NCF Nation: Oregon State Beavers

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- In one of the very first meetings of the year, new Oregon State coach Gary Andersen sat down his team and gave a very blunt message. For the players who had been around for a couple of seasons with Mike Riley -- who’s often billed as “the nicest man” in college football -- it was probably a bit of a change of pace.

“There aren’t 105 kids that are going to buy into you,” Andersen said. “And I told them that one of the first days. I said, ‘You all won’t make it at the end of the day. I want you to [make it]. Prove me wrong.’”

[+] EnlargeGary Andersen
Susan Ragan/USA TODAY SportsGary Andersen is aiming to upgrade an Oregon State run game that finished 11th in the Pac-12 in 2014.
Very un-Riley-like, indeed.

But Andersen said that he has made the exact same statement at each of his previous head coaching stops -- at Wisconsin in 2013, at Utah State in 2009, at Southern Utah in 2003.

“I don’t mean that in a negative way that they’re not going to make it, like they’re going to get kicked off the team. I just mean that there’s going to be change and with the change you have to either accept it and believe in it or you need to change what you’re doing to be happy,” Andersen went on. “I think we run the best program in the country for kids … but again, you’re not going to make 105 of them happy.”

For the Beaver players, it’s going to be a completely new program -- that’s not unique to this coaching change.

But what makes it unique is how this change came after Riley, a coach that held a 14-year tenure -- one of the longest in the nation. Just over two months ago, this team thought its coach would be in Corvallis until he retired. Now, they’re learning new verbiage and schemes.

And, there’s very little connection to the previous regime -- just wide receivers coach Brett Brennan and a handful of graduate assistants.

But the transition is going as well as it could, according to Andersen.

The players got iPads so they could begin learning the new system and verbiage, which will most likely sound and look pretty different from the past few seasons in Corvallis.

“There will be carryover but I would say it will be limited,” Andersen said.

Offensively, Andersen is describing his offense not as a pro style or spread, but instead as a “wide open” offense. Essentially meaning that he’s hoping the Beavers will be able to play fast when need be, to play slow when they need to, and to be able to function from several formations.

Some of the biggest schematic differences were already made clear when Andersen inked his first recruiting class after less than a month on the job. The Beavers signed a single quarterback in the 2015 class -- 6-foot-3 dual-threat QB Seth Collins.

And the other five quarterbacks on the Oregon State roster? Not dual-threat players.

On top of that, Andersen’s offenses have featured the likes of Robert Turbin and Melvin Gordon. Last season, despite Riley speaking ad nauseum about wanting to create a run game, the Beavers finished 11th in the Pac-12 and never created anything that was consistent or effective.

In the spirit of change, the Beavers signed four running backs, three of which are in their top six-ranked signees.

Defensively, the same amount of change can be expected but it might be easier to input considering the Beavers lost nine defensive starters. So rather than having players who’ve already contributed and adjusting them into different roles, Andersen will be building more from the ground up with guys who’ve had less game experience.

For Andersen, he’s billing it as a positive rather than a negative that so much of the defensive contributors from a season ago need to be replaced.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity that’s presented for a bunch of young players,” he said.

Though there might be “opportunities” on either side of the ball, those will be earned by the players who can adjust themselves into Andersen’s program and the Beavers’ new way of life.

Though how many of those 105 players make it through remains to be seen, and Andersen is being realistic and honest about that. But so far, so good for the first-year coach.

“I think that [statement] took them back a little bit,” Andersen said. “But so far they’ve proven me wrong.”
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The Ultimate ESPN 300 is loaded with 14 Pac-12 prospects who didn’t make their respective ESPN 150 or ESPN 300 rankings, so trimming that list to the top five who outperformed their initial rankings and became surprise stars at the college level wasn’t easy. The state of Oregon led the way on this list, but Arizona State and Stanford were also home to a few college stars who didn’t receive the same level of recruiting attention as others.

College football is a game driven by offense, seemingly as much as it ever has been. And yet, in our review of the best Power 5 coordinator hires in this cycle, eight of the top 10 coaches in new places are defensive coordinators.

Maybe that's because when offensive coordinators move, they become head coaches? Or maybe it's because the balance of the sport could eventually swing back toward defense? Or both?


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2016 recruits to watch in the Pac-12 

February, 6, 2015
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Signing day for the Class of 2015 just wrapped up, but coaches have been hard at work on the 2016 class for months. Oregon and USC each already have three ESPN Junior 300 prospects committed, and UCLA holds a commitment from the No. 53 overall prospect, tight end Breland Brandt.

