Why Winning The Pac-12 Title Could Help Oregon State In Future Realignment

By 750 The Game Staff

Oregon State football — and all of OSU athletics — is at a crossroads.

Oregon left for the Big Ten Conference. Washington did, too. And Utah, Arizona, ASU and Colorado are gone to the Big 12.

The Beavers are by far the best football program among the remaining “Pac-4” schools. But will that success on the field ever get rewarded in a sport that values market size and brand recognition over anything else?

John Canzano kicked around the topic on 750 The Game, answering the question he’s getting from many OSU fans: Could a special season this fall  — a Pac-12 Conference football title — increase Oregon State’s chances of being invited to another major conference sooner than later? Could the present pain of being left behind be more temporary than it currently feels?

“The correlation isn’t that direct,” Canzano said. “But I think it would be an incredible bit of poetry if Oregon State ended up winning the Pac-12 Conference this season.

“If you’re Oregon State, you’re thinking in a two-year — survive-and-advance — window, and then beyond that maybe five years, or seven years. You can’t afford to think 20 years down the road if you’re Oregon State right now. You have to be focused on survival. You’re in a house. It’s on fire. There’s a lot of smoke. You need to get on the floor and you need to start crawling. Get yourself to a place where you can stand up and get out of the house. That’s Oregon State’s mission.”

Jonathan Smith has told media this week his focus is on the upcoming football season, not realignment.

But could you imagine? The last of 108 years of Pac-12 football ending with Smith raising a conference championship trophy to bring back to Corvallis?

“If Oregon State were to win the Pac-12 championship this season under Jonathan Smith, it would be a statement from a brand standpoint that Oregon State can compete with the best Big Ten new applicants and the best Big 12 new applicants,” Canzano said. “It’s a statement, and it would be a powerful one.”

Ultimately, conference realignment — or, more accurately, consolidation — is not over. It will happen again. And when it does, Oregon State can help its cause by continuing to win on the gridiron.

“It sends a message that you can compete on that level, and I think it’s a very important message to send because there’s going to be more consolidation,” continued Canzano. “There’s going to be more chaos. There’s going to be more realignment. There may be some schools who don’t like the travel, and 5-7 years from now say, this isn’t working. We need to go back to what it was. And they re-form new conferences.

“This season does count for Oregon State in that way, because it can be held up as part of the story, part of the brand.”

Listen to the full segment at the 27:00 mark of the show podcast below.

John Canzano delivers the Bald Faced Truth afternoons 3-6 p.m. exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.