Oregon State is struggling, and to a degree that's on the down-side of the range of possibilities in what was going to be a down year at best. The Beavers, in a system and roster rebuild in the first year under a new coaching staff, entered the season with at best hopes of attaining bowl eligibility. After failing to win last night in their best hope of the Pac-12 season for a victory, against a Colorado team that wound up celebrating breaking a 14 game conference losing streak, Oregon State slipped to 2-5, including 0-4 in the conference. The Beavers would have to win 4 of their remaining 5 games, 3 of which are on the road, to become bowl eligible; winning even 1 of those 5 will amount to exceeding reasonable expectations.
A second consecutive losing season seems a certainty, and Oregon State has now dropped 16 of their last 18 conference contests. Further, the coaching staff has, though they say they are looking to find any way they can to put the team into position to win football games, decided that the are working on trying to win those games in a future football season. When you resort to trick plays and creating a quarterback controversy of your own making, and it actually produces your most impressive moments, you have officially written off the season, with all focus on the future.
The last time Beaver fans faced this prospect before November was in 2011, when then coach Mike Riley wrote off the season to develop then freshman quarterback Sean Mannion. That led to an Alamo Bowl trip the next year, but it sure was painful as Oregon State struggled to a 3-9 season that was only that good because Washington had a problem at quarterback.
As it turns out, that's the case again, as the only game the Beavers are likely to have any chance to win this year, at least of their own actions, will be when the Huskies come to town in 4 weeks, and that depends on whether Washington can sort out their own problems with inexperienced quarterbacks who aren't ready for Pac-12 level play.
It's a difficult position to find themselves in, but one that years of sub-standard recruiting made likely, and will take several years of what appears to potentially be improved recruiting by Andersen's staff (assuming they last that long) to fully fix.
An increasing number of fans have decided to actually not put themselves in that position, as even Homecoming, an impressive pregame show by the US Navy Seal Leapfrogs (above), and a game that was a highly competitive, Pac-12 game that wasn't a work of art, but did have some solid plays by both teams, and the outcome of which was still in doubt until NIck Mitchell's pass was picked off on the next to last play of the game, attracted a crowd shy of 37,000 people.
Things have deteriorated to a level not seen since the Pettibone debacle that most fans hoped they would never see again, and fewer and fewer of them are seeing it.
It's not surprising; in any given season, never mind a transition one, once the orange/purple/green/some shade of crimson/designer color of the day tinted glasses are set aside, there's a range of outcomes that are reasonable to expect, and the new staff has found themselves at the absolute lower end of the range of the prospects for this year.
It's entirely too early to draw conclusions from the current mess, and the staff is trying things, from the quarterback shuffle to tacitly admitting that they need help with the quarterback problem by bringing in Gary Crowton as a consultant, and shaking up the secondary, even before and beyond what injuries have necessitated. And there are a number of other things being tried that just aren't as obvious. Until we see what happens next season, and maybe even in the year after that, there won't be time to know if some of it has worked, or if little if any actually made a difference.
In the meantime, Oregon State fans at least still get to see some interesting Pac-12 teams and talent, but more of it will be lining up opposite their Beavers than for them. And if in a couple of years, some of the evident talent on this team has matured, it will be good times again indeed.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward a lot more to the overall CFB experience than the disingenuous sugar-coated spin we will be receiving the next few weeks.
Every other Beaver fan will have to make their own decision about how they will handle the trying times to come.