September, 2010. It was lining up to be a good season of Beaver football. A few months later, we have a 5-7 team that's put in dismal performances. Who is responsible? Who killed the Beavers' football season? You decide!
(Promoted to front page.)
The Usual Suspects (Round 'em up!)
Mike Riley and the coaching staff (The kingpins)
Coach Riley kill the Beavs' season? Yes, I'm serious. While I usually lay off the coaching staff given their scrappiness with resources, this year they're fair game. The coaches are ultimately responsible for the team's performance, and therefore a natural place to look when something goes wrong. Some of the team's issues existed before the players even took the field. Out-of-conference away games against Boise State AND Texas Christian? Not the best recipe for starting the season strong. Leaving the customary cupcake in place instead of scheduling TCU likely means the Beavs are 6-6 and in the Holiday bowl. Recruiting hasn't been going so well either, and it raises eyebrows when our O-line has three walk-ons. Coming out as ridiculously flat and uninspired as we did against the Cougars is largely on the coaches, as well.
Do you know *anyone* who was fooled by that fake 52-yard FG attempt? Yeah, me neither.
The case against: They're probably the best we can get, and they've done a good job overall lately. The TCU hoopla will be a great memory for the players and was fun when it happened.
The Majority of the Players (pretty much everyone but Quizz and Paea)
Did you know that the Beavers went 1-6 in games where they trailed by even ONE point at ANY TIME during the game? 0-7 when they trailed any time after the first quarter. That shows as much heart as the Tin Man from Oz. This is why I'm posting this just after halftime, even though we're only down by 9. The missed tackles this season were almost comical. Mike Riley and Mark Banker can't play the game for you, men.
The case against: Given the brutal schedule this season, seven losses might not be as horrible as it sounds. They're (probably? usually?) doing their best, and we might need more from the OC and DC.
Other Likely Suspects (The butler did it)
Adam Hall (The Arizona player who put the season-ending tackle on James Rodgers)
Nothing much against the guy personally. But following through on a tackle several yards in the end zone when Rodgers long since had possession and finished the play is questionable, to say the least. Hats off to Markus Wheaton for stepping up for some good plays, but the Beaver offense was never quite the same after Arizona. If not for this ill-fated play, the team probably beats Washington and UCLA. And if we're rolling with victories instead of reeling from losses, there's almost no way we get blown out by Wazzu at home.
The case against: Injuries are part of the game. Plus, if the loss of one player (great as he is) leads to the performances we saw against UCLA, WSU, and Stanford... you have other issues.
The O-Line (AKA the "Uh-O-Line" or "O-Crap-Line")
Run, Ryan, Run! Oh for the love of Beaver throw the ball away before you take another - [cringes while our QB gets drilled into the turf AGAIN for a 10-yard loss x_x ] While Katz is getting pried off the ground, someone should tell Quizz that if he's looking for holes, he'll have better luck trying a lead brick. Our offensive line thinks blocks are for Tetris.
The case against: Ranked team players versus walk-on Beaver players is generally a bad matchup, and you can't fault them for that. They aren't responsible for letting every opposing QB with functioning legs run to convert 3rd downs, either.
The Sneaky Shadow Suspects (Oooh, a plot twist)
The Ducks (Boo! Hiss!)
They're only responsible for one of our seven losses, but let's be honest. This season wouldn't feel quite as crappy if it weren't for the banner season our rivals have been having down the road. It's been impossible to enjoy a nice Saturday of football without hearing about Ducks this, Chip Kelly that, tempo tempo LaMichael James national championship blah. Nothing like getting Duck Store commercials while Stanford's laying a shutout on your team. Furthermore, if we had beaten the Quacks last year (i.e. the game wasn't at Autzen) we would have been fresh off a Rose Bowl trip, feeling good, and not suffering from our second straight season of Duck overload. This is like a two-year (three, actually) screwing over.
They have more money, more fame, their own cheering squad of a cable channel, and it's starting to make me sick. Broadcasting from Eugene, even the local news station is in the tank for them. There is no escape, and it doesn't look to be getting better anytime soon. This season feels like your neighbors winning the lottery while you're getting laid off.
The case against: It's not as if the Ducks having a bad season would have made us beat anyone else. Their NC run setting up two BCS bowls for the Pac-10 will also help Oregon State monetarily.
The Fans (What? Us?)
We're 5-7. Remember when we had five-win seasons, and they were huge? The football program has grown, and as fans, so have our expectations. We have the second-lowest football budget in the Pac-10, yet we're consistently in the top half of the conference. Is it really a surprise that we'll have a bad year and not always be playing for a conference title? Our own high expectations might have killed this season more than anything else.
The case against: Beaver Nation shouldn't be happy with losing seasons! Besides, losing is one thing. Blowout losses at home to WSU are another.
Suspect With Diplomatic Immunity (can't seriously pin it on them, but it needs to be said)
ESPN GameDay (wtf!)
We've been ranked in the top 15. We've played for the Rose Bowl twice recently. The team's been, well, GOOD before this year. And the first time ESPN College GameDay comes to Corvallis is now?! For the Ducks?! I can't get on board with everyone being so excited about it. It's a huge slap-in-the-face insult! Who cares that they're here? They obviously weren't here for the Beavs, but instead for the Ducks. You know, the same Ducks they visited for the Stanford game and the USC game. The ones they visited at Autzen last year for the Oregon/USC game. They might as well house Lee Corso in a skybox at Autzen. And now, despite good seasons in recent years, they decide to show up in Corvallis when we suck. For our rivals. Nice. Come on, ESPN, it's not like there was an SEC Championship game going on today featuring the #1 and #19 teams, or the Big 12 Championship with #8 and #13. You know, games expected to be competitive. (Didn't see that Duck head coming! What a surprise!)
I know these guys have nothing really to do with our season, but good grief. This whole thing left a funny taste in my mouth.
The case against: At least we got our signage on.