Stanford's Chase Beeler: History in Action
By Brian Price
History, for those who study it, is a constantly changing and evolving view of the past. A student of history himself, Stanford junior center Chase Beeler is looking to help the Cardinal add a chapter of success with an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech on January 3.
It's the Cardinal's first bowl berth since 2001 and a victory would be their first since 1996. Beeler puts it bluntly.
"We're hungry for this. Each week leading up the Orange Bowl, in terms of our attitude and our preparation, has been like a game week," he said. "Holding high octane practices with structural continuity has us feeling as ready as we could possibly be for Virginia Tech. It's been a very intense three week period."
Beeler is the catalyst on an offensive line that has done a tremendous job this season protecting quarterback Andrew Luck and opening lanes for one of the best overall offenses in the country.
"The protection aspect of an offensive line is an identity that we embrace," said Beeler. "We know we're not the ones who are going to receive the most press or the most accolades. There aren't many statistics to measure our effectiveness."
Here's one: Stanford is tied with Air Force in allowing the fewest sacks in the nation this season, five, over the course of 12 games. That's a Stanford all-time record. The previous record was set last year when the same unit allowed only seven sacks.
Additionally, Stanford's passing game, led by Heisman runner-up Luck, is ranked as the 7th most effective in the country, amassing over 3000 yards and 28 touchdowns through the air.
"I'm given a lot of the credit," Luck said. "But none of what I do is possible without my offensive line."
So what, exactly, makes this offensive line a special unit?
"I've played offensive line my entire life, but the level of camaraderie is unlike anything I've ever seen," Beeler said. "The personal connection is that I'm playing for the guys around me, not myself."
Beeler believes in his teammates and wants to give them everything he has.
"That's not just my personal philosophy," he said. "It's the entire team's mentality."
Beeler transferred to Stanford from Oklahoma University in 2006. Beeler grew up in Tulsa, an hour and a half drive from OU's campus.
"When the offer from OU came through, most of the people advising me basically said that was the be-all-end-all," Beeler said. "I had grown up playing football in Tulsa and now had a scholarship to play at Oklahoma."
However, for Beeler, being so close to home was a crutch he didn't want to have.
"I've always been of the mindset that college should be a broadening of one's horizons," he said. "As good a school as Oklahoma is, I knew, being so close to home, that I wouldn't feel challenged. I wanted to leave my comfort zone and thrive in a new environment."
Beeler discussed entering a community in Palo Alto where he felt comfortable right away.
"Everybody on [Stanford's] campus is tremendously talented in some way. You'll live in a dorm with somebody for a month and half before you find out that they started some kind of non-profit that's raised however many millions of dollars or they were a gold medalist in the Olympics or they're a concert cellist," Beeler said. "My roommate during my transfer year had served in Iraq for 3 ½ years and then ended up at Stanford. Everybody here has some kind of amazing back-story. Once at Stanford, realizing that, I felt at home."
It was also at Stanford that Beeler continued to develop his own passion for history. Beeler, now a graduate student, focuses his studies on Russian and eastern European history. This passion for history started when Beeler was only eight.
"I watched a television show dealing with the Romanov's and specifically the assassination of Nicholas II at the hands of the Bolsheviks," Beeler said. "I looked in the library for something that dealt with that subject matter but couldn't find anything."
Keep in mind that this is a second grade library so the selection was rather limited.
"The next day the librarian brought me a book of her own on the subject and that's what jump-started my interest in history," he said.
So if he could dine with any three historical figures?
"I'd invite Socrates, one of the most profound thinkers in history and definitely part of the foundation that western thought is built on," Beeler said. "Then I'd invite FDR, who provided hope to a country that was on the brink. The toughness and tenacity he demonstrated as well as his decisiveness and confidence are things that I try to mimic in football and in the classroom. And lastly, I'm going to go with Ralph Waldo Emerson, a terrific American writer."
Beeler appreciates history, specifically Russian history, and Cardinal football in a similar way:
"Russian history itself is still evolving and being constructed because they still haven't fully opened up the archives. Sort of like this season is an unfinished story."
So tune in to ESPN on January 3 for some history-making football as the Cardinal take on Virginia Tech.