OSU hires Montana coach to recruit talent, rebuild team
He is not the sexiest hire. He is not a nationally recognized name. He has never coached at the major-conference level.
Even so, new Oregon State basketball coach Wayne Tinkle draws raves from those who know him best, from those who watched him coach during his eight years as head coach at Montana, and from those who served on athletic director Bob De Carolis' selection committee.
Corvallis native John Bates has known Tinkle since their season as teammates at Montana Bates as a senior, Tinkle as a freshman in 1983-84.
"Wayne was a solid player who got much better as he got older," says Bates, a mortgage banker in Portland since 1993. "He was a hustler and a hard worker."
Bates is a close friend of Utah coach Larry Krystowiak, Tinkle's predecessor at Montana. Tinkle served as an assistant for six years at Montana, the last two under Krystowiak. Bates has closely followed Tinkle's development as a coach.
"First of all, he's a character guy, a community guy," Bates says. "He was perfect for Missoula. He'll be perfect for Corvallis. He's had great kids in his program at Montana, and he can coach. He's had success there. It's not the Pac-12, but it's a similar type of set-up in terms of community size.
"There are a lot of people who don't know who Wayne Tinkle is, but it's a solid pick by De Carolis. Wayne will be perfect for the Oregon State program, perfect for the city of Corvallis. I'm fired up for him and for the program."
Tinkle, Bates and Krystowiak played together at Montana under Mike Montgomery, who recently retired at California after a long, illustrious coaching career.
"I'm fired up for Wayne," Krystowiak says. "It's pretty darn cool for somebody you're in the foxhole with as a player. And we worked together at Montana, too. It's a great day for the Beavers. We're going to have our hands full when we play them."
Krystowiak considers Tinkle a member of the Montana coaching tree that includes such names as Montgomery, Stew Morrill and Jim Brandenburg.
"I don't think any of us strayed too far from the plan," says Krystowiak, who played nine years in the NBA. "Get your kids to play hard and together, and don't complicate things. It adds up to some wins. That's what we learned over the years. It's kind of the Grizzlies' blueprint."
When Tinkle worked as Krystowiak's assistant, "he was real productive," Krystowiak. "Not a guy who wanted to have his voice heard all the time, but knew the time and place to interject stuff.
"I have complete faith in Wayne. The people in Corvallis understand it's not going to happen overnight. We're playing in a terrific league with some elite programs. He'll get the program going. Everybody's going to be really proud of what he gets accomplished at the end of the day."
Lake Oswego High grad Billy Reader played for Tinkle at Montana in 2010-11 and 2011-12 before transferring to Morehead State. He didn't transfer because of distaste for Tinkle.
"He's a great guy, and a great coach," Reader says. "He's an X's and O's guy and a players' coach, too. He relates well with the guys. He played professionally after his college days. He gets what most of us want to do play basketball after college.
"I haven't met too many people who have anything bad to say about Wayne Tinkle. Montana has some resources, but not compared to what Oregon State has. I think he's going to do a great job."
Shawn Stockton played for Tinkle at Montana from 2008-12.
"I'm pretty excited for Coach Tinkle," said Stockton, the nephew of John Stockton. "I know he'll do a good job. He's one of those guys who, from Day One, has your back. He's willing to lay it on the line for you. You talk about a competitive human being. There were times in practice where he wanted to jump in and battle with us.
"He's a hard-nosed coach. He demands a lot from his players. He gets his players to work hard, but you respect him and buy into him for what he's doing. In four years, I had a blast. I wouldn't have wanted to play for anyone else."
Greg Rachac, a sportswriter for the Billings (Mont.) Gazette, dealt with Tinkle often during his time at Montana.
"Wayne is such a nice guy very personable, very good with the public," Rachac says. "I was skeptical when (Montana) hired him, mostly because he hadn't been head coach. I didn't know if he was the right guy at the time. But his teams got better through the years, and (in 2010-11 and 2011-12) he had two of the best seasons in school history. He was able to pull it off by recruiting well in California, which I would think will be a major area for him at Oregon State."
Portland State's Tyler Geving has coached in the Big Sky against Tinkle since 2005, the past five seasons as the Vikings' head coach.
"Wayne is a great person and a very good X's and O's coach at the offensive end," Geving says. "He did a great job of recruiting the Northwest and the Bay Area during his time at Montana.
"He's an offensive mind. He runs a lot of different stuff. That was the one thing that stood out about him at Montana. Oregon State is a tough job, but Wayne is a confident guy. He's prepared for the job with what he's done at Montana."
Former Beavers Charlie Sitton and Lamar Hurd served on De Carolis' selection committee.
"Wayne will fit in well," says Sitton, owner of Hayden's Grill restaurant in Tualatin."It will be a good change of pace. He's going to bring some credibility to the program. He's going to bring some teaching skills. He'll be a good fit with the other head coaches we have in Corvallis.
"I'm glad he has head coaching experience. I was impressed by the way he handled discipline at Montana, by making kids accountable. He had good success and was able to recruit well there."
Hurd draws parallels with Krystowiak, who inherited a terrible situation at Utah and has improved the Utes from 6-25 to 15-18 to 21-12 in his three seasons there.
"After a few minutes talking to Wayne, I kept thinking, 'Larry Krystowiak,' " says Hurd, who has dealt with the Utah coach while broadcasting with the Pac-12 networks. "They sound very similar with what they preach, the philosophy they believe in. That's what separates the good coaches from the mediocre ones the guys who develop a system and a process and stick to it. That's what set him apart from the other candidates."
Hurd, who also was on the selection committee when Craig Robinson was hired six years ago, likes Tinkle's connection with the Northwest and his understanding of the situation he steps into.
"One of the questions I asked was about the struggles of Oregon State basketball the last 25 years," Hurd says. "He was able to explain it spot-on. He's what Oregon State needs. Wayne really gets it and can fill the void."
Two other notes of interest about Tinkle:
His son, Tres (pronounced "Tray") Tinkle, was the Gatorade Montana player of the year as a junior last season. The 6-6, 205-pound Tinkle is expected to be among the nation's top recruits next year.
"Tres can pretty much play anywhere on the floor," says Rachac, who has seen him play several times. "He dominates in Montana. He can score 30 a night if he wants to. He can play inside and outside, shoots the 3, passes very well. He has great ball skills for a guy his size. He's only going to get better. He has so much potential. I think he'll climb into the top 50 on the national recruiting list next season."
"Tres is quite the stud," says Reader, who also has watched him play. "He was too good to play at Montana. I think Oregon State might be a nice fit for him."
College Insider website recently named Tinkle as "the sexiest coach in college basketball," the female writer calling him "the Cary Grant of basketball." So maybe it was a sexy hire after all.