Disclaimer: The following post contains sweeping generalizations that in no way represent Peter’s views. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this rant are solely Raju’s.
To say I look forward to OSU football season is an understatement.
Recruiting barely tides me over until Spring Ball, where I read every practice report I can get my eyes on. The summer months are excruciating, while I wait for my season tickets to arrive. Fall camp spikes my adrenaline levels, and then by Wednesday of game weeks, I am ball of frenzy for the weekend.
For me, heaven on Earth is a nice, crisp fall day at Reser Stadium with my friends and thousands of Orange and Black Faithful wildly cheering on the Beavers.
But for the first time since becoming a Beavers fan in 1992, I am not excited about OSU football. In fact, I am downright apathetic… To the point that I am seriously debating whether to renew my season tickets. What the hell is wrong with me?
Well, last year’s 2-10 performance doesn’t help. Neither does the coaching turnover. Or the reassigning of several current coaches. And what’s the deal with the all-over-the-place approach to recruiting QBs right now?
The biggest culprit when it comes to my boo-birdness, though, is none other than Beaver Nation.
When did so many fans become so unbearable? So quick to eat their own. So soon to dismiss the contributions of former coaches and players? And seriously, why all the disdain toward anything Mike Riley-related?
Look, I get it 100 percent that Riley and OSU both needed a change. Guess what? He made things easier by leaving on his own accord. Yes, he was too loyal to his assistants and recruiting had slipped under him in recent years. But damn, guys…
Riley’s highs far exceeded his lows. Don’t forget, OSU had the second most wins among Pac-12 teams from 2000-10, behind USC. More importantly, he ran a clean ship and represented the program, university, and community very well. Yet, reading message boards and listening to fan banter, you’d swear Mike Riley sucked at OSU, and not just a little, but majorly. Seriously?
Even worse, why are Beavers fans jumping all over players? As a journalist, my rule was to not criticize players, but that coaches are fair game because they get paid the big bucks. Would it kill fans to adopt a similar mindset? Especially considering that a large handful of them weren’t recruited by Gary Andersen and were adjusting to his style and schemes. Let’s see how Year 2 goes, even if wins are hard to come by.
What gets me the most about all this hand-wringing is how many fans are blindly worship the ground Andersen walks on — that he can do no wrong and any of his struggles can be blamed on Riley and Co. Umm, I’m sorry, did you see what I saw this past season? I saw a mess that I guarantee you wouldn’t have happened under Riley.
The real head-scratcher of the Andersen tenure? Hiring Gary Crowton midseason as a consultant, despite having a two highly-regarded offensive minds on staff already in Dave Baldwin and Kevin McGiven. What a slap in the face to Baldwin, considering Crowton hasn’t been relevant in years. Plus, he quit as Southern Utah’s OC to take the role at OSU. Weird.
And having essentially three OCs on staff didn’t prevent Andersen’s hand-picked quarterback from struggling and eventually losing his starting job, anyhow. I know Andersen is more of defensive guy for sure, but come on…
What’s that you say? This was a transition year. Bull crap. I don’t recall the Beavers stinking it up so bad when Dennis Erickson took over from Riley and vice versa. Hell, was Riley’s first year after taking over Jerry Pettibone as deflating as last season?
Think about this for a moment. If Andersen is as good as everyone is making him out to be, shouldn’t he have been able to coax a few more wins out of the Beavers, even if some of the players didn’t fit his schemes? Good coaches are able to win anywhere, right? Based on Andersen’s credentials alone, I think most fans expected at least 4-6 wins last season — not a complete reboot of the team halfway through.
And so, Beaver Nation I ask of you, what has Andersen done so far that makes your faith in him so steadfast and unwavering? See my points above the abysmal record year and this perplexing offseason. How does that make you want to proclaim him a savior?
Sure, Andersen talks the talk. But wins against two subpar teams don’t back those words well, no matter how you spin them. Yes, this year’s recruiting class is impressive on paper. However, recruiting is a crapshoot, especially when it comes to JUCO players. While OSU has enjoyed success with JUCOs (Chad Johnson, Keith Ellison, etc.), it’s also seen a lot of them not pan out too. Besides, they always say you can’t really evaluate a class until four or five years later.
Also, do you find it interesting that instead of letting coaches go this offseason, he decided to re-assign them? Isn’t that what we expect Riley to do? Hold onto coaches too long? Well, he fired his defensive line coach after one year and promptly made what looks to be a home run hire. Who is the alpha male now?
So, sorry, I don’t get all the love for Andersen right now. I hope he’s the guy, but at this point, I’ve adjusted my expectations. Before last season, I thought we could be competitive and bowl bound by 2017. Now, I am thinking that’s five years out. And part of me wonders if Andersen can get it done at OSU.
Let’s get real, Corvallis is never going to be a hot destination for blue-chippers. Also, while OSU is making strides in the facilities race, it still lags behind most of its Pac-12 peers. A renovated or new West Side is sorely needed, but I think it’s safe to wonder if that will ever become a reality. As a result, I believe it takes a special kind of coach to win here. Time will tell if that’s Andersen. In today’s instant gratification society, five years is an eternity…
I know my opinion is unpopular. How dare I not be all in? Why do I not see Andersen’s better than Riley in every way? What kind of Beavers fan am I? But am I really the only one that feels this way? I doubt it. If you take a hard enough look, there’s reason for skepticism, or at least concern.
Optimism is a great thing, but sometimes its OK to take off the orange-colored glasses. Try it sometime. You might find it easier to cherish the past, embrace the now, and look toward the future.
Go Beavs! (RW)