Reser Stadium, home of the Oregon State Beavers

Change is Good, but does it mean Wins?

A change had to be made. The program was growing stale and the fan base restless. After Mike Riley left for Nebraska, Bobby DeCarolis swung for the fences and coaxed Gary Andersen away from Wisconsin — signaling a big change for OSU athletics in general. The Beavers are ready to play with the big boys.

But while the early results are encouraging (more urgency, more contact in practices, and recruiting more physically-ready players), much of Beaver Nation needs to stop proclaiming ( sometimes blindly) that everything Andersen does is better than Mike Riley — and that Andersen will win more games.

Here’s three assumptions about Andersen vs. Riley that are quite frankly annoying.

1. Spread will cure OSU’s offensive woes. Sure, it might be more fast-paced and exciting than the pro style offense is. However, Pac-12 teams will be ready for the Beavers’ new offense, as every team, but Stanford, runs some variation of spread. Gone is the advantage that the pro-style offense gave OSU… that teams didn’t prepare for it on a week-to-week basis. When in synch, Riley’s offense was a sight to behold and downright hard to stop. With a new QB, players adjusting to a new offense, and opponents knowing the spread better, there’s a good chance OSU’s offense will struggle at times this season .

2. Andersen & Co. will do better recruiting. When fans point out that new coaching staff is going after and offering more elite prospects than Riley’s staff did, I have to laugh, LOUDLY. Riley offered plenty of A-list recruits. But him and his staff were realistic and didn’t spend a lot of time on athletes they knew were unlikely to visit, much less commit to OSU. They understood the advantages and challenges of recruiting to Corvallis. Andersen’s staff has energy and momentum, especially in Florida. But what happens when it wears off? Can they dig in? That remains to be seen. Either way, don’t expect an influx of 4- and 5-star recruits all of sudden.

3. More close knit. This is the one that gets me the most. How soon fans forget that the family atmosphere that Riley and his staff cultivated was highly revered. There were countless stories from players’ parents to bus drivers about the culture in Corvallis. Heck, even the most cynical of journalists wrote about the Beavers’ family atmosphere — and how refreshing and rare it was in this day and age of college athletics. Speaking of the media, I know some players have said it feels more like family these days, but you know what, coach speak isn’t limited to just coaches. Players aren’t going to come out and say something isn’t as good under a new coaching staff.

The bottom line is that it’s shocking and disappointing how quick some fans are to rip on Riley now that he’s gone. Like nothing he did was good enough. To them, I say: Do you remember what it was like before Riley came to OSU? When Dennis Erickson left? Both times, Riley came in and gave OSU football and its followers hope. He built solid foundations, molded well-rounded student athletes, and did it all the right way. In short, Riley did far more good for OSU, than harm. So why all the bemoaning?

Look, I am excited for a new era of Beavers football. But I’m not ready to anoint Andersen and Co. as saviors. I believe it takes a special kind of coaching staff to understand and embrace OSU/Corvallis — and then win, thrive, and sustain it all. So while I like the energy and excitement Andersen and his staff have brought to the program, I’m taking a “wait-and-see” approach. Change can be good, but does it always work that way? (RW)

5 thoughts on “Change is Good, but does it mean Wins?

  1. Gary Sedivy

    Thank you for the dose of realism! The pro-style offense is now an anathema to college fans. The pros run it because it works. The spread offense may or may not be successful in the professional venue. One of the things the spread relies on is that our speed will beat your defense. It doesn’t take many speedy players to overwhelm a defensive system. And a disciplined defense can grind the spread to a halt. In the pros, eveyone is fast, and more disciplined than young college men.
    Riley and his coaching team are wonderful people and coaches. They blessed Oregon State with their presence. I for one, will not bad mouth them.

    1. eviltwinni I

      In general, I’m in agreement with Raju. Especially, when it comes to the offense and recruiting. With new coaching, I think there isan opportunity to grab a few “4 stars” over the next few years. On field success will result in better recruiting classes – not new coaches. Either way a top 25 class is not likely with the next 2-3 classes.

      I think the point on good family atmosphere was resting on past laurels and not on the most recent seasons. If you want to call it burnout or AD dysfunction or coaching dysfunction, some of the locker room stories coming out in December indicated a less then stellar family environment -acknowledging sour grapes could be the reason for the stories.

      1. Peter Riley Osborne

        I kind of agree, but to be honest, when you are not winning, that is what happens. I think that there are a lot of players that lost their focus as well as coaches that allowed too much to go on too long. But remember, the new coaches have been here a few months, not over a decade. So while I think the end was good timing for all involved, I think that the Family Atmosphere was legit and that there was a lot of positives until about 2012. While that was a good season, that was the last team of that level of leadership on it.

        I will agree that the most recent seasons were not a good representation, but right now everything is new and hopeful. If they don’t win after a few years, then what starts out as focus and discipline and brotherhood can easily turn to finger pointing and disinterest. You need the right people all the time and that is where Riley and his staff may have strayed a bit.

  2. dean htpc (@htpcD)

    Spot on man, spot on.
    I often tell other Beaver peeps what Riley did for the football program was a minor miracle and he has left the program better than it was. Realistically, the stars aligned and allowed an amazing coach to return ‘home’ (twice) and have an incredible impact on those involved.
    I sure will miss the pro-style that Riley ran – and we have probably seen the last QB drafted out of Oregon State for awhile. I’m optimistic in the idea that there are (essentially) two offensive coordinators on staff and that these minds will produce an exciting and efficient offense.
    I will not miss our previous defensive coach’s scheme – it was almost as if the opposing offense knew exactly was coming at them. It seemed Banker was predictable…
    I respect the fact that Riley is loyal to his staff and wish nothing but the best for him in the heartland… but I’m ready to turn the page and see what is next…

    1. eviltwinnick

      Looking at what AZ, Cal and Wazzu have achieved with their coaching changes, it’s easy to assume the Beavs will score more points per game. I don’t think that will happen for the reasons expressed by Raju. On the other hand, DA is a defensive coach unlike the head coaches at AZ, Cal and wazzu. If the defense prepares for fall camp as DA wants, the offense may not need to put up 40+ points per game to have a “winning season”.


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