Oregon State coach Craig Robinson probably won't speak on a bigger stage anytime soon than the Democratic National Convention, so the president's brother-in-law didn't waste the chance to put in a plug for the Beavers.
Robinson, who delivered a speech with Barack Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-ng, Tuesday night, introduced himself as "Michelle Obama's big brother, father of four and head coach of Oregon State University's men's basketball team." Then he cleverly snuck in a quick recruiting pitch, joking, "Any 7-footers out there, give me a call."
Soetoro-ng and Robinson spoke glowingly of their respective siblings, but the Oregon State coach couldn't resist slipping one last basketball reference in during the final 30 seconds of his speech. In praising the first lady's efforts to promote good nutrition in schools, Robinson said, "I'm proud of her work to give our children a healthier start in life. And let's face it, Maya, I could use the recruits."
The irony of Robinson's self-deprecating humor is recruiting hasn't been his problem at Oregon State. Guard Jared Cunningham became Oregon State's first NBA draft pick in 14 years last June and guard Roberto Nelson and forward Devon Collier both have pro potential, yet the talent influx hasn't translated into an NCAA tournament bid yet.
Oregon State, which went winless in the Pac-10 the year before Robinson took over, has been competitive during his four-year tenure but has yet to finish above .500 in league play. Even last year, when the Beavers won 21 games and beat Texas in December, they still underachieved in the Pac-12, finishing a pedestrian 7-11.
Perhaps Collier and Nelson will spearhead Oregon State's NCAA tournament push this winter. If not, maybe Robinson's unconventional recruiting pitch will attract some new talent to Corvallis.