A lesson learned and a laugh shared with Tinkle

Josh Worden, Senior Beat Reporter

Two days after Oregon State’s win in the men’s basketball Civil War on Jan. 3, I asked head coach Wayne Tinkle about where he felt his program was headed, especially with a big win over the Ducks but also some freshmen who have yet to experience a full Pac-12 season.

At least, I tried to ask that question. For some reason, the proper words escaped me and I struggled to make my point clear. When I used the word ‘peaked,’ as if the Beavers hit their highest point already, Tinkle scoffed.

“One game into league, saying we’re peaking, that put me through a loop,” he said at the time.

Red-faced and embarrassed, I didn’t try to explain myself and I worried that Tinkle pegged me as a clueless college kid who didn’t know the first thing about professionalism.

Mostly that’s true, but it still hurts for other people to realize your own incompetence. It only got worse when I saw a tweet last Friday from John Canzano, a writer for the Oregonian and sports talk show host, about his interview with Tinkle on the topic, of all things, “media asking dumb questions.”

Worried that Tinkle would bring me up, I frantically tuned in. Per my luck, Tinkle mentioned my dull-witted question almost immediately. He didn’t refer to me by name, thankfully, nor did he insult me.

Ashamed nonetheless, I figured Tinkle would never respect me again. It seemed my efforts over the last two years trying to gain a rapport with him had all gone down the tube.

Then, I made a decision: why not just ask him about it? Tinkle is a nice guy, and he’s genuine with people who are genuine with him.

So I brought it up on Tuesday, apologizing for my broken speech and hoping he’d agree to put it behind us.

Before I was even able to finish my explanation, he interjected. Instead of telling me off or saying I needed to ask better questions, he was almost apologetic himself. He understood my question had come out wrong — and he even brought up the Canzano interview unprompted — and gave me a pat on the back. He even threw in a self-deprecating comment after I apologized for my ignorance.

“I’m the same way,” he said with a smile. “Coaches, we made stupid decisions.”

With that, a message to myself: when you ask idiotic questions, it’s only because your true self is leaking through. That’s alright, just own up to it and keep going.

And a message to coach Tinkle: thank you for being authentic even when you don’t have to be. I look forward to many more fruitful conversations down the road, and I apologize ahead of time for all the occasions I’ll make a fool of myself. Hopefully we can laugh about it together again like we did on Tuesday.

On Twitter @BrightTies