Oregon State football demands a special type of loyalty, one that defies reason and requires a penchant for self-abuse. During my tenure at OSU, our record was as follows.
- 1994: 4-7
- 1995: 1-10
- 1996: 2-9
- 1997: 3-8
- 1998: 5-6
The program was coming on strong about the time I graduated, and during Jody’s final year at OSU, the Beavers posted their first winning season in almost thirty years. The following year, we traveled to Tempe to watch a 10-1 Beaver team trounce Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. I always resented the students who came through OSU in the years after I left. The Beavers were consistently posting winning records and playing in respectable—if not top-tier—bowl games year after year. These kids didn’t know what it meant to be a Beaver fan. To sit through rainy games at Parker Stadium, only to watch your team get thumped again and again. To see your team turn over the ball in the Red Zone two to three times a game.
It is with great trepidation that we burden our children with the emotional baggage that is OSU football. I imagine that parents with hereditary diseases and Cubs fans feel the same way. But maybe a little pain and suffering will build character. Like a Cormac McCarthy novel, the occasional bright moment (a winning season, or even a first down some years) shines with blinding light amid the darkness.
I’m exaggerating, of course. Some of my best memories are tied to OSU football games. But I couldn’t help feel a little guilty as we took Carson to his first OSU football game last night. It was a unique game, played at AT&T Park because Memorial Stadium is being rebuilt this year. He made it through three quarters before the long day got the best of him and he retired for the evening. OSU lost in classic fashion: 23-6. Maybe a 49er game would be good for his spirits.