Sheep rustlers caught
By Jennifer Nitson
Deputy apprehends OSU football player, who denies any involvement in incident
There's more ba-a-a-d news for Oregon State University's football team.
Beavers player Ben Michael Siegert was apparently caught driving the getaway vehicle that whisked a ram away from the university's Sheep Center, according to police.
A Benton County Sheriff's deputy found the animal in the bed of a pickup after pulling Siegert over for speeding on Southwest Whiteside Drive about 1:34 a.m. last Friday morning.
Also in the pickup was former OSU football player Brent Charles Bridges, 22, and Whitney Susan Rodgers, 19, of Glendale, Ariz.
Contacted Tuesday afternoon, Siegert said he recalled being pulled over, but denied any involvement with the ram.
"I don't know anything about that," he said. "I'm from a city. I don't know anything about sheep."
However, Benton County Undersheriff Diana Simpson confirmed the sheep tale.
"Either Mr. Siegert's not being truthful with you, or maybe he was too intoxicated to remember," Simpson said.
The ram lives at the research facility on 35th Street near Campus Way and is part of a study on homosexuality in sheep, said Sheep Center manager Tom Nichols.
It probably weighs about 200 pounds, he said, and it likely took both men to get the ram into the bed of the pickup.
"I'm sure it wasn't an easy job," Nichols said.
Sheep rustling, it seems, is not uncommon at OSU.
"We have at least one prank a year where we have to go to a dormitory or a sorority house and pick up a ram or a lamb or a ewe," Nichols said. "It's one of those springtime pranks."
Fun and games aside, Siegert, 20, was arrested on an accusation of driving under the influence of intoxicants after failing field sobriety tests. Almost an hour and a half after being pulled over, he registered .14 percent blood-alcohol content on a breath analyzer at the county jail.
A worker from the Sheep Center retrieved the animal, and the deputy chose not to arrest anybody for taking the ram.
Coach Mike Riley is still considering Siegert's situation and what consequences the player might face, said OSU sports information director Steve Fenk.
"At this point they're just going to deal with it internally," Fenk said. "I don't know if it's going to affect spring practice."
A redshirt sophomore from Glendale, Siegert is a two-year starter at defensive tackle and is ranked first on the depth chart heading into spring practice, which begins March 30. He made the Pac-10 all-freshman team in 2003 and was 10th on the team in defensive points in 2004.
Bridges lettered as a backup offensive lineman in 2003 and 2004 after transferring to OSU from Glendale Community College. He has completed his eligibility.
In recent months, the OSU football team has been stung with a string of players' brushes with the law.
Joe Rudulph was suspended in November after he was arrested for allegedly punching a National Guard soldier during what police initially called a racially charged bar fight at the Headline Cafe. Anthony Wheat-Brown, Whitfield Usher and Ryan Rainwater also were suspended for their involvement after it became apparent that the underage men had been inside the bar.
Bridges was suspended in November after police arrested him for his alleged involvement in an assault at the Headline Cafe during a Civil War victory celebration. In addition, Bridges and former player Seth Lacey were issued citations for disorderly conduct in December following an investigation into a March 2004 bar fight at Senior Sam's Cantina.
Reserve freshman Bryan Payton was sent home from the Insight Bowl in Phoenix after coach Riley found out about a Dec. 21 altercation in which the player was involved; and Star Paddock and Jim Tavis Walker were arrested Feb. 11 for allegedly assaulting and robbing a taxi cab driver after they offered to pay their fare with marijuana.
Siegert was cited to appear March 31 in Benton County Circuit Court on the DUII charge.