By Ben Riley
You don’t have to be a football fan to know that the week following Thanksgiving was a difficult one for the Beavers. First, OSU lost a devastatingly lopsided game to the Ducks in the Civil War. Less than a week later, longtime football coach Mike Riley announced that he had accepted a job coaching at the University of Nebraska. It looked like it would be a grim off-season, indeed.
However, OSU turned it around with two big announcements. On Wednesday, Oregon State University Athletic Director Bob De Carolis announced a multi-year project to expand and renovate the Valley Football Center bordering Reser Stadium. The $42 million effort will be part of an ongoing commitment to keep the university competitive in the Pac-12 facilities “arms race.” After dismissing the media, De Carolis announced via local radio and press release that a brand new football coach, Gary Andersen, had been hired.
Dozens of print, Internet, and television reporters returned to campus on Friday for a second press conference to hear from new football coach Andersen in person. It was standing room only in the Beaver Spirit Room at the Valley Football Center.
Both De Carolis and OSU President Ed Ray spoke before introducing the new coach. They conveyed their expectations for the future of OSU athletics. They promised to continue to improve facilities in an effort to raise the schools profile and draw valuable recruits to Corvallis.
Coach Andersen gave a quick speech before fielding questions from reporters. He spoke quickly and decisively about his philosophy of a team that is aggressive in everything they do. Despite his short tenure as the head coach at the University of Wisconsin, Andersen said that he would continue to be available to the student-athletes he had coached. He spoke respectfully about Riley, saying that his team always played hard.
Andersen also mentioned that recruiting to a small town like Corvallis has its advantages, despite notions to the contrary. A small college town creates a closeness among students which is often lost at commuter schools.
While he declined to comment on issues of staffing or whether any of his former players would follow him to OSU, Andersen did hint heavily that his offense will utilize the mobility of its quarterback. This will come as music to the ears of many Beaver fans who have watched other Pac-12 teams become increasingly proficient read option systems which utilize athletic quarterbacks. The best mobile quarterback in college football right now and winner of this year’s Heisman Trophy, of course, plays for the University of Oregon.
While there is much work to be done and many questions to be answered before the Beavers host the Weber State Wildcats in September of next year, Beaver fans now have something which had all but disappeared of late: optimism.