Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Beaver nation on edge

Oregon State transformed into Gill Coliseum South this week. In one camera, Brent Barry was posing with friends. In another, Gary Payton and A.C. Green were high-fiving in the stands. In the pre-game show even former Oregon coach Ernie Kent was at a loss of words for it all.

The energy in the one-sixth filled Staples Center was awesome, until the Beavers (19-14) were finally too tired to stop the Boulder Buffalo stampede that eventually took the Pac-12 crown on Saturday night. Tears of joy were followed by tears of sadness, a potential microcosm of the off-season in Beaver Nation.

The team led the Pac-12 in scoring with Jared Cunningham at the helm and Craig Robinson was able to take an inconsistent team that appeared to be dead in the water and led them to four wins, two over quality opponents (Pac-12 tournament champion Colorado in the season finale and the other over top-seeded Washington in the conference tournament).

As a result, more chances to watch Cunningham and company in 2012 are on the horizon. The Beavers still have an outside chance at an NIT birth, and a CIT or CBI birth is certain if the NIT does not invite them into their field.

Beaver believers have reason to be cautiously giddy for what could transpire next season.

Their team showed that they are capable of beating the best that the Pac-12 has to offer on any given night. Guard Jared Cunningham proved time and again in the conference tournament in Los Angeles that he is one of the conference’s best players. The full ensemble of Beavers will return as the team has only one senior that will be lost to graduation, forward Kevin McShane.

All of that said, Beaver Nation must hold their breaths after the recent dismissal of Illinois head coach Bruce Weber. Even though Robinson is under contract through the 2015-16 season, he is not bound to it.

Besides the obvious Obama-Illinois state connection, there are a bunch of reasons that the Fighting Illni could come marching to Corvallis for Robinson and why he would listen:

Robinson can put back together a fractured program

After recording 11 wins in his first season as  head coach at Brown in the 2006-07 season, he went 19-10 in his second. During his inaugural season in Corvallis, the coach quickly helped fans forget about the goose egg that Oregon State put up a few seasons ago during Pac-10 play, by leading the Beavers to the 2008-09 CBI championship. He is currently on the cusp of a 20-win season this year in his fourth year at the helm.

Robinson is from Chicago and Champaign is a lot closer to it than Corvallis

Will these 2 be back in Corvallis next season?

The geography of the decision makes since for the Robinson family. Sister Michelle Obama will not live in the nation’s capital forever, and will likely settle in Chicago when her husband is done serving in the oval office. It would be easier to spend time with his sister in Champaign.

Deep down Robinson would not likely embarrass the program by turning it down

Robinson needs Illinois more than Illinois needs Robinson. Illinois is crazy about hoops and will throw money at a candidate if they think he is good enough. The buyout of Weber’s contract will cost Illinois $3.9 million and the Chicago Tribune reported that the buyout will not stop them from throwing money at another coach.

Every basketball junkie knows that Illinois in the next tier of coaching gigs to have in the sport after Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke and Kansas. Need proof? It took Kansas to get Weber’s predecessor at Illinois, Bill Self to leave Campaign. Illinois knows that and thus could make Robinson an offer that would be nearly impossible to refuse.

Oregon State’s basketball team provided a glimpse of what the 2012-13 season could have in store in a wide-open Pac-12 conference. The two catalysts for the team are Cunningham and Robinson, one with a potential trail to professional basketball and the other with a potential trail to basketball notoriety.

If their trails diverge, there could be tears of sadness in Corvallis, yet if player and coach choose to stay the course in Corvallis, tears of joy could prevail at season’s end. Not a dry eye in Corvallis is to be had as Beaver Nation can only watch as the two walk the trails of tears.

CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE BEAVERS CLUBHOUSE PAGE AT NWSPORTSBEAT!

© Blair Thomas for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

Follow NWSB on Twitter or join US on Facebook for real-time updates OR... | Share This on Twitter | Share NWSportsBeat.com on Facebook

Post tags: A.C. Green, Beavers basketball analysis, Bill Self, Brent Barry, Bruce Weber, Champaign, Chicago, Corvallis, Craig Robinson, Duke, Ernie Kent, Gary Payton, Jared Cunningham, Kansas, Kentucky, Michelle Obama, North Carolina, Oregon, Oregon State basketball, Oregon State Blog, OSU, OSU Beavers Blogs, Pac 12

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kentucky remains unbeaten after thrilling win over ND

Alabama DT arrested on domestic violence charges again

John Calipari blasted for postgame interview

WATCH: MJ, Tom Brady play pickup game in Bahamas

WATCH: Wrong national anthem played for El Salvador

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Russell Wilson smashes HR in Rangers BP

John Fox: Jay Cutler will have to earn starting QB job

Report: Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall candidates for Texas

Kurt Warner is helping to turn around Colin Kaepernick

Bizarre call allows Duke to cover spread against Utah

Saints love TE Josh Hill following Jimmy Graham trade

Sam Dekker's hot shooting sends Wisconsin to Final Four

Jim McElwain complains about Florida roster

Mark Few: I put Coach K up there with John Wooden

WATCH: Enes Kanter embraces boos in return to Utah

Mariners prospect dies from boat accident injuries

T.J. Ford sends heartfelt tweet about Rick Barnes

Bruins coach suits up as backup goalie

Tennessee fans show love for Bruce Pearl on campus rock

Louisville guard turned off phone after clutch NC State win

Steve Spurrier hung out with Kenny Chesney before concert

Winnipeg Jets prospect had a rough night on the ice

Did Dean Smith’s gifts to former players violate NCAA rules?

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

John Fox: Cutler will have to earn job

Texas eyeing Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall?

WATCH: Brady jumps off cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Nique in HORSE

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Notre Dame vs. Kentucky

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

James Harden and the collective consciousness

Hottest coaching seats in NBA

Under-the-radar NL MVP candidates

Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.