Portland State (FCS) head coach Bruce Barnum is one of the more fun personalities in college football. That personality got him into a sticky financial situation, after a gambit he made during a radio appearance last week.
Ahead of the Vikings' home opener against Western Oregon, a Division II squad, last week, he made a promise to fans: come to the game, and the beer is on him. A few thousand fans showed up and took full advantage.
On Tuesday, Barnum posted the tab. Fnas bought up 2064 beers total, split between Coors Light and local brewery Deschutes' Fresh Squeezed IPA. That ran the Vikings coach, who isn't exactly making the same millions that coaches at FBS powers rake in, $14,448. The school sold 3,124 tickets to the game, a 21-7 win.
Barnum expected to give away about 100 beers per game, and in return, he'd get some fans and Portland State alumni back in the stadium enjoying football. In a Q&A with FootballScoop, he admitted that Saturday's game was far more than he bargained for.
"Obviously my mouth got me in trouble again," Barnum said. "It took off. I was thinking Shawshank Redemption, drinking five beers out of the bucket on the roof, everybody's happy, the pandemic's over, Portland's a mess, let's go out and forget about it for a while. Then all of a sudden it turned into what it did. I was getting calls from every coach I knew all across the country.
Barnum said he got plenty of calls and texts from friends in the industry after news broke about his declaration.
"Texts came from all over, in and out of the profession. I heard from most of the Big Sky guys. (Bobby) Hauck at Montana said, 'Barny, you're going to have to work for an extra 20 years.' San Jose State, they had a late game at Hawai'i so they were texting me. I heard from the Vikings. 'I see you're still crazy as hell, Barny.' Oregon State was all over it. My brother in Tokyo picked it up somewhere."
Portland State's president attended the game and loved the inadvertent promotion, and it has gone over very well with the school, Barnum says. Still, he's on the hook for over a month's salary, or at least half of that, as the school may split the bill with him. Don't expect too many more open bars at Barney's Beer Garden, at least not this season.
"It probably got a couple thousand people to come out, which is cool as hell for my players and Western Oregon's players. It was a fun atmosphere."
"But yeah, it's going to hit me, but it helped my program. They did extend me; I would've been in my contract year but they extended me because of the pandemic. I've got a couple seasons to try to upset the ranked boys and get back on top."
Barnum took over as the program's head coach in 2015, and made a big splash right off the bat, beating Washington State and North Texas that fall. The win over North Texas set an NCAA record for margin of victory by an FCS over an FBS program, 66-7. The Vikings went 9-3 and made their first FCS playoff appearance in 15 years that fall.
Things have slipped since for Portland State, and his team hasn't gotten back to .500 since 2015. He's now 1-2 this year, after losing to Hawaii and Wazzu before winning that drunken home opener on Saturday.