COMMENTARY: Less poise, more fire please

YOU CAN'T BE someone you're not. And no one expects, nor wants, Mike Riley to act like Arizona's Mike Stoops on the sidelines, (and thank God for that.) But the Beavs showed more heart, more passion, and more end results than they have all season in the game where Riley became so demonstrative he incurred a 15-yard penalty. The Beaver players? They loved it. OSU? They dominated USC. Coincidence?


But this isn't the pros. Yes, players are responsible for providing their own emotion and inspiration, and sustaining it. But it's also a simple fact of life that college football student-athletes, they feed off the emotion of those around them.

And one other thing is for certain. Mike Riley standing like a statue on the sidelines last Saturday, slowly shaking his head in the second quarter of the Stanford debacle, that did nothing, absolutely nothing to help his team, a team that was already hanging their heads, to punch back and overcome adversity.


Riley was fired up on the sidelines all game long when they played USC. There was plenty that came before he tossed his headset and got flagged. But then the next week against Stanford, that fire was nowhere to be found.

What's happened to the Beavers we used to know? You don't have to travel back very far in Riley's tenure to recall teams that played with fire for all four quarters and punched people in the mouth.

No, they didn't always win every single game, no one does. But the other team knew damned well that they had been in a knock-down drag out when the clock struck zeros.

And as time went by, Oregon State won more and more games, in large part, because they were the more physical team on the field. Yes, you absolutely need to execute to win ballgames. But sometimes you also just need to dump a guy on his wallet. And then tell him about it.

Oregon State players used to talk a little, too. Personally, I'm not a fan of the trash talk. But it is part of the game. And it always will be. And it does mess with the heads of players who aren't mentally tough enough. OSU used to use that to their full advantage.

Nowadays, Jacquizz Rodgers gets ridden 10 yards out of bounds and dumped face first on concrete, and the whole of the Beaver response is for the guys on the sideline to whisper a few tepid objections. ‘Say there young feller, now is that really necessary?'

Time was, that WSU player who committed the personal foul against Quizz would have been tackled by an oncoming rush of black and orange. And then he would have had a cadre of Beaver players in his grill the rest of the game.

IF OREGON STATE is to win the Civil War against the No. 1 team in the nation, they'll need to be the most physical team on the field for all 60 minutes. They'll need to play with intensity all game and when something goes bad, they'll have to be resilient enough to get back to playing that intense style of Beaver football.

They also need for their coach show more fire on gameday.

For his part, Riley says all of this is nonsense.

"It always come out for me when we lose, it's my personality. When we win, it's my personality. None of it means anything to me. I just coach," said Riley.


Or maybe there are times when wearing your emotions on your sleeve can inspire a group of 18-22 year olds. Maybe when OSU starts hanging their heads, as they've done with alarming regularity this season, maybe they need their head coach to pick them back up, and inspire them to overcome.

And maybe, just maybe, Jordan Poyer in the immediate aftermath of the USC win, had it exactly right.

"It was nice having him get fired up. It gets the players fired up. You need that out of a head coach," said Poyer.

Yes, you do.

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