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)