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Jonathan Smith, the new head coach for the Oregon State University Beavers, faces a big rebuilding task. 

Anibal Ortiz, Mid-Valley Media

A few thoughts on our popular collegiate pastime, football, as we end the season with only Alabama the happy winner. Former coaches and players have put this unique game in perspective. Perhaps new OSU coach Jonathan Smith will somehow establish his coaching philosophy to lead the Beavers to new heights. Time will tell.

A former Georgia coach, Wally Butts, knew years ago what he was up against when his team played Alabama and its coach, Bear Bryant. He lamented: “In Alabama, an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in Bear Bryant.”

And Scott Frost, taking over the reins of the University of Nebraska program from Mike Riley, should heed the words of a former coach at Nebraska, Bob Devaney, who opined, “I don't expect to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation. I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation.” And if Frost wants to win enough for an investigation he'll probably have to recruit some players from Florida to the frozen tundra of Nebraska. Good luck with that venture.

Yep, you also have to recruit the players who fit your university. Former Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy said, “A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall.” So sometimes you have to go out and bring into that study hall some players who are less than inspired to be good students. Star lineman Alex Karras noted: “I never graduated from Iowa. But I was there for two terms — Truman's and Eisenhower's." And former Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty lamented about his playing days when he said: “I could have been a Rhodes Scholar except for my grades.”

Ohio State's Urban Meyer had problems with one of his players: “He doesn't know the meaning of the word fear. In fact, I just saw his grades and he doesn't know the meaning of a lot of words.”

So what does it take for OSU's Smith to make the Beavers respectable? Ponder what John Heisman said. “Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble the football." (Remember Stanford?).

And follow the advice of Knute Rockne of Notre Dame: “It isn't necessary to see a good tackle; you can hear it.”

Or believe the admonition of former Tennessee coach Bowden Wyatt: “My advice to defensive players is to take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in a bad humor.”

Why all the fuss about football and winning? Well, quarterback Joe Namath said it best. “When you win, nothing hurts.” So one must admit that when you lose, everything hurts. And we don't want our Beavers to turn into opossums where they play dead at home and get killed on the road.

T.H. Carlson, a forever Beaver and football fan, was a longtime member of Oregon State University's Journalism Department.


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