Beavers face hurdles in coach search

November 15, 2017

Oregon State fans immediately rejecting Les Miles might be underestimating the degree of difficulty for athletic director Scott Barnes in finding a football coach.

A case can be made that Oregon State is concluding the Pac-12’s worst football season since the start of this century with no reason to expect a quick turnaround.

The Beavers might have a hard time getting a current head coach or even an assistant to leave a good situation for the job. Just one look at how quickly Gary Andersen’s career derailed in Corvallis might be enough to keep some candidates waiting for a better offer.

If OSU loses its final two games against Arizona State and Oregon, it will be the seventh school to go winless in Pac-12 play since 2001. Oregon State’s lone win was a last-minute escape against Portland State, a winless FCS school.

The only Pac-12 school since 2001 that did not beat an FBS foe was Washington, which went 0-12 in 2008. However, the Huskies’ nonleague games that season were against BYU, Oklahoma and Notre Dame.

In some of the conference’s recent forgettable one-win seasons, Washington State beat SMU in 2009, Washington beat San Jose State in 2004 and Cal defeated Rutgers in 2001.

Oregon State’s next coach will inherit a program without a legitimate quarterback and could lose the only two Beavers certain to earn all-Pac-12 honors in senior linebacker Manase Hungalu and junior running back Ryan Nall, who could take a shot at the NFL rather than return to play for a fourth coach in five years.

Oregon State got a head start on the hiring process when Andersen resigned last month, but that might not be as big an advantage as expected.

With Mississippi, Florida and Tennessee also seeking coaches and Texas A&M, Arkansas and Nebraska among the jobs likely to open soon, any OSU candidate who thinks he could be in the mix for those schools might wait before committing to the Beavers.

UCLA and Arizona State also might open up as more desirable destinations than Oregon State for a coach hoping to head west.

While Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, UCF’s Scott Frost and television stars Jon Gruden and Chip Kelly top the candidate list for fans at most schools, the rumors in Corvallis have centered around Miles and Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, who won’t be called for any of those SEC openings and might be down the list for the Bruins and Sun Devils as well.

Oregon State’s might be the only fan base in the country that seems to universally prefer Baldwin to Miles.

Whether there’s interest from either OSU or Miles, as the school tries to end its search in the next few weeks, a coach who won a national championship and 72 percent of his games in the Big 12 and SEC probably shouldn’t be ignored.