At the end of November I published a blog on where Oregon State University football might be heading and what I felt was over-the-top expectations for first-year coach Jonathan Smith.
Since that time the All-Pac-12 Conference all-star teams have come out, one selected by the coaches and one by the Associated Press wire service. And while noting that such selections do not automatically go onto stone tablets — look at how few Heisman winners advance to stardome in the NFL — it did show the “lack of respect” in which the Beavers are held.
Running back Jermarr Jefferson, who rushed for 1,380 yards, third best in the conference, was not named to the first or second team by either the coaches or the AP, although he did receive the freshman offensive player of the year award from the coaches.
The only first- or second team player from the Beavers was junior guard Gus Lavaka, who was named to the second team by the AP.
Translation: The coaches and sportswriters don’t think OSU has very many good players.
That also was a bit of trend among the seven readers who emailed me with questions, thoughts or concerns after I published the blog.
“Recruiting and player development are keys to any team’s success,” said DK, a 1999 OSU grad. “OSU needs both lines to improve overnight. Jefferson would have set records all over the books if they could punch a defense in the mouth for four quarters.”
Dave Paulsen, a lifelong Beavers fan who lives on the East Coast, noted that the 2000 team coached by Dennis Erickson and quarterbacked by Smith was loaded with California juco transfers at key positions, including wide receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, defensive ends DeLawrence Grant and LaDiaris Jackson and offensive tackle Mitch White.
“Wouldn’t that (JC transfers) get them out of this … if they get the right ones?” Paulsen said. “Because I don’t feel they can do it any other way. I am 57 now and my fear is OSU is down for the rest of my days.”
Tom Wangler wrote: “Like any Beaver football fan or alumni I was depressed every Saturday this season.”
Wangler expressed particular concerns about the defense. “Until the defensive side of things gets squared away expect another losing season no matter how well the offense plays or how many records Jefferson breaks.”
A couple of correspondents said that the abundance of night games has affected attendance at Reser. Brad Jenks of Portland and Michael Antonelli of Tigard both said that getting back home late after 7 p.m. games was deterring them from attending.
Although Jenks also listed price and the quality of play he said that 7 p.m. start times was “the biggest reason” he gave up his season tickets.
“Many of us are coming from Portland, and the 7 p.m. games with traffic meant we’re not getting home until 1 or 2 in the morning, and it shoots our entire weekend and makes day care expensive,” Jenks said.
Antonelli agreed. “I absolutely from now until hell freezes over refuse ever again to attend a night game and get home at 1 a.m., no matter how good that team becomes. That dark drive back, in the rain often, on Highway 99 is not a pleasant or particularly safe experience at midnight.”
For the record the Beavers played 5 games at 5 p.m. or later, including 2 at 7 p.m. or later this season. Please note that for simplicity’s sake I am counting home and away games in these numbers. Most recent years have had the same amount of late contests, with 2014 the high water mark with 8 games at 5 p.m. or later, including 7 at 7 or later.
“They’re on TV every game anyway if I’m interested,” Antonelli added. “I think after the first half of the Civil War I went out and raked leaves though.”
Other correspondents, however, went higher up the food chain. Jamie Righter, noting the figures in my blog on athletics revenue, questioned whether OSU really belongs in a Pac-12 Conference in which everyone but Washington State takes in more revenue.
“It’s not just about winning,” Righter said. “It’s undersized players with greater risk of injuries, it’s the seasons where no one shows up, and it’s wasting taxpayer and student dollars with little return.”
Patrick Garcia, meanwhile, felt the problem lies with President Ed Ray. Garcia said that if Smith deserves an “incomplete” for his first year then Ray deserves an “F.”
“He consistently overpays these coaches and got no results,” Garcia said, with the result being “higher tuition and less education.”
Thanks to all who responded. Really appreciated that the replies all were thoughtful and to the point.