I have been struggling with something lately. It is an unusual place for Orangey McOrange Pants to find himself, as someone that saw some good in Beaver Football from basically Kragthorpe on. It wasn’t always universal and it wasn’t always strong, but I always kind of trusted my assessments of the coaching staff, even before I really knew what I was talking about. I always thought Kraghorpe needed just a bit better athlete and he could have done some damage at OSU. I always thought that Pettibone just needed the offensive line and QB to run his offense. The injury to Tim Alexander against USC really crushed that team because he was the guy (and showing it) that could get it done for them. Defensively they were there.
With Riley and Erickson, I knew we were always in it. I had seen enough of both of them to know that they could get players, that they could evaluate talent, that they could develop talent and that they were going to be better than whatever you saw on paper. More often than not, what was on paper was scary, yet they won a lot of games for Oregon State.
So with Andersen, I just instantly trusted him because of his reputation. The three things I would attach to my opinion of Gary were recruiting acumen, defense and Intensity. Wherever I read about him, I read about players loving him, about organized coaching systems and relentless recruiting. So I figured we would be fine with him and even predicted 5-6 wins last year, mostly because I thought he could do a lot with the offensive line talent we had (and because Coach Woods had crushed it in Wisconsin with similar talent).
Since then, things have changed. I have seen a lot and scratched my head a lot and been impressed a lot. I feel like the three pillars of Gary Andersen that I felt coming in were his strengths have proven out. His players love him, he is relentless in recruiting and his whole organization is not only huge (31 staff members versus 20 for Riley) but a unified and efficient machine. The thing is, if I am being honest, i didn’t really see the coaching or development aspect of his staff last year. While there were tons of injuries and a modicum of internal turmoil and purging that needed to happen, I was left scratching my head on some of their decisions on personnel, on play calling and how the team just didn’t seem to improve, even individually. Some will look at the duck game and say that was a huge improvement, but was it? I mean that was against the worst defense this side of Texas Tech and their specialty was the second half defensive melt down (see most of their games last year).
So now I find myself at a quandary. it has been only one year and sheesh, I should get over myself right? The thing is, i can’t. Without the trust in their ability to develop talent and manage the game and make solid personnel decisions, i am kind of at a loss. I just have this kind of negative tint to how I view things. Are the recruits we are getting going to be good enough for us to win in the Pac 12 if they are not going to be developed well enough or put into position to win? Are we going to be able to keep some of the position coaches we have if things go south in 2016? Is the OSU job just too hard for coaches that don’t have a schtick that separates us from the rest? Right now I am seeing a lot athletes with Beaver offers go elsewhere. Are we going to be constantly fighting the guys we initially wanted on Saturdays?
With coaches like Peterson, Leach and Shaw in the North alone, are we going to be able to get wins against them with less than stellar coaching? Even Dykes has shown constant improvement, and that is a good place to start. He cam into a Cal situation very similar to ours. A program in disarray and with a mass exodus of players. He promptly went out and won just one game in 2013, but then used a 4-1 start to go 5-7 and build some momentum. In that 5-7 campaign, they lost one game on a last second Hail Mary to Arizona (49-45). In his third year the Dykes led Bears went 8-5 and had multiple draft picks and all conference players including the number 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
So are we going to be like Cal this year? I am not sure. Sonny Dykes has a proven offensive system that puts up tons of points. He is in a hotbed of talent at a school with an amazing academic reputation. Dykes also inherited an amazing offensive arsenal with Lawler, Treggs, Goff and many others. Can OSU replicate that style of success without those advantages? I am not sure.
With all of this in mind, i have decided to be Elsa and let it go. To abandon my worries and fears and recognize that I cannot trust the coaches because I don’t know them yet. I don’t know how they handle adversity, how they prepare players and what they can do with their own, supposedly hand picked talent. 6pm on September 1st I will be able to truly start forming my opinion of this staff. Whatever tsunami of terrible that washed over the team last year has passed and this year there is really no excuse to not see a good bit of improvement. Two years of training, working, familiarizing and building of this team should show in the play on the field.
Just like any new relationship, I have to give it time to build that trust. Just like every relationship, I cannot put too much stock in what other people say, but form my opinion with my own interactions with that person. I cannot look at Andersen’s past and use that because each one of those coaching jobs were with another team with different needs, hurdles and advantages and staff. We had some rocky first few dates last year, now I am looking at going steady and I have to make sure I trust this staff enough to take this step because the implications will last for at least three or four years.
I mean, i am a precious flower after all.
What do you think? Am I crazy? Lonely? Both?
Go Beavs (PRO)