Is Oregon State Becoming Like a Bygone Beer?

Mike Whitty Editorials

Back in the 1960’s, when I was a struggling law student at the University of Oregon, I used to wonder whether there was enough room in the State for two PAC-8 Conference football programs. “The state of Oregon just doesn’t produce enough high school players of that quality,” I mused. Mr. FishDuck took some time from his fun at mostbet azerbaycan to agree with my observations below, as he lived them in both Corvallis and Eugene.

Then college football games came into the television world. The Oregon schools broadened their reach to southern California and a few other adjacent states. But there was a major hurdle in the way of grasping recruits beyond that limited area. Games played in the Pacific Time Zone were not seen much beyond the Rocky Mountains, if at all.

People come, and people go. Things too, come and go. Sadly, so do college athletic programs, at least in their current forms.

Over sixty years ago, my wife was a cheer leader on Oregon State’s Rook Rally. She was and is a cute, attractive catch for me. Early in our marriage, in late November, 1963, she served me black mashed potatoes covered with orange gravy. I then went out for dinner, alone.

Over thirty-five years ago, my eldest son graduated from Oregon State University with degrees in Civil Engineering and Forest Engineering that have served him extremely well.

Fans on both sides have learned to live together… (Photo by Kevin Cline)

I am a Duck with two degrees from the University. Two other sons attended the school, and lean heavily toward OBD. To say that we are a divided family when it comes to a Civil War game is a bit of an understatement.

In his April 3rd column, “Baldfaced Truth”, John Canzano titles his article, “Oregon State Holding on With Both Hands.”

John begins with a comment about the recent OSU women’s basketball success in reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. He queries: “The locker-room chemistry was rare. The coaching was outstanding. The on-court results were uplifting. So why does the aftermath of Oregon State’s run to the women’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight feel so blasted sobering?”

And then Canzano lists the reasons for a less than exuberant feeling about the Beaver women’s accomplishment. OSU’s best guard, Talia von Oelhoffen has entered the portal. The program is on “high alert”, expecting that “at least three other beaver players – and as many as six – could entertain entry into the portal.”

It doesn’t stop there. OSU’s outstanding women’s basketball coach, Scott Rueck, will undoubtedly be contacted by “Power Four”, schools to see whether he has interest in getting onto the coaching merry-go-round. The football coach, Jonathan Smith, is long gone to B1G Michigan State. Canzano suggests that he dropped his orange and black gear off at GoodWill on his way out of Corvallis.

Washington State Athletic Director, Pat Chun, moved to Washington. The WSU men’s basketball coach, Kyle Smith is now at Stanford, and he will be joined there by OSU assistant coach, Eric Reveno, who was a former Cardinal player. OSU basketball guard, Jordan Pope, has told a reporter that he will enter the portal.

Jonathan Smith was the first defection to a Power-4 conference. (Photo by Kevin Cline)

Way back there in the time of the beginning of my comments above I was a beer drinker. My beverage of choice was Blitz Weinhard. That is, until Henry Weinhard Private Reserve came along with its wonderful advertising campaign. I became a devoted Henry’s drinker.

One clever Henry’s commercial is set outside the general store in a Texas town, circa 1940, from the pickup parked nearby. The dialogue went like this as the store operator made an announcement to the five cowhands seated on a bench and in the bed of the truck:

“Kingsly Ranch is bringing in a stock of Henry Weinhards.”

“What kind of stock is a Henry Weinhard?” one of the cowhands asks.

A grizzled companion replies: “Kinda like a Herford. Come from Germany originally. Purebred stock. Used to run Henry Weinhards out around Zaragoza. Longhorns, they was. Or was they short horns? Sort of medium-sized horns?”

Train horn sounds as the train pulls up to discharge its cargo. Two cases of Henry Weinhard Private Reserve are unloaded. Upon seeing the beer, the grizzled cowhand continues: “Used to drink Henry Weinhards out around Zaragoza. Then it come in a tall bottle. Or, was it a short bottle? Can?”

The dilemma of the Beaver faithful is not much different from the befuddlement of the cowhand.

As Yogi Berra put it: “It’s hard to make predictions about the future.” None of us knows what will become of Oregon State University athletics in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. There is a lot of hope in Corvallis, but as Canzano quotes an unnamed PAC-12 commissioner in his article, “Hope isn’t a strategy.” He says OSU needs a plan now that will retain the core of its staff and players.

I will not even attempt to predict what is coming next, having been surprised too much by the events of the last ten or so months. This I know. The earth will continue to rotate from east to west, meaning athletic contests played in the Pacific Time Zone will always have a smaller potential TV audience than those broadcast in the east beginning at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Oregon, Washington, Stanford, Cal, USC, UCLA, Arizona, ASU, Utah and Colorado all have thrown a lifeline toward the east that will bring their games, and their athletic programs to the attention of many more future players, students and many more TV fans than schools that are limited to the Pacific Time Zone.

Oregon will be playing to much bigger crowds in the B1G. (Screenshot from Fox Sports Video)

And, yes, there is another Henry Weinhard Private Reserve Commercial that speaks to where OSU athletic programs have arrived.

The setting is a frontier tavern. Henry’s is being served while a cowhand plays a card game of solitaire and another kibitzes his play. A pointed-eared science fiction character says:

“A hundred years from now, only little girls will ride horses. Men will walk on the moon, and Henry Weinhard will be selling in Gallup, New Mexico.”

If there were a Henry’s in Gallup, New Mexico, I just might make a point of getting there to sip that beloved brew once again. But, there is not. Not in Gallup or anywhere on earth.

Will OSU sports programs of football and basketball have the same fate as Henry Weinhard Private Reserve? I hope not. Only time will tell. For Beaver fans that “time” needs to be measured in zones beyond the Rockies.

Mike Whitty
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Eugene Johnson

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