Oregon St. begins practicing for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve against Boise St. today, and will work out through next Wednesday (practices are open to the public, 11-1), before the team leaves on Thursday for the islands.
Kevin Cummings isn't practicing yet, but head coach Mike Riley says he's still hopeful that Cummings will be able to play come game day. The Beavers will reevaluate Cummings next week.
TE Connor Hamlett, who had to leave the Civil War game early with knee problems, is back practicing, and expects to play against the Broncos.
One Beaver who won't though is LB DJ Alexander. After multiple episodes of problems with stingers this season, on the heels of similar problems last year, Alexander had surgery this past Wednesday to address the problem.
Talk to coach Riley or any of the players, and they are enthusiastic about the opportunity, happy to be still playing football.
Even basketball players Olaf Schafenaar and Challe Barton, neither of whom were raised steeped in American football tradition, turned out at FOOTBALL practice today as bowl preparations began.
But be sure you seek one of the players out to get that positive vibe; it won't come from anywhere else.
In a classic example of why Oregon St. football, and even to a degree the program down the road that's less than enthusiastic about San Antonio and likely beating a Texas team that's still managing to take center stage even in a coaching maelstrom, still has a long way to go to get on the plane of the programs in the 3 conferences that all got multiple teams into the BCS, lack of organizational enthusiasm couldn't be greater.
It translates into a community lack of engagement when the university acts like they wish they didn't have to bother with the bowl game.
The Beavers will be the home team for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, but you would never know it, except for the familiar, home black jerseys (even though breaking from the insane policy of not mixing colors on the new uniforms, and going with orange jerseys with the black helmets and pants, would have a far more appealing look, as well as actually making sense).
After a week, there's been zero creative packaging of opportunities to get Beaver Nation to the game, in what is easily the best "vacation getaway" bowl opportunity that exists. Only a reminder to make your season ticket renewal early, and make a contribution (with no explanation of what that investment will be used for that will actually lead to more wins in the future) before the tax year ends.
This is especially stupefying given that the men's basketball team is in the islands, with 2 games the 2 days before the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, and another on Christmas day.
After ESPN and the Sheraton folks went out of their way to make a great matchup against one of Oregon St.'s best natural regional rivals, you would expect the athletic department to move mountains to put together and fill up affordable charters and hotel packages, and put on the best show possible. Hawaii is a very expensive destination, but there's an opportunity here for a choice of pricepoints depending on length of stay and level of accommodations to fit a variety of budgets. And there will be plenty of available tickets to the game to take care of anyone and everyone the university could find a way to help attend.
It will be a showcase for Brandin Cooks, the Biletnikoff Award winner, in what could be his last appearance in an Oregon St. uniform. An opportunity for Sean Mannion to make a legitimate push to finish as the nation's leading quarterback.
A chance to avenge a loss on the "Blue Turf", something that by itself should produce a level of energy not seen prior to any game this season.
Instead, the "home" team won't have their cheerleaders, or even a small detachment from the Oregon State University Marching Band. Don't listen for the fight song; you won't hear it. And don't look for a pep rally; the band was told to turn in their uniforms for the season 2 days after the Beavers were selected for a bowl game.
Seems the athletic department budgeted $0 for such support for a bowl, assuming someone else would pay the bill for them.
Should be a classic college football atmosphere.
And don't act surprised when another season of shabby television slots, cold dark nights, games relegated to Pac-12 channel obscurity, and last minute scheduling comes down the pike; why on earth would ESPN (or Fox, who make no mistake about it, is also taking note of what kind of showing teams make when a broadcast partner goes out of their way to try to make a favorable game) give Oregon St. any special consideration after getting this response.
Go Beavs! The players deserve better than this.