20.Feb.2012 Pac History

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Enjoyed this comment by Jack so much I found it worthy of its own post.

The Oregon schools and Idaho (and Montana?) left the league in 1959 because of the pay for play scandal. Only Stanford re-formed the league with those schools right off the bat because they had nobody else to form with when the league started up again. OSU was actually the premier athletic school on the West Coast during that period with the first Heisman west of the Mississippi and a Final Four run. The league tried for more than a couple years to woo us back into the fold of a league that began in Portland. The stigma of the scandal and the schools involved was enough to keep us at bay for a good three or four years more than we should have stayed away. And I’m not sure that culture ever really abated at UW or USC. They just got better at hiding it.

We’re talking a scandal that made SMU look like patty-cakes.

It’s a fascinating period in fact. Wazzu came back in 1962 because UW was stuck in the scandal-ridden group of four (UW, Cal, UCLA and USC). And Wazzu and UW are joined at the hip for all intents and purposes. OSU wasn’t going to return because the group of four felt that Nikegon was responsible for the scandal turning those four upside down. Oregon was caught in 1951 doing the same thing, and they insisted that the conference look at the rest of the league because they claimed “but everyone else is doing it.”

And Stanford was constantly arguing that UCLA should be expelled and OSU included instead since UCLA was the worst of them all.

But OSU would not return without UO. So the league finally gave in and buried the hatchet for a new start. I know some USC alums of that era who tell me that OSU’s Rose Bowl in 1965 was a gift apparently tied to this whole agreement.

That was just a shady period in the league. If not for regional ties, the Pac might have a vastly different make-up today.

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  • osbeavs says:
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    So, some people will have to excuse my ignorance but I haven’t heard of this at all. What league were we a part of instead of the Pac? What is the deeper story about membership coming and going? What pay for play scandal? And we held out for UO before we returned to the league…?

    • Jack says:
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      The PCC, formed in Portland in 1915… Looked it up, and Montana left in 1950 due to travel and regional alliances. But Idaho, Wazzu and the Oregon schools left because of the stink of that decade-long pay for play scandal in the 50′s.

      Oregon was the first to be caught in 1951. We’re talking athletes getting monthly pay from boosters, cars, access to women with low moral standards, etc. Oregon’s coach was so upset about being singled out that he and the school went on a rampage (behind closed doors to save face). They insisted that it was commonplace for many schools in the conference to go through bidding wars in lieu of actual recruitment of players. And they weren’t wrong. It wasn’t limited to the PCC, but booster organizations in the PCC were so brazen in their actions that it was known to all.

      Apparently what started the whole thing was the idealism of wanting a re-branding of PCC athletics as nationally relevant. Starting in the late 40′s, booster organizations would gather for some schools and pool cash in slush funds and provide material incentives and jobs like sprinkler-watching duty or wave counting for players at their schools. And this was also in an era where APR’s were an imaginary ideal. So the players were truly being used by these booster groups.

      The thing was, instead of the league having control of the league like Larry Scott does now, each school controlled their destiny. And several went along with these boosters because it provided some measure of success. But it was on an individual basis, and it was cutthroat. It was the perfect anti-Pac 12 of today. It was laissez faire. It was anarchy.

      And what brought it down was the constant drip of idealism from Stanford and OSU (then OSC) showing each school how corrupt and controlling their booster groups were. These groups were actually controlling the players they paid in order to undercut coaches and the schools themselves. Oregon’s constant back room complaints of “everyone does it” finally became public in 1956, and the PCC tried to save itself by instituting some broad-based rules and limitations on how much a player could actually receive in monthly “pay.” But it was lipstick on a pig. The boosters had too much power, and they weren’t going to let it go.

      So with the public failure of the league to control itself over a period of three years, it collapsed in one major embarrassment on a national scale. Only the point-shaving scandals in NCAA hoops and the Black Sox scandal were on this scale in terms of how wide-spread and embarrassing this one turned out to be.

      And Stanford didn’t really help in the cure by publicly lambasting UCLA as the devil leading the corrupt activities at the time. UW, USC and Cal were pretty bad, and they all seemed to get a pass from Stanford and OSC. In fact, OSC’s president at the time wrote an op-ed which ran in the papers at the time which publicly absolved Cal and demonized UCLA. Apparently UCLA was that bad.

      That public alliance with Stanford carried on for years as Stanford continued to push for OSC’s inclusion and the banishment of UCLA. But OSC wouldn’t rejoin without UO. And the boosters of the three non-UCLA schools still retained quite a bit of power, and they weren’t about to allow UO back into the now-named Athletic Association of Western Universities. But they finally relented.

      The politics of the time were funny. If it weren’t for John Wooden, the boosters at UCLA would have destroyed that athletic program. Some people still whine about Wooden and one prominent booster. But they do so without the context of the pay for play scandal and what Wooden went through to save his program.

