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December 4th 2014 & October 9th 2017
As a member of the Oregon State media, I will always remember those two dates as they will forever be ones that live in OSU football infamy.
On December 4th 2014, the college football world was rocked when Mr. Oregon State and Mr. Corvallis Mike Riley departed the Beavers for Nebraska. Nobody in the media landscape saw it coming and it sent shockwaves through all of football. Nobody could put their finger as to why Riley left a place that he hoped to retire.
On October 9th 2017, that same small town nestled in the Willamette Valley once again sent shockwaves through the college football world as Scott Barnes, Ed Ray and Oregon State University announced that they were mutually parting ways with football coach Gary Andersen.
2 years 10 months and 5 days.
That’s the amount of time in between OSU’s massive bombshells that rocked the college football world. After the first one, you think OSU would have learned how to avoid this type of bad press all together.
Let’s not sugarcoat this folks. Agree or disagree, at the end of his tenure, Riley had tremendous pressure from the boosters, athletic director, and president of OSU to make some wholesale changes to his staff. In the end, a conversation with Riley with former AD Bob DeCarolis gave Riley reason to doubt his “dream job” and he bolted for Nebraska, leaving OSU looking like a fool.
Flash forward to today, the Beavers once again are caught in the negative spotlight as Gary Andersen is gone in the most bizarre way possible.
However, college football is a business and at the end of the day, the lack of wins and lack of attendance at Reser Stadium forced Barnes and Co. to make a decision with Andersen that would put the football program back on the right track. Andersen would never admit it publically, but there was tremendous pressure on him to make changes on the staff. Ultimately, he chose to make a change with himself.
Andersen did one very admirable thing that Oregon State fans should be thankful for. Andersen agreed to leave the money left in his contract on the table and did not financially constrict the Beavers for the future - and maybe even hinder them in their pursuit of a big-name head coach.
“After many discussions with Scott, waiving my contract is the correct decision and enables the young men and the program to move forward and concentrate on the rest of this season,” Andersen said in his press release. “Coaching is not about the mighty dollar. It is about teaching and putting young men in a position to succeed on and off the field. Success comes when all parties involved are moving in the same direction.”
It’s clearly not about the money for Andersen, and for that we all should applaud him. Too bad there aren’t more people like him in college football. It would be a more wholesome place.
I also have to commend Andersen for the way that he left. He called his team in on Monday for their usual champions meeting and told them the news. Some people may call Andersen a quitter for the way that he left, but the offensive captain for the Beavers Ryan Nall doesn’t see it that way.
“No. I don’t think he quit,” Nall said. “I think he was put in a difficult situation and that he made the right move for him and his family. If he would have quit, he wouldn’t have shown up today and had the meeting. If he had quit, he wouldn’t have been as emotional as he had been when he showed up today. He did not quit on us.”
Well now the question has to be asked. What is next for the Oregon State football program?
After Riley left OSU, the Beaver fans felt the same way as they do now.
Sad and confused.
But just several days later, OSU found what they thought would be their savior in coach Andersen. Sure, it didn’t work out, but the Beavers went out and got the biggest name possible. Did anyone outside of DeCarolis and Ray think it was even possible that Andersen would leave Wisconsin for OSU?
My point is, the Beavers swung for the fences. Sure, the ball didn’t leave the park, but it’s just one at-bat. Now, it’s up to Barnes, Ray, and the search firm that OSU is going to hire to make sure that this hire is truly out of the park.
“We want a high integrity individual with incredible energy, intellect, and passion,” Barnes said. “I will not be confined to geological geography or a sitting head coach compared to a coordinator. This will be a national search that will be wide open and we will find the right person.”
The Beavers have extra time than most to conduct their coaching search, but in the interim, cornerbacks coach Cory Hall has been named the interim coach. Lot’s of interim coaches have led their teams to success in the short term as Ed Orgeron and Clay Helton have come to mind. But most just go through the motions for the rest of the year.
At age 40, Hall is suddenly one of the youngest coaches in division one football. He will be wanting to put his best foot forward to audition for this job and future ones as well. The Beavers still have six games left on the schedule and will be looking to end the season on a high note as a tribute to coach Andersen and coach Hall.
“The most important thing right now is the players,” Hall said. “Amidst of all of this, we have to regroup and focus. It’s gonna be my job to keep everybody together.”
In terms of being connected with the players themselves, it appears that Hall is the best leader for the job. Hall is deeply rooted with the OSU team and that will hopefully work in the Beavers favor as they attempt to transition to life post-Andersen.
“I embrace those players,” Hall said. “I have a great relationship with the majority of the players and we are in this together. We are a family and we want to carry out what Andersen would have wanted for this team.”
The Beavers have their work cut out for them as they begin to start yet another rebuild, but OSU has made thing crystal clear as they parted ways with Andersen.
They don’t want to live in the college football cellar any longer.