Wayne Tinkle flew under the radar for much of the Oregon State men's basketball coaching search, no small feat for someone who stands and imposing 6-foot-10.
He emerged from behind the curtain on Wednesday night, commanded the media room in the basement of Gill Coliseum, and won his introductory press conference.
His next battle - reversing the fortunes of a once-dominant program that hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1990 and has only two winning seasons in that 24-year stretch - will be significantly tougher than delivering a stump speech to the beat writers, television talent, family, friends and others who filled the room to capacity.
But the personable, outgoing 48-year-old is confident he can succeed where Jimmy Anderson, Eddie Payne, Richie McKay, Jay John and Craig Robinson could not, and revive interest and restore competiveness to a slumbering program that last season hit an all-time low in average attendance.
"Many people tried to talk about the challenges, about what a tough job this is," Tinkle said in his opening remarks. "I quickly asked, 'Tell me where there's an easy job in basketball?'
"We see opportunity. They may be obstacles to others, but we're excited about the opportunities here. It's very important to my family," [wife Lisa; daughters Jocelyn and Elleson, son Tres], who sat to his right during the event. "Every time we brought up Corvallis and Oregon State, it was the same thing: the people are remarkable, from the coaching staff to the administration to the community.
"That's what piqued my interest. The success that's been enjoyed by so many other programs here is because it was done the right way with the right people, and a team attitude.
"We're thrilled to try to do that now in men's basketball."
Tinkle was 158-91overall and 97-39 in the Big Sky Conference in eight seasons. The Grizzlies were BSC regular-season champions in 2010, 2012 and 2013; BSC tournament champions in 2012, 2013; advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and to the CBI appearance in 2011.
He succeeds Craig Robinson, whose dismissal was announced on May 5. Robinson was 94-105 overall and 39-69 in the conference, never advanced to the NCAA or NIT tournaments, and couldn't duplicate the success he had his first year, when he guided the Beavers to the CBI championship over UTEP.
Tinkle said he will demand effort and attitude, the same things he and his wife expected above all else from their children. Character, discipline, toughness and togetherness will be his program's foundation. He said fans will hear those words often, and that he and his staff will not compromise in those areas.
"That's something we're going to adopt here quickly as we move forward. It's an exciting time and we are thrilled to be here."
Tinkle met with the holdover players on Tuesday night.
"Quite honestly, they might have said, 'Wayne who?' at first," he said, tongue in only partially in cheek. "But quickly as the meeting progressed and we talked about what we stood for.
"I mentioned there's a clean slate. We aren't going to judge what happened in the past. Here is my game plan and we're all moving forward. We got a little fired up there and I think the guys had a positive response to that."
On Wednesday he tweeted recruits Gary Payton II and Chi Baker would honor their letters of intent and join the team for the coming season.
"They're on board, more excited than ever," he said.
He's also been in contact with incoming freshmen Cameron Oliver and Isaiah Manderson, and Maryland senior transfer Nick Faust, each of whom signed expecting they'd be coached by Robinson.
"We're making ground with the others," he said. "I think we'll be able to announce some good news in the next day or two."
Future recruiting will begin in Oregon and the Northwest. The Beavers have not attracted a top in-state player since Brian Jackson of Knappa in the Eddie Payne era. Their best in-state player in this century, David Lucas of West Linn, was an unrecruited walk-on.
"We are going to start locally," he said. "I'm a big believer in pride and tradition. If you don't have players from your area who have grown up watching Beaver basketball and who bleed black and orange and buy in, it's hard to get everyone else we bring into our circle to buy in. That's where it starts.
"But we'll go anywhere. We'll put together a staff that has contacts all over. But I believe it start right here."
He also wants to engage alums from the glory days and have them be part of the program again. Former stars Charlie Sitton and Lamar Hurd helped in the hiring search; Tinkle wants more alums involved and he wants the current players to know about OSU's stories basketball history.
"We need to familiarize our team with the glory years," he said. "So much has changed but they need to know who was here and what they did and what they stood for in the good years. They need to honor that.
"At Montana we always said, 'The program was in [good] shape because of everyone who went before us. It didn't have anything to do with us. It was the guys who went before who laid the groundwork. That's what we're going to develop here.