Here are five uncommitted 2016 prospects to watch in the West region who will be of particular interest to Pac-12 programs.


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Oregon State missed out on the postseason despite finishing the year with the No. 4 ranked total defense in the Pac-12, an improved running game and a quarterback likely to be among the first five drafted at the position.

Position to improve: receivers

Why it was a problem: Replacing Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks never figured to be easy, but his early departure for the NFL left record-setting quarterback Sean Mannion with few reliable threats in his final season. It certainly didn't help when Richard Mullaney, the team's second-leading receiver in 2013, was lost for the season with an elbow injury in the sixth game of the year. His absence left Oregon State with a pair of freshmen (Hunter Jarmon and Jordan Villamin) and a sophomore (Victor Bolden) to serve as Mannion's primary options next to tight end Connor Hamlett. Those four players combined for just 11 touchdown receptions as Mannion's touchdown total fell from 37 to 15.

How it can be fixed: Getting Mullaney back is a good start, and considering how young the group was there should be a realistic expectation for significant improvement during the natural maturation process. Considering the Beavers don't have any known receiver commitments (as of Tuesday), that will have to be enough. With a new staff in place under coach Gary Andersen, the receivers will benefit from a holdover in position coach Brent Brennan, who is well-liked.

Early 2015 outlook: Datrin Guyton, a three-star receiver from Texas who signed with the Beavers last year, redshirted last season and will provide a 6-foot-5 target for whoever ends up replacing Mannion. It's still hard to imagine the Beavers will be that much better — if at all -- without Mannion and no major additions. Although, Andersen brought in former Colorado State offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin to run the offense a year after he guided the Rams to 321.6 passing yards per game, which ranked eighth in the country. Receiver Rashard Higgins had 96 catches for 1,750 yards under Baldwin's tutelage.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 27, 2015
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It was a busy weekend in the conference, as 14 prospects made commitments between Friday and Monday night and several others backed out of Pac-12 recruiting classes. It looks as though this could be a sign of things to come, as the conference recruiting race is heating up with little more than a week until signing day.


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Strength of schedule is an important part of the College Football Playoff selection process, and cross-league battles are a fun way to gauge the strength of each conference. Here's a look at the 2015 nonconference slate of the Pac-12 North. A look at the Pac-12 South's agenda is coming later today.

September 5
Eastern Washington at Oregon
Weber State at Oregon State
Washington at Boise State
Portland State at Washington State
Grambling State at California
Stanford at Northwestern

Weekend take: Don't forget the 2014 game in which Eastern Washington rolled up 52 points and 475 passing yards at Husky Stadium. The Eagles start their campaign at Autzen Stadium in 2015, so a reloading Oregon team must be sharp right out of bed -- they won't be kicking off their next season with the traditional cupcake gimme.

Chris Petersen's return to Boise supplies an early marquee nonconference battle. Washington's visit will be the Broncos' first game since their Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona, so this is an early opportunity for the Pac-12 to exact some revenge for that defeat. It's tough to play on the blue turf, though, and the Huskies are confronted with enormous questions entering next season. Can they replace loads of star power on the defensive end, or can they find the offensive productivity to mask those big losses? The season opener will mark a trial by fire for Petersen's crew in his second year at the helm.

Stanford's trip to Northwestern pits two of the top academically performing programs in college football against each other. The Wildcats lead the nation with a 97 percent graduation rate, while the Cardinal aren't far behind at a stellar 93 percent. On the field, Stanford looks to have the definite edge, but this game is certainly a much bigger challenge than their 2014 opener against UC Davis.

September 12
Oregon at Michigan State
Oregon State at Michigan
Sacramento State at Washington
Washington State at Rutgers
San Diego State at California
Central Florida at Stanford

Weekend take: The action heats up in Week Two, as the Pac-12 North faces only one FCS opponent (Sacramento State). A trip to East Lansing promises to be an early sink-or-swim test for new Oregon quarterback Jeff Lockie. The Ducks must find their footing fast if they aspire to return to the College Football Playoff next season. Coincidentally, both schools from the Beaver State will play in Michigan on the same day. New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will make his home debut against new Oregon State coach Gary Andersen in Ann Arbor. That promises to be a potential tone-setting game for two programs looking to get up off the mat under new regimes.

