Category Archives: Rambles & Rants

What Will Help Vs What Will Make A Difference

There hasn’t been a lot written in this space of late because there is only so much to say about a lost season that was over before Thanksgiving. How many times do the same deficiencies need to be re-analyzed?

Lately, watching Oregon State basketball has regressed to the point of being demoralizing, something akin to watching a late 19th century buffalo shooting expedition. The outcome is known before things even begin, with only the exact timing of when it gets out of hand, and the final deficit to be determined.

In an attempt to preserve sanity, and watch some actual good basketball, I’ve been taking a closer look at Arizona, UCLA, Oregon, and even Utah, and also looking outside the Pac-12, at the likes of Gonzaga and St. Mary’s, and also not just Kansas, but also Iowa State and West Virginia. And the Connecticut women’s program, which has just moved past the historic 100 win in a row milestone.

Beyond just seeing some non-cringeworthy hoops, I’ve also been revisiting what the apparent differences are between well run programs, and the local one that will be hard pressed to not repeat what I had thought I’d never see again in my lifetime, let alone within a few years of seeing it happen the first time; go winless in the Pac-12.

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Civil War Debacle Should Be An Eye Opener

Though he was announced as Oregon State’s new Athletic Director late last month, Scott Barnes’ last day in his previous job in the same job for Pitt was Friday the 13th, so Saturday was his first day fully on the job for the Beavers.

What happened Saturday night should have been an eye-opener.

Barnes indicated he would take his first 100 days or so to evaluate things. That will take him until after spring break, and the start of spring term, and after spring winter football practice.

And while there are systemic issues he still won’t have fully unearthed by then, the debacle Saturday night should have been all Barnes needed to see to get an idea of the biggest issues, and should have made it clear to him that there’s no need to wait to get started on them.

In a sold-out Matthew Knight Arena, Oregon obliterated Oregon State 85-43. It was the Beavers’ worst loss in the 347 game history of the Civil War, and they were never even competitive.

The Ducks scored the games first 21 points, and the Beavers didn’t even score until almost the middle of the first half. The spread was a ridiculous 25 points, but Oregon had that covered a couple of minutes before halftime.

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Winter of Waiting

Winter term has gone and winter weather has come on the Oregon State campus.

And with Beaver fans relegated to third party observers of the bowl season that begins today only from a distance (again), the campus is in the middle of a winter of waiting.

Waiting for anything of importance, and substance. It could be a long winter wait.

Sure, there were the announcements this week of the JC commits and early enrollees to Gary Andersen’s football program. But while there is potential, the reality is we won’t really know for sure until at least September of the impact these early arrivals will have.

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Burpees Beat Cancer - Michael Aliotti

Burpees Beat Cancer

A good friend of mine with a familiar last name, Michael Aliotti, is trying to set the record for burpees in a 12 hour period.  The record is 6,800 and he is on pace to break that by about 400. Despite his family ties to the ducks, Michael is an amazing man and a great friend and his quest for the record is also a quest to help fund Cancer Research. As someone that has seen cancer ravage members of his his own family, I jumped at the chance to help out Michael in this endeavor.

His attempt to reach today the record is live here:

https://renafitness.com/

And his website for donations is here:

https://www.burpeesbeatcancer.com/

Anyway, for those of you that have done many burpees, you can probably understand that 7,200 in a day is a big deal.  Thanks in advance for not punching me in the face when you see me for having a good friend who is also a duck coach legacy.

Anyone feel Disconnected?

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)

5 Reasons to Get Excited for 2016

 

In wake of my previous “Boo Bird” post, Peter has been trying to amp me up for this season — which is a seemingly impossible task. After all, I looked at the schedule again today, and dang, it’s brutal, especially later in the season. But a college philosophy professor once stressed the importance of being charitable when attempting to make a point, so here’s five reasons I am looking forward to watching the Beavers this fall.

