Red-Carpet Welcome For OSU

Dec. 21, 2000

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Oregon State arrived in the Valley of the Sun to begin its preparations for the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday evening, and they rolled out the red carpet for the Beavers - literally.

As the plane carrying the OSU contingent taxied to a stop, the Fiesta Bowl committee and the Tempe Diablos civic group waved a welcome from the tarmac, moments later, the red carpet was unrolled across the runway. As the Beavers made their way from the plane to their busses they were greeted by the Fiesta Bowl court and committee, the Diablos, a mariachi band and other well-wishers, many sported Oregon State hats or pins.

The fifth-ranked Beavers meet 10th-ranked Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.

'It's a real pleasure to be here and I want to thank the Fiesta Bowl for giving us this opportunity,' OSU head coach Dennis Erickson said at a brief news conference. 'I think back to a couple years ago when I first took the job at Oregon State, and to be here at such a great and prestigious bowl was a goal of ours but probably a long ways away. But the way things worked out, and how we played and my coaches coached, and we have the opportunity now to play against one of the great, storied programs in the country in Notre Dame. We're very, very excited about it.

'It's also very nice to be here early, because believe me, it's a lot better practicing here than in the rain. It's been a little wet up there. We got a lot of things done early, but we're going to spend a lot of time here practicing and getting ready for this football game. We have a lot more time and practices here than I'm used to in bowl games, and I really like that idea.'

The Beavers left a cloudy, wet Willamette Valley afternoon and arrived on a clear, pleasant Arizona evening.

'I look up and see a clear sky, and that was the biggest strategic move we made,' Erickson said in answering a question about OSU arriving 11 days before the game. 'We felt we could get down here, get situated and get in seven or eight really solid practices here. A year from now we'll have our indoor facility and we could stay up there a little longer, but we don't have that in place right now so it was important for us to get down here.'

The Beavers practiced last week after OSU's final exams ended Dec. 8.

'It was raining and we got things done, but probably not as much as we would have if the weather had been good,' Erickson said. 'But we got done what we needed to get done. Now we have an opportunity to get on a grass surface and everything else positive about being down here early.'

OSU's players had a five-day break from practice prior to arriving in Arizona, some of the Beavers were flying directly from their homes to Phoenix but all were to arrive by Thursday night.

Oregon State will begin its practices Friday at 11:30 a.m. MST at Scottsdale Community College. The Beavers will practice every day except Christmas Day, but times will vary. All of OSU's practices will be open to the public.

'If people want to come and watch practice, we don't have anything to hide,' Erickson said. 'We would welcome any of you to come out and watch us practice. In fact, if any of you have any good plays, you can give me a couple of those, too.'

Erickson was asked if he thinks the Bowl Championship Series worked this season.

'I sure do,' Erickson said. 'I think it's the greatest system that ever walked. But I really believe that the way things are right now, the BCS is the best thing going. Obviously, there is some argument as to who should be playing in the championship game, obviously, there are going to be some people left out. But to me, right now, it's the best way to go. We weren't sure where we were going to go, but we couldn't have ended up in a better place. When you do things well, you get rewarded, and we feel that's what happened to Oregon State University.'

Erickson is looking forward to an outstanding game.

'Notre Dame is a great football team and played very well at the end of the year,' Erickson said. 'We think we're a good football team. To me, it's going to be one of the great matchups in the bowl series this year. We're just looking forward to it.

'Again, Fiesta Bowl, thank you for having us here. We're going to make you proud. It's going to be a heck of a game.'

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