Washington State will have its chance for revenge against Rutgers following a heartbreaking loss in Seattle this past year, while Stanford kicks off a rather exotic home-and-home with Central Florida. The Knights are in the midst of a very successful stretch, so that could be a hard-hitting match-up against a Stanford team harboring high hopes entering 2015.

September 19
Georgia State at Oregon
San Jose State at Oregon State
Utah State at Washington
Wyoming at Washington State
California at Texas

Weekend take: As league play approaches, the North's nonconference slate in the season's third week isn't quite as illustrious as the Saturday prior. But there's still some sizzle here: Cal's visit to Texas will certainly remind Bears' fans of their 2004 BCS nightmare, when the Longhorns jumped their team in the final regular season rankings. This shut the Bears out of their best Rose Bowl chance in decades, and one can bet that this game means a little something extra to the program because of that whole episode. This also happens to be a critical game for Sonny Dykes' team, which will be gunning for bowl eligibility under its third-year coach.

In other action, Washington shouldn't sleep on Utah State -- the Aggies have been on a successful run of their own over the past few seasons.

November 28
Notre Dame at Stanford

Weekend take: This one is obviously very far away, but if Stanford proves it can maintain systematic defensive success while carrying over its late-season offensive spark into 2015, it may mean a whole heck of a lot. The Cardinal and the Irish have delivered dramatic finishes in two of the past three seasons, and Stanford will again be looking for revenge here. It should be noted that David Shaw's club has a strong 2015 nonconference schedule -- this clash with Notre Dame caps off a slate that also includes Northwestern and Central Florida.

Daily Social Roundup: UCLA checks in with Iman Marshall 

January, 22, 2015
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Wednesday marked the two-week point until national signing day and coaches were out in force on the recruiting trail, with UCLA's visit to No. 4 overall prospect Iman Marshall leading the headlines.


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Top recruiting targets in the Pac-12 

January, 16, 2015
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With a little more than two weeks before signing day, a number of uncommitted prospects remain who could greatly alter both the college football landscape as well as the way recruiting classes are perceived on Feb. 4. Remaining “must get” recruits don’t check all the same boxes for every program, as some schools already have commitments from their must gets (for example, Arizona with Keenan Walker, or UCLA with Josh Rosen) and some of these prospects won’t exactly break a class if they don’t wind up there. But whether it’s keeping a local prospect at home, landing a five-star standout or filling a position of need, these are the uncommitted must-get recruits for every Pac-12 program between now and signing day.


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Final 2014 Pac-12 Power Rankings

January, 13, 2015
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» More Final 2014 Power Rankings: Top 25 | ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC



» More 2015 Too-Early Rankings: Top 25 | ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

SAN DIEGO -- Standing on the sidelines of Qualcomm Stadium before the National University Holiday Bowl, the paradoxical convergence of worlds was not lost on former Oregon State coach Mike Riley.

On one side of the field was the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the program that managed to lure him away from Corvallis when others had failed. On the other side was the USC Trojans, the program where Riley once served as offensive coordinator and the one that tried to lure him away as its head coach in 2010. Some of Riley's more notable victories as a Pac-12 coach, by the way, came at USC's expense.

And then there was the field itself -- Qualcomm Stadium -- the archaic edifice of ‘60s architecture that locals still call "The Murph." That, of course, was the site of Riley's short-lived NFL head coaching career with the San Diego Chargers.

[+] EnlargeNebraska's Mike Riley
Kevin Gemmell/ESPN.comMike Riley talks with Nebraska fans prior to the Cornhuskers' bowl game against USC.
At 61, and on the heels of a life-altering decision, Riley couldn't help but reflect and let slip a boyish chuckle at the circumstances that brought him to that sideline on Dec. 27.

"It really makes me thankful for what I get to do," he said as he watched his future team go through warm-ups. "I loved coaching at SC. The Chargers deal was hard, but when I look back at it, it was a great experience for a guy like me to get to do. I'm thankful for it all."

Just 30 minutes earlier, Riley had departed a tailgate outside the stadium, where he stopped to do some radio and grip-and-grins. It turned into a 45-minute session as the Nebraska faithful who made the pilgrimage to San Diego turned out in droves for the chance to shake the hand of their new head coach, snag an autograph or pose for a selfie.

