After losing on the road against USC over the weekend to drop to 1-5, Oregon State has made a coaching change. Gary Andersen, just two and a half years into his contract with the Beavers, has mutually agreed to leave Oregon State as both the coach and program look to wipe the slate clean and move in a new direction.
Firing a head coach after two dismal seasons and well on track for a third is no surprise. Oregon State was just 7-23 in the two-and-half years under Andersen, who voluntarily left Wisconsin after being embarrassed in the Big Ten championship game by Ohio State three years ago. Things were clearly not going well with the program, but many suspected Andersen would manage to hang around at least a little bit longer to get the rebuild moving in a positive direction.
Official word from Oregon State. pic.twitter.com/0TIUJQiF7U
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) October 9, 2017
The timing of the decision is a little odd too, given the Beavers just lost one of the more likely games they were expected to lose this season and they have a home game this week against Colorado before heading to a bye week. But if the decision had been made to begin the divorce, doing so now makes sense as it avoids the awkward situation of having to fire a coach after winning a game heading to a bye week. It’s better to cut ties now rather than deal with that scenario. And now Orgeon State can get a jump on pursuing its next coach and evaluating options.
What is stunning is Andersen opted to waive the remainder of his contract.
“After many discussions with Scott, waiving my contract is the correct decision and enables the young men and the program to move forward and concentrate on the rest of this season,” Andersen said. “Coaching is not about the mighty dollar. It is about teaching and putting young men in a position to succeed on and off the field. Success comes when all parties involved are moving in the same direction.”
By terms of contract, if Gary Andersen had been fired w/o cause and he had not waived buyout, he would have been due more than $12.7 million
— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz) October 9, 2017
So where does Oregon State go from here?
Forget about the dream scenario option of Chip Kelly. As much fun as it would be to watch Kelly attempt to resurrect his former program’s top in-state rival, that just is not going to happen. Oregon State will be far more likely to be going a bit more low-key for their next head coach, and it must find a coach capable of building a program. Andersen could have done that, given the right situation, as his time at Utah State would demonstrate. Oregon State trying to compete in the same division with Washington, Washington State, Oregon, and Stanford doesn’t make that easy. And Oregon State had a long way to go.
For now, assistant coach Cory Hall will take over the job as interim head coach while Oregon State prepares to undergo a search for a new permanent head coach. Don’t expect Oregon State to be able to pull a coach from another power conference as they did with Andersen. This program does not have that kind of pull. But attracting a coach from a Group of Five program or perhaps even the FCS might be an option in addition to any number of good assistant coaches looking to land a job on the west coast.
And where does Andersen go from here? The last four years have not painted a great picture for Andersen. After jumping ship from Wisconsin after losing the Big Ten championship game by 59 points, Andersen has had three miserable years at Oregon State. Does he get a pass at Oregon State for not having a lot to work with or does he take the brunt of the blame and have to explain it away in whatever job interviews come his way? Odds are Andersen will return as a head coach somewhere, but at this point, it may be far more likely to be found in the Group of Five. Maybe, perhaps, a return to the state of Utah at either Utah State or BYU?
Oregon State is the third college football program currently actively searching for a new head coach for the 2018 season. They join Ole Miss, who just listed their job opening in an official capacity over the weekend, and UTEP.