Eggers' take on coaching paths, Anthony reunion, Heisman and all-Pac-12 voting
Knocking it about on a variety of sports subjects as we head into the holidays ...
• There is little chance that Pat Casey will finish his career as a "senior associate athletic director" at Oregon State.
I know Casey well enough to be quite certain of that.
On the other hand, I'd have lost a gob of money betting that he'd return to his position as Oregon State's baseball coach last June after a year's sabbatical.
But coaching is in Casey's blood. He's great at glad-handing donors and speaking to alumni groups — hell, he was a giant in fundraising for his program — but his first love is coaching baseball and impacting the lives of young men. He's a young 60. He still has a lot of energy and knowledge to pass on.
I'd like to think Casey won't take a job with another Pac-12 school, but you never know. It's more likely he'd accept a position at a big-time school, something along the lines of a Vanderbilt or North Carolina or Texas or Notre Dame.
It's just as likely, though, that he'll try his hand at pro baseball. He'd be a great manager or coach or evaluator of roving instructor. I'd love to see him get a position in the major leagues and experience that part of the game before he's done.
Casey will stay at his administrative position at OSU through the 2020 baseball season, in part so he can be on hand to watch his son, Joe, play as a junior outfielder for the Beavers. I won't be surprised, though, if he's doing something new that stokes his competitive fire by next summer.
• Todd Forcier is in his 10th year as sports performance specialist for the Trail Blazers. In another, much younger life, he was in his first of his five years as head strength and conditioning coach for the basketball team at Syracuse in 2002-03.
The star of the Orangemen's national championship team that season was none other than a 6-8 freshman named Carmelo Anthony.
"It was a whole hell of a lot of fun," said Forcier, now 45. "It's a humongous challenge to get a guy to take his body and his game to the next level and to get on the same page with the coaching staff. It was fun when we started to see progress and started to win. We went from unranked at the start of the year to national champions."
After that season, Anthony declared for the NBA draft and was taken with the third pick by Denver. When he retires, he'll be a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Forcier's reunion with Anthony with the Blazers 17 years after their time together at Syracuse brings back memories.
"He hasn't changed," said Forcier, whose older brother Chad is an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks. "Same energy. Always smiling. Players love to be around him. Coaches love to be around him.
"I work with him almost every day. He's one of my guys. 'Melo' makes working with him fun."
Forcier enjoyed his time with Jim Boeheim, who is in his 44th season as head coach at Syracuse.
"His philosophy is completely different than most coaches I've worked with," Forcier said. "Most of them are very hands-on. (Boeheim) didn't know what I did on a daily basis and didn't care to know — he just wanted it to be done at a very high level. I loved going to work and having that autonomy. I love Coach Boeheim."
• I asked Anthony about the young players in the league who have his interest.
"I like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns," he said. "Those guys are still young. The league is in very good hands when you start talking about young players like those four."
What in particular has Anthony noticed about Doncic, the Dallas forward who won Rookie of the Year honors last season?
"I like Luka's poise," Anthony said. "He plays at his own pace. He plays like he's been here before — which he has. He played in Europe on the international scene for a few years. That's one of the highest pro leagues outside the NBA. His experience over there makes him feel right at home. He stepped right into the league and played like a veteran even as a rookie."
Do any of the young players remind Anthony of himself at that age?
"I'd say Jayson Tatum of Boston," Anthony said. "He is pretty close to my size (6-8 and 240). He's a well-rounded offensive player. I think he's going to be an All-Star for many years."
• On Dec. 4, it was announced that Pau Gasol, who was waived as a player by the Trail Blazers two weeks earlier, would rejoin the club as an assistant coach.
A week and a half later, no sign of Gasol, who had been unable to successfully recover from left foot surgery.
"He's in Spain, still rehabbing," Coach Terry Stotts said. "He'll be back here in Portland next week. The priority has always been his rehab."
Will Gasol join the coaching staff?
"It depends on his rehab," Stotts said. "He is having some procedures done and that is taking up his time right now."
Does he still intend to play, then?
"You'll have to ask him that," Stotts said.
When he returns to Portland, I will.
• Had a short chat with former Oregon State coach Craig Robinson when the New York Knicks were in town. Robinson is in his third year with the Knicks, serving as director of player personnel and also president of the Knicks' G-League team in Westchester, New York.
"I'm enjoying both ends of it," said Robinson, who spent one year with the Milwaukee Bucks before signing on with the Knicks. Craig's wife, Kelly, remains at their Milwaukee home while Craig commutes back and forth from New York.
When I asked to do a short interview with Robinson, the ex-Beaver coach was willing. But the team's PR types said it was against company policy.
For a franchise with one playoff series victory and four playoff appearances in 19 years, that's wise policy. Wouldn't want to give away any secrets to the club's long-standing success.
• The state's Pac-12 schools didn't get enough love in the recent voting for the all-conference teams, but don't blame beleaguered commissioner Larry Scott. He had nothing to do with it.
The league's coaches each cast a vote, but can't vote for their own players. A player not making the first or second team but with at least three votes for first or second team makes honorable mention.
Let me say first that I respect that the Pac-12 honors just 12 players on each of the first-team offense and defense teams, plus five specialists. So many sports and leagues water down their first teams with too many players.
Of the 58 players named to the first and second teams, however, Pac-12 champion Oregon got only five — offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who won the Outland Trophy, and all purpose/special teams Brady Breeze on the first team, running back CJ Verdell, offensive tackle Shane Lemieux and linebacker Troy Dye on the second team. I would have thought another Duck or two — perhaps safety Jevon Holland, for one — might have made second team.
