18.May.2011 Mike Riley Described as “Slow” in Oregonian

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In an article here about Barney Graff and the medical staff.

Riley seemed slow to acknowledge all of this – perhaps because he valued Graff as a co-worker and as a friend – but the school finally acted on all of the unrest in the department.

I'm not exactly sure what the bold portion means. Did Ed Ray override Riley and the AD to demote Graff?

Either way, there are three issues here:

1. The slow adaptation is classic Riley. Clearly the medical staff has underperformed for over a decade, yet change was only made in 2011. Greg Newhouse hadn't signed a recruit for four or five years, but he was only asked to change roles this year. And then there are the players (#28, Pankey, Quizz getting 99% of the carries, etc). Waiting for Riley to make a change is like waiting for watched water to boil.

2. The players (and their families) are victims.

Guys like Jeremy Perry are what make this story sad. A guy with an NFL future who received questionable medical treatment, and ultimately had to retire.

3. With regard to point #2, did Riley know his players felt this way? If "you should ice that" was a running, inside joke, surely he heard it. I mean, yeah, he had to have known. But there will be people who defend him to their death, just like there are still people who condition themselves to believe Nixon didn't know about the Watergate burglaries. Do what you must to get through life, I suppose, but I don't understand how this fits into good management or the "family" atmosphere. If I were injured, mentally or physically, my family would want me to receive top notch care. Or, thinking back to early childhood when we were poor, at least competent care if the best were unaffordable.

Reading between the lines, this is what I'm thinking: OSU hired Graff because he was a Riley crony who came at a cheap price. That's how OSU runs their athletic department: Money is their God and Riley their Jesus. This report leaves many unanswered questions: who stepped in and made this change? Who is the new head trainer for football? Why did this take a decade to sort out? Was this so well known that schools used it against OSU on the recruiting trail? Why didn't Riley protect his players' health, career, livelihood? The answers can mostly be deduced, but I'd rather hear them from the horses' mouths. The (typical) silence leads me to believe there's contention and disarray in the athletic department.

With the windfall profits headed their way, OSU sees an opportunity to ditch the cronyism in favor of a meritocrasy. Of course, this is a good thing, but while the end result is positive, the means is extremely questionable and demands more answers.

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  • sparkyd73 says:
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    The thing that doesn’t add up on this is that it has always seemed that OS has been very conservative in holding players out (at least star players). Both of the Rodgers brothers sat out games that many gave Riley a hard time about. I’ve also thought it odd that players have had injuries that pop up and are traced back to weeks/months/season before.

    I agree that I would like to know the answers of why now and who made the call.

    • angry angry says:
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      Maybe Riley lost trust in Graff, too, so he sat guys out. Or, maybe Graff didn’t know how to diagnose players, so he told them to sit just to save his ass? Or, maybe the families of these players stepped in and looked after their best interest since the staff wasn’t? All theories, obviously. Riley “doesn’t want to talk about it” and somehow that’s okay with the fans/media, so we’ll never really know. I might try to interview some players about this issue…if they’re willing to tweet about it then there’s probably a lot of pent up frustration and desire to talk.

  • ean says:
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    I definitely agree with what you are saying but I would like to point out that being slow to change is not just a characteristic of Riley and OSU but a characteristic of sports both professional and amateur. A conservative approach is the MO of most people looking to retain their million dollar plus salaries. But I agree we got to make intelligent change to get to the next level.

    • angry angry says:
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      There are degrees of slowness/conservatism.

      Taking a player out of a game because of one blown assignment is probably rash. After three games, it’s probably appropriate. Same with this trainer. One bad year where guys are dinged up, okay. Two years? Eh. But this is year 14. That’s not slow, it’s a crawl.

  • uncanny says:
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    This is very disturbing.

  • angry angry says:
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    Someone in the Oregonian comment area made a good point: this is now three incidents (Barney Gaff, Nate Yeskie, and Mike Parker) involving alcohol within three months. Something to keep an eye on…

  • JackBeav says:
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    Better.

