The Pac-12 as we knew it has collapsed over the past few weeks as six members have departed the league. Years of poor leadership and a failure to secure an adequate media rights agreement has led to this cataclysmic reckoning of the “Conference of Champions,” one that began last year with the UCLA and USC’s jump to the Big Ten.
Cal, Oregon State, Stanford, and Washington State were the four schools who weren’t afforded a life raft and are what remains of the once proud west coast league. As they scramble to find their best path forwards, we’ll take a look at the best and worst case scenarios for each institution. Here, we’ll take a look at the Oregon State Beavers.
Barring the Big Ten or the Big 12 showing an act of generosity by sending an invite, Oregon State will most likely end up in a proposed merger with the Mountain West Conference. So for this exercise, we’ll assume that’s where the Beavs are heading and look at some of their paths.
Best case scenario
Oregon State’s best case scenario is that it walks into this new, zombie Pac-12/MWC league and dominate it from Day 1. OSU’s football program has been trending up in recent years under head coach Jonathan Smith and the baseball program is already among the nation’s elite. Recent renovations to Reser Stadium (more on that in a moment) would put the Beavers facility at the top of the league and it would translate well on the recruiting front.
With the College Football Playoff expanding in 2024, Oregon State would suddenly have a realistic path to making the postseason should it run the table. That and potentially its rivalry with Oregon being kept alive could give OSU plenty of national exposure to where it could eventually find its way back to a power conference.
Worst case scenario
The school will be paying off debt created by recent renovations to Reser Stadium for years to come and the massive drop in television revenue they are about to experience will make that even more difficult. It has to find success on the field to keep fans engaged and spending money on the program or risk apathy setting in. Losing the Oregon as well as other Pac-12 rivals like Washington and USC on the schedule could create fan apathy towards their products, triggering a downward spiral of declining attendance/revenues.
If the Beavers aren’t aggressive, they’ll fall into the malaise of the rest of the conference and be viewed as a Group of Five program.