"You talk about AC Green, Charlie Sitton, Gary Payton, Brent Barry … we're going to cherish what they did, honor what they did, and work out [butts] off so they respect the direction we're going as well."
Tinkle also spoke about:
• Team identity: "We will be a disciplined program, one that reaches out to the community … we will make you all proud of the product we have out there," he said. I got a text this afternoon from a former player … we're going to make Oregon State basketball relevant again."
• Offensive philosophy: "We will be disciplined and we like high-percentage shots," he said. "I'm an inside-out balance guy, you have to get the ball inside to get the defense to collapse to free up your shooters.
"Spacing is key, you must have great spacing and ball movement so you can take advantage of your guys who can put it on the floor and make plays. Spacing, ball movement and unselfishness will be ingrained every day.
"I like up-tempo style as long as they are not throwing the ball to the guy selling popcorn in the third row. If they get stops, rebound and are physical defensively they will be allowed the freedom to have some fun on offense,"
• Defensive philosophy: "I don't do anything exclusively. I'm a big believer in the Mike Montgomery style of changing defenses," he said. "But it's an aggressive style."
• Summer school: "We will have everybody come back," and attend summer classes, he said. "We feel that's vital to build team chemistry, to lighten the academic load a bit during the season. We put that in play at Montana and our GPA and graduation rates when up by leaps and bounds."
• Recruiting at OSU as compared to Montana: "Obviously we have to recruit a different level of player," he said. "But the vital things - character, discipline, toughness - we are not going to compromise that. We've got the blueprint in place. The formula is there. We are not going to tinker with it."
OSU athletic director Bob De Carolis said the job attracted numerous candidates but that Tinkle stood out in his quest to find the man who could live up to his quest for "a fresh start, a new direction, and a new leader to take us there."
"Today we have that leader," he added. "I had a clear vision of what we needed: A coach who could recruit, compete at a high level and earn their degrees … a coach [whose] teams will be in contention for championships on an annual basis, and who represent Oregon State with class and dignity.
"In the end, it was clear to me that coach Tinkle was the right man to take Oregon State forward. Coach Tinkle has the right priorities, the right character and he is definitely the right fit at the right time."
Tinkle said he'd had previous opportunities to leave Montana, where he starred from 1986-89 and where he has coached since retiring from professional basketball in 2002. But they did not have what OSU and Corvallis offered.
"I said, 'It's going to take a special place to get me out of here,'" he said. "I certainly feel that way now, here in Corvallis. It's a special time and a special place.
"The time is right. We've got some things heading in the right direction and we're thrilled to take on this adventure."
TINKLE AT A GLANCE
WHO: Wayne Tinkle
WHAT: Oregon State's new men's basketball coach.
HOMETOWN: Milwaukee, Wisc.
FAMILY: Married to Lisa (McLeod), a former player at Montana; daughters Joslyn and Elleson, son Tres.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Montana in 2005 with a BS in Health and Human Performance.
RECORD AT MONTANA: Overall, 158-91 (8 years); Big Sky Conference, 97-39 (8 years). Big Sky Conference regular-season champions in 2010, 2012 and 2013; Big Sky Tournament champions in 2012, 2013; NCAA tournament appearances, 2010, 2012, 2013; CBI appearance, 2011.
OTHER COACHING EXPERIENCE: Assistant at Montana, 2002-06.
COACHING HONORS: Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year, 2012, 2013; NABC Division I District 6 Coach of the Year, 2012.
MONTANA PLAYING CAREER: Lettered 1986-89; Big Sky Conference all-star, 1987-89; team MVP, 1988, 1989; led team in scoring, 1988, 1989; led team in rebounding, 1987, 1988, 1989; fourth all-time in rebounding (836); sixth all-time in scoring (1,500).
PRO PLAYING CAREER: Played professionally for 12 years in Continental Basketball Association and in Europe in Sweden, Spain, Italy and Greece.
QUOTE: "You get your guys to buy in, and the by-product is they will play their tails off every day and think they are having fun. That's not anything we will ever compromise. That's a constant."