Beaver Nation was spoiled under former coaches Dennis Erickson and Mike Riley — when it came to access. Their open-practice policies allowed fans to watch the Beavers up close and personal just about every day. It was easy to feel connected to the program and even get to know the coaches and players on a certain level.
How many of you spent a sunny afternoon or 10 at Pothro Field taking in a practice back then? If you did, you likely remember the family-like atmosphere. Fans of all ages and backgrounds, from children to college students, enjoying the coaches and players working together on technique, plays, and chemistry.
That kind of access went a long way toward creating excitement around the program, even when it was apparent the season could be a long one. When you feel like a part of something, it helps you whether the highs and lows.
Allowing open practices made the Silver Fox and Riles rarities in their profession, as many coaches close them off to fans and even the media due to wanting to keep a tight lid on things, as well ease their rampant paranoia (OK, I am kind of kidding about that, or am I?). Count current OSU coach Gary Andersen as one of those coaches who closes practices.
It’s Andersen’s program and he can do as he sees fit, of course. And I totally get why he favors closing practices. These days it seems like everything ends up online and out there for everyone to see. And would you put it past the Yucks to implement a spy at open practices? 🙂 But I got to be honest, closed practices at OSU feels weird.
It’s perhaps one of the reasons there seems to be a lack of buzz or whatever you want to call it around OSU football. I can’t see Andersen and Co. opening more than an occasional Saturday practice, so I am curious to see how the program and Beaver Nation build that connection that fostered so much enthusiasm and goodwill in the past. Maybe it won’t ever be the same. Maybe that’s the price to pay for more wins.
And of course, winning solves everything… Go Beavs! (RW)