Oregon State takes on Utah at 7pm Saturday to begin its Pac-12 play. The Pac-12 Networks have been broadcasting the 2000 Civil War seemingly nonstop this week I believe in large part to get OSU fans excited about their road and Pac-12 opener. Perhaps they know attendance dipped last Saturday and want to see that trend quickly reverse direction. Watching these replays some distinct differences between that era and our current situation are readily apparent. First and foremost, and I will try to be as objective as possible, the amount of fan and player energy and passion was much greater at that time. The fans are going nuts that entire game. The players also all have very positive energy and are playing with obvious passion to put forth a great effort and performance. Ken Simonton was attacking in the running game and there just is a high amount of entropy throughout the entire team and fans. This is Oregon State as healthy as I have ever seen and what we all hope returns to the culture very soon. The team is fast and hounds Joey Harrington all day. In fact, they caused 6 turnovers in this game.
There are a few reasons why I think we have lost this culture but foremost I believe is because the innocence of OSU and the balance has been lost. This was a normal time of 5 year coaching deals and being glad for every year you got at a high level with the coach not knowing for sure how long it would last. Much different then today’s OSU when a coach has been here for 12 years and potentially could be here for as much as 12 more. That just seems totally out of whack and I think it is a detriment for the fan experience of your alma mater. Instead of the university and state of Oregon being most important it seems to have shifted to a couple people trying to maximize their own situation for as long as they possibly can. It feels a little like we have been hijacked because of just how long a contract BDC signed. I really want to see Riley’s teams play with the same energy and attitude of this 2000 team but there is a lot of work to be done. To get closer to that a few things need to happen.
First of all Riley needs to show more attitude and get more excitable and energized during each possession of every game. Have the passion to be the very best you possibly can be and to have more domination in games. Play with more confidence as a team and attack the holes quickly in the running game. Watching WSU beat USC reminded me of OSU beating USC with Quizz. When they ran it they were going fast and picked up the tempo. They put the defense in some shock by quickly striking for 6 or 7 yard running bursts. OSU should do this too and then mix in play action to keep the defense flustered. Someway, somehow more energy has to return to OSU gamedays and throughout the coaches and team. Have fun and show the rest of the Pac-12 and nation that the Beavers are a force to be reckoned with. The defense has to take major pride in getting the offense back on as soon as possible by coming up with 3 and outs, turnovers and not allowing the opponent touchdowns. Erickson’s 2000 defense was very aggressive and that needs to be restored at OSU.
Oregon State debuts the new road white uniforms and unlike the all black jerseys, let’s hope they can annoint their first use with a nice victory. Riley’s teams sometimes in the past have been able to take leads and then get a little conservative. Play the same way throughout the game and never take the foot off the pedal. OSU football should always be played aggressively and to make the nation admire the way we attack all game. A lot of this is attitude and Riley needs to realize it is a crucial makeup of championship teams and Top 15-20 level football. I will choose to be positive about this team this Saturday and let the game play out. The better leadership and passion for winning will produce a victor. That can be OSU if the team and coaches are envigorated to make our great state and Oregon State fans proud with their attitude and play. A more frenzied energy and passion needs to once again be apparent each and every Saturday. Erickson did not have the benefit of a new Reser east side. He envisioned our house as incredibly loud and roaring. Riley’s usual demeanor has not allowed the vison to reach its full and rightful potential.
It starts with the players and coaches wanting to do special things and put on a show. It is entertainment and it should be done with gusto. Play and show the attitude that will get fans back engaged and easily selling out Reser during the Pac-12 season. That can happen but only if Riley shows in a lot of the upcoming road games that his Beavers are going to be fighters. We have enough athletes if the players decide they want to play at their highest level. Like the WSU defender who made a couple of key picks you have to make the most of every opportunity. Riley and his team need to raise their game and not be satisfied with a certain level of effort. In the 2nd half versus Hawaii the defense looked like they were having more fun and playing with purpose. That needs to stay true at Utah and on offense Mannion and Cooks need to keep being great leaders and get a full team effort around them. The culture has to improve at OSU as it has become too stale. To be in the best position for success at Utah, OSU needs to find its passion and Riley has to show the energy to reengage the fanbase and make people proud again of the way OSU football is played and how hard we fight at Oregon State. The players need to know and be instilled by their coach that they can write their own destiny.