Dave Kragthorpe sat in the press room at Husky Stadium Oct. 20, 1985, and none of the Seattle press that routinely covered the University of Washington were around to hear what he had to say in the aftermath.
Kragthorpe's Oregon State Beavers, 38-point underdogs, had just upset Washington, the top team in the Pac-10. They had done so without their two top offensive weapons, quarterback Erik Wilhelm and the league's leading receiver, Reggie Bynum.
The two previous Saturdays, Kragthorpe's Beavers had lost to Washington State 34-0 and USC 63-0. Things at OSU looked dim for the Beavers and their first-year coach. OSU hadn't had a winning season in 14 years, nor been to a bowl game in 20.
Earlier that week, Post-Intelligencer columnist Steve Rudman wrote: "Oregon State plays football pretty much the way Barney Fife played a deputy sheriff on Mayberry. They have ceased being a joke. They are not only an embarrassment to themselves and their fans ... they are an embarrassment to the Pac-10."
Fodder on steroids.
That Saturday, OSU rallied to beat Washington 21-20, the biggest upset of the century for the Beavers. And nobody wanted to get Kragthorpe's take, including Rudman, whose column was used by Kragthorpe to fire up his team.
"He has the ability to project. He really cares for his players and what he says and he is doing," said former BYU coach LaVell Edwards, who played and coached alongside Kragthorpe at USU and BYU.
A kind, soft-spoken leader on and off the field, Kragthorpe will be honored by the Utah Chapter of the National Football Foundation Wednesday night at Utah Valley State College for his contribution to amateur football in Utah.
It is a well-deserved honor that's long overdue.
Kragthorpe's career is dotted with a lifetime service to Utah State, where he has served as athletic director and alumni leader. He spent nine years as an assistant coach at BYU, coached Idaho State to a Division I-AA championship, and provided OSU with that unforgettable "crow-eating" victory over Washington.
"Dave always had great loyalty from his players," said Edwards. "He'd take those offensive linemen and you know those pet phrases used these days, like Band of Brothers and all that stuff, well, they (Kragthorpe's linemen) were already a close-knit unit. Of course he knew what he was doing. That helps, because when you have some extra keys and some knowledge to go with it, that is all the better when working with young guys."
Edwards was a senior in 1951 at USU when Kragthorpe arrived as a freshman Aggie. That year, the NCAA allowed freshmen to play varsity because of the Korean War, and Kragthorpe made an immediate impact.
"I was thinking about this the other day. We became close friends that year and it's continued ever since," said Edwards, who recommended Kragthorpe, then at South Dakota State, to Tommy Hudsbeth in 1970 when the Cougars were looking for a line coach.
Kragthorpe coached the Cougar O-line before the Roger French era and one of his early recruits included current Cougar assistant head coach Lance Reynolds.
Today, Kragthorpe is still a consultant to USU football and flies to Louisville to volunteer his expertise to his son, Steve, head coach of the Cardinals after leaving Tulsa in 2007.
Another son, Kurt, has chiseled out a respected career as a sportswriter in Utah with stops at the Provo Daily Herald, Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune.
Dave Kragthorpe's impact on USU athletics has been long and consistent. He's worked with the USU alumni association and is a member of the Old Main Society, Alumni Sustaining Membership Program, Big Blue Club and Emerti Association and currently resides in Logan.
A year after Kragthorpe led OSU to that win over Washington, Bronco Mendenhall arrived to play for the Beavers and Kragthorpe as a Snow College transfer. He would end up becoming an OSU defensive line coach, and later secondary coach and defensive coordinator.
Kragtorpe's contribution to amateur football in Utah?His perch is right at the top of the list.
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