While Oregon State savored its upset last weekend of Cal and and Oregon got upset by Stanford, Portland State endured another lopsided loss in its final home game of 2009.
Unlike with its fellow in-state football programs, there was no upset to be found in PSU's 28-10 loss to Montana State—unless you talked to people in the stands.
"We used to have a good offense," said fan Helen Brown. "And now we can't score jack."
Jerry Glanville is in his third year as coach at PSU. And the Vikings are 2-8 heading into the season finale Nov. 14 at Idaho State.
PSU hired Glanville, a former NFL coach and TV analyst known for his homespun quips, in February 2007. He replaced Tim Walsh, who went 90-68 in 14 seasons before leaving to become Army's offensive coordinator. When Glanville arrived at PSU after a stint as Hawaii's defensive coordinator, he promised two things: wins and increased attendance.
So far, neither has materialized. Glanville's record of 9-23 is the worst of any Vikings coach since Ron Stratten in 1974. Glanville hasn't won more than four games in any season, and a loss this weekend would set a new watermark for losses in a season under Glanville.
Solving his team's problems is harder than it sounds, explains the 68-year-old Glanville.
"When you're putting your finger in one hole," he says, "then you're opening something else up, usually."
Quarterback Connor Kavanaugh, a sophomore who relieved starter Drew Hubel after a shoulder injury in the first half against Montana State, seems to think PSU's problems aren't rooted on the field.
"You're going to be surprised when I say this, but I think we need to start off the field," says Kavanaugh. "I think it's in the little things...like players taking pride, wearing PSU shorts to practice."
The crowds, meanwhile, have shrunk. Saturday's announced attendance of 5,690 was well above the actual number who came despite torrential rain. (Average attendance has fallen about 16 percent since 2006 to 6,082 for football games at PSU, an athletic program without the larger donor base of Oregon and OSU).
That attendance trend reflects in part the team's lackluster performances, including an offense that's scoring fewer points this year after the departure of storied coordinator Mouse Davis. Glanville is quick to point out the Vikings have struggled due to bad luck and inexperience this season. Injuries such as Hubel's have hampered their performance, Glanville says, and the team is young and learning as it goes. Sixty-four players on the roster are freshmen or sophomores.
"Coaches should get four years to get their own players in the system," says fan Roy Ellis. "Anything less, and you're not giving them a fair chance."
Whether Glanville keeps his job after this season is up to PSU athletic director Torre Chisholm, who didn't return a phone call seeking comment. Glanville recognizes the disappointment of this season, but says he's not the type to lie down and admit defeat.
"You can either hang on, or you can push on," he says. "And I'm going to push on."
Glanville is in the third year of a four-year contract that pays $175,000 a year before pay cuts at PSU reduced that to $167,475.