One team President Barack Obama didn’t have the opportunity to pick when he joined ESPN this week to fill out his NCAA March Madness bracket was Oregon State, which has yet to recover from a disastrous six years under the guidance of his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson.
Robinson, Michelle Obama's brother, was fired by Oregon State after six straight disappointing seasons as head coach—the team went 39–69 in the Pac 12 and never made the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.
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Not only did Robinson fail to get results at Oregon State, he also left a mess for new coach Wayne Tinkle. Tinkle inherited a team without a single player averaging four points a game.
He had to hold open tryouts to fill out the team's roster—a practice almost unheard of for a program playing in a major conference.
Tinkle’s team overcame and wound up with a 17-14 record.
Just 1,351 people showed up to watch Oregon State lose to Radford in the first round of the post-season College Basketball Invitational in Robinson's final game as the team's head coach.
This year, Tinkle declined an invitation to the CBI tournament. One reason for the decision was that the depleted roster he inherited, which in the end had just seven recruited scholarship players on it, was exhausted.
Tinkle’s team also has bigger and better things to look forward to in coming years than the lowly CBI tournament (which Robinson’s team played in four out of six years).
Three of the top 150 recruits in the country are going to Oregon State next season, a feat Robinson never came close to equalling. Robinson even used the promise to recruits that his players would get access to his political connections.
Benjamin Schorzman, a sports reporter for Oregon's Register-Guard, said he was surprised Robinson even lasted six years.
"Robinson just couldn't deliver on any of his promises when he was hired," said Schorzman. "Frankly I think his relationship to the Obamas was the only reason he lasted six years because Oregon State was middling to bad every year."
Despite his team not making any major post-season tournaments, Tinkle was named a semi-finalist for the Naismith Men's College Coach of the Year Award.
"I think the reaction from people this year to what Tinkle did tells you everything you need to know about where OSU was," said Schorzman.
Robinson spent the past year as an analyst for ESPN, and is rumored to be in the mix for the head coach position at Holy Cross. Robinson was paid nearly $1 million a year by Oregon State, and received a $4 million buyout when he was fired. Tinkle made just $800,000 in his first year as coach, though his contract elevates in its final years.
Oregon State basketball paid the price for its decision to hire Robinson as coach in 2008, much like we are all paying the price for electing his brother-in-law to be president that same year.
Also Obama is terrible at basketball.