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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: Oregon's football 'Civil War' has turned one-sided against Gophers' opponent

The Pacific Coast Conference was formed in 1915. Washington, Oregon and Oregon State were the outposts on the northern coast. Washington State became a member in 1917.

The 1950s were marked with charges of coaches and schools paying recruits. The conference disbanded because of scandal and infighting in 1959. Yet, the current Pac-12 is basically an off shoot of the original conference, and the four schools in Washington and Oregon remain the “North.’’

Washington (Seattle) and Washington State (Pullman) are 285 miles apart, basically representing two halves of the state..

That’s not the case in Oregon. Eugene is home to the Oregon Ducks, and Corvallis is home to the Oregon State Beavers. They are located south of Portland and the college cities are 47 miles apart from one another.

“It is kind of unusual to have the only two major college football schools in a state that close together,’’ Bob Grim said. “That helps make it the ‘Civil War,’ I guess.’’

Grim was at Oregon State from 1963 through 1966. Freshmen were ineligible for varsity competition, so he played three seasons. He was a receiver when Tommy Prothro took the Beavers to the Rose Bowl in 1964, then was a running back as a junior and senior.

The Vikings drafted Grim in the second round in 1967 and he played five seasons as a receiver (and a threat) here. He was a big piece of the package that General Manager Jim Finks used to reacquire Fran Tarkenton from the New York Giants before the 1972 season.

Grim played three seasons with the Giants, one with Chicago, and wound up his career as a sparsely used receiver for the Vikings in 1976 and 1977. When he went back to Oregon, Grim purchased an Anheuser-Busch distributorship and that worked out well.

He’s now retired with his wife Kathy in Bend, Ore., on the eastern edge of the Cascade mountain range. “It’s a healthful life out here,’’ Grim said. “I did have to give up skiing, because of my new hips.’’

Grim was the radio analyst for Oregon State football for two decades through the 2002 season. He had to defeat throat cancer and hasn’t been as involved with his alma mater’s football fortunes in recent years.

He sounds good, though, and has hope that Gary Andersen – hired two years ago because of his unhappiness with Wisconsin – can bring the Beavers back to a competitive situation (especially vs. the Ducks).

Oregon State opens the season on Thursday night at TCF Bank Stadium as 13-point underdogs to the Gophers.

The Civil War is the name that has been attached to the Oregon-Oregon State football game that dates to 1894. Grim played in three victories for Oregon State over the Ducks. That was the start of an eight-game winning streak from 1964 to 1971.

The victory to end the 1971 season coincided with the start of an ignoble period for Oregon State. The Beavers had 28 straight losing seasons from 1971 to 1998. Included was a 13-year stretch when Oregon State managed only a single tie with the Ducks.

“We couldn’t find the guy to put it together and get competitive again,’’ Grim said. “Mike Riley finally came in and started to get things organized. He was 5-6 in his second season [1998], but then he got a chance to take a shot at the NFL with San Diego.’’

Oregon State hired Dennis Erickson, the football vagabond. “He inherited some good players, and brought in more good players, and that was an amazing team he had in 2000,’’ Grim said.

The Beavers went 10-1 in the regular season, then buried Notre Dame 41-9 in the Fiesta Bowl. Chad Johnson (yup, that one) caught two TD passes and the Beavers scored 29 points in one eight-minute stretch of the third period.

Oregon State finished rated No. 4 in the country. Erickson stayed two more seasons, with a 13-11 record and one trip to the Insight Bowl (Glen Mason’s least-favorite bowl), and then went to San Francisco to coach the 49ers.

Erickson lasted two years there and has been quoted frequently as saying that leaving Oregon State was the worst coaching decision of his life.

Riley came back after being fired in San Diego and Oregon State won three of the next five Civil Wars. But a big change in the state's football scene was taking place, and a lot of credit nationally has been given to the many millions pumped into the Oregon program by alumnus Phil Knight of Nike.

Oregon has become a national power and has won eight straight Civil War games. The Ducks have scored 65, 37 (twice), 49, 48, 56, 47 and 52 points in those victories.

“Obviously, Phil’s money has helped them, but I give a lot of credit to Mike Bellotti,’’ Grim said. “He saw the direction college football was going, with an emphasis on speed and wide-open offense, and the Ducks reinvented themselves. Mike started it, and then he put Chip Kelly in charge, and that took them to a higher level.’’

Oregon State is also a Nike school and has received some financial assistance from Knight, including helping the school to retain baseball coach Pat Casey. The Beavers won back-to-back College World Series in 2006 and 2007.

“We just have to get better,'' Grim said. "Gary Andersen had a rough first season [2-10], but he brought in a lot of recruits. We’ll see how it looks Thursday night.’’

We’ll see here in Minnesota, too, with Tracy Claeys now a head coach and having no asterisk attached to his title.

Reusse: Vikings can replace Bridgewater of past, not the one imagined for 2016

Teddy Bridgewater entered his second season with the Vikings in 2015, with 13 starts behind him as a rookie. He completed 65.3 percent (292 of 447) of his passes . Those completions totaled only 3,231 yards, an average of 201.9 yards.