He admits, the block "N" looks strange on him. The man who used to tweet "It's a great day to be a Beaver" for no other reason than he sincerely believed it was a great day to be a Beaver, now ends his tweets with #GBR -- Go Big Red.

"I can't say enough about the welcome that I got," Riley said. "I appreciate the people and I'm thankful for that. But I'll always be connected to Oregon State. And I think leaving at a point where I felt great about it -- I'm not leaving because they told me to or I had to or I was mad about something -- I'm leaving something that's hard to leave and even though it's hard, I'm glad it's hard because I love it. I'm simply going to try something new. A new experience. A new challenge. It felt like the right time."

Despite bringing Oregon State up to more-than-respectable levels in the increasingly-competitive Pac-12, there were those who felt like Riley had overstayed his welcome in Corvallis. Maybe he had. Maybe the time was right because four-year starting quarter Sean Mannion was departing, and it was time for a fresh start and a fresh perspective as the league continues to evolve.

Riley found his exit strategy in Nebraska, and the Beavers pulled a coup by snatching up Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen, giving both programs the rare win-win scenario. And since, Andersen has stocked his staff with lots of coaching talent, including luring touted Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake away from Salt Lake City. One of Riley's concerns was that, perhaps, a coach might use Oregon State as a stepping-stone job and be gone after a few years. But a seasoned coach like Andersen seems more likely to stay for a while, considering he left a high-profile job in the Big Ten.

"I know of his work, but I don't know him," Riley said of Andersen. "I'm thankful they got a good guy like that. He seems like a very good hire. It's amazing how things have changed there. That's a good thing. Because when I got there in 1997, there were no expectations. It had been a graveyard for coaches for a long time. It's neat to see the growth of that program and its relevance."

Riley stopped off in the ESPN broadcast booth to hang out for a while during the second-quarter, then from the stands he watched the Cornhuskers' comeback attempt fall short in a 45-42 win for the Trojans.

Riley's situation at Nebraska is far better than the ones he inherited in his two stops at Oregon State. While there might still be a few fractures following the colorful exit of Bo Pelini, he's going to a program steeped in tradition and resources.

"I was really kind of proud of the fact that I stayed at a place for a long time," Riley said. "I know how important that is. And it was very difficult to give that up. When I came back in 2003 I said ‘I'm at that age. Let's make this as good as we can. Let's make it our last stop and let's see what we can do.'

"But if I was ever going to do anything different, now just felt like the time. I'm looking forward to the next step."
Marcus MariotaCary Edmondson/USA TODAY SportsFor Marcus Mariota, throwing an interception has been a rare occurrence the past two seasons.
EUGENE, Ore. -- In the past two seasons, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has been intercepted six times. He has attempted 758 passes.

That statistic alone is absolutely insane. Imagine that: For the number of times Mariota has targeted a young receiver or a guy in double coverage, thrown a bomb or a risky fade, only six of those times has a player who wasn’t supposed to get the ball, in fact, gotten the ball. The odds of football say he should’ve thrown far more picks during his time in an Oregon uniform. But as more fans have looked west this season to watch the Heisman winner, they’ve learned Mariota doesn’t exactly live or die by the rules of odds (or gravity, for that matter).

It’s impressive not just because of how clean he has been, but also because of how many shots he has taken at the end zone without being picked off. Other than holding the nation’s best interception-to-pass attempt ratio over the past two seasons, Mariota also holds the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in FBS. For every pick, he throws 11.5 touchdowns.

It’s a feat to intercept any quarterback, and most defensive players can remember their interceptions pretty well. But when you intercept Mariota, it sticks a little more, which we discovered when speaking with those in the elite group.

However, there was a common trend among the players when they spoke about the interception. A lot of guys said they were lucky or in the right spot, Mariota was unlucky, or he had to be baited into the interception. Nothing was a gimme.

The six players who made #SuperMariota look -- at least a little bit -- human over the past two seasons reflected on their interceptions. Quickly, it was discovered that picking off Mariota isn’t just a vague memory. Most players remember the very minute details of the play, the moment and the pick.

These are their memories:

Nov. 1, 2014 | Stanford cornerback Alex Carter

“I remember the receiver took an inside release, so I knew he was going to run an inside route. It was against Devon Allen. It was their fastest guy, so I knew he was going to run deep or a post. And then, as I was chasing after Devon, I kind of peeked -- I saw my safety over top, so I was a little bit behind -- but I looked back to see if Marcus had thrown the ball. He had thrown it, and it kind of got lost in the lights for three seconds, and then on its way down, it just kind of popped into my hands. I was pretty fortunate that he threw a bad pass.”

