As many of you know, this idea that “you can’t recruit to Corvallis” drives me nuts. But let’s just pretend for a moment that it’s true.
I’m a big baseball fan…more so than football. And watching the Tigers/Royals fight for the division just reiterates what I instinctually know — that payroll doesn’t matter. It’s how the players on your team play the game that matters. The Tigers have the 4th highest payroll in baseball. The Royals have the 18th highest. I mention these two teams because they’re in the same division. If you want an even more extreme example, take the Dodgers at #1 in payroll and the Oakland A’s at 27th (only 3 teams have a lower payroll). The Dodgers are 76-60, and Oakland is 76-57. What does Oakland do better than the Dodgers? The fundamentals. They pitch well, get on base, and they hit timely. There is also a defined identity (they don’t try to find it every year).
Let’s concede OSU has worse talent than USC and Oregon. Okay, now what? Do we use it as a perpetual crutch, or do we find creative solutions to level it? I argue for the latter. Some ways to do this might be:
- Recruit speed. “Speed kills”, as the adage goes, and this is true the lower the level of competition. Recruit raw talent if the speed is there. Especially at skill positions and linebacker.
- Recruit an efficient QB who makes good decisions. Someone like Dan LeFevour would be perfect for OSU. Sure, he will not make the NFL, set Pac-12 passing records, and will not “look the part”, but he’ll do everything right. Again, at a lower level like college ball you can get away with not having a big arm if you have everything else. Because everyone has speed in the NFL a guy like LeFevour would be a disaster. But let some other team recruit the prototypical passer and develop him for the NFL, and instead focus on an all world NCAA level QB. We know Riley passed on Kellen Moore…that was another perfect NCAA QB. There are guys like that out there to be had. Completion % is a lot like OBP in MLB, which is how the A’s win. Efficiency is underrated, so recruit it.
- Have a nasty secondary. Most NCAA teams pass a lot…make them fear your secondary. Al Afalava was a perfect college safety. 18 year old kids have not yet learned how to be fearless. They will not want to go over the middle if your secondary is loaded with psychopaths.
- Spend coaching time on fundamentals rather than mastering a complex playbook. What we see every year are college kids trying to learn Riley’s pro playbook, when 99% of these guys will never turn pro. That is an extremely wasteful use of time. Simply if the playbook, and use all that new found additional time to cleanup the fundamentals (e.g. penalties, false starts, precision execution, etc).
- Etc etc. I could go on with many many more ideas, but it’s Labor Day weekend, and I am headed out now. But you get the idea. The Beavs claim they can’t recruit, yet even if we concede that, they cannot claim they’re efficient. In fact, I’d say they are one of the least efficient teams I’ve ever watched. If OSU wants to hire me as a consult just contact me. I’d help change this shit around within weeks.
If you can’t beat them or join them then outsmart them; Mike Riley has to be one of the most stubborn (possibly dense) coaches around. He’s trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. This is not the NFL, this is not even Canadian Football, yet he’s making the game esoteric for young kids, not recognizing weaknesses, not recognizing undervalued player traits, and just not thinking outside the box or creatively in a town where you have to do that to win. If a person isn’t willing to adapt or change their philosophies they’ll eventually get in their own way. If you try to force something that isn’t natural it’ll eventually fail–this goes from relationships with women to the U.S. Bond Market to NCAA offensive philosophies and everything in between. Forcing = failing. For all Riley’s football knowledge (as the Pollyannas claim), he doesn’t have much common sense or creativity.