  • OStater says:
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    +1 on upping the metabolism of Oregon State. We had a tough reputation under Erickson with national prestige and Riley has created this Mayberry nonsense we can’t get free from that is making a joke of and greatly diminishing our national prestige interests. Until we get free from that yoke you can expect Riley to continue to be satisfied with 6-6 and 7-5 records. It will be mostly Kraft Fight Hunger bowls until we toughen up and have a major attitude and expectation adjustment. You have to get young players to buy into a system of winning with flair, style and toughness. Players and top recruits want a confident, smash-mouth leader, not a Mayberry/Barney Fife wannabe.

    • AntiAngryBeaver says:
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      Erickson’s record at OSU was 7-5, 11-1, 5-6, and 8-5. 1-2 in Bowl games. The Fiesta Bowl was a great, great year. But People act as if OSU under Erickson was this amazing machine with multiple Pac10 Championships and BCS Bowls, first round draft picks, and a national image of being a great team. Fact is, he wasn’t much better then Riley.

      • JackBeav says:
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        I will agree and add that Erickson’s success was only due to his willingness to supplement Riley’s best recruiting classes ever with some top flight JUCO talent.

        And some of Riley’s problems for the first three or four years in his second run were due to personnel and how the refs treated us due to that “tough but undisciplined” stigma.

        In the end, it has nothing to do with win/loss records or even perception. It has to do with policy implementation and willingness to hold people responsible. Erickson can’t be used as a comparison, because he never made these changes either.

        • OStater says:
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          Valid points, but I have to say it felt great how tenacious, aggressive and hard-nosed some of the Erickson defenses were. They weren’t all Fiesta Bowl level, but they did have much more attitude which is lacking too much currently. They ran to the ball harder. They made some dumb late hits but if they would have just been a little smarter about a few of them it would have been almost exactly what you are looking for. You have to have that toughness to mentally win the game, but just have to know when it is too late for a mega hit.

          Cameron Collins appears to be bringing some of the tough and smash-mouth attitude back and we need it and from more players besides him. It can be infectious and allow a few more leaders to emerge through toughness and physical play. Both the O and D lines need to have much more push. If you aren’t tough you usually lose. Everyone has to want it and buy in to physical dominance on the field.

          • Beavocalypse says:
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            Ostater-

            I love what you said about Cameron Collins. This should have been true last year but Banker’s “brilliant” defensive scheme (aka not telling Newhouse he’s a dipshit and pulling out Pankey to put in a faster, harder hitting player and let him take his lumps) screwed him over.

            I hope Collins unleashes hell on his opponents. That is, if Graff didn’t take a hammer to his kneecap or something in his sleep.

      • angry angry says:
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        When you say “people act as if…” I hope you’re not talking about me.
        Neither Erickson nor Riley was/is the ideal coach. If you combine the best aspects of each you’d probably have something close, though.

        JackBeav, you write, “only due to his willingness to supplement Riley’s best recruiting classes ever with some top flight JUCO talent.”

        Only? That’s a big skill. Also, once he got the talent, he had to coach it and manage it. Part of the reason Erickson could land top flight Jucos was due to his rings and the respect that level of achievement commands. The fringe benefits of a meritocrasy…

        • JackBeav says:
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          Still, he couldn’t replicate that success. And I would argue that he’s on the verge of a major disappointment this coming season as a direct result.

          And if Riley were truly slow to change, we wouldn’t have ended up with good to great QB recruits. We might have had to suffer through seasons with lesser recruits like a Kellen Moore, going for a Jonathan-Smith-reborn type.

          *gasp*

          I agree that cronyism breeds stagnation, breeds discontent, breeds loss of faith. I just think this has more to do with something nobody is allowed to talk about given that nobody is even slightly open to confirming or denying any speculation in the matter. The only tangible evidence thus far is uncredited discontent, which could be had at any bar stool in America… or here for that matter. The difference is that in this story it’s the basis for speculation after change, not for wont of it. That’s not typical with this program.