Oregon State had no first-teamers and three second-teamers — receiver Isaiah Hodgins, linebacker Hamilcar Rashed and offensive tackle Blake Brandel.
Hodgins and Rashed both deserved to make the first team.
Only two receivers were chosen for the first team — USC's Michael Pittman, the best receiver in the league, and Arizona State's Brandon Aiyuk, the third-best. The second-best was Hodgins, who was second in receptions with 86 — Aiyuk had 65 — led in TD receptions with 13 and was third with 1,171 receiving yards, 21 behind Aiyuk. Aiyuk made the first team, too, as a return specialist. That should have been enough.
Three linebackers were tabbed for the first team — Cal's Evan Weaver, the best defensive player in the Pac-12, along with Utah's Francis Bernard and Colorado's Nate Landman. Landman was fourth in the league with 109 tackles along with two sacks and eight tackles-for-loss. Bernard was 15th with 73 tackles, but no sacks and 7.5 tackles-for-loss. Rashed was 32nd with 62 tackles, but led the nation with 22.5 tackles-for-loss and was second with 14 sacks. He was much more of an impact player than Bernard and Landman.
Utah had 10 players on the first and second teams, including Tyler Huntley, who made the first team despite being about the sixth-best quarterback in the league. Yes, Huntley completed a Pac-12 best 75.5 percent of his passes with an excellent touchdown/interception ratio (16-2). Even so, he was ninth in the league in passing yardage and TD passes in a run-oriented offense.
It's been suggested the league's coaches snubbed the Ducks because of jealousy, due to the Nike influence, superior facilities and so forth. I doubt that's the case, although it is possible it had had a role in Utah's Kyle Whittingham being voted Coach of the Year over Oregon's Mario Cristobal.
More than that, it was a year when the Ducks got things done collectively moreso than on the talents of a few individuals. A league title and Rose Bowl berth was their reward.
• As a voter for the Heisman Trophy, I begin paying close attention to candidates about mid-season. Normally, my pick changes in the six or seven weeks until I have to submit my vote.
Not this year. By late October, Lousiana State's Joe Burrow was the front-runner, and he stayed there. Burrow's role in LSU's 26-21 victory over then top-ranked Alabama — 31 of 39 passing for 393 yards and three touchdowns along with 64 yards rushing — cemented his position in my mind. LSU's senior quarterback has completed 78 percent for 4,715 yards and 48 TDs with six interceptions this season.
Like most voters, I tabbed Jalen Hurts for my second-place vote. Oklahoma's senior quarterback has connected on 72 percent of his passes for 3,634 yards and 32 TDs with seven interceptions. He had a great year for a great team.
I went for another quarterback as my No. 3 choice — Ohio State sophomore Justin Fields, who has 68 percent passing accuracy this season for 2,953 yards and a remarkable 40 TDs with only one interception.
The other candidates on my short list were Oklahoma State sophomore running back Chuba Hubbard (1,936 yards, 21 TDs), Wisconsin junior running back Jonathan Taylor (1,909 yards, 21 TDs) and Ohio State junior defensive end Chase Young (16.5 sacks, 21 tackles-for-loss).
• Terry Baker's interest in Oregon State football has ebbed and flowed in the years since he was the first player on the West Coast to win the Heisman Trophy in 1962.
But the retired Portland lawyer's interest is up again in the Jonathan Smith era.
In his second season as the Beavers' coach, Smith invited Baker and another former OSU quarterbacking great — Steve Preece — to a practice session at Tommy Prothro Field.
"Jonathan spent some time with us and showed us the facilities, which are all very first-class," Baker said. "He asked me to say a few words to the players. I had a lot of the kids come up to me afterward and want to shake my hand and take a selfie.
"And there was a group of linemen — I'm assuming that; they were big guys — who all wanted to get in the Heisman pose in a picture with me. They were all so friendly and made me feel so welcome. I was really impressed."
Baker said he likes what Smith is doing with the program.
"Jonathan is running that operation like a corporate executive," Baker said. "I can see the job he's doing. He inherited a pretty empty cupboard, but they have some talent down there. They're making good progress — everybody would have to agree on that."
• The man who produced the documentary on Oregon State's "Giant Killers" of 1967 has a new project.
Alex Crawford, along with co-producer Ashtyn Butoso, is working on a documentary on the 2001 Fiesta Bowl champion Beavers, coached by Dennis Erickson and led by quarterback Jonathan Smith, tailback Ken Simonton and receivers Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzeh.
Crawford and Butoso are looking for $15,000 in contributions through GoFundMe to get the project off the ground.
• Congrats to Wayland Baptist coach Ty Harrelson, who allowed his star guard, J.J. Culver, to play 38 of 40 minutes while tallying 100 points in a 124-60 victory over Southwest Adventist on Tuesday.
Culver took 62 of his team's 77 shots in the game. No teammate scored in double figures. It was "get the ball to Culver" and get out of the way.
Think of all of life's lessons Harrelson imparted on his players in the 64-point rout of Southwest Adventist (1-12): Forget sportsmanship. Forget teamwork. Put personal achievement ahead of team play. Embarrass your opponent. Gain national attention for the program with a bush-league pursuit of a milestone that, under the circumstances, is shallow.
Harrelson is probably too dumb to understand the travesty of his actions. But somebody ought to tell him.
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