Wayne Tinkle, head coach of the Montana Grizzlies in the Big Sky Conference, is swimming out of the mid-major pond and heading to the big, bad PAC-12. However, the school he's heading to isn't the brightest in the world at the moment. Tinkle is to become head coach of the Oregon State Beavers, a squad that hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1990, and has experienced substantial turmoil for quite some time now. The announcement is to take place on Monday.
Tinkle is a fabulous hire to turn things around. Tinkle, who has been at the helm at Montana for 8 years, has many great players who have claimed his tutelage. Examples include Will Cherry, Kareem Jamar, Brian Qvale, and many more.
Tinkle was a player himself in his youth, and his alma mater is (you guessed it) the University of Montana. Following his graduation, he spent 12 years playing internationally in countries such as Sweden, Italy, Spain, and Greece, which gave Tinkle a bevy of experience. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin native came back to Missoula in 2001 as an assistant, and took the wheel for the Montana men's basketball squad as head coach in 2006. Success followed Tinkle everywhere, and he became the 'King Of Missoula', so to speak. He was the most popular man in town.
Let's think about Oregon State here for a moment. The Beavs recently fired Craig Robinson, renowned for the fact that he's President Barack Obama's brother-in-law. Robinson had plenty of talent during his tenure in Corvallis, but due to some inexplicable gaffes, and some simple coaching errors, the Beavers never gained any traction during his time there, even with some potential NBA stars. But do you want to know the interesting part? Robinson was able to become the 4th-winningest coach in the team's history, with a record of 93-104 during his stay. That should say something about the state this program has been in for far too long now.
Who was the last really great Beavers head coach? That would be the late Ralph Miller, the legendary leader of the Beavs from '70-'89. Miller has the court of Gill Coliseum named after him and is the school's 2nd-winningest coach of all time. His '80-'81 team, the 'Orange Express', is remembered throughout college basketball history as the best in Beaver history. The Beavers were almost unbeatable during this time in Corvallis, beat UCLA for the first time, and was one of the best in the country. Miller was the national coach of the year.
Is Wayne Tinkle going to be the next Ralph Miller? Their coaching styles are quite similar with their pressure systems, and stout defenses. That is something OSU has lacked for an eternity. Living up to Ralph Miller-esque proportions is simply astronomical, and can't seriously be thought of until Tinkle settles in. However, Tinkle knows how to win vs. the PAC 12. His Grizz have wins over UCLA, Oregon, and his new team, Oregon State during his time in Missoula. The potential is glaringly bright here.
All in all, this was a win for the Oregon State University athletic department. The football team is in great hands. Now the basketball team is getting the wheels turning. Athletic director Bob De Carolis has made progress since 2002, and this could potentially pan out to be one of his, and the entire athletic commission's, best decisions in a while. The Craig Robinson experiment didn't work out. It's time to start anew with a low-risk, high reward 48-year-old. Look this team take flight in the PAC-12 soon.
One quick side story: Tinkle's son, Tres Tinkle, is a 4-star recruit coming out of high school in Missoula, and will more than likely be following his dad to Corvallis. This would create a situation comparable to the one a Creighton University the past few years, with Doug McDermott being taught under his dad, Greg McDermott. Tres Tinkle is a small forward, with an unbelievable ability to attack the basket and score any way possible. He would be a fabulous shot in the arm for a program dying for more talent.
There is a lot of work to do, and a lot to be seen if Tinkle is the man for the job. Our bet is that his is just that, and more.