He also passed for a paltry 14 touchdowns with nine interceptions. In his 13 games as a rookie in 2014, those numbers were 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His yards per completion were also close to identical: 7.3 yards in 2014, and 7.2 yards last season.

The Vikings managed to make the playoffs at 11-5 despite the feeble passing offense. They also were going to beat Seattle in a playoff upset, until Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal attempt and the Seahawks escaped TCF Bank Refigerator with a 10-9 victory in January.

Bridgewater did move the Vikings into position for that failed field goal, although the passing numbers vs. Seattle were again less than awe-inspiring: 17 for 24 for 146 yards (6.1 per completion), without a touchdown or an interception.

The Bridgewater that the Vikings have seen in his first two seasons as an NFL quarterback (30 of 33 starts, counting the playoff game) can be replaced with a mid-level trade or perhaps even a waiver wire claim over the weekend.

What can’t be replaced, not by today’s newly-anointed starter, Shaun Hill, or anyone picked up by General Manager Rick Spielman during this cutdown period, is the quarterback that the Vikings were expecting Bridgewater to become in his third season.

Coach Mike Zimmer did offer slight criticisms of Bridgewater last season for not “cutting loose’’ more often, and for occasionally making life tough on the offensive line by holding the ball for an extra second.

He took 86 sacks for 577 yards in losses in those 30 starts, and a fair share of those were on a young quarterback and not due strictly to jail breaks taking place against the Vikings’ offensive line.

The Vikings were without starters John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt (both gone now), but the five guys they did have wound up starting every game last season, which was unique in the modern NFL.

The lack of touchdown throws and inability to finish drives did not cause the Vikings’ confidence in Bridgewater to waver.

It was the belief of Spielman, Zimmer, etc., and a loud majority of Vikings fans, that their guy Teddy’s modest numbers could be traced to quick pressure allowed by the offensive line, a receiving corps that got a negative contribution from expensive veteran Mike Wallace, and a run-heavy offense with the return of Adrian Peterson as the NFL’s leading rusher.

And with this as the working theory, the Vikings set about to make things easier for Bridgewater. They brought in two assistants who were former head coaches: Pat Shurmur to add his thoughts to offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s game plans, and fiery Tony Sparano to increase the offensive line’s hostility level toward opponents.

More importantly, the most-aggressive moves in the free agent market were for offensive linemen: big, rugged Alex Boone to play left guard, and large, talented, enigmatic Andre Smith to play right tackle. With their first-round pick, they took Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss, a rangy receiver alleged to be perfect for Bridgewater’s middle-range throws.

The protection would be better. The addition of Treadwell, along with the return to health of Charles Johnson, and continued production from Stefon Diggs, and irrepressible Adam Thielen from MSU Mankato and Jarius Wright as options in the slot, and a bevy of tight ends, and Jerick McKinnon out of the back field, and maybe even Cordarrelle Patterson …

Well, Bridgewater would have the best protection he’s had by a mile (or a full second), and he would have more receiving options than a pass slinger could ask, and the Teddy of 2016 was going to be a consistent playmaker and not the young quarterback who had been just OK.

And he tore up his left knee on Tuesday in hard-to-fathom fashion, and he’s done for this season, and who knows how long after that?

The Vikings can replace the Bridgewater who was along for the ride in a 11-5 playoff season of 2015. What they can’t replace is the difference-making Bridgewater that they envisioned for 2016.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at Fort Lauderdale

    6:30 pm on CBSSN

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • L.A. Rams at Vikings (preseason)

    7 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Oregon State at Gophers football

    8 pm on BTN, 107.9-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Washington at Lynx

    7 pm on 106.1-FM

  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Rayo OKC at Minnesota United FC

    7 pm on Ch.29

  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05 pm on 106.1-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Lincoln at Saints

    5:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Connecticut at Lynx

    6 pm on FSN, 106.1-FM

  • Lincoln at Saints

    11:05 am on 1220-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Kansas City at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Kansas City at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Lynx at Los Angeles

    9 pm on ESPN2, 106.1-FM

  • Kansas City at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

Poll: If the Vikings acquire a veteran quarterback, who would you prefer?

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Today's Scoreboard

  • Chicago White Sox

    Detroit

     

    - F

    2

    3

  • Tampa Bay

    Boston

     

    - F

    6

    8

  • Seattle

    Texas

     

    - F

    1

    14

  • Oakland

    Houston

     

    - F

    3

    4

  • LA Dodgers

    Colorado

     

    - F

    0

    7

  • Arizona

    San Francisco

     

    - F

    2

    4

  • Toronto

    Baltimore

     

    - F

    5

    3

  • Cincinnati

    LA Angels

     

    - F

    0

    3

  • Washington

    Philadelphia

     

    - F

    2

    1

  • San Diego

    Atlanta

     

    - F

    1

    8

  • Minnesota

    Cleveland

     

    - F

    4

    8

  • Miami

    NY Mets

     

    - F

    2

    5

  • Pittsburgh

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - F

    5

    6

  • LA Dodgers

    Colorado

     

    - F

    10

    8

  • St. Louis

    Milwaukee

     

    - F

    1

    3

  • NY Yankees

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    - F

    5

    4

  • Washington

    Tampa Bay

     

    - F

    20

    13

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