Sometimes the first thing you need to do after a game is sit back and take stock of what really happened. Here is what happened:
OSU beat someone by 30 points.
Not only did they get a win, but it was their first win in a year. We can get into a semantics argument about a few days here and there, but it has been a long 300+ days and as someone that sat through 19 of the 28 years of losing (with 5 more that happened while I was alive but too young to know much about) I know the power of a single win.
For many that read this, they may think my reference to the futility streak to be in poor taste. I mean we won 9 games and went to the Alamo bowl just three plus years ago. But lets let that sink in. The players we recruited following that game are now Juniors and Seniors and are on their way out of the program. That blip on the radar of a steady slide is getting farther and farther in the rear view mirror.
So am I saying this is what we have to look forward to? Are w in year three of 25 years of suck? No. Hell no! But we need to understand that it takes 3 years for your average recruiting class to really hit its stride. Last years class had some great pieces, but by the time the High School ones hit their stride, the JC ones will be gone. We are looking at a huge rebuild and that was obvious on Saturday. I do not say this to minimize the great effort of the players we are cheering for. I also don’t say that as some sort of “diss” on our coaching staff. I say that so that we can frame what is going on appropriately. The coaches and players will think what I have to say is garbage, but they have the direct impact on the program. Fans are indirect. We cannot block, tackle, pass, catch or call plays. We cannot recruit or run an off season wight program. And we shouldn’t. We are not good at those things and that would be horrendous!
The point is, as fans, we cannot see a win against a terrible team, one that had warts and worries, and think that this is all there is. We have to find a way to frame this season as it really is. The second year of a Gilligan’s Island type mission. We as fans want 3 hours, but we might have to think more about 3 years. And if we get too critical now, we stand the chance of missing some really inspiring work being done on the field. We might miss the huge games by Victor Bolden Jr, who has heard the whispers and jeers and yet keeps working his butt off and really showed it against the Bengals. You would miss the efforts of Brandon Arnold, Gavin Andrews, Treston Decoud, Ricky Ortiz or Manase Hungalu as they work tirelessly to leave their mark on a program they love.
We also miss the work being done by our coaches to bring the best talent in they can, to turn around the culture and vision of these players and establish a view of victory in Corvallis. It is not easy to sell the future, and it gets harder every year. The reality is these coaches are going to need our patience to get their players in without sacrificing the seasons of the players working their butts off for them now.
So enjoy the win, it has been a while. Let the nit-picking and gnashing of teeth rest for a week and just be happy for the guys that worked so hard this winter, spring, summer and fall camp. Give mental high fives to the guys that struggled through the heat of the Bend camp and for the leaders of this team that have to pick them up every week and keep them focused.
In short, be a fan that will allow the future to be made. I have my worries, I have my doubts. I think they are legitimate and time will tell if I am correct or not. But I also used to be a player once upon a time, and sometimes it is nice, in the grind of a season, to not be told you should have done better when you scored five times as many points as your opponent Sometimes it is nice to just enjoy a win and see if it can lead to more next week.
The Halloween Spice Drop Award of Excellence:
I feel like it is tough for a senior that has worked hard and given so much to a program to come out in their first game and have a bit of a rough go. Victor Bolden Jr. had a few rough plays against Minnesota in the opening week loss. I also have a lot of respect for players that take ownership of that performance and come out and play lights out ball the next week. Victor did this. You can say what you want about the competition, but Victor caught tough passes, made great runs and was a solid blocker and route runner all game. He elevated his game in tangible ways and showed that he is that weapon that OSU has been looking for. Victor has been one of my favorite players since his first days here and has worked hard to live up to his potential. I left the ISU game thinking that Victor Bolden was a high level Pac-12 player and that was good to see.
The Jujifruit Award of Improved Play:
Some players really stand out. You could go with Treston Decoud or Ricky Ortiz (especially in his blocking) or any number of players. But one guy that seemed to be everywhere and whose name was in so many plays was Brandon Arnold. The Junior Safety was such a force, getting multiple pass defenses, an interception and a stack of tackles. Arnold also is one of those guys that felt like an after thought when Mike Riley and staff left. He had a lot of work to do and has been putting in the time in the weight room and film room to be ready to contribute this year. Against ISU he was all over the place and really showed that he has not only bought into what OSU is trying to do but understands his role. Great work Brandon!
Good N’ Plenty Award of Shame:
I never thought I would do this, but this weekend was just about perfect. Beaver win? Check. duck loss? Check. No real ref issues? Check. I had the great opportunity to watch the game in my company’s (www.cbtnuggets.com) suite for the game. The suites at Reser are easily comparable to the ones in Autzen and I love the community feel by having the meals out in the common area. I had such a good time watching the game with my wife, her cousin, his daughter and the company owners and some co-workers that it was just a great day. I rarely have a weekend like that. For me, and I am sure for some of you, seeing Mike Riley get a win over the ducks was also pretty fun. Seeing the Pac-12 scare some top teams was a nice touch as well. Thanks Colorado!
So College Football, you get a break this week. I am sure something happened somewhere that was super sucky, but in my small world, it was the perfect weekend.
Go Beavs! (PRO)