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There was a recent article in the Oregonian Penned By An Author Who Shall Not Be Named Here Because I Am Trying To Make A Statement On A.. ok fine it was John Canzano. He said that Oregon was like DisneyLand and Oregon State was content to be the State Fair.
So Oregon fans snickered and compared Beaver Nation to carnies. And thank you John Canzano for that. But his inference here was that Oregon State doesn't have the desire to build Disneyland.
And that got me to thinking. Why does it always have to be all or nothing? Why is it that we can't be happy with the State Fair, knowing that Disneyland is (arguably) not within our means to build? Why does it have to be “Conference Championships or bust.. because second place is first place loser, Ricky Bobby."
Why can't we be happy that Oregon State has grown into a program that consistently finishes in the top half of the conference and seems to be run by good human beings. Because no matter what fans think of Mike Riley’s football coaching skills, and whether they go back and forth on it on a semi-weekly basis, they all pretty much seem to agree that he's a good human being.
And a guy that we can be proud of.
SUPPOSE YOU HAD walked up to me in 1998 after the UW game, when there was suddenly the first beginnings of a swagger around the program and asked: ‘Would you be happy with a team that goes to a bowl game 5 out of every 7 years, upsets some No. 1s and No. 2s, but with some real bonehead head-scratchers mixed in there -- would you be happy with that?’
My answer would have been an emphatic "YES".
Yet here we are.
SO WHY CAN’T WE be happy with the State Fair? Because as State Fairs go, this one is pretty nice. Clean, well-kept.. little low on the glitter maybe. Sure, it would be nice to take a trip to Disneyland every year instead of just hoping we will get to go once a decade. But if you can't dig up the cash - or aren't willing to shortchange everything else in your life to do it - then maybe just enjoy what you have.
I know, it's hard to ignore the bragging of the kid next door who was born into money and goes all the time.
SOMETIMES IT IS hard to see the forest for the trees and that holds true in lots of different ways. Collectively, all of Beaver Nation seems to be wondering right now why Oregon State doesn't try to develop a power rushing game, why Oregon State has been going away from the run.
But maybe it is just a simple matter of ‘Have to,’ because the offensive line is banged up and there isn't a solid run-blocking lineup in place. Guys are being asked to contribute earlier in their learning curve than they have had time to prepare for, so they're just winging it in some respects.
Because to me, it looks like Riley took a look at the chess pieces he had on the board these past few seasons and decided, ‘This is going to be an old-school, Bill Walsh West Coast Offense. Get the ball to the playmakers in space, that's the goal of this offense. That gives us our best chance to win."
Would the Oregon State coaches like to be able to run the football more? Yes. Absolutely. But only because it allows them to do different things offensively, not because there is some innate need to get X amount of yards on the ground. So Riley spaces the defense out with the WCO look, forces them out of the box to try and shut it down then mixes in some runs to take advantage of the leverage.
WE WANT TO run the football, Riley says. Yes Coach, I believe you. I believe you want to throw the ball all over the yard so they back everybody out of the box and then you want to run it at them.
Not every coach has the flexibility, and nerve, to change his offensive attack to play to the strengths of his personnel. From the run-heavy Yvenson Bernard and Jacquizz Rodgers years to this high-powered passing offense.
This is fun to watch, ladies and gentlemen, (and you too John Canzano.)
I'm having fun.
And if you're not, you should try out the Tilt-A-Whirl sometime.