Oregon State Wins With Culture, Not NIL


NIL and the transfer portal have completely changed college sports. It’s hard to keep track of who is on what team and many fans wonder if the college game is all about money.

But despite some of the big cash being thrown around by schools with big NIL budges, Oregon State seems to be finding success in other ways.

John Canzano reported on 750 The Game on Wednesday that, to date, Oregon State has had only five players from last season’s roster enter the transfer portal and land at other programs. That is the highest retention mark in the Pac-12. Utah was close behind with only six players, so far, departing through the portal to another team.

“It’s interesting to me – what is going on at Oregon State and Utah that’s different than other places?” Canzano asked.

“I walked by Jonathan Smith at the spring football game on the field at the end of the scrimmage. We were talking. And I said, ‘Hey. I was looking at the portal and you and Utah had fewer players lost in the portal. He shot back a one-word answer at me… he said: ‘Culture’. And he walked away.”

Clearly, Jonathan Smith and his staff believe in the way they do things. From player acquisition to development and sound scheme, Oregon State has a process for success that is not reliant on NIL collectives and activity in the transfer market. But not every program has that ability.

“Is culture the great equalizer?” Canzano continued. “It may be the Rosetta Stone for the programs who don’t have the deep-pocketed collectives in their corner.

“Again, there’s two ways to get to the top of a tree. You can climb that tree or catapult to the top of that tree. Or, you can sit on the ground, you can plant a seed, and then water it, and sit on top of it, and wait. And I think Utah and Oregon State are doing more of the planting and waiting than maybe Oregon, Washington, and USC – they’re catapulting. USC in particular.”

Canzano later said that Oregon State and Utah are also using NIL and the collectives in the right way to benefit their players.

“I do think Oregon State and Utah have players that are benefitting from collectives and name, image, likeness. Cam Rising stays at Utah. DJ Uiagalelei jumps in the portal and goes to Oregon State. Damien Martinez, the running back at Oregon State. The Dam Nation collective, the Beavers preferred NIL collective, says they were involved very early in trying to retain Damien Martinez and keep the SEC schools away.

“But is culture going to be the thing that restores all of our faith in what college athletics should be?”

Listen to the full segment at the start of the podcast below. Catch John Canzano deliver the Bald Faced Truth afternoons 3-6 p.m. in Portland exclusively on 750 The Game.