A Nall/Cook Punch. Ryan Nall seemingly has switched positions too many times to count in his short OSU career, but appears to be entrenched at running back in wake of his strong late season performance last season. He, combined with a healthy Tim Cook, could form a dynamic combination in the backfield, one that combines power and toughness. I’m also interested to see what Kyle White brings to the mix.

Linebacker Infusion. The loss of Rommel Maego hurts, and the Beavers could have all new starters at linebacker, but two incoming players give me hope, lots of it actually. Shemar Smith, who is participating in Spring Ball, and Andrzej Hughes-Murray, already have the the weights you like to see at OLB, and are two of OSU’s more impressive recruits. Add Wesley Payne to the mix, with returners such as Jonathan Willis, and the Beavers might not miss a beat and be much improved here.

A Home run Threat. It seems like it’s been awhile since the Beavers had a player who was a threat to take it to the house anytime he had the ball. Please forgive me because I have a gut feeling I am overlooking someone, but I am thinking Brandin Cooks was the last big-play threat. But guess what, I think Paul Lucas can be that guy for the Beavers this season. He’s got the speed, agility, and vision to be a serious threat. So I look forward to seeing what the receiver turned running back can do.

Collins’ Departure. Seth Collins is a freak athletic and was a huge playmaker for the Beavers last year, but I think the Beavers will be better without the drama that came with him — and that’s why I am not going to dive into it or speculate. I think Darell Garretson and Marcus McMaryion will benefit a lot from this change, and yes, I am not giving up on McMaryion. May the best QB win.

Nowhere to go but Up. I’ve mentioned this before, but a wise co-worker once told me that expectations are the first step toward disappointment. If you read my previous post, clearly, I am not too thrilled about the Beavers right now, but you know, having low expectations means i can celebrate the small victories more and not get too crushed about any crushing defeats.

So, there you have it. While I think the Beavers will be hard-pressed to double last year’s win total, there are several things I am looking forward to this season. Go Beavs! (RW)

Beaver Nation, What Gives?

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)

Quick Hit: Drew Eubanks

In light of last night’s electric win over Utah, I thought it would be good to look into one of our young players, Drew Eubanks.  I am a huge Eubanks fan, and while I think he obviously has a lot of room to improve, I really feel like he is a rare athlete, especially for Oregon State. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s around oregon State Basketball, I have seen a lot of great big men.  Jose Ortiz, Scott Haskins and of course Steve Johnson and while it is almost mean to put the pressure on Drew to be like those guys, I think he can be someone that gets mentioned in those names some day.

Rarely do we see players as big and long in the limb as Drew that can handle the ball and run so well.  Often players struggle to control the ball or dribble in traffic, yet Drew seems to have amazing body control and agility for a player his size.  He is fast, jumps well and could be one of the better scoring big men we have had in a while.  His defensive game definitely needs some refinement, and he probably could stand to add a few pounds of muscle to deal with some of the elite centers in the conference, but as the year has gone on, I have seen him start to develop a devastating hook shot that could be un-blockable for a guy his size, and a penchant for getting blocks.  It will be interesting to see his growth over time, but I really like what I see from Drew and think he could be a star for the Beavers before he is gone.

QUICK HIT BULLETS:

  • My running backs review will be pushed to next week, and my hope is to get two out (Running Backs and Linebackers)
  • Next week we will take a look at the defensive side of this recruiting class.
  • My article on my experience watching the OSU Women beat the ducks in basketball at Matt Knight Arena is not a myth. It will be out this coming week.

Reasons for excitement? You bet!

With the pending announcement that Kevin Clune will be our new Defensive Coordinator, as well as Cory Hall becoming our new Safeties coach.  If you have never heard those names, don’t feel sad, neither had I.  In fact, when I heard Coach Sitake was leaving for BYU, my short list of names featured neither of them. They are not the “blow the doors off the conference” type hires that Andersen and Sitake were. They fall under the “well I trust Andersen” type hires where I cross my fingers and hope for the best.

