First impressions of Oregon State's new basketball coach, Wayne Tinkle
CORVALLIS In his first hours as Oregon State's basketball coach Wednesday afternoon, Wayne Tinkle wandered the Memorial Union quad, handing out energy drinks to curious students.
Just as such as Louisville's Rick Pitino and Kentucky's John Calipari did when they were hired at their schools, I presume.
It was the brainchild of somebody within the OSU marketing department, and Tinkle was, well, tickled with the response.
"What a thrill," the Spokane native said after Wednesday night's press conference to announced his hiring. "I thought, 'OK, nobody knows who I am yet.' But quickly, as word spread, a feverish pitch came over the crowd.
"I had some fun. We had a great reception from the students. I really appreciate it."
First impressions of Tinkle:
He's big -- 6-10, broad shoulders, a full head of white hair, and, at 48, with an appearance not unlike that of an aging movie star. I mean that in a good way. He has a presence.
Family man. Wayne is the youngest of 11 children to Wayne and Elizabeth Tinkle, his father an educator who served as vice president and dean of students at Gonzaga. Nineteen years separate the oldest and youngest kid.
The large family "taught me a lot about being a great teammate," Tinkle said. "My father always said they did it until they got it right. My oldest sibling, my brother Terry, said, 'No, they quit when they had an ugly one.' We've had a lot of banter, a lot of competition, but also an unbelievable amount of support. They're all very excited for my opportunity here."
With Tinkle to meet the media Wednesday night were his wife, Lisa, daughters Joslyn and Elle and son Tres.
Both Wayne and Lisa were star players at Montana in the mid 1980s. And get this: Wayne -- who went on to play 12 years professionally, mostly in Europe -- finished his Grizzly career with 1,500 points and 836 rebounds, Lisa with 1,470 and 830. I mean, couldn't they have gotten their stats a little closer?
"He was a better player than me," Lisa told me.
"She's in the Hall of Fame back in Montana," Wayne told the crowd. "I'm not."
Joslyn, a former standout at Stanford, intends to play in Europe next season. Elle will be a junior at Gonzaga in the fall. Tres, 6-7 and 210, is a senior-to-be in high school who was Gatorade player of the year in Montana as a junior. I asked him if playing for his father interested him.
"That'd be awesome," he said. "It would be something I'd be very interested in."
Tres, incidentally, has a decision to make: Stay in Missoula for his senior year or move to Corvallis with his family. He said he won't make a decision until he spends a week in Corvallis after school is out in June, but I got the impression he's leaning toward finishing out at Missoula Hellgate.
"It would be hard to leave for my senior season," he told me.
Tinkle has been working the phones the past couple of days, speaking with the four recruits predecessor Craig Robinson had lined up. Two -- 6-3 shooting guards Chai Baker of Malone, Fla., and Gary Payton II from Salt Lake (Utah) Community College -- are on board. Tinkle feels good about retaining 6-8 power forward Cameron Oliver of Sacramento. Isaiah Manderson, a 6-10 center out of Oldsmar, Fla., may be more difficult to get to Corvallis because of academic issues.
Tinkle, incidentally, is as appalled as anyone in Beaver Nation about the job Oregon State has done recruiting in-state in recent years.
"You tell me the last time we had a player from Oregon," he said. "They haven't had anybody from Seattle, Portland or this area for years. We're going to start our recruiting locally. I'm a big believer in pride and tradition. If you don't have players in your area who have grown up watching Beaver basketball and bleed black and orange (it's actually orange and black, Wayne), it's hard to get them to buy in."
Tinkle held a meeting with the remaining players -- I'm counting seven -- on Tuesday night. I noticed several in the crowd at Wednesday's press conference, including guard Malcolm Duvivier, the best player left, and Olaf Schaftenaar.
"They might have asked 'Wayne who?' at first," Tinkle joked in his self-deprecating manner. "But it went well."
College Insider website recently named Tinkle as "the sexiest coach in college basketball."
"My family made up the selection committee," Tinkle joked.
He's a man who doesn't seem to take himself too seriously. That fits in with the likes of Mike Riley, Pat Casey and Scott Rueck on the OSU campus.
Or as athletic director Bob De Carolis put it: "We have coaches who are authentic, have great integrity, are firmly grounded that is our Beaver DNA. That's Wayne Tinkle's DNA."
Perhaps the biggest factor that tipped De Carolis' decision Tinkle's way was his experience as a head coach in a successful program for eight years at Montana.
"Very important," De Carolis told me. "From a risk-management perspective, it helps that you have a track record to go off of. It gives you a little more security, more peace of mind."
Tinkle will put together a coaching staff over the next couple of weeks. He'll be bringing his chief assistant at Montana, Kerry Rupp, who was in attendance at Wednesday's press conference. Rupp, 60, was an assistant there the past two seasons and served as head coach at Louisiana Tech from 2007-11. Rupp, who also coached under Rick Majerus at Utah and under Mike Davis at Indiana, calls Karl "The Mailman" Malone his best friend.
"Kerry is very experienced," Tinkle told me. "He's a foxhole guy. I'd like to bring everybody from my staff. That's probably not possible. There are a lot of great people sending in their resumes. That's going to be quite a process to weed through all of that."
Tinkle is the most recent vestige of the Montana coaching tree that started with Jud Heathcote in 1971 and includes Jim Brandenburg, Mike Montgomery, Stew Morrill, Blaine Taylor and Larry Krystowiak.
"We have the blueprint in place," Tinkle said. "We're not going to tinker with it."
A common denominator, Tinkle said, is this ethos:
"We base our program on character, discipline, toughness and togetherness. You'll hear those words spoken often. We don't compromise in any of those areas. Some nights the shots are not going in, but you can control your effort and your attitude."
Tinkle offered this assurance to Beaver Nation: "We're going to make you proud of the program. We're going to make Oregon State basketball relevant again."
Beaver coaches have been saying that since the Ralph Miller years, of course. Let's see if Tinkle can make the promise come true.