Of all the PAC 12 coaches that opened 2017 on the proverbial hot seat you would have been hard-pressed to find many who thought that Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen belonged on it.
Fast forward to the halfway point of the season and, lo-and-behold, we have our first coaching dismissal of the year.
I’m not going to do a full rehash of all that happened to get the Beavers and Gary Andersen to this point. Needless to say, the disappointing start to a season in which many pundits believed the post-season was a reasonable goal undoubtedly had much to do with it.
But a mid-season firing, especially of a person with such a strong reputation as a coach and a leader, is an unusual development. That it happened to a coach who was in the middle of a program rebuild the scale in which OSU is undertaking makes it even more alarming. Reading between the lines, and you will note that Andersen agreed to waive his buyout as part of this transaction, you might imagine that there is “more to the story” than simply a mutual decision that things are not working out so well. Perhaps we will get more to the story as time goes on.
The conversation will naturally turn to who might be in line to replace Andersen on a full-time basis. Todd Miles of TNT threw out a couple of names that certainly would make sense: Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford and former Wyoming head coach (and former UW player) Dave Christensen. Mike Riley, whose seat in Nebraska is flaming hot, is a name that will certainly garner a lot of attention. From a UW perspective, one has to wonder if ex-Beaver Jonathan Smith or co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake might be on the short list of possible replacement candidates. Other PAC 12 assistants such as Cal’s Beau Baldwin, Oregon’s Jim Leavitt and Cal’s Tim DeRuyter may well get some consideration.
For now, the focus will be on what OSU will do to close out the season. Current assistant Cory Hall will take over as the interim head coach and will have the difficult task of keeping a team that looks to be on the ropes together.