This isn’t going to be a popular topic, but I’ve been reading and attending lectures on how the brain works, and it got me to seeing patterns in how some of it relates to Gary Andersen.
So we all know the reported red flags:
1. He couldn’t get along with the AD.
2. He moves around a lot
3. He says it’s all about the kids, then continually bails on the kids.
We’ve heard these.
Yet, we are all bullish on Andersen. Myself included. Why? Well for one, he is a man with a plan. I think that’s the main reason. But he also has charisma and appears to be a straight shooter (though we know that is false based on his past history). He’s also opposite of Riley. All of this conspires to make us more bullish/biased than objective observers.
This blog does a good job describing how people are easily hypnotized by charisma.
One area that I find particularly interesting is how different parts of our brain can be suppressed at different times. We can “turn off” our critical thinking, for example.
Neuroscience and psychology have combined to theorize (strongly) that group dynamics is the dominating factor in group delusion. The individual members of a group surrender their will to a charismatic leader. Humans are wired to turn off their critical thinking mechanism when faced with a charismatic leader. If you reflect on your own life and think, “How did I vote for x?” or “How did I fall for that?”, you probably are a victim of your critical thinking skills breaking down and you falling for someone charismatic.
Now do I think this is happening with Andersen? Yes and no. I think Beaver fans are probably overly bullish on him because (a) their reference point was Riley and (b) he is charismatic, and this naturally breaks down our critical thinking skills.
On the flipside, Nebraska fans have deluded themselves into thinking Riley is the answer, despite the majority not liking the hire at first. But they found ways to justify it.
Am I criticizing Andersen before he’s coached a game? No. Let’s make that clear so we don’t get into the inevitable (CJ) strawmen of “Angry, Andersen is great and you just want to complain” or “Angry he hasn’t even coached a game!” or “Angry, anyone is better than Riley” (which is a fallacy, obviously). Anyway, let’s be clear: I think Anderson is great (but this is what scares me…has my critical thinking been turned off due to his charisma and my anti-Riley bias?).
I think we’re all in wait and see mode with a lot of enthusiasm. That’s fine. I just hope we’re not being suckered by charisma. If you listen to the players speak, they all talk about “buying in”, conformity emphasized, “us vs them” mindset…that is group think/cult mindset. It’s good, and healthy to some degree, for a football team to buy in and have these traits, but it also shows the coach has the charisma to make it happen, and thus disarm us as well. Just keep that in mind. I like Andersen, but something I can’t exactly pinpoint does give me mild unease or agita. This is a public service announcement rather than a call to criticize Andersen.
Additionally, I think everyone would serve themselves well to study the mind. It helps realize how poorly we calculate things like probability, perception, emotions, etc. For example, the odds of the same person winning a lottery twice are something like 1 in 30, yet when we see it happen, most view it as an almost religious experience. Emotions blur everything and completely turn off objectivity, rationality, etc. As we move into the Andersen era, with this charismatic man-on-a-mission coach, let’s just keep this all in mind and be on the lookout. Again, I am not criticizing the guy, so here’s a preemptive “shut your GD pie hole, CJ, et al.”
I’d consider all of these quotes anti-Riley in some way, or at the least pro-Andersen (over Riley). A while back we were all working on compiling a list. Here you go. The players have been diplomatic and gone about it nicely. Below is a compilation of some quotes. There were more, but they were behind the pay wall. I’m sure there will be more in the future, so feel free to add what you find to the comment section.
I know. Nobody wants to talk about Riley, yada yada. I agree to some extent, but I doubt we’ll ever stop talking about him entirely until he retires. After seeing the spring game, it’s a good time to stamp the regime change and close that door once and for all. AB was right about everything. *Group Dopamine injection*
March 25th “That’s the biggest thing they’ve changed in the program: energy,” Grimble said. “There is no relaxing, taking days off, taking plays off. They don’t let one thing go by, whether it’s a meeting, lifting, a practice.”
The narrative from players is that Andersen is a must-needed rejuvenation for this team. Mike Riley – OSU’s coach of 14 years and the previous 12 – had three losing seasons in the previous five. The long-time coach departed for the head coaching job of Nebraska eight days ago. Andersen was hired Wednesday.
Safety Cyril Noland-Lewis said the team “could definitely use that spark,” and wide receiver Jordan Villamin said Wednesday that Andersen will bring more energy and fire to the team.
Grimble took notice of Andersen all the way back to his days as Utah’s defensive coordinator. Utah was Grimble’s first scholarship offer out of high school, and the Utes’ upset victory against Alabama in the 2008 Sugar Bowl caught his eye.