      Some people thought at the time that OSC was thanked directly by the UCLA boosters by stealing Prothro. And, as I said before, many USC alums think that we were gifted the Rose Bowl in ’65 instead of them in order to bring respectability back to the league on a national level. For the years the scandal broke the league apart, UW, UCLA and USC were the RB reps from the West. And Minnesota and Wisconsin were the powers from the Midwest. But the Midwest powers took no pleasure in playing the game. It didn’t matter in the rankings, and the programs they were traveling to face stunk from scandal. It was pretty much an excuse to go see Hollywood and pretty girls on beaches, and to take part in some massive parties.

      If you’re wondering, I’m familiar with a lot of this because my grandfather was a major booster at St Mary’s and a graduate of the Masters program at the College of Commerce at Cal. He was good friends with a lot of people in the Bay Area and, in particular, with Charles Staehling. For some reason the histories of universities (especially on the West Coast) just stuck with me as a strange interest.

      • Jack says:
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        Sorry… I got lost on the dates. OSU was OSC when the scandal hit. But we became OSU in 1961 during our hiatus from the league.

      • osbeavs says:
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        Thanks for the history, it is definitely interesting. That is an era of the league that I am unfamiliar with and it always struck me as a “simpler” time in football. Apparently the problems that we are having today existed then and in some cases were even more exaggerated.

        Regarding pay for play by our boosters… Have you heard Terry Baker talk about how he tripped to Stanford (maybe Cal) and got a free car to drive for the weekend. He didn’t say OSU gave him anything but it was kind of implied.

        • Jack says:
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          The recruiting standards were much different back then and even into the early 80′s. But pay for play is a whole different animal. It’s up there with point shaving/gambling. And when it’s done with the university’s consent and knowledge, then it’s just ridiculous.

          If it was being done in broad daylight, then I can only guess that actual recruiting violations which would be serious now were commonplace then.

  • osbeavs says:
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    BTW Angry, I saw on the other post that you are going to archive this under history. I was thinking another topic that I would like to see explored to a deeper level (I believe it was explored a few years ago on your site) is the implosion of our program in the late 60′s/early 70′s due to the perceived racism by The Great Pumpkin. Not to rip open old wounds but its an interesting undercurrent in the history of our athletic program and also an interesting reflection on culture in that era.

    • Jack says:
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      I have the hard copy of this issue:
      http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1082769/2/index.htm

      • slamadam says:
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        the more ive learned about andros over time the more he seems like a real prick

        • Jack says:
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          For the record, I’ve met Andros a couple times, and he’s not really a man of any prejudice against anyone of color. His downfall was one of him trying to institute military discipline in an era of freak flags and bell-bottoms. He was as straight forward a man as there ever was. But he was stubborn in an old-school way. He was a war hero in a time when war didn’t remind anyone of glory.

        • CVO beav says:
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          You’ve learned very little and it shows.

    • Jack says:
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      Interesting sidenote on Andros… he was an assistant at Cal until the scandal broke. He was “allowed” back in the good graces of the “Western powers” when Idaho brought him back as head coach. Then, when UCLA poached Prothro, Andros was back in the Pac with OSU.

      The Fred Milton incident was important. But also relevant in our current branding was OSU’s disappearance just when ESPN was making a push for national exposure.

      I will never pass on an opportunity to give Lynn Snyder a dig.

      • osbeavs says:
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        Agreed about the dig at Snyder. Take a look at this article I just found:

        http://run-down.com/article.php

        I know that our topic has been mostly football focused but this is heart breaking regarding our track program.

        Question though, would our baseball team have enjoyed as much success if track had still been a major focus at OSU?

  • BeavMonkey says:
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    I wouldn’t pay such close attention to such old history.

    Ever heard of a college called Sewanee: The University of the South. It is a small liberal arts college affiliated with the Episcopalian church. Oh yeah, and it was a founding member of the SEC.

    You wouldn’t know Princeton or Yale as football superpowers. Yet together, they hold 54 National championships, as many as all the SEC schools combined.

    I think historical analysis based on the recent past is okay, but if you’re going to bring back glory days, the context is important(IE, the NCAA is totally different). Today, no elite football player selects a school based on its engineering program, and talented African-Americans no longer have to ask whether their kind is admitted to the university.

    Oregon State is a great research university, but not such an enticing prospect for a high schooler who aspires to make a career out of football.

  • Ackrite says:
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    from SI the article
    “The cold fact, which Bob Ward knows and Dee Andros knows and every college coach in the country knows, is that Ward was faced with trouble plus two wins and 17 losses, while Andros was faced with trouble plus 26 wins, one tie, 13 losses and the two most exciting upsets of 1967. Andros stayed because his team was a winner. Ward left because his team was a loser.

    As far as the coach is concerned, it almost always comes back to winning and losing. Faculties, administrations, students, athletes, they all can criticize, say the coaches, but as long as schools insist winning is necessary, we can’t coach to please the pressure groups, we must coach to build the best team we can.”

    I hope this is still true because it mean MR needs to win now or be fired, I’d be happy either way.

  • rsteve503 says:
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    Lesson learned! Historically, OSU are the GOOD GUYS! Yeeehaaaw!

    ….and now the good guys have a coach with a long term contract and a disinterested attitude regarding winning. But good guys are supposed to finish last, right?

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