          Then again, they may not be able to comment because it is a personnel issue which has yet to be resolved. I hope for the best, but I fear the worst.

        • mckalk mckalk says:
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          Yeah, it’s not like the program has landed a lot of JUCO game changers under Riley, right?

  • JackBeav says:
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    I think we’re missing the big picture here.

    What do you think of when you hear about an athletic trainer doing strange things which hinder rehab and cause other strange injuries?

    It doesn’t take a big stretch to think of an answer.

    Now consider that the FBI is like water and ice. They will seep into every crack and expand as it gets colder.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/oregon-city/index.ssf/2011/04/oregon_city_man_who_sold_steroids_to_canby_cop_also_sold_to_a_man_who_became_an_oregon_state_univers.html

  • angry angry says:
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    Yeah, I don’t see where POWERFUL “brand” fits into this discussion. I skim FMO’s comments just to see if he’s up to the same ol’…he’s become a curiosity. Can’t quite tell if he’s a human or Google bot.
    Q: Are we not men? A: We are OS_Beaver

    • sparkyd73 says:
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      When a post is deleted, it really makes responses to that post look silly.

  • Beavocalypse says:
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    So you’re telling me every one of those “Tips for the Trainers” videos were bullshit? Damn, no wonder my knees are swellin’ and my wrist has been hurting for months…lol

    I have noticed that Puker is willing to be a little more critical in his posts…or at least he’s taking little jabs at our program when they are COMPLETELY OBVIOUS. He’s been scooped by this blog and its contributors like JackBeav and others constantly.

    And now BDC gets five more years to rule at the top with Riley. Unless they make changes faster in the future my moniker of OSU (p)Athletics will continue.

    • Beavocalypse says:
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      Oh, and I’ll say it again…Riley doesn’t know how to take care of his players. For thinking these guys are all “neat” he sure has a funny way of not protecting them…either from faulty trainers or opposing teams and their cheapshots.

      Hell, I’d think any coach that DOESN’t use RIley’s flub with player health is doing the recruits a disservice. If you have a good training staff, you should use that as a weapon, and in the past two years (and the decade) Riley has had a limp banana on the issue.

    • ean says:
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      lol… I base my entire health on those tips.

  • angry angry says:
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    Riley addresses the situation:
    http://www.oregonlive.com/beavers/index.ssf/2011/05/oregon_state_football_coach_mi.html

    Good job by Buker getting some answers.

    • angry angry says:
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      You have to wonder why this guy is only getting a demotion. He should be canned!

      • JackBeav says:
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        Demotion was the first story. This one kinda says dismissal/dismissed in the headline and the first sentence.

        And there still aren’t any answers. There’s an acknowledgement that players have been injured. And there’s a note that some players could not trust the training staff.

        We’re going to leave it at, “We’re going to have new leadership and a new culture.”
        ?

        I hope so. I hope this story is bagged and tagged. I get a weird feeling about it, and I don’t like it. It may be the obvious “trainer is dismissed” reasons. Or it may be those that Buker (and, thus his readers) have been allowed to freely suppose. It could be that Graff broke into Coach Rob’s office and prank-called the White House on speed dial.

        I don’t care. I want the story to disappear and never come back.

        For Graff’s replacement, does Riley dip into the old COS well? He could finally pull in a great JUCO transfer in Dennis Goebel. But the dude’s been there forever. So we’ll probably get one of the members of the Power Team instead.

  • HopefulBeav says:
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    As someone “in the industry”, it really ticks me off when I see stories like this where it sounds like a trainer, or physical therapist, or whatever is reluctant to refer injuries to the proper physicians in a timely manner. I don’t know if it’s an ego thing or what, but after reading that article from OregonLive it really makes you wonder.