It was a bad pass?

“Yeah. He saw his receiver open, but he saw the safety in the middle, and I was coming from behind, so it was kind of like we had him on both sides. [Marcus] kind of underthrew his receiver a little bit. I’m just lucky I was in the right spot.”

Oct. 24, 2014 | Cal safety Stefan McClure

[+] EnlargeStefan McClure
Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY SportsCal's Stefan McClure said he could see the ire of Oregon players after he intercepted Marcus Mariota.
“I remember the defense being backed up in the red zone, and then they were just driving the ball on us. They tried to run, basically, a little switch route -- a slant and a post, the outside guy ran a slant, the inside guy ran a post -- the ball was tipped by the linebacker. It looked like it was going right to our corner, and our corner had an easy interception. He jumped for it, and he tipped it, and it went straight to me. It kind of just fell in my hands right in the end zone. So it was tipped twice and went right to me, but the corner had the clearer shot at the interception, but he didn’t catch it.”

Do you remember anything about the demeanor of Oregon players after that interception?

“They were a little surprised. They weren’t happy about it. After I caught it, one of them jumped and tried to grab the ball from me, so they were still trying to fight for it. I just remember Mariota looked disappointed and just unbuckled his chinstrap pretty mad-like. That was the main thing. The ball was tipped twice, so it wasn’t like he just threw it terribly, it was tipped twice and batted around. Those are the worst interceptions to have as a quarterback.”

Nov. 29, 2013 | Oregon State cornerback Rashaad Reynolds

“We were in a Cover 3. It was, I believe, the third or fourth quarter of the game. I think they came out, and they ran two streaks with just a fade on the outside and a seam on the inside. I was playing in the middle of both of the guys. He had one guy up the sideline, and I was kind of leaning more toward the guy in the middle of the field, but I saw the guy going up the sideline, so I kind of got a jump on it once he threw the ball.”

Do you think Mariota could’ve avoided the pick in any way?

“He probably could’ve thrown it a little further, but the way it looked -- because I kind of baited it -- I made it seem like the guy up the sideline was kind of open. I did that on purpose to bait him. But he was looking off, so he wasn’t looking at that particular guy. So once he looked that way, I just broke on the ball and got the interception.”

Nov. 29, 2013 | Oregon State cornerback Steven Nelson

“We were in a Cover 3, and I was running nub side tight end. They did a 10-yard in route, and it looked like Mariota kind of underthrew [the receiver] a little bit. I just jumped in front of it.”

Do you remember anything that happened after you made the interception?

“It was kind of a hard catch. If you watch the play, I had to reach back for the ball, and I landed on my left leg, and I tried to keep balance. And I really didn’t have time to see where I could run, so I think the nearest receiver just tackled me.”

Nov. 23, 2013 | Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright

“It was the first play of the game, and I think [they] turned out a hitch to the sideline, and the receiver kind of bobbled the ball and had fallen out of bounds. Shaquille Richardson kind of made a great play on the ball and threw it back inbounds to me, and I was by the sideline and, just, I caught it and stayed in bounds.”

Do you remember anything that happened after you made the interception?

“I should’ve scored a touchdown, but I tripped.”

Nov. 23, 2013 | Arizona cornerback Shaquille Richardson

“My interception was toward the end of the game. … From film study and how the game had been going, I knew what play they were running, which was a double post around the 20-yard line, which is a common route combination. So I only played that route, and my front seven had a lot of pressure on the play and forced Mariota to scramble. I was [guessing] because you knew he would just run if I covered my man, so I waited a split-second and baited him to throw it, and when he did, I already [knew] what would happen so I finished the route for the receiver. I think his name was Lowe. If it was not for Mariota’s athletic ability and speed, he wouldn't have cut me off on my way to the end zone.”
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It started with a rumor and a casual conversation. There were search firms and lists, but there were also back channels, innuendo and a lot of "this guy talked to that guy who heard this..." going on.

That's how the process of expediting Gary Andersen from Wisconsin to Oregon State began.

"A lot of it, we figured, was probably rumors," said Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis. "But you talk to people and you hear things. Maybe things aren't as rosy as they should be. A lot of it was probably rumors, but you follow up on it to make sure if there is some truth to it."

