It did not take Wayne Tinkle to make a positive impression in Beaver Nation.
Oregon State's freshly-minted men's basketball coach and mascot Benny Beaver spent an hour of a beautiful Wednesday afternoon at the Memorial Quad, pressing the flesh and handing out free samples of an energy drink to students and other who were enjoying the sunny, 75-degree day.
"It was great," assistant director of athletic communications Shawn Schoeffler said. "Students were happy to meet him and they said they planned on going to games.
"There was a lot of talk about how tall he was," he added, noting that 6-foot-10 coaches do tend to stand out in a crowd.
In his introductory news conference that night, Tinkle said rekindling the passion of Beaver fans in general, and the students in particular, will be a high priority.
"You have to give them a reason to go," he said. "People talk about playing an exciting brand of basketball … in a coach's mind, that's winning, whether its 52-49 or 89-87."
He hopes to make the students and fans that stayed away from Gill Coliseum this past season a key component of a multi-faceted, inclusive program.
"Winning is accomplished before you step on the court," he explained. "We talk about having a championship attitude every day, making our team larger. It's not just those of us in the locker room.
"It's the people who mow lawns on campus, who serve us food in the cafeteria, the people who teach and counsel, the people in the community who sell the goods. If we handle our business the right way, like a champion, and include those people, now we can talk about the Xs and Os the teaching and development to earn success.
"You earn what you get. We will live like champions every day. When that equates to more wins than losses is to be decided. But we are going to live like champions and become great teammates."
Athletic director Bob De Carolis said Tinkle reminded him of current OSU coaches such as Pat Casey, Scott Rueck, Tanya Chaplin, Mike Riley, Jim Zalesky and other successful mentors.
"Their value system of outworking the opponent, playing with a chip on your shoulder … coaches who are authentic have great integrity, who are firmly grounded and promote a true family atmosphere," he said. "That is our Beaver NNA that is Wayne Tinkle's DNA. Today is a fresh start.