Many moons ago, well, not that many, the Oregon State men’s basketball team was flourishing. They were recognized nationally. Competed at the highest level. Players were revered and coaches loved. Each offseason had tremendous anticipation for the upcoming year. Postseason tournaments were more expected than wishful thinking. When it came to the quagmire of a losing program, football dominated the headlines, not basketball.
At the same time, OSU baseball fought hard to be on the map. While the program had All-Americans such as Dave Brundage and Ken Bowen, grabbing ink over two other major sports was not easy. This isn’t to say the baseball team was nonexistent; just more back pages than front pages.
This past week, the new logo was unveiled at Oregon State. After I saw this, I was taken back to yesteryear when the Beavs were in the conversation when it came to hoops. Back then, the floor at Gill Coliseum was re-painted. The letters O-S-U were in the middle. In the student section, where mayhem and fierce loyalty reigned, the new insignia had an obvious flaw. The “S” was upside down. Clearly, if it was incorrect on our side, it certainly was wrong on the other side. Any guess what happened next? Yes, the Beavers dropped the first game immediately following the new design. Everyone talked about the curse of the “Upside Down S”.
Superstitious? You better believe it. Why? Because OSU basketball wasn’t the same after that. Despite Gary Payton keeping the hopes alive a couple more years, Gill Coliseum changed and the basketball program headed in another direction. Not the right one. Today, while I won’t rush to say it is in the toilet (after all, the situation is much brighter with Craig Robinson than Jay John), we need a change.
On the diamond, Pat Casey and crew are rolling. Undefeated at 12-0. No changes needed. Currently OSU is ranked #4 on BaseballAmerica.com’s poll as well as the USA Today/Coaches Poll. Sophomore Michael Conforto racked up four home runs over last weekend to pace the offensive attack against Bryant in a four game sweep and the pitching staff now has a combined ERA of 0.83.
When I was in college, I read a book called, “In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies,” by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. One of the chapters was called Stick to the Knitting. The premise? Keep it simple and do what you do best. This reminds me of Casey and the boys. Simple: pitch, hit, defend. The Beavers are doing a lot of this.
And I am not into video games; however, Gametracker on osubeavers.com is a great feature. Tech junkies might be laughing at me right now in its sophistication but I still think it is cool. For following Beaver baseball, the up to date stats are quite enjoyable. An added bonus because until the post season, not too many baseball games will reach mainstream television.
What is the relationship with the new logo and two programs traveling different roads and opposite directions? In a nutshell, hope. For both. My paranoia tells me, I hope, that the logo does not have an effect on the baseball team. Honestly, I don’t see it happening. Casey is such a grounded guy it require quite an undertaking to derail this train.
As for the basketball squad, I hope the new logo has the reverse effect. In a positive way. Part of me wishes the logo would have been revealed after this season or perhaps during the summer when all the teams can start fresh (as the football team will). Although, anything would help the team at this point. Personally, this might go down as the classic “what could have been” season. Where did it all go wrong? What could we have done differently? What can we do better next year? Natural questions only Robinson and his players can answer.
But while their season may be ending, baseball is beginning. And perhaps the basketball players can catch a few games at Goss Stadium to pick up some pointers from the baseball team. Isn’t college supposed to represent an institution for higher learning? If this is true, without a doubt guys playing on dirt and grass can teach a few things to those on the hard court.
Or hope the new logo transforms the basketball fortunes to happier times. Don’t we all.