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Jeff Eisenberg

If Craig Robinson's wife didn't say 'To hell with Providence ...'

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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When Oregon State coach Craig Robinson hits the talk show circuit this week in support of his new book, "A Game of Character," his connections to Barack and Michelle Obama will surely be the dominant subject matter.

An excerpt the Oregonian unearthed this morning, however, may be of greater interest to basketball fans.

Robinson offers a detailed behind-the-scenes glimpse at how he chose Oregon State as his next destination after he decided to leave Brown in 2008. At one point, we find Robinson at Gill Coliseum after he had verbally agreed to come to Oregon State when a Providence official calls with an intriguing last-ditch offer.

"Just as I was headed toward the athletic department's main office to sit down and officially accept (Oregon State's) offer - and then step in front of the cameras and hold a press conference - my cell phone rang. Providence wanted to offer me the job - a major program with the tradition of winning, and without the obligation of relocating yet again, clear across the country, in this semirural area we knew nothing about.

"Without taking a breath, I dialed (my wife's) cell, told her the latest, and asked, "What should we do?''

"Kelly calmly but adamantly said, "To hell with Providence.'' She went on to point out they'd known me and seen my coaching for two years and still had to hem and haw and think about their dream candidate, (Rick) Pitino. OSU had just met me, talked to me long and hard, and within two hours they were ready to offer me the job. Where was I going to get more enthusiastic support?''

"With that, I hung up and graciously accepted my next post as men's basketball coach of the Oregon State University Beavers. Everything had happened so quickly, the press conference was almost surreal.''

So there you have it, Oregon State fans. If Robinson goes on to lead the Beavers back to the NCAA tournament, a thank you card to his wife Kelly might be an appropriate gesture.

And Providence fans suffering through the largely disappointing Keno Davis era? Now you know how close you came to avoiding it.

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