Bigger Spotlight For Beavers

Dec. 26, 2000

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - During its dramatic rise to national prominence over the past two seasons, Oregon State's football program has attracted unprecedented attention.

Remember all the hoopla leading up the the Civil War win over Oregon? That's just the starting point. In the next week, the Beavers' profile is going to be raised another notch or two as fifth-ranked OSU gets ready for the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl against 10th-ranked Notre Dame.

When the Beavers resumed practice late Tuesday morning at Scottsdale Community College, reporters from two Phoenix-area newspapers and a television station were on hand along with the growing media contingent from Oregon. When OSU returned to its hotel, former All-Pro tight end Kellen Winslow was waiting to interview head coach Dennis Erickson, running back Ken Simonton, quarterback Jonathan Smith and several other players for Fox Sports.

Shawn Schoeffler, the OSU grad who is the Fiesta Bowl's vice-president for media relations, said approximately 400 credentials have been issued for the game. That includes reporters from Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal (yes, the Wall Street Journal) and the Chicago Tribune.

The spotlight should provide tremendous positive exposure not only for Oregon State's football program, but for Beaver athletics and Oregon State University in general.

And interest in the Fiesta Bowl matchup hasn't been limited to Corvallis and South Bend. Schoeffler said John Junker, the Fiesta Bowl president, told him that outside of the event's four national championship games, the OSU-Notre Dame pairing was the game's toughest ticket since Michigan and Nebraska played on Jan. 1, 1986.

'People love it,' Schoeffler said. 'You have Oregon State's Cinderella story, plus we're in Pac-10 country so people are big on the Beavers. Plus you have the national intrigue and interest with Notre Dame.'

Added Dave Fanucchi, who is working with OSU this week as a member of the Fiesta Bowl's media relations staff, 'This has to be one of the more intriguing matchups we've had at the Fiesta Bowl in quite a few years ... it's nice to have a Pac-10 team in there, we haven't had that in quite a while at the Fiesta Bowl. They (fans in Arizona) are familiar with Oregon State because they play here during the regular season every now and then against Arizona State.

'I think if you were to poll people in Tempe about who they'd want to see win the game, I think they'd probably go with the Pac-10.'

NOTES: The Beavers' practice sessions have proven too popular for their own good, as OSU will close its workouts starting Wednesday. Crowds at Scottsdale Community College grew over the weekend, with more and more Oregon State fans arriving as this week goes on the situation threatened to become disruptive to OSU's practices.

OSU worked out in full pads for two hours on Tuesday. Temperatures were in the mid-60s but a brisk wind chilled spectators at SCC. Among those on hand were former Beaver wide receiver Dave Montagne (1984-86) and former Oregon State offensive lineman Joe Kuykendall (1995-98), whose younger brother Mike currently plays for OSU.

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