The Beavers 2022 college football season was remarkable, and it should be for years to come


Jason May

Head coach Jonathan Smith raises the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl trophy after the Beavers won in the game at Allegiant Stadium on Dec. 17. Smith recently signed a $30.6 million contract that will last through the end of the 2028 season.

Ryan Harlan, Sports Columnist

With that, the 2022 college football season comes to an end.

I can’t believe we made it to the end, as it feels like just yesterday the season started. I know we have spring football coming up, but we might as well look back on this season with fondness as there were some great games this year for Beaver football. 

The Oregon State football team was bowl eligible for the second consecutive year and headed to the Las Vegas Bowl. They had a dominant 30-3 win over the University of Florida Gators. 

The win in Las Vegas gave the Beavers a 10-3 record, the third time in program history that the Beavers have earned ten wins in a season. 

One of those times, head coach Jonathan Smith was the quarterback for the Beavers and that season ended with an 11-1 record and a 41-9 Fiesta Bowl victory for Oregon State. 

Speaking of Smith, his contract as head coach has been extended into the 2029 college football season after receiving the award for PAC-12 Co-Head Coach of the Year in 2022 and AFCA Region-Five Coach of the Year. 

Smith also led the Beavers to their first-ever ranking in the College Football Playoff rankings, in which the Beavers finished at the No.14 spot. 

Now with Smith under contract, there is more opportunity for the Beavers to maintain this level of success into the following seasons.

There is no doubt that Smith deserved this contract extension and the way he coached the team through the adversity they faced. 

The wins over Stanford on the road on Oct. 8 and Oregon at home on Nov. 26 showed that this team can battle back in any game and that Smith will have this team in contention for a bowl game every year with the upward trajectory of success he has taken Beaver Football. 

And keep in mind that next season, the top 12 teams in the College Football Playoff rankings will be a part of the first-ever 12-team playoff, expanding from the previous four-team playoff used currently and in years prior.

With the way that the season ended for the Beavers at No.14 in the CFP poll under the expansion, they’d be in the first two out of the playoffs in that format. 

Transfer news: The start of bowl games also means the start of the transfer portal and players being able to move to any school they want to, free agency in a sense. 

The football portal opens following the conclusion of the regular season for college football, and this year has been one of the more active transfer portal periods with over 2,000 football players entering their names into the portal. 

Over the course of this season, there have been eight players from Oregon State that have entered the transfer portal, and the most notable is former starting quarterback Chance Nolan. 

The other seven are defensive backs Ronald Hardge III and Jonathan Riley, long snapper Connor Meholovitch, tight end J.T. Byrne, linebacker Jake Parella, and quarterbacks Jake Blair and Tristan Gebbia. 

While both Nolan and Gebbia are gone from the program, they played a vital role in the turnaround of the Oregon State football program, and I wish them the best going forward. 

However, I want to point out that the small number of outgoing Beaver transfers is a true testament to the culture of this team as you retain a roster year to year in a sport with a growing roster turnover. 

I am sure there will be more for the Beavers entering the portal, but the number now is still minimal. 

The culture Smith has built-in Corvallis is built on players being selfless and always doing what is best for the team. Smith and other players have said repeatedly this year that the star of the team is the team, which has shown throughout this season including the Las Vegas Bowl win. 

While it may have taken a while to achieve the success that Smith has had, this is the blueprint that teams can follow in this time of college football with NIL and the transfer portal. 

What wins games is being selfless rather than being all for oneself, now I’m all for players’ autonomy but if we are being honest, NIL has had some negative impacts on teams being able to sustain a winning team culture. 

I know I sound like an “old man yelling at a cloud,” but the benefits of creating that winning culture from the ground up instead of paying for it have paid off in the form of recruiting two big-name talents to Corvallis. 

One of those is a four-star quarterback who headlines the 2023 recruiting class for Beaver football and one is a former five-star quarterback who chose to leave Clemson to come to Corvallis. 

Aidan Chiles/DJ Uiagalelei: Corvallis tends to be a hard place to recruit high-profile talent when it comes to football. However, that has changed under Smith’s tenure as the four-star quarterback, Aidan Chiles, committed to the Beavers as one of the marquee names in the 2023 recruiting class. 

In addition to recruiting freshmen to campus, coaches recruit from the transfer portal as well. Smith landed a big name out of the transfer portal in the form of former five-star Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. 

Uiagalelei is the highest-ranked recruit ever to step foot onto the Oregon State campus and that puts the Beavers on the national map by acquiring him. The likely scenario I see with this is that Chiles will take a redshirt year to learn the offense and develop behind Uiagalelei and current starter Ben Gulbranson. 

Now, the question remains whether Uiagalelei will start next year for the Beavers. I think looking at it right now, it is likely that he does start, but he will compete for the job with Gulbranson in spring practices and fall camp.

Let’s not forget that Gulbranson went 7-1 as a starter after replacing Nolan during the