  • dilig says:
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    Riley should be severely castigated for letting this situation deteriorate to the pointy it is in. This so-called athletic trainer should have been fired years ago. For the past several seasons we have had a rash of key players knocked out with shoulder injuries (Moevo, Cannfield, both Rodgers Bros., Halahuni, and who am i forgetting), in addition to who knows how many other injuries. We couldn’t even field a team to play a spring game this year. Our kids are not in shape. Let’s be honest and recognize the program is on the downslide under the current athletic department administration and coaching staff. President Ed, where are you?

  • Will Overhead says:
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    What? You’re suggesting Nixon knew about the Watergate burglaries? What next? JFK was screwing around? Jefferson had slaves? Henry the 8th had syphilis?

    Sheesh.

    • JackBeav says:
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      Watergate was stolen? More than once?

      What’s Watergate?

      And around, slaves and syphilis are strange women’s names. I’m thinking you just changed the names to protect the innocent.

  • Will Darkins says:
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    Look I want to make this clear. I fully support Coach Mike Riley and Oregon State University’s changes to the athletic training facility. Over the past few seasons there have been complaints from players about the lack of care and consideration taken towards injuries on the field. Much of the time these complaints can be rooted from frustration by the player that their desired physical abilities have been hampered. It is understandable. Yet I don’t believe that blaming people for mistakes is the right direction that should be taken in this situation. Many of the times I think it’s hard for fans to understand the complexities that the sport of American football presents to the player’s subjective judgement.

    As a former player I feel like addressing this issue is important because many fans and outside perspectives can be skewed by records and accolades that hang in the balance of each season. The enormous amount of pressure that is placed on a player each season to perform to the best of their abilities is tremendous. Some of the time playing hurt is the best solution to a player’s broken pride and ego when seeing another player perform at their position. These types of situations happen more times than you will ever know, and listening to the training staff can be difficult when your future hopes and dreams are on the line. This is why I cannot fully blame Barney Graff for the injury mishaps that have taken place within the past 4 years. It is the player’s competitive nature that drives them to break and defeat the physical boundaries at which their body can hold. Barney Graff tried to the best of his abilities to help sustain and improve the health of Oregon State athletes. But he failed. That is only thing that we can take from this.

    Rather than pointing fingers at the first available victim, attempt to understand that football its self is a detrimental sport to a human’s well being. Not only does a player’s physical health lay in the balance with every snap, but the well being of mental health does as well. The game is evolving. Players are faster and stronger putting more people at risk for injury. This is a sport of gladiators which requires its players to give themselves up for the greater good of your entertainment (the fan).

    Mike Riley is a great person and an even better coach. Do not lose faith Beaver Nation. Just support our players and staff knowing that they are striving for the same goal as you, excellence.

    I hope this gives you a better perspective on the situation, and that we can all move on together.

    • ean says:
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      Good stuff… are you related to Andy Darkins?

      Also why did you quit? You seemed like a solid FB. I understand if you don’t want to answer. With all the info coming out about concussions I would think twice myself.

      On a side note I am not liking how they bring up the Rodger’s brothers injuries when talking about Graff. I don’t think any amount of training would have prevented those.

      • Will Darkins says:
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        Yes I am his brother. I decided to quit football for personal reasons myself. But thank you for the support, and just keep believing.

    • angry angry says:
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      Thanks for sharing a player’s perspective. You say fan perspective is skewed because we’re too far away from the situation. The inverse is true of a player many times, too. People too close to a situation become emotionally invested in it, skewing perspective. It’s still cool to read, though.

      Can you answer the bigger picture question as to why Mike Riley is so slow to change and adapt? Not just in the Graff situation, but embracing new technology (for recruiting), benching ineffective players, instilling new formations, etc? What is the reason for this?

      • Will Darkins says:
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        Never thought about it like that. Good perspective to consider. I don’t think you should focus so much on Riley being “slow”. He’s an effective coach that knows how to run a football team. I know that things are looking down right now, but I believe the effective changes are being made to utilize talent in a more effective manner on the team.

        • angry angry says:
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          I actually feel like things are looking up.

