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BTD Talks with ESPN's Rece Davis - Pt. 1

BTD recently just conducted an interview with ESPN gameday anchor Rece Davis and picked his brain about Oregon State and the Pac-12 as a whole.

Rece Davis pictured here sitting next to former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight.
Rece Davis pictured here sitting next to former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

I guess we'll get to it. Where do you think OSU will finish in the Pac-12?

(Laughter) You guys always love predictions don't you? I think middle of the Pac-12 North. I know they have some offensive weapons, with Mannion who can put up unbelievable numbers, and Ward and Woods who have the run pretty effectively, at least in the early part of the season. But I when I look at them right now, I don't think they are as good as Oregon, and I hate to say that because I know that cuts deep and I'm not trying to be mean spirited, and Stanford, so it remains to be seen. That game's on the road, but at least you get Oregon at home. I don't know what to make of Washington yet to be honest with you, first week I undertstood with the quarterback, and the second week, I know Eastern Washington is a good program, but they gave up a billion points and still found a way to win. If I had to guess right now I'd say 3rd or 4th, probably a solid bowl run, and I think that's where they'll be. The schedule sets up pretty nice for them for the most part I guess. I guess going to USC, you'd like to have either SC or Stanfgord at home but at least you have the Ducks at home. The Wazzu game at least you don't have to make that trip, where there would probably be a little more dangerous than they would at your place. I would say probably 3rd or 4th in the Pac-12 North.

That's okay, I agree with you too. Sean Mannion had some Heisman hype last year, and he hasn't had a great start to the year, but let's say Pac-12 things start picking up a little bit, a couple upsets, what do you think any chance there?

They would have to finish higher than middle of the Pac, and I know some people have criticized that people who get most of the attention for the trophy are the best players on the winningest teams and I don't really have a problem with that for the most part. Obviously there are exceptions but winning is the ultimate deal and if there is a guy who contributes to his team winning more than the other team's winning he is going to get more consideration for the Heisman. So the first thing I would say in relation to Mannion's opportunity to get it is that Oregon State is going to have to win a lot of games. It's not enough I don't think in this day and age of college football where everybody puts up numbers that the traditional statistics that we're used to evaluating almost aren't fair comparisons anymore. Rather than total passing yards maybe it's more constructive to look at yards per attempt. From a team standpoint, yards per play are far more important than total numbers of yards you have. So I said all that because I don't think Mannion can just put up huge passing numbers and impress Heisman voters. What he has to do is put up huge passing numbers and lead his team to big wins so there are opportunities there. If you want to change the narrative on the Heisman talks, let him lead the Beavers to victory against USC and against Stanford, and coming down the stretch ready for the big showdown with Mariota and Oregon. Then we have a different conversation from that standpoint, that perhaps he could get into the mix then. One mix that he's definitely going to be in is the draft evaluation and he's going to fair very well there when that time comes.

We have a local's perspective on problems, but from a national perspective what do you think makes it hard to recruit to OSU. There are smaller schools in different sports, for instance Kansas in basketball, maybe not the biggest town by they still attract talent from the notoriety. Oregon State is obviously not a powerhouse, but what do you think the main drawbacks are for OSU in recruiting.

To me it's pretty simple, population and name brand. I don't have numbers in front of me on how many Pac-12 division I level athletes Oregon typically produces but my sense of it is it is not enough to completely build a recruiting class around. I think you can look down the rosters at Oregon or Oregon State and have that shown now. You have to be able to have a far reach. What I think that Mike and his staff have done extraordinarily well during his time there is evaluating guys. Maybe they take a guy like Jacquizz Rodgers, that people worried was too small or whatever, those guys are excellent football coaches, they're excellent evaluators of talent, they are not in the position right now to just run and out an grab as many 5 stars as they can. They're trying to find guys who fit their program, they're trying to find guys who will develop with time in their strength and conditioning program, that will benefit from their coaching, and I think they've done a really really good job of that. Where they have fallen short is just, and this isn't anybody's fault, I shouldn't even say that they've fallen short, but where they suffer in comparison to the arch-rival is in name brand recognition. Oregon has done a splendid and brilliant job in marketing themselves and becoming a brand name, a household name, a hot attractive destination to high school players from all of the country, and there's a lot of that that Oregon State can't control. I think they've done a really good job, and if they have opportunities to grow that brand, which is boosted primarily by winning big, then perhaps the conversation changes about what's holding them back but to me I think that's the big obstacle, in terms for if you're looking for them to rank in the top 10 or 20 in recruiting classes every year, then I think that's what you're talking about. Otherwise you have to rely on an exceptional coaching staff to mine overlooked guys to develop them, to coach them, and to have a consistent winning program but not necessarily a consistent conference championship program, that will have to cycle every few years, and I think that's exactly what Mike has done during his time at Oregon State. I'm more than fine with him on a personal level and I think he's a terrific coach as well.

With the college football playoff coming up, do you think the Pac-12 can get 2 teams in? Oregon and USC are playing pretty well, UCLA is kind of questionable, and maybe even Stanford if they win out. Do you see that happening or is it at best just one.

I think it's possible, the team that appeared, and clearly this was an error in judgement on my part at least through the first two weeks, that appeared to be in the playoff from the Pac-12 was UCLA. Up to this point I don't think UCLA has proved the capabilities. Certainly they are unbeaten, and they have big games ahead of them. Oregon has looked terrific and that win to me was as good if not better than any win anyone has had all year. It wasn't a road win like Texas A&M had, but I have a high regard for Michigan State, I think Michigan State is an excellent football team and Oregon won it. I think there is a possibility the Pac-12 can get two in but I'm not sure anybody in the conference looks like a dominant exceptional team, save the Ducks and their performance against Michigan State. SC to their credit has won, UCLA to their credit they've won, and we all know Stanford is capable of winning. Stanford has shown that there is an Achilles heel, right now and it's finishing drives, in 2 games they have 16 drives in the opponent's red zone and they have 3 touchdowns out of those drives and that's not good enough. It's certainly not championship quality so I think Stanford has a lot of growing up to do if they are going to be the type of team that could be a one loss team, and all that changes if they beat Oregon and win the division, the whole conversation changes. But if you're looking at Stanford to be in the same position as they were last year, a two loss team you would consider, I can't quite make that jump yet. But I think there's some possibility for the Pac-12 to get two in but the circumstances would have to fall just right.

Part 2 coming in the morning!