Coach, Colleague, Friend

Oct. 31, 2003

By Kip Carlson

Oregon State University sports information

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Some tears and a lot of smiles found their way onto faces at the Truax Indoor Center on Friday afternoon as approximately 1,000 people remembered the life of Dee Andros. Andros, the former Oregon State football coach and athletic director, was recalled warmly as a coach, colleague and friend during a public memorial service.

Andros died on Oct. 22 at age 79. After becoming the school's football coach in 1965, he spent nearly four decades involved with Oregon State, earning the nickname 'The Great Pumpkin' for his physical stature and penchant for orange clothing.

The memorial service was held in the facility OSU's football team uses for indoor practice. In addition to flowers, the building was decorated with orange-and-black balloons - some sporting a jack-o-lantern face.

'Our gathering on a football field could not be a more appropriate setting,' said longtime friend Paul Marriott, who officiated the service. 'And I don't think the significance of having a service for the Great Pumpkin on Halloween is missed by anyone.

'Dee Andros left people a better person for having known him. Dee was a loved friend to nearly everyone he came in contact with, and today I think you'll see the evidence of that.'

Paul Valenti, who was OSU's head basketball coach when Andros was hired, recalled the night during the 1970 season that Pete Maravich and Louisiana State came to Gill Coliseum and a bench-clearing brawl broke out.

'We were having a heck of a go with them, nip-and-tuck, and all of a sudden in the second half heck broke loose,' Valenti said. 'Guys were swinging out there and grabbing guys around the neck, and so (assistant coaches) Jimmy (Anderson) and (Bill) Harper and I ran out there and who the heck do we see coming down from the other side? Dee.

'I said, 'What the heck are you doing here, Dee?' He says, 'Oh, I had to come down and help you guys.''

U.S. Air Force Col. (ret.) Julian McFadden recalled Andros - a veteran of the U.S. Marines who saw combat in World War II - as a patriot and a great American who remained proud of his military service. A group of veterans from the battle for Iwo Jima, where Andros earned the Bronze Star, were in attendance and received a standing ovation from the gathering.

McFadden also saw Andros as a man who had time for everyone he came in contact with.

'I represent all the little people that Dee knew in Andros Nation,' McFadden said. 'And believe you me, there are a lot of us around.

'When we'd have our coffee times together and all that downtown at Murphy's or Tommy's or somewhere else, Dee always sat in a certain spot. And 80 percent of the people who went in and out of Tommy's Bar and Grill had to reach out and high-five old Dee. They loved him.'

Bob Herndon, who played freshman football under Andros at Oklahoma and later coached with him at a number of schools, remembered the motivational talks that Andros was famous for.

'His pregame and halftime talks came straight from his Marine background,' Herndon said. 'He talked about pride and giving your all for the team. He'd motivate the players so well in pregame or at halftime that assistant coaches soon learned, don't get by the door. Because when he quit talking, they were fired up and they were headed for the field. You didn't want to be in their way.'

Said Herndon: 'I've never been around a coach who was loved as much by his former players, and I know the feeling was mutual.'

One of Andros' trademarks was leading the Beavers' charge from the base of the ramp onto the field at Parker (now Reser) Stadium.

'Dee wasn't the fastest guy there,' Herndon said. 'But you'll remember, Dee was always in the lead. How did he do this? No. 1, he told the team, 'The first one of you that passes me before we get to the 50-yard line will lose your scholarship.''

That led Marriott to observe, 'I always wished Einstein had been able to see that - it would have proven his theory of relativity. Dee would be running like he was doing a 4.4 40 and the rest of the team looked like they were doing a 10-minute mile.'

Added Ed Knecht, another former Andros assistant: 'The coaches who had to be up in the press box would have side bets on how well they'd be motivated when they came down. And believe me, when you'd see them coming down that ramp and Dee was leading them onto that field ... they were wild-eyed, slobberin' and blowin' snot. They were ready.'

Craig Hanneman, a defensive lineman at Oregon State from 1968-70, was one of the many speakers who noted the role of family in Andros' life, and told his widow Luella and daughter Jeanna, 'To you, Lu, thank you for sharing your husband with the players over all the years. Your love for Dee and his for you was very much a part of what made our football family so special. In speaking of coach Andros, we are no less speaking of you. And thank you, Jeanna, for sharing your father with us. We regarded him as a father, too.

'When we left (OSU), we had been educated in the basics of Honor 101 - the Andros curriculum. We learned how much fortitude and endurance and courage we might have within us. When we didn't think there was more to give, he challenged us as only coach Andros could. He knew what we did not - that we were capable of doing more, and he dedicated himself as our coach to our future, teaching the value of character, pride and togetherness. He was always faithful to that, and always faithful to us.'

Rich Brooks, who had been an assistant for Andros, went on to be head coach at Oregon and for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons; he's now head coach at Kentucky. In a video, he said, 'Not only has the state lost a legend, but the players, fans and coaches may have lost the most loyal Oregon State person I know.'

Brooks also gave a peek at another way Andros managed to stay ahead of the Beavers during those pregame charges; every so often, he'd see the head coach in the equipment room doing some stretching exercises to keep from pulling a muscle during his weekly sprint.

Steve Preece was the quarterback on Andros' most famous team, the 1967 'Giant Killers' that beat second-ranked Purdue, tied second-ranked UCLA and beat No. 1-ranked Southern California. He called Andros' Xs and Os 'accountability, responsibility and trust, being prepared and competing to the best of our ability.' He also remembered the passion Andros brought to the annual Civil War against Oregon, a rivalry in which he had a 9-2 record.

'Dee loved some individual Ducks - Rich (Brooks), and Cas (former UO head coach Len Casanova), and he felt (former Oregon player) Dave Wilcox should have been a Beaver all along,' Preece said. 'But if you took 'The Ducks', Dee hated the Ducks.

'Before the Duck games, we heard some of his greatest comments ... that was when I found out that George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ all regretted not having played against the Ducks and getting to beat them.'

Dennis Erickson coached Oregon State back to football prominence from 1999-2002, and he grew up in a Pacific Northwest football family when Andros' legend was growing . In 1984, Andros was OSU's athletic director and tried to hire Erickson only to have others at the school overrule him.

'He truly is Oregon State University,' Erickson, now head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, said in a video. 'Without him, I don't know where Oregon State football would be today.

'Now I know Dee's up there watching OSU play, and he's watching us play. And I know what he's saying: 'Dennis, get a damn kicker!''

Jim Sweeney coached against Andros when Sweeney was at Washington State, and he was one of several who brought up the Great Pumpkin's usual game plan of giving the football to the fullback time after time after time.

'I couldn't believe the guy could be so boring on offense,' Sweeney said. 'I was always waiting for the trick play. One year they ran Dave Schilling at us something like 50 times, and I'm on our sideline screaming, 'Watch the reverse! Watch the reverse!'

'We lose, and he comes over to shake hands after the game and says, 'By the way, Jimbo, we don't have a reverse.''

Said Sweeney: 'As coaches, we all love our great players. Dee loved all his players, whether they were great or not, and we're all going to miss him.'

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