Wayne Tinkle and Oregon State are most surprising Cinderella in men’s NCAA Tournament

Two days before the biggest game of his career, Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle took time to speak with the sixth grade class at Loy Elementary School in Great Falls, Montana, taught by the husband of one of his oldest daughter's childhood friends.

"I really appreciated the opportunity," Tinkle wrote on Twitter, "and want to remind them, Character Counts!!"

If the list of Power Five head coaches who would speak with an elementary school class at any time of year is short and the list of those who would do so during the season is even shorter, the tally of such head coaches who would do so in the days leading into the Sweet 16 may consist of Tinkle and no one else.

"It’s just the kind of guy he is. It’s just who he is," his daughter Joslyn, who played basketball at Stanford and for the WNBA's Seattle Storm, told USA TODAY Sports. "Because he has always understood that this is more than about basketball, the game. This is about everyone involved and I think that’s what made this ride and this run so special. He understands it takes more than just him and his staff."

Of all the madness and unpredictability of this March, which already has seen a historic run of success from higher-seeded underdogs, there may be nothing more unforeseeable than this: Tinkle, in his seventh season at Oregon State, has the Beavers in the Elite Eight and one win from one of the most incredible Final Four trips in men's NCAA Tournament history.

"You look at all we've had to deal with in our time at Oregon State and especially this year, and our guys never wavered," Tinkle said. "And we've had some hiccups obviously along the way."

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