But in a matter of days, rumors became facts, facts became introductions and introductions led to Andersen being named Oregon State's new head coach less than a week after Mike Riley's jolting departure to Nebraska.

[+] EnlargeGary Andersen
Susan Ragan/USA TODAY SportsAthletic director Bob De Carolis (at left) said the hiring process to get coach Gary Andersen to Oregon State all happened very quickly.
The running joke is that every athletic director has a list in his back pocket of football coaches they'd hire should the rainy day come. And on Dec. 4, when news broke that Riley was leaving Oregon State, De Carolis went into what he called "attack mode."

"It wasn't in my back pocket, that was for sure," De Carolis said with a chuckle. "That's a bit of urban myth. I think what you do at our level, you watch people over time and you keep people in the back of your mind. You never know. We didn't think with Coach Riley's situation that anything was imminent. We weren't thinking that way. But once we got an inkling that something was happening, we went into attack mode."

Within two days, De Carolis had what he called a "robust" list of candidates -- names that were acquired through various channels. Some contacted De Carolis through their agents. Others called on their own. Some OSU reached out to. He looked at Power 5 coaches, Group of 5 coaches, FCS coaches and out-of-work coaches working in assorted media.

"You'd be surprised to hear the people that might be willing to have a conversation," De Carolis said.

But the name he kept hearing through those casual conversations was Andersen's.

"On that Saturday, his name popped up and our interest popped up when we heard that might be a possibility," De Carolis said. "We got connected with his representatives to make sure it was accurate and we scheduled a face-to-face for Tuesday [Dec. 9]."

De Carolis said a total of five candidates were interviewed for the job, and overtures toward Andersen were made following the Big Ten championship game. By Sunday, the parties had connected and by the following Tuesday, De Carolis and Andersen agreed to a deal in principle. The next day, Andersen was introduced as OSU's 28th head coach.

"It was all such a whirlwind," Andersen says. "You know how these things go. They reached out, agents talked and that whole process. Things rolled very, very quickly."

Just as Riley's departure was a college football bombshell, Andersen's hire was also met with dropped jaws.

"I get it. I understand it," Andersen said. "We won nine games and 10 games and got to two Jan. 1st bowl games. We had tremendous success on the field and I was lucky to be part of it. I get the fact that 'why would you do that?' But what I don't understand is the perception of why you'd leave Wisconsin and the Big Ten for Oregon State and the Pac-12. I have a tremendous amount of respect for both conferences and both programs. Oregon State and Wisconsin matchup and are very comparable. That's my opinion."

Now Andersen takes over a program that is home for the holidays in a league that is surging. Their rivals are in the Rose Bowl, one game away from going to the national championship and the balance of power in the league is in a state of flux. Priority No. 1, he said, will be focusing on the roster that's in place.

"You break everything down with your team first," Andersen said. "I don't think you can worry about what you're fighting. You have to put yourself in a position to get your roster put together. ...You want to run your style. The style we want to move into. Look at us at Wisconsin, we were only able to do that to a certain point because where we were. We had the best running back in the country [Melvin Gordon] so we just put the ball in his hands. We're not the smartest coaches in the world, but we're not the dumbest either."

With facility upgrades coming, De Carolis said he believes Andersen is walking into a pretty good situation.

"There's this misnomer that we don't have resources," De Carolis said. "We've got resources ... the good news going forward is Coach Andersen is taking a situation that's not exactly broken. A lot of things we're going to do here will hopefully help him take it to the next level."
Marcus Mariota's Oregon career has included decidedly few interceptions and decidedly little drama. The Ducks' quarterback has been machine-like in his efficiency, providing superb stats but not much suspense.

Suspense should be in short supply Saturday night in New York during the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Mariota and fellow Heisman finalists Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin and Amari Cooper of Alabama will sit nervously next to each other as the winner is announced. But deep down, all three know it will be Mariota, who picked up two more honors -- the Maxwell Award and the Davey O'Brien Award -- Thursday at the Home Depot College Football Awards at Disney World.

As a Heisman voter, I'm not allowed to reveal my vote until after the ceremony. But I can make predictions about the voting: it'll be Mariota in a landslide.

The Heisman was a legitimate two-man race entering championship weekend, as Mariota and Gordon both had strong cases. Then Mariota had his typical performance in the Pac-12 championship (313 pass yards, five total touchdowns), while Gordon was bottled up in the Big Ten title game (76 rush yards, no touchdowns).


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