The 2005 Oregon State football squad appears to be the rarest breed of team, the one that undergoes its biggest adversity of the year before the ball is kicked off.
The Beavers, who entered camp having to replace their all-time leading passer, sacker and interceptor, lost even more personnel — three players to injuries, two to academic ineligibility and one for disciplinary reasons.
Now that the games are starting — OSU hosts Division I-AA Portland State today — things can’t get worse. Could they?
“Now, we’ve had some setbacks, some losses,” Beavers coach Mike Riley said. “In the process, we tried to solve our recent losses and some of the question marks we had going in. In our minds, I think we’ve got pretty good answers for most things.”
Casualties included four first-stringers and a potential starter. Tight end Joe Newton, an All-Pac-10 candidate, started the craziness when he went down for the season with a left leg injury early in camp.
Defensive lineman Ben Siegert (shoulder) and backup TE Jason Vandiver (concussion) followed. Two more starters, receiver Marcel Love and outside linebacker Chaz Scott, could not make the grades. And tailback Jimtavis Walker broke the rules.
The absence of Newton and Love takes away reliable receivers from new quarterback Matt Moore, a transfer from UCLA. Walker could have aided a running game that ranked dead last in Division I-A a year ago.
Preseason analyses had the Beavers hard-pressed to finish in the top half of the Pac-10, even at full strength. The departures have deflated spirits in Corvallis, but Riley — one of the most likeable, positive coaches in college football — vows to press on.
“It seems like, more than ever around here, people are anxious,” Riley said. “I know our players are ready to play someone else, and the coaches are anxious to see this team in action, to see where we really are.”
40 FOR ‘JOE PA’
- Penn State’s home game against South Florida today kicks off Joe Paterno’s 40th season as Nittany Lions coach, an amazing run that has produced 343 victories (second in I-A history) and two national titles.
However, Paterno’s teams are 7-16 the last two years, and Penn State has played in just one bowl game since 2000. Those struggles have led some to suggest that the game is passing the veteran coach by.
Paterno still has the faith of university administrators, who extended his contract to 2008, when he will be 82.
“Certainly, that speaks volumes about what we think about our program and his continuous leadership,” said athletic director Tim Curley, a Nittany Lions player in the 1970s. “I hope he coaches for a long time.”
You would have to go to a bakery to find more cupcakes than there are on Big 12 non-conference schedules in September. Division I-AA teams are on the schedules of six schools, and two teams new to I-A — Florida International and Florida Atlantic — play two Big 12 opponents each.
The worst offender is Texas Tech, which opens with Florida International and faces I-AA teams Sam Houston State and Indiana State.
“I thought getting the (non-conference) games at home was important,” Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. “We get whoever we can at home. You want to get in as many (players) as you can.”
Hey coach, how about calling to see if Hamilton High School is available for next year?
- Recently, USA Today listed the 114 voters in the Harris poll —which will factor into the Bowl Championship Series standings — dividing them by “administrators, former coaches, former players and media."
However, one voter could not be classified.
"Jason Rash was unable to be identified, and Harris Interactive would not provide background,” the paper said.
It turned out that Rash’s sole connection to college football is that he is the son-in-law of Troy coach Larry Blakeney. The BCS requested that Rash be removed from the panel, indicating he did not meet its voter criteria.
Gee, you think? Here is to what’s sure to be yet another eventful season with the BCS selection system.