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Late last week I asked University San Diego basketball coach Bill Grier if he deserved some of the credit should Barack Obama carry Oregon in the presidential election.

He waved me off with a laugh.

“I want no part of that question,” he said, walking back onto the court.

Grier didn’t make any public endorsements, but by turning down the Oregon State job, he did raise the Obama campaign’s profile in Oregon.

Last April, Oregon State targeted Grier as its new basketball coach.

Grier, an Oregon native, was attractive to the school after he led the Toreros to the NCAA Tournament and an upset of Connecticut in his first season at USD.

The job was reportedly his for the asking, although Grier never said he officially turned down an Oregon State offer when he announced he would return to USD. By avoiding my Obama question, he didn’t shed light on that job offer or publicly inject himself into politics.

A little later Oregon State hired Craig Robinson, who woke up today a “First Brother-in-Law” to the President-elect. Robinson’s kid sister is Michelle Obama, our next First Lady. Robinson, who played at Princeton, was an assistant at Northwestern and a head coach at Brown.

Robinson introduced Obama at campaign appearances in Oregon, and at the Democratic National Convention, he took advantage of introducing his sister by wearing Oregon State’s colors and mentioning his school as the pointed to the Oregon delegation.

Who knew Grier’s coaching decisions held such national influence?

— TOM SHANAHAN

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