          1. We replaced Newhouse with better recruiters (granted, he was a good LB coach, but Banker will be fine there).
          2. Windfall profits from the Pac-12 (2012), more TV exposure, etc
          3. Concerted effort to improve recruiting
          4. Faster LBs this upcoming year
          5. Katz a year wiser
          6. 2011 was a very solid recruiting class, especially WR

          etc

          If we had a better offensive line I’d be bullish on the upcoming season. The following year looks extremely promising if guys stay healthy and the RB sorts itself out (still think Storm Woods is the man for the job).

          Anyway, it looks like you don’t want to answer the question about Riley being slow. I understand why, and that is fine. It’s just that if you look around at other coaches, they make changes in appropriate time frames, and Riley always seems to take anywhere from twice as long to ten times as long to make the obvious change. It frustrates the hell out of me and a lot of the people who hang out here. We never get an answer, which makes the frustration mount.

          • JackBeav says:
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            Maybe, like many Beavs fans, Riley finds it difficult to compartmentalize and evaluate on an individual basis. What makes him a good team leader also makes him trust his delegation too much.

            And keeping people around is reinforced by players sometimes too. That personal, emotional relationship with recruiters, position coaches and each other may lead the head man to evaluate incorrectly. Remember how attached many of the players were to Jim Gilstrap?

            I think the last thing Riley needed was someone young and ambitious to come into the program and give it some life, something for contrast. We all got on Hayward for being young and ineffective as a recruiter his first year or so. Now look at him. He’s bringing in the goods. Compare and contrast that to someone who has been getting by on a relationship and one half of his job. Maybe it was a slap in the face, a wake-up call. But the result was that young energy can be good, and young energy was called.

            I have to add one more to your list. A lot of people have gotten on Langsdorf for last year’s play-calling. It was what it was, and I think only a better o-line would have made any difference. There are a gazillion plays in Riley’s book, and QB’s take forever to learn them. It’s only natural that Langsdorf would take a couple years to learn to use them within the context of a game. I think Danny being a year wiser will benefit the team as well.

    • JackBeav says:
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      “Barney Graff tried to the best of his abilities to help sustain and improve the health of Oregon State athletes. But he failed. That is only thing that we can take from this.”

      That’s probably fair enough. In any sport, you are going to have athletes who have engrained in them a sense of “rub some dirt on it”. It’s not always the trainer’s fault that the athlete doesn’t want to to talk to him or her. When losing playing time is the solution, the kid is more apt to avoid the trainer.

      Maybe that’s what I thought was funky about Buker’s suppositions. Athletes themselves have an obligation to be honest with the trainer when seeking aid. If they think they lose playing time because of it, the trainer might start to make deals with the kids like, “Come see me, and we won’t send you to the doc.” If he does it enough, he starts to assume the mentality that all kids need this consideration, and those who are being honest slip through the cracks.

      He’s still at fault for allowing the culture to get to that point. But it’s a long process. And it probably has no real defining point of origin. It’s just small stuff here and there which alter the trainer’s integrity in small pieces until he has lost control of the situation.

      On top of that, like any job the employee will find short cuts to make life easier. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they’re just ritual. In a static environment where all participants see these short cuts develop over time, the culture adapts and accepts them as good for the whole. But college football is hardly static with 100% turnover every four or five years. The only thing that remains the same is the staff, and they see things differently than do new eyes. That might be why “slow” happens in some of these cases.

      I’m glad to hear a better explanation than the sensational suppositions of one reporter.

      Thanks.

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      Will – great post, I love the players/former players have a voice on forums and blogs.

      Regarding the “playing throught pain” scenario where players basically ignore medical counsel for gridiron glory, there are obvious blunders none moreso apparent than failing to diagnose a broken bone in Katz’s hand for months. Our team (yes, I use “our,” “my,” “we” when talking about the Beavers) lost crucial training time with our starting quarteback this Spring as a direct result of failure to diagnose. While no formula exists to calulate the net effect of this cause, I would hazard a guess that it costs us wins.

      Thanks for posting here and for your contributions to Beaver Nation.