This is the first time in his career he will play for a defensive-oriented head coach. The Sugar Bowl performance impressed Grimble, but not as much as Andersen’s introductory press conference.
“This is probably the biggest bright spot we’ve had in a long time, at least for the time that I’ve been here,” he said. “I can’t speak for a lot of people, I’ve only been here for a year, but for the time that I’ve been here – no disrespect to Coach Riley, I love Coach Riley to death, he gave me another chance to come here and play football – but this is probably the brightest spot we’ve had in a long time. It’s something to look forward to. It gives the team a lot of energy and I think it’s something that’ll bring the team together.”
3/14/15: “It’s definitely different,” Del Rio said. “When you have a game environment, you sort of see who’s going to play well in the game. It’s different when they can’t touch you, or it’s seven-on-seven. But when the bullets are live, guys are coming to crush you, you have to take it as if it is a game.”
3/10/15: “Under previous coach Mike Riley, the first 30 minutes or so of practice were primarily dedicated to special teams work. Then, those specialists were essentially dismissed.
Under Andersen, the specialists are present for the entire practice and are asked to attempt kicks in between periods while surrounded by (sometimes heckling) teammates. Andersen called the work ‘as competitive as you can get in spring ball, (being asked to) kick it in front of your whole team. They’ve handled that well. It’s great to see them make some big kicks.’”
3/7/15: “I love these coaches already, man. They make practice fun. Every day we come out here. And if we get a pick, they’re running with us to the end zone. They just have so much energy. It makes playing football fun. Sometimes guys are so business oriented that it takes the fun away from the game. These coaches know that it’s fun first, and that brings good things with it.” — cornerback Larry Scott
3/6/15: “Ortiz impressed in fall camp last year and split reps with senior Tyler Anderson much of the season. Though he never took a carry, Ortiz emerged as a solid target for Sean Mannion. He recorded 12 catches for 90 yards in 2014.
This year, those numbers should increase significantly. The junior called Andersen’s playbook ‘a little easier to learn’ than Riley’s, which has allowed him to start nearing game-day speed in the first week of spring practice.”
2/10/15: “In all, the workout takes about an hour and 10 minutes to complete. But the tempo within that time frame is what Woods, a senior running back, cites as the biggest difference between this winter program and the ones under Riley’s staff.
‘It’s rigorous,’ Woods said. ‘It’s more like a cardio. We’re lifting heavy and lifting fast. With the runs, we’re competing. It’s way more competition with everything, as it should be … That’s how you get the best out of everybody, in my opinion.’”
Villamin: “We’re starting to play faster. It’s not as big of a playbook so I feel like we’re getting it better; we’re starting to play faster. I didn’t think anybody was that tired with the up-tempo offense, so I think we’re starting to get more in shape with it. When we get more in shape, we make more plays. I think we’re starting to get more comfortable and settle down. ”
What have you learned about Coach Andersen over this last month and change?
Villamin: “He’s a cool guy, but he doesn’t play no games. If he wants something done he’s gonna tell you he wants this done. If it doesn’t get done he’s gonna put somebody else in there. Right to the point; right down to business. I like him a lot. He likes to have fun, too. It’s not always business serious. We had a dance battle the other day; we have all this fun stuff. You want to get everything done, but if you get everything done we have some fun at the end.”
“Energy…our energy is on a whole different level.” — Larry Scott
You can find all the game times and channels here.
He sounds like a forlorn immigrant who misses his homeland.
“We had such a routine and a simple life in Corvallis. You miss that,” he said. “You’re hoping and learning more about how you will find that in Lincoln.”
“It’s not going to go away immediately, my thoughts about Oregon State, my thoughts about all the guys we coached and recruited there and how the team is going to do,” Riley said. “That doesn’t just disappear.”
Earth to Mike: maybe you should have tried to recruit and win games if you liked the town so much? The fact his wife is still in Corvallis and he’s been visiting is also odd. I don’t see how this can end well for Riley or Nebraska fans.
Probably mostly football talk leading up to the spring game, yeah? The baseball team is treading downward. As I said in the weekend series thread, I haven’t watched baseball in two weekends now. I couldn’t stand watching Gabe Clark and Caleb Hamilton any longer, so I stopped. It’s been nice.
But I’m excited about the spring game next weekend. Sound like the players are pumped, and it’s going to have an atmosphere to it this year. Here‘s some recent video with Andersen. Good to hear things are improving. You can hear Andersen talking up Collins…he really really wants to find reasons to start him.