It was clear the Oregon State University football program was not headed in the direction either Scott Barnes or Gary Andersen wanted.
It had been a topic of conversation for Barnes, Oregon State’s vice president and director of athletics, and Andersen, in his third season as the Beavers head coach, when they met weekly throughout the season.
On Sunday afternoon, following Oregon State’s fourth straight loss, to drop the Beavers to 1-5 overall, the two longtime friends and colleagues came to a “mutual” agreement.
It was time for a change.
On Monday, Oregon State announced the school and Andersen would part ways immediately.
“This is a difficult time for me professionally,” Barnes said during a Monday afternoon press conference at the Valley Football Center. “I have known Gary for many years and respect him highly as a person, as a friend, head coach and an incredible leader of young men. …
“Certainly we took a step back and it’s obvious to see that we had. The ultimate decision had many, many factors though, and not just wins and losses.”
Cory Hall, who was cornerbacks coach, has been named the interim coach for the final six games of the season. The Beavers host Colorado at 1 p.m. Saturday for homecoming.
Hall joined the program in January 2016 and is in his second season with the Beavers. He played six seasons in the National Football League with the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals before coaching stints at Washington State University, Weber State University and the University of Wisconsin.
The Beavers will conduct a national search and use a search firm to cultivate a candidate pool to find a new coach to take over for the 2018 season. Barnes and OSU President Ed Ray will make the final decision.
Andersen was hired on Dec. 10, 2014 to replace Mike Riley, who left for Nebraska.
In his two-plus seasons, Andersen compiled a 7-23 record but did end the Beavers’ eight-game losing streak to Oregon in the Civil War with a 34-24 win in 2016 in Reser Stadium.
The two-game winning streak to close last season gave the team and its fans hope for continued growth in 2017. But the Beavers lost the opener at Colorado State, 58-27, then needed a late touchdown to escape with a 35-32 win over Portland State, a lower division FCS program, at home.
Then came four straight blowout losses, including Saturday’s 38-10 setback at then-No. 14 USC.
Ultimately, Barnes and Andersen felt it was the best time to part ways.
“I believe it is a reset for this football program,” Barnes said. “When the time comes that you don’t want to continue moving forward, and that was Gary’s state, that we decided then sooner is better."
Andersen will be paid until Dec. 31, but agreed to release the university from all future contract obligations and salary. His guaranteed contract ran through 2021 and would have paid him a total of about $11.6 million.
“After many discussions with Scott, waiving my contract is the correct decision and enables the young men and the program to move forward and concentrate on the rest of this season,” said Andersen in a press release from the university. Andersen chose not to be present at the press conference.
“Coaching is not about the mighty dollar," Andersen said in the statement. "It is about teaching and putting young men in a position to succeed on and off the field. Success comes when all parties involved are moving in the same direction.”
Barnes said Andersen’s willingness to part ways and void the remainder of his contract, “speaks volumes about the kind of honorable person that Gary is.”
While the timing of the resignation, coming in mid-season, is a bit odd, it allows the university to take some extra time to hire a search firm and start the process of finding Andersen’s successor.
“I will not be confined to geography or a sitting head coach or coordinator,” Barnes said. “… It will be a national search, it will be wide open and we will find that right person.”
How soon a new coach is in place depends on numerous factors, most notably whether potential candidates will be coaching in bowl games.
“We’ll have to maneuver that but the sooner the better depending on all that,” Barnes said.