Beavs fortunate Hawaii passed on Banker

WITH MARK BANKER now officially out of the running for the Hawaii head job, Beaver fans should breathe a sigh of relief. Except of course for the ones who want to shake up the staff following two straight losing seasons…

But while these past two seasons were unacceptable, (even Mike Riley said so), losing Mark Banker would be a loss, not a potential improvement. Banker, when looking at his OSU career as a whole, has established himself as a proven d-coordinator and frankly, one of the best and best-kept secrets around.

Yes, the past two seasons have been painful, and the Beaver D, like the rest of the team, has not been among the conference leaders. But look at some of what Banker did prior to that and what he did it with..

Despite replacing the entire front seven, the 2007 Beaver stop corps finished ranked No. 8 in total defense and led the nation in rush defense, yielding but 70.6 yards per game.

Let me say that again. The entire starting front seven. Led the nation in run defense. Ranked No. 8 in total defense.

That's awfully, awfully good stuff.

IN 2008, Oregon State was No. 33 in the nation and No. 3 in the Pac-10 in total defense.

He didn't have an overflowing jug of experienced talent in that season either.

THE MAIN COMPLAINT about Banker from restless fans has been he doesn't adjust enough. I disagree.

For example, Banker was at one time opposed to a nickel package, believing his base 4-3 could consistently perform better than a situational package. But he adjusted, he came up with his own spin on the nickel, one that was effective in coverage on third down while still maintaining a pass rush by removing a d-tackle, adding a safety, and using a stand-up rush ‘backer.

And at times, Banker kept that stand up LEO-type linebacker rolled up in his 4-3 regardless. In terms of defensive line push, the result was striking. Against No. 23 Cal on road in 2009, Cal made it beyond Oregon State's 40-yard line only twice.

But here's the thing – he had the personnel to do that. When David Pa'aluhi left, Banker went away from it because he no longer had the guy who could make it effective. And trying to ask something of a player he isn't capable of is a terrible adjustment to make.

You're better off trying to perfect execution, not scheme, in cases like that. You're better off not making adjustments because things would actually get worse.

THE MAIN ISSUE the last two OSU seasons has been one of recruiting more than coaching – the fourth and fifth year players haven't performed at the same high level as the years previous. And that's where the Beavers need to improve year in and year out.

OSU will still rely on unearthed gems, but they need to be sure they're getting gems rather than average stones. Sure, it's hard to do, but that's a huge part of the Beavs have been successful in the past and will do so in the future.

Banker is pretty good in that area too, with extensive recruiting ties in both Southern California and Hawaii, two talent beds that are crucial to Oregon State.

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