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 , 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.