Nigel Burton

How about those Viks?

Tue, 12/03/2013 - 3:11pm
Cliff Pfenning
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With the college football regular season winding down, and all the NCAA Div. 1 schools having the week off, a brief look at the seasons for Oregon, Oregon State and Portland State (yes, they're Div. 1) shows that a review of the three head coaches might show that ... Portland State's Nigel Burton should be the Coach of the Year.

Portland State finished only 6-6 in the Big Sky Conference, and didn't reach the FCS playoffs, but Burton's work of getting his team to that record puts his job performance slightly ahead of Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, and OSU's Mike Riley.

In Helfrich's first year, Oregon finished 10-2, a record that's a major disappointment for fans.

Riley, in his 13th season, guided the Beavers to a 6-6 record, which got them bowl eligible - a worthy season for fans in Corvallis every year. But, the Beavs lost their last five games after giving their nation time to whisper those magic words: "Rose Bowl." Not this season.

What puts Burton's Viks ahead of the Ducks and Beavers is their play at the end of the season, especially in their final game. Playing at No. 3 Eastern Washington, the Vikings nearly pulled off what might have been the program's greatest upset in Big Sky Conference play before losing by a missed extra point in the closing minutes, 42-41. That loss came a week after a 43-42 loss to Sacramento State at Jeld-Wen Field in which they gave up two scores in the final nine minutes.

The Viks finished their Big Sky season at 3-5, having beaten the three teams that finished under them in the standings. Four of the team's conference losses were by a combined 16 points. Only Montana, which headed to the FCS playoffs ranked No. 10, blew out the Vikings - on the road - 55-27.

Oregon finished 10-2 and is likely headed for a bowl game that will attract a smile or two from those fans unhappy with the team not getting to the national championship game. If Oregon won't play for the title, or even for the Rose Bowl, it better face a quality opponent in a bowl game. If they take on Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl, that'll be the case.

Although Oregon's Mark Helfrich guided his team to a better record than PSU, the Ducks took a heavy beating with video from the sidelines showing simple desperation during the Stanford loss, and crazy quotes such as not caring about playing in the Rose Bowl as they had "already been there." The Rose Bowl comments came up time and again during a all-out spanking from Arizona in Week 11.

Riley got his team recovered from a season-opening loss at home to Eastern Washington to a 6-1 record heading into a home game with Stanford. Even though the Beavers seemed to outplay the Cardinal for significant parts of the game, they still managed to lose, starting a slide that included trailing Washington 48-0 ... at home ... in Week 11.

Burton hasn't gotten the Vikings over the hump of reaching the FCS playoffs, but there at least was plenty of fight in the team that can be spun in many positive ways - and Denver tight end Julius Thomas' development in the pro ranks can only help.

 

 

 

 

Vikings sail under radar toward Burton’s first game.

Thu, 09/02/2010 - 7:59am
Cliff Pfenning
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With all buzz going across the state about Oregon and Oregon State and Quizz and LaMichael, TCU and BSU, the PSU Vikings have just disappeared from the media radar.

But, they’ve got problems/drama, too, maybe even more that both the Ducks and Beavers because the Viks are inaugurating a new coach Saturday at Arizona State.

Payday game for their new coach, Nigel Burton. Payday game against a program in need of whomping on a smaller program to make a statement it’s a big-time program.

And the Viks get another one of those games two weeks later when they visit Autzen Stadium, the loudest stadium on the planet, to take on the No. 11 Ducks. Currently, I’ve got that game pegged at 70 for the Ducks, 0 for the Vikings. That’s because the state know’s nothing about how the PSU program is going to perform under Burton, who’s never been the head coach for a college game.

So, banter all you want about the Oregon and OSU games on Saturday – and I’ll be watching the Beavs’ game intently, but the Vikings are the real drama on Saturday. Can they actually win against the Sun Devils? Can they actually score against the Sun Devils. It’s the game with the most drama among all the programs in Oregon.

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