The idea that there are bigger issues involving football in the state of Oregn than the Civil War, at least during Civil War week, is an indication of how much the landscape has changed, and how important some of those bigger issues actually are.
Oregon could be concerned with keeping first year head coach Willie Taggart now that the coaching carousel is starting to spin at considerable velocity, and Oregon State is preoccupied with landing their new coach before someone else beats them to their favored recruits. And once the moves start to be made, even ones that won’t involve Oregon State’s preferred candidates will impact them, as each move begets more movement.
The uncertainty around the future leadership of the Oregon State program means there is also uncertainty about the direction and style of the program, and all of that has to be sorted out before the remaining players can make decisions about their future, not to mention potential recruits.
That and the fact that the Ducks are enough better with quarterback Justin Herbert back to go along with Royce Freeman’s drive to start a record book burning party that Oregon is more than a 24 point favorite has essentially killed most of the buzz about the 121st Civil War, at least around Beaver fans.
So much so that their flagship radio station isn’t even engaging in Civil War runup. This on top of the fact that the university and its spokespersons would rather talk volleyball than football of late, and they opted to schedule lengthy east coast trips for both basketball programs (another bad decision that squanders limited opportunities and accomplishes nothing), which instead of a distraction means they will be forgotten about in the wake of the PK80 Tournament and the CW, leaves one wondering if football is even anywhere on the priority list in the offices on campus in Corvallis.
But given what’s happened the last 2 years, and in the last 2 trips to Autzen, all in games the Beavers were major underdogs in, it might just be a more interesting evening than most expect, and that >24 point spread looks scary.
Oregon State’s talent is still radically depleted though, and as such, an upset would be a massive one, even if a competitive effort from the Beavers at least for a while wouldn’t be a big surprise.
It will be interesting to see how many Beaver fans find their way to Autzen, given that there’s usually a decent turnout in orange down there, and decent if overpriced tickets had to be secured before the season unless one wanted to risk getting relegated to the rim of the stadium. There sure weren’t many who used the tickets they had purchased for last week’s game against Arizona State, and most who did didn’t bother to stick around for most of the game.
Personally, I hope its not the last time I see Ryan Nall in a Beaver uniform, though I would understand totally if he decides another option is in his best interest next fall. I would even say the same thing about Thomas Tyner. I’m going to make sure I absorb every minute of 2 of the best running backs the state has produced in modern times though, and simultaneously hope Athletic Director Scott Barnes can soon come to a contractual agreement with someone who can figure out how to utilize their talents, AND convince them he will. (And they, followed shortly by Seth Collins, Isaiah Hodgins, Bright Ugwoegbu, and Blake Brandel, should be the first appointments on whomever the new coach is’ calendar.)
And can recruit a quarterback and some linemen. For a change.
And I’ll even enjoy seeing Freeman, even as he runs over a Beaver defense that’s made lesser runners look great. Talent is talent, and one thing about the Pac, you will see it, even if its mostly on the opponent’s side.
Whatever Barnes announces whenever will out-shine whatever happens on the field today, one way or another. But just maybe something will happen on the field that’s memorable too. Its happened a time or two before in the Civil War.
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)