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...And Then There Were Four: Realistically, What’s Next For Oregon State?

Playing against California, Stanford and Washington State won’t really justify a league.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Oregon State at Ohio State Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Well, the ink may not even be dry, but it’s a done deal.

Arizona, Arizona State and Utah have made their move to “officially” join the Big 12 and just like that, in a matter of days - not counting the years of lead-up to this point - the Pac-12 as we know it is gone. For those not keeping score at home, this is how it will all shake out beginning for the 2024 athletic seasons.

  • Big Ten: Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington
  • Big 12: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah
  • Pac-12: California, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington State

So yes, some of you will notice the Pac-12 has become a Pac-4 and with the league expecting to go on into the future, it will most likely at least need to six teams to reach the respectable mark of ten schools for a conference. This could get tricky with a massively ridiculed small media deal in the Pac-12’s pockets, but all the usual suspects should come into question as Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, UNLV and San Diego State will be considered.

Yet, this is where the Pac-12 can finally save itself - believe it or not. Anything that the Mountain West brings to the table, the Pac-12 needs to get onboard with. The Mountain West has long been a fan of late night athletics for those on the East Coast who simply won’t put up with the Pac-12’s sometimes terrible entertainment agenda and if these two leagues can come together to save each other, they need to do just that. Whatever the league name may be, for smaller outlets like Oregon State and Washington State to survive, Mountain West level schools are the answer.

I’ve thought a lot about this all in the last few days and honestly, the time to move on from the anger and the wallowing is now. If Oregon State tried to book for a comparable league or situation - for instance, a P5 entrance - their smaller fan base and lofty travel needs would be a ridiculous hinderance to a university that could grow with a league that’s easier to find it’s footing in and like Boise State footballs of yesteryear or San Diego State basketball in general (especially in 2023), the Beavers can get that positive momentum brewing and become a national program within it’s own confines, instead of falling victim to the massive opponents of nationally branded institutions.

The money is the issue, of course. The Mountain West, assuming they wave any entry/exit costs, will have its own agendas to attend to, but a mix of the two leagues who can work together to reach proper media deals and grow the programs of the west coast as a whole. When the bigger conferences come to battle, it’s not a place for the smaller Pac-12 sides to fight fire with fire. Let cooler heads prevail. Work smart with what you have, not what you don’t. And have California, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington State find a better day with the Mountain West combined and under whatever title, move into 2024 with some wind in the sails of an athletic department that, especially in it’s biggest revenue sport, is in a strong place to survive at the moment.

In my eyes, that’s what Oregon State needs most right now.