The thing is, while it is tough to really get excited about losing a great coach and replacing it with two unknowns, at east our unknowns are more well known than those around us.  With the news of Don Pellum being demoted for the ducks, and their Linebackers Coach going to be the Defensive Coordinator for UCF.  In fact, right now, there are four Pac-12 teams with no Defensive Coordinator and a few more looking for other assistants.  As the earthquake of post season moves get made, and the after shocks are felt throughout the nation, at least OSU knows where it is going and who it is going to war with.

I may not know these two coaches, but you can just add that to the list of things I don’t know.  So for now, I will trust the process because, hey, at least I know where it is going!

Go Beavs (PRO)

What, Me Worry?

As we get farther into the coaching search to replace Defensive Coordinator Kalani Sitake, who recently took the head coaching job at BYU, every day seems to be excruciatingly long. The only news that has been made public is that Oregon State interviewed Utah State Defensive Coordinator Kevin Clune (per the fantastic site Football Scoop). While this move is at least something, it isn’t necessarily set-the-world on fire news. Clune may well be an amazing hire, but in the last 18 months, we have been used to giant splash hires like ripping the DC out of the hands of conference foe Utah. Pulling in a DC who has never coached in a Power 5 conference before is not the same.

But does it matter? Because Clune is the name we know has been interviewed, a quick google search of him shows that he was a Defensive Coordinator at Weber State from 2005 – 2008 and then again at Hawaii in 2014, and most recently, Utah State in 2015. He was a Graduate Assistant at Utah when Gary Andersen was there and was the Linebackers Coach when Andersen was at Utah State. Clune has improved the defenses everywhere he has been, and for all intents and purposes, seems like a solid if not spectacular coach. Should he be our next Defensive Coordinator, it would be his third such position in as many years. So it is not like Clune isn’t a known commodity, and apparently is a bit of a rising star in coaching circles.

So why am I not more excited?  Because I really want Wisconsin DC Dave Aranda. He would be the big splash hire we are getting used to here in Beaver Territory. I know that it is wishful thinking that we could steal another star coach from the Badgers, but it was my hope. Heck, I really hope we can get him and then get Clune as linebacker coach. What is wrong with that scenario?

Well, to be honest, I am putting OSU in to the type of coaching position that the big boys are in.  I am thinking that like an Alabama or USC or LSU, the Beavers can just poach whoever from wherever. Because we have amazing, nationally relevant coaches like Pat Casey, Scott Rueck, Wayne Tinkle, and Andersen that we can just grab whoever. The reality is that the OSU job has a lot of risk. I thought we would get six wins this year based on Andersen and his staff alone. We ended up with two. I thought this offseason would be a great one with our coaches getting a very impressive recruiting class rolling and positive feelings from the second half of the Civil War that this offense had signs of life in it carrying over. It felt like 2013. Remember that year?  Strong finish in the Civil War, with a stop or scoring a few seconds later, being the difference in that game. Where we went and beat Boise State in our bowl game, and had reason to hope for an even better season the next year?

Then our Offensive Coordinator left. Then our star receiver and defensive end declared for the NFL draft. Then our new OC was a disaster.Then our coaches lost the team and a slew of injuries hit… pushing us to a bowl-less season and giving us as much hope as a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest (thanks for that metaphor Coach Speck!) has. Then our coach left and we hired someone amazing — and hope began to spring eternal!

Until now.

If I am honest, right now is excruciating. While every topic on my favorite Beaver fan sites are a combo of doom, gloom, and infighting, I just want some news that will get us all excited and show that we are ready to pick up where we left off and dominate another offseason.

So whoever we hire, I am sure they will be good. Or at least a good interview. I am sure that it will help us pull in a few more recruits and solidify the staff. I am sure it will be someone Andersen really respects and thinks can take the next step in Beaver 2.0. You will just have to excuse me if I want something big. It won’t mean we will go out and win 10 games next year, but it will get my and other people’s attention. That would be nice after a rough year as a member of Beaver Nation.

What do you think? Am I crazy?

Go Beavs! (PRO)