Gina Mizell, OregonLive.com (http://www.oregonlive.com/beavers/index.ssf/2016/04/gary_andersens_culture_change.html)
To occupy the long hours spent on planes during the winter’s recruiting stretch run, Gary Andersen thumbed through a book called “Legacy.”
The Oregon State coach is the first to acknowledge he’s usually not much of a reader. And he honestly can’t remember who first recommended the book by James Kerr that uses the legendary New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks, to teach lessons about “the business of life.”
Yet Andersen found himself sorting through the immediate aftermath of what he freely calls the most difficult season of his career, a 2-10 debut in Corvallis that included an 0-9 mark in Pac-12 play.
Now Andersen’s copy of “Legacy” has folded pages and highlighted passages, following two complete read-throughs. A separate notebook is filled with buzzwords and motivational phrases that have manifested inside OSU’s Valley Football Center in the form of dog tags and player-designed logos and rallying cries of positional pride.
So far, Andersen believes the book has delivered on its promised message. It’s helped him create a plan, one the coach has simply called “Culture Change,” that marks the next step in the Beavers’ rebuild.
“Is it the answer to winning games? I’m not saying that,” Andersen said. “But I think it’s the answer to helping us grow as a team.”
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Andersen looks back at the days leading up to the Civil War — when the Beavers traveled to Autzen Stadium with fewer than 60 players, even though they were allowed to bring the full roster — as when the program hit “rock bottom” in 2015.
He frankly characterized the group as selfish and delusional in their daily habits and expectations. But he also looked in the mirror.
“I had to do everything I could to try to get this ship to start to rise,” Andersen said. “That started to turn the crank for me, just saying, ‘How are we gonna figure this out?'”
So he turned to “Legacy,” a book Andersen asked wife Stacey to order a couple weeks prior. As a coach, Andersen already had great respect for the All Blacks’ dominance as statistically the best sports team in history. But he had not been aware of the fallout about 10 years ago, after a poor showing in the 2003 World Cup sparked unprecedented losses and turmoil within the organization.
“I was 25 pages into it and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is right where we are,'” Andersen recalled. “And it wasn’t something that was made up. I knew the names in it. I could relate to some of the dudes and what they were going through.
“It was easy for me to keep going and believe in it.”