A no-nonsense Texan who earned a reputation as one of college football's best recruiters and built a winning team at Northern Illinois is the latest coach to accept one of the game's biggest challenges.

Jerry Pettibone will try to rebuild the long-suffering football program at Oregon State."I feel good that the football program at Oregon State can be successful or I would not have accepted the position," Pettibone said at a news conference Wednesday announcing his hiring. "I know there's going to be a great challenge in front of us. I know there's going to be a lot of hard work involved.

"I've accepted challenges before and I know how to work hard."

There are few, if any, major college football programs which have had as little success as Oregon State in the past two decades. The Beavers haven't had a winning season since they went 6-5 in 1970.

Oregon State has had four coaches since then. Each left saying the task was tougher than they thought it would be.

So why would Pettibone want the job?

"It's the opportunity and it's the challenge," he said. "This is an excellent opportunity."

At Northern Illinois, he said his team had trouble getting recognition, no matter how successful it was.

Pettibone, 51, replaces Dave Kragthorpe, who resigned in a mutual agreement with the school administration after compiling a 17-48-2 record in six seasons.

Kragthorpe's team won four games in 1988 and again in 1989, but the Beavers were 1-10 this year.