Today is the First Day of the First Year of the Reign of Gary Andersen, and it is also the day after the Beavers won the Civil War for the first time in 8 years. I woke up in my suburban Corvallis home and took the mile-long walk from my front porch to Reser, kicking cans in the parking lot, skirting around 3-inch deep puddles, and watching still-drunk college students stumble home. I believe Corvallis may have been, as we say in the business, quite lit last night.
Along the way, I wondered what this win means for the program: I joked yesterday that we should give Ryan Nall a key to the city (we should) and that Ryan should get to be the one that fires Mark Helfrich (he should). As we sift through the aftermath of the 2016 Civil War and the rain finally stops, what comes next?
Saying farewell to seniors
8 years. That’s a whole lot of players who went through the program that never once beat the Ducks. For those four and five year guys that stuck it out through coaching changes and losing seasons, they deserved this.
I’ll never know the grind of a college football season or what it’s like to be a college athlete (still have eligibility though, Gary). But from what I have seen and read and watched, there is nothing easy about it. We, as fans, watch football in macro. But the players, the coaches, the trainers, and the staff live football every day in micro. A million tiny actions repeated day-in and day-out are what wins games and builds successful programs.
Next year when the Beavers take the field, we will be without Victor Bolden, Devin Chappell, and Caleb Saulo. Treston Decoud will hopefully still be playing, on Sundays instead of Saturdays (but hopefully not on Thursdays because those games shouldn’t exist).
But we can never forget what they did for our program. We can never forget the season they didn’t give up on, the coach they never quit on.
What we’ve got
Ryan Nall. RYAN NALL. RYYANNNNN NALLLLLLL. I want to scream his name from the highest mountain because Ryan Nall is perfect. Some backstory on Ryan, for those who don’t know: he was actually built in a lab when the government was experimenting to create super soldiers during like World War II or something and he never got older because he was frozen and then Gary Andersen stumbled across his cryogenic chamber underneath Reser. After they unfroze Ryan they had to make up a story to cover up all the excavating they did to get him out of the ground, so Gary said, and I quote, “I dunno, just say it was a mammoth bone or something.” And that’s how we got Ryan Nall.
Also worth noting: Marcus McMaryion, who I’m pretty sure was the third string option but through a series of the worst events possible ended up being the starter halfway through the season, got better and better. I’m not sure what to expect at QB next year. I have no idea who should start once everyone is healthy and new faces are added to the mix. But I do have comfort in knowing that Marcus improved over the season. His mobility that was finally(!) shown off during the Civil War proved him to be the dual-threat that we all suspected.
Something to think about: will Seth Collins ever play football again? I don’t think anyone will be asking Gary Andersen or Seth this question and getting a straight answer any time soon. I don’t know enough about what happened to Seth to speculate, but I do know that spending time in the ICU isn’t something that any college athlete ever plans on doing. I’m curious to see if Seth is on the roster next year. I sure hope he is.
There were, by one count, 30 recruits visiting during the Civil War. Of which, only 6 were committed at the time of the game, and 9 were taking their official visits. Of particular note, Jaylon Lane was on his official visit. Within 24 hours of being in Corvallis and seeing what Gary Andersen had to offer, he committed while on his visit. Before the game even kicked off.
After watching that game and seeing the effort and the fans and the stage that they could play on, it’s hard to think many of the recruits attending the game wouldn’t want to commit. Nothing sells your system like winning big games.
Andersen and company have already landed huge commits for the 2017 season. Isaiah Hodgins (a four star recruit who chose OSU over Washington, Oregon, Michigan, and Nebraska) and Dionte Sykes both recently committed. Oregon State is still among the favorites to land Jamire Calvin (Cathedral High School 2017 Army All-American) and Keisean Nixon (top JUCO corner in the nation). We also added players like Jake Luton, a standout JUCO quarterback who broke multiple school passing records this year, and Jeffrey Manning Jr., another Cathedral High School product and 3 star DB.
The shifting tide of recruiting in the state of Oregon is obvious to anyone watching. A school that used to get the Duck’s scraps, only getting visits from top recruits because Corvallis is close to Eugene, is now taking those same recruits and convincing them that the future is brighter 50 miles north of Autzen. As the Ducks go through the coaching carousel turmoil that awaits them, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get out-recruited in the 2017 class.
So what does that mean for the Civil War next year? And next season as a whole, for that matter? Well for one thing, don’t expect the Beavers to be predicted in the pre-season to finish last in the Pac-12 any time soon. With the incoming class and remaining talent that will only get better over the summer, the Beavers are in a much improved place than they were before the 2016 season started heading into next year.
Of the Pac-12 coaching situations to be in, Oregon State has to currently be in one of the few that don’t involve a coach either on the hot-seat after this season, or coaching for their job next year. Andersen came into his role and did exactly what he was expected to do: implement his system, recruit, and get better every year. He’s done just that. In Gary We Trust.