5 worst Oregon State football head coaching hires of all-time

Today, we count down the five worst Oregon State football head coaching hires of all time.

Oregon State v USC
Oregon State v USC / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages
1 of 5

The head football coach position at Oregon State has seen quite a bit of attention this offseason with Jonathan Smith jumping ship from Corvallis to take the Michigan State job. Naturally, that move comes at a time when the future of OSU football is up in the air, to say the least. So it's no coincidence that Smith's move happened when it did.

Now, Trent Bray is set to lead the Beavers into the dark unknown of college football realignment. One has to wonder, though, if circumstances out of his control will make his tenure as head coach less successful than it would have been if the PAC-12 had stayed together.

The simple reality, though, is that the job Bray inherits is not an easy one. In fact, building a consistent winner in Corvallis has always proven to be a challenge.

Of the 31 head coaches in program history, only 16 have had winning records. However, when we dive deeper, we find that of those 16, twelve coached Oregon State prior to World War II.

That means that only four coaches since the middle of the 20th century have been able to put together a winning percentage above .500 for Oregon State. Now, one has to wonder if an already difficult job is about to become even more daunting given the lack of certainty about Oregon State's future conference affiliation.

Of course, that will all work itself out and the Bray era will be closely measured against what happens off the field and in boardrooms across the country. Hopefully, he will have the type of success that has evaded so many recent OSU head coaches. For now, though, let's look back at the five worst head coaches to hold Bray's current position and see why they didn't make it work with the Beavers.

No. 5: Dave Kragthorpe (1985-1990)

To begin our list, we go back to the late 1980s when Ronald Regan was President and Madonna and Michael Jackson ruled the airwaves. That's also when Dave Kragthorpe was in charge of the Oregon State football program but unlike the good things people like to remember from the 80s, his tenure is rather forgettable.

A Utah State alum, Kragthorpe spent considerable time coaching in the western portion of the United States with stops at Montana, South Dakota State, BYU, and Idaho State before arriving at OSU. However, what made his hiring an odd choice in December of 1984 was that he had been out of coaching for 18 months.

Prior to his time with the Beavers, Kragthorpe was working as the athletics director at Utah State. That came after he went 21-14 (.600) in three seasons as head coach at Idaho State. However, he couldn't replicate that success at Oregon State where the competition he faced was much tougher.

Granted, he didn't inherit a healthy program. In fact, prior to his arrival, the program had strung together 14 straight losing seasons dating back to 1971.

Not much changed under Kragthorpe's leadership. OSU would go just 17-48-2 in the six years he was there. That included a record of just 10-33-2 in PAC-10 games.

Kragthorpe never won more than four games in a season and in 1990, his program bottomed out at 1-10. However, he might have been ahead of his time as he tried (unsuccessfully) to implement a pass-happy attack he called the "Air Express".

It wasn't all Kragthorpe's fault, though. The OSU job was so tough at the time that, in 1989, he was named PAC-10 Coach of the Year despite having just a 4-7-1 record. Still, his time in Corvallis didn't yield any positive results and he left the program no better than it was when he arrived. To this day, he has the 6th-worst winning percentage in program history and that dubious distinction lands him on our list.