Welcome back to the inaugural and final Avezzano Cup, where we use state of the art revisionist history tools provided by WhatIfSports.com to determine the Worst Pac10 Team Of All Time.
Game 7 is a trip into a previous millennium, which seems so long ago... although it might not for fans of these teams, which aren't much better now than they were back then.
Bad Beavs meet Crappy Cougs, after the jump.
Round 1, Game 7: 1997 Oregon St vs 1999 Washington St
How They Got Here
#5 1997 OSU (3-8 / 0-8)
PTS/G: 17.7 (99th of 112) ▪ Opp PTS/G: 25.9 (67th of 112)
SRS: -3.58 (72nd of 112) ▪ SOS: 5.55 (25th of 112)
Hired as Jerry Pettibone's replacement following the 1996 season, Riley, a Corvallis native, was a football meteor. A defensive back at Alabama and member of their 1973 national championship team, defensive coordinator under Ad Rutschman at NAIA powerhouse Linfield, head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers where he won two Grey Cups, offensive coordinator and later assistant head coach at USC under John Robinson... Riley's career path pointed to greatness.
Then he took on one of the great rebuilding jobs in the history of college football. OSU had just finished its 26th consecutive losing season; if that wasn't enough of a disincentive, his predecessor's offensive philosophy of two-yards-and-a-cloud-of- dust had left little for Riley to work with in year one. Undaunted, the prodigal son returned home.
He had to have known it would be a long season. Although the Beavs managed to sweep their non conference slate (North Texas, San Jose State and Utah State), there were no illusions harbored. There were a few competitive losses -- 27-24 to an inexplicably ranked Stanford, 13-10 to eventual conference champ ASU -- but as the season wore on, the lack of depth began taking its toll on the results, and the beatings commenced. OSU was outscored 240-78 over its last six games, culminating in a 48-30 loss at Autzen in a game that wasn't that close...
The nice guy finished last.
Better days were coming in Corvallis. Riley was, and is, a consummate schmoozer. He planted the seeds that the carpetbagger Dennis Erickson harvested when Riley left for his putative NFL excursion -- upgraded facilities, better staffing, etc. Riley didn't get to bask in the joy of 1999, when that long losing season streak was finally broken... but when he returned in 2003, football life at OSU was much better than it was his first time around. It's not much better now, but really, what is?
Riley is the only coach of a team in the Avezzano Cup still coaching in the conference, and one of only two Cup coaches still leading teams anywhere (Mike Price has found his niche at UTEP).
#12 1999 Washington State (3-9 / 1-7)
PTS/G: 20.7 (93rd of 114) ▪ Opp PTS/G: 27.2 (75th of 114)
SRS: -4.93 (79th of 114) ▪ SOS: 1.78 (53rd of 114)
See this entry, add one to the year, and you have pretty much covered the '99 Wazzu story.
The '99 team might have been worse than '98 -- the Cougs managed to lose to Idaho, 28-17. But a huge midseason win over Cal was their first conference victory since the '97 Apple Cup, and a season ending win at Hawaii is a nice bonus for any team. Hence the relatively high seed in the Cup bracket.
A typical lowlight...
1999 Apple Cup Highlights (via Wight054)
|1997 Oregon State Beavers||3||7||0||0||10|
|1999 Washington St. Cougars||7||17||17||3||44|
An unexpected anti-romp by the Beavs, as Wazzu overcame an early 10-7 deficit to win in a rout. Steve Birnbaum threw five TD passes for Wazzu, while his counterpart at OSU, Tim "They Never Told Me I Would Have To Pass When They Recruited Me" Alexander, coughed up four INTs.
So, Riley's Beavs join his predecessor's team into the quarterfinals. So far, OSU and WSU each have two entries remaining in the Avezzano Cup. Appropriate for the Beavs, unsurprising for Wazzu. Can the Huskies under the sadly immortal Ty Willingham replicate this amazing lack of effort? Stay tuned for our next episode!
(WARNING: Do NOT enter "Mike Riley Price" into an unfiltered GIS search.)