sparse during the Riley era, and they tried to make due with what they had in terms of outfitting the team with clothes, technology, and other team expenses.
- The team so far has already gotten new workout attire, workout shoes, and will have team-owned iPads that it will use for managing their football operations such as plays and film review. The players lounge is going to be outfitted with new amenities and the locker rooms have already seen a few upgrades over last year.
There is a lot going on at OSU, and coaching changes are just part of it. When Bill Moos took over at WSU, he brought with him a feeling that they were going to do everything they could to not just be relevant, but be a national presence and compete nationally in all major sports. While that has not panned out so far, WSU is getting its name out and making more and more high profile hires.
OSU has followed its blueprint in terms of name, quality of hires, and administrative support — but with a far healthier recent history and talent base. There will need to be upgrades to reach championship level, but OSU is working on building for the future with the new Valley Football Center, and eventually the completion of a west side end zone. Student athletes are going to come to OSU and see a program that is on the rise, one that is offering modern amenities for its players, and is focused on one thing: Winning championships. For the first time in a long time, it is not a scenario of getting by and hoping for that big season. It is now about aggressive investment in a top notch program from shoelaces to suite boxes.
It’s time for Beaver Nation to respond as aggressively and cheer on these changes. There is a lot of great, great things going on at the VFC these days and it is spanning from Dr. Ray’s office to the last walk-on — and it is exciting!