The state of Oregon State’s program is not great at the moment. There’s a new head coach in Jonathan Smith, a roster that’s getting turned over and the perennial challenges that come with having a Power Five football team located in a small town far away from a major talent pool of high school recruits.
The Beavers were blown out 77-31 at Ohio State to open their season last week and while there were a few positive takeaways for the team and its new staff, the lopsided effort will have some repercussions going forward for the program. Namely, they won’t play any really good teams like the Buckeyes any more.
“We won’t do it this way,” athletic director Scott Barnes said on a Portland radio show. “This game was scheduled several years ago… it was a one-off, payday against a perennial top-five team. That’s not our philosophy. Our philosophy is that we’ll play the middle of the Big Ten, the middle of the Big 12, we’ll play a group of five team and a FCS team… building momentum means everything right now.”
Oregon State did indeed have a nice pay day as a result of the game in Columbus by taking $1.7 million home with them. Let’s face it, even on good days a team like the Beavers will have trouble with a top five program like the Buckeyes but it certainly seems as though there’s a bigger takeaway from the school’s brass: at least give the guys a chance.
Not surprisingly, that’s what Oregon State will do going forward. The Beavers will trade Ohio State for a home-and-home with Oklahoma State and Purdue in the coming years and also have Mountain West foes like Hawaii and Fresno State on the docket. There’s some games against the likes of Portland State and Idaho as well.
While coaches talk a good game about wanting to play anybody, anywhere, the truth is most teams and programs probably want to follow the direction Barnes wants (his) OSU to take — play an overmatched FCS team, a middle-tier Group of Five team and then try to find a winnable game against a Power Five program, hopefully at home.
Yes it’s a far cry from thinking you can compete with every team on any given Saturday but after that result in the Horseshoe last week, you can’t blame the Beavers for saying out loud what most say internally.