27.Nov.2013 Civil War Interview with Rusty Ryan
1. What’s the sentiment regarding Helfrich?
I think Helfrich has a learning curve and he’s going to benefit a lot in the long run from the Stanford and the Arizona loss. I don’t think he necessarily has the fire and edge right now. I’m not saying that he needs to be a dick or a hard ass at all, but he needs to find the authentic balance between the two. I think he is going to be a long-term coach at Oregon and that he will go through some growing pains.
2. Do you think either Oregon or Oregon State needs a coaching change, or is that a brash opinion?
I don’t think either school needs a coaching change. Helfrich is too early in his time and I think Riley is really a good coach.
3. What are the main reasons the Ducks took a step backward? Talent, coaching, chemistry, etc?
The Ducks took a step backwards because of coaching, some inopportune turnovers, maybe play-calling, and possible senior leadership. If you lose the best coach in the history of the program there will be a drop off and to think that there won’t be is absurd. I figured before the season that it would bring down the average wins by half a win to one full win. Play-calling at times was questionable although that is always a hard statement to make because I don’t know the gameplan or see practices every day. However, all the interior running attacks should’ve been reduced because the play of the guards was inconsistent. The linebackers were also very young and didn’t do a great job filling holes when the defensive linemen were taking on double-teams.
In the Stanford loss the fumbles in the red zone and not converting on fourth downs is what did Oregon in. It got the snowball rolling for what was one of the most demoralizing games I’ve ever seen.
Lastly, the apathy expressed by the “leaders” and “stars” of the team towards the possibility of a Rose Bowl was shocking. As much as I’d like to chalk it up to college kids saying dumb stuff I can’t. Not after watching the performance against Arizona. And people who argue that the players who said the quotes about the Rose Bowl played really hard during the game I would respond by saying that anyone can play hard during a game. The hard part that requires focus and drive is preparing to succeed on gameday. The preparation is what seemed to be lacking.
4. Do you guys still want ‘Bama?
I said it since those shirts came out but the “We Want Bama” shirts is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. It is like fans thought Oregon was just going to roll over everyone when we knew that Stanford would be a problem and that at times the team really lacked an identity. Do I want Bama? At some point. Right now Oregon is not ready to compete because Bama has the perfect players for their scheme and the drive to work their ass off year round.
5. Do you think the Beavs have any chance to win this Civil War (…or any future Civil War)?
The Beavs do have a chance to win the Civil War. It might not be great but if Oregon plays like they did against Arizona on Friday there’s a more than decent shot. I think Oregon’s strengths on defense match up well against the Beavers’ strengths on offense but the turnover margin and third down conversions will make the difference.
Oregon State will win a civil war again at some point. College football is incredibly cyclical. Alabama was bad over ten years ago for a few years. Florida just lost to Georgia Southern. So good teams falling for a few years does happen.
6. How do Duck fans view Beaver fans who want to take on the risk of firing Riley to possibly gain relevance? And maybe elaborate on how Duck fans view this Riley era.
For Beaver fans who want to fire Mike Riley my question would be who is going to replace him? Are there really any hot coaching candidates or coordinators that would come to Corvallis? Does the school have the money to pay for a great coach? Or is there even a succession plan in place by a really good coordinator. I don’t fault Beaver fans at all for wanting to get a new coach to try and be really good and push for a conference title or BCS appearance but a greater importance needs to be put on what assets Oregon State has. They don’t have the money to shell out millions for a coach. They don’t have top facilities that make people stare in awe. They don’t have a rich history except for the 1968 Heisman Winner Terry Baker. There isn’t great in-state talent. There’s a lot going against the Beavers looking at it realistically. I think Oregon State’s problems go deeper than just coaching. Mike Riley has shown that he can put together great teams in this situation, although they may be years apart from each other.
On the other hand, I always believe that you can’t let something good get in the way of something great. I think that Oregon State, if they really want to push for titles on a yearly basis, there might be a better candidate who can help install change in the entire AD. But to leave Riley brings a lot of uncertainty and there’s a chance that the program gets a lot worse before it gets better.