Beavers Near First Winning Season Since 1970
Nov. 5, 1999
By LANDON HALL
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - When Oregon State ended its season in 1970, the players and coaches were certain the team would be a West Coast power for years.
That was the last time Oregon State finished with a winning record.
"Carrying it around all these years is like having a 28-year toothache," said Mark Dippel, a senior defensive lineman on the Beavers' great teams of the 1960s.
Oregon State has a chance to end the pain Saturday. A win over California would not only give the Beavers six victories, ending their NCAA-record string of losing seasons, it would put the Beavers in position for the postseason for the first time since the 1965 Rose Bowl.
The Beavers feel the burden of all those losses - 242 of them since 1971.
"I don't think there's a lot of words to express how important it is for us to get this win," senior defensive tackle Aaron Wells said. "I've been here five years, and all I've heard about since I've been here is, `Could this be the year when they break the streak?'
"Some of my friends who have played here before send me e-mails saying, `Man, you're doing it for all of us.' "
If the sixth victory happens, first-year coach Dennis Erickson will get the credit. With two national championship rings at Miami, Erickson has the Beavers talking about finishing 8-3. That would include wins over Cal, Arizona and Oregon.
"This is as big for us right now as playing for a national championship at Miami when we were playing for them," the coach said. "Everything is relative to where you are in your program, and where we are in our program, this is huge."
All this excitement over a possible 6-5 finish - a failure at many other schools - shows just how far the Oregon State program has fallen since 1970.
"It's hard to fathom how a team stays that bad for so long," said former quarterback Steve Endicott, now a sports agent representing Michael Irvin and Larry Johnson, among others. "You've got to have a little bit of pride when someone asks you where you went to school."
If Oregon State wins Saturday, that pride will be back.
"If we win, I'm going to be hanging from that goal post," Dippel said. "But I may need a stepladder because I don't think I can jump that high anymore."