    • BeavGirl BeavGirl says:
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      will, great post. It’s nice to see former players reading this blog and providing input. welcome aboard! 🙂

    • angry angry says:
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      Will, I didn’t realize you do standup comedy. That is awesome…Louis CK is one of my favorite comedians. Same with my lady beav…she loves the guy, even his bad TV show.

  • BeaverBeliever20 says:
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    I see Oregon State picked a “preferred walk-on” in Naji Patrick. Not sure what to make of him.

  • JackBeav says:
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    Off topic, preferred walk-on Naji Patrick:
    http://cliffkirkpatrick.mvourtown.com/2011/05/19/football-recruiting-2/

    5’8″, 180#, 4.58 40, 37.5″ vertical jump at last year’s Oakland Nike SPARQ camp. For comparison, Courtney Williams ran a 4.67 at the same event. Nice balance and toughness with a good pad level. Since I think he could make a good or better DB, he’ll stay at RB.

    • angry angry says:
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      He looks pretty good. The last walk-on I was excited about was Tyler Anderson…this guy looks just as good. Mitch Singler is a good walk-on, too.

      Related, Cleveland Wallace tore up the last Nike camp…he’ll probably get a boatload of offers as the process plays out. Hope we can hang on to him…he’s a top notch CB.

      • JackBeav says:
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        We all knew Wallace would blow up. But didn’t he say he would shut down his recruitment?

        I have a feeling Keith is showing him the love… telling him not to step on Chips in the field… to watch for Sarks in the water… don’t be Stoopid… Finks and Weasels bite.

        Sorry, in a punny mood today.

    • sparkyd73 says:
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      Looks like a steal as a walk-on.

  • mckalk mckalk says:
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    I work in the healthcare profession and am curioius about something. A head trainer is not an MD, right? I wonder where the line is drawn between him/her diagnosing or referring on injuries. In otherwords, what it the protocol? It seems like one of the issues was a slowness in getting players to a doctor. Do any college football programs have “team doctors” or is it cost prohibitive? I just know in my profession noboby gives a diagnosis, but the doctor no matter how qualifed they think they are. I am sure regulations are different in each profession.

  • ronix1080 ronix1080 says:
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    I think a great trainer if we could get her would be Ariko Iso. I’m sure some of you are familiar with the name, and for those of you who aren’t she was an OSU Exercise and Sport Science graduate, and was the National Football League’s first female athletic trainer. She is currently on staff with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It would be a good story if it worked out, and we know how much OSU likes good stories.

  • Orange Lantern says:
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    I think we need a coach who can beat Oregon. Too much of our success and national respect relies on our performance on that game, especially since we know Oregon is going to stay around the top of the Pac-12. Riley will probably only beat Oregon twice in the next decade would be my bet if I had to make one and that may even be slightly generous. Not good for Oregon State.

    Here is the one man who would take Chip head on without blinking. He would reenergize the program and draw alot of national attention to OSU which would be the place I could most imagine him in the Pac-12, bringing back a true Giant Killer reputation as we beat the likes of USC and Oregon. He may be the best coach in America and best of all he doesn’t go for Mayberry as a way to inspire top talent.

    http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/mikleachtxmo.jpg

    • OStater says:
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      I would love Leach. The move would be makeable and a big spark if BDC wasn’t a coward about acting boldly. Look how well Erickson did by his 2nd year. When you strike when the iron is hot good things can happen and the stagnation disappears. I think BDC and Riley have a deal though that they will stick together until the ship sinks. Things could get pretty ugly in a few years if the wins don’t come. It is almost to the point where you want to hope for that because Riley for 18 more years is without question too much to take. I don’t know if I can take 2 more years. Tough to rally behind a guy that has so little confidence in beating Oregon.

    • JackBeav says:
      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

      I guess we wouldn’t need an athletic trainer then. If a player’s hurt, we can just put him in a makeshift media room under guard.

      We don’t need no stinkin’ trainer.

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