Richard Seigler is among football's best, and he plans to keep it that way in real life
CORVALLIS Ñ Wisecracking, yet thoughtful. Brash, yet humble. Oregon State's Richard Seigler, a member of Dennis Erickson's first recruiting class in 1999, is a fixture at inside linebacker.
Seigler runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, bench presses 360 pounds and calls defensive signals as the unquestioned leader of one of the country's best defenses. He hunts down ball carriers like a falcon landing prey.
Erickson has coached a number of great linebackers, including Ray Lewis at Miami.
'It's hard to compare Richard to Ray,' Erickson says, 'but (Seigler) is right in there with all the other good ones I have had over the years. He can run, he is tough, and he has great instincts.'
The 6-3, 230-pound junior from Las Vegas also is a good talker. He spoke this week with the Tribune on a variety of subjects.
Trib: We hear basketball was your first love.
Seigler: For the longest time I thought I was going to play in the NBA. I was an All-State basketball player as a senior, but size hurt me. And I was a little too physical. I used to foul out of games a lot. My personality fits football better.
Trib: Are you the best hooper on the football team?
Seigler: We have a lot of guys who are good. Dwan Edwards is real good. Tim Euhus played on the varsity here. Shawn Kintner, Shayne House. É You know who is really good? James Newson. He has sick game. We play intramurals together every year, going against the frat guys.
Trib: How'd you do last year?
Seigler: We lost.
Trib: How was the adjustment from Las Vegas to Corvallis?
Seigler: It opened my eyes. For instance, people pumping gas for you. I didn't think that was around anymore. I just thought that was in the movies. The crazy thing is, you can get fined if you pump your own. They got some other crazy rules out here, like you can't ride your bike on the sidewalk. But people are doing the same thing everywhere. They are just trying to live and get by.
Trib: What do you think of Corvallis?
Seigler: It's just life slowed down a lot. Vegas is upbeat and a fast environment. Corvallis took some adjusting to, with the rain and all that. And it seems like this is an elderly town, at least away from the university. You have to know how to act, especially when you are under the microscope, playing football. You don't want to do anything silly, especially if you are a minority. There aren't a lot of black people out here. But I don't mean that as a negative in any way. I'm not going to be out doing anything silly. It forces you to have discipline in your life. And that's a good thing. I'm here for a reason. I just want to get my degree and play a little football while I'm doing it.
Trib: You were the only student-athlete on the search committee for the new athletic director, and you supported Bob De Carolis, who got the job. How did all that come about?
Seigler: I had a good relationship with (former AD Mitch) Barnhart before he left, so I guess they took that and asked me to do it. I couldn't spend as much time as I wanted to with it, because we had football responsibilities. Football has to be the priority. But it was definitely a good experience, sitting around the table with all those high-powered people.
Trib: Describe yourself as a person.
Seigler: Laid-back. Easy to get along with. I don't judge people. I don't have a problem with what anyone does. That's their business. As long as it's not affecting me, I don't have a problem with it.
Trib: Do you trash talk?
Seigler: Talking is part of my game, but I know when to talk and when not to. If the ref is getting on me, I don't want to jeopardize the success of my team. I keep it under control, but I do like to talk. It's more fun for me.
Trib: Who do you talk to? The ball carrier? The lineman blocking you?
Seigler: Whoever. I just hold a conversation. If I have something to say, I'll say it. I won't hold it back just because we are on a football field. No one can even hear you. We are just out there in our own little world, and communication does go on.
Trib: Should college football players be paid on top of scholarship benefits?
Seigler: I think so. I wouldn't mind having a brand new car. In a way, we are paid, but we sure don't have it easy. A lot of times, college athletes starve. They have to pay their rent, they have to do things, they don't have no money, they can't work. É When it's not football season and there's no training table, a lot of them go hungry. I know a lot of guys on this team who go hungry.
Trib: At least you have a car to drive.
Seigler: Yeah, I traded in my truck to pay for it. It has 95,000 miles, but I enjoy it a lot. But it's not the vehicle I want to die in.
Trib: What is your dream car?
Seigler: I would like a 600 Mercedes, with all the extras. I just want to grow old and happy, that's all.
Trib: Are you counting on an NFL career?
Seigler: It is definitely my goal, but it's not everything in my life. I believe honestly in my heart, when I get my degree, nothing will hold me back. Once I get my degree, I have a foot in the door, and I'm going to be able to talk my way through the rest.
Trib: Is the Nevada-Las Vegas game Saturday bigger than usual for you?
Seigler: I wasn't highly recruited out of high school. UNLV didn't even offer me a scholarship or even a chance to walk on. I could ride my bike to their stadium, and they didn't offer me nothing. I am going to smash on those guys.
Trib: What has been your experience with Dennis Erickson?
Seigler: Coach Erickson is a great guy. He saw something in me and has been supportive from the day I arrived. He came to Corvallis and made people believe in what the Beavers could do. A lot of people around the country didn't even know about the Oregon State Beavers. All anyone knew about was Oregon. It will be an honor for me to be able to say I started for him for four straight years.
Trib: Are you proud of being part of the group that put Oregon State football on the map?
Seigler: I don't feel like we are really on the map yet, but we are getting there. We are underdogs. Nothing gets handed to us, and the ball doesn't bounce our way most of the time. You know when you are a Beaver that every game is going to be a scrap, and you are going to have to fight to the end.
But I have a good feeling about this team. We are going to go 3-0, and we are going to slowly climb into the big picture. We are going to push people down, and we are going to end up winning the Pac-10. And all of our fans are going to be invited to a very big party afterward.