So far it has been a painfully slow recruiting year for Oregon State. To this point we only have a guy UCLA pulled their offer from and a transfer from Hawaii. Brennan and Brasfield are not delivering talent from the premium recruiting areas. Rod Perry won’t ever be a good recruiter. He is like Riley in that he wants a smooth glide path into retirement. Angry said for being paid 75% more than Keith Hayward he had better produce. But besides the DBs turning around once or twice a year more often to look for the ball I just don’t expect much. Who do you think really won in the DB coach sweepstakes? UW who got a solid young coach ready to hit his prime at a cheaper price who has 15 solid years to look forward to or OSU who paid much more to get a guy who can’t move around too quick? Which coach has the most value to recruits who increasingly prefer younger, aggressive coaching staffs that are more relateable? The recruiting process as it has already played out is answering that question for us with little doubt.
UW with Sarkisian, Wilcox and Hayward are recruiting incredibly well while OSU has just about the lowest ranked class so far of the 120 FBS schools. Are recruits impressed with Riley’s 14-34 NFL record? That is only a 29% winning record folks with a NFL program that is considered to have more advantages than most. Riley not only couldn’t wake the sleeping giant but actually put the Chargers into a dark coma until they got rid of him. His 33% winning percentage at OSU the past two seasons shows Riley is back into his poor losing ways with little ability to lead, motivate his team or demand success. ESPN has put out articles saying the new Pac-12 expectation is you have 3 years to show you are a winner and the right guy for a head coaching job. Yet OSU continues to say 6 wins is a great job at OSU by giving each one a year extension to an already too long 10 year extended base contract.
Riley can afford to have 4 and 5 win seasons mixed in with 6 win seasons every other year because just that alone will keep him at OSU until 2024. Ask yourself how absurd that sounds and if you know of even a single other university who has such an insanely long arrangement all for a measely 6 wins? Though most fans don’t think Riley can actually last that long with many losing seasons, the problem is partly that without consecutive losing seasons the heat might not stay hot enough. Clearly in a year like this with 3 consecutive losing seasons on the line the pressure should be incredibly high. Instead we have Riley having as slow and poor a recruiting effort in his history at OSU and writers like Lindsay Schnell saying before the season it doesn’t matter how many games he wins. Excuse me? The season doesn’t matter? Doesn’t this thinking help explain why OSU has so many slow starts and failed to even once ever reach what winning programs typically consider a mediocre Holiday Bowl?
Recruiting to Corvallis is if anything easier than recruiting to Pullman, yet Mike Leach on the other hand is off to a very strong recruiting season and has seen good levels of 4 star recruit interest. I personally said I thought Leach was within reason of obtaining last year and was laughed off by many who have bought into the current OSU company line of mediocrity being good. Leach would have answered a call from BDC but Bob never once even considered making that call. Not once while he buttered his morning toast or anything else. Instead a more proggressive AD, Bill Moos, realized that the Pac-12 is uber competitive and he didn’t want the Cougars perpetually in the basement. So where does OSU want to be?
The writing on the wall is getting very clear. If OSU thinks its stale ways will succeed in the future it is flat out wrong. The best we can expect with a declining Riley is 6 wins around 50% of the seasons with a very occasional (I mean wait 4 years) 7 win season thrown in. If that is the game plan through 2016 and trying to get the Reser Phase 3 effort momentum than we are due for some bleak years. One can already hear the excuses for why next years spring game was just another scrimmage and again only garnered 1700 fans while Oregon breaks the 45,000 barrier. When the average this year for a solid home schedule with Wisconsin and Oregon amounts to less than the 42,200 last year with a much lesser home slate than it is clear we are in decline. Nothing in Riley’s makeup should tell you he will rally the troops and become a new aggressive magnet to attract recruits and build a legit winning program that is nationally relevant.
The new branding next year will be nice but if Oregon State wants to make it a huge success and become a real player than it needs dynamic new leadership. Go out and steal away Justin Wilcox from the Huskies and watch as OSU gets more exciting defensive recruits than Washington. Then watch as his charisma leads to better offensive recruits who want to be part of something fresh, exciting and that expects to win. Even Oregon would take notice because Chip will know Wilcox has beat his Ducks twice and the threat in Corvallis will be greater than it has been since Erickson’s 2000 team. Chip never looks at all worried about taking on Riley. If we keep Riley 5 more years you can bank on 5 more losses. Wilcox though may very well get 2 of those 5 Civil Wars and certainly make it the real rivalry it deserves to be and not the cake walk it has become as Riley smiles away defeat after defeat.
Does OSU want to be perennially in the basement and stay among the bottom 2 in conference for attractiveness to recruits? Or does OSU want to reinvent itself with a confident leader who has been an exceptional recruiter and show that OSU wants to be a serious player in the Pac-12 and on the national scene? Do you want to keep watching Act 1 of the same play or is Beaver Nation ready for progression and an exciting new Act that will capture attention, expand the audience and give the best chance for a Reser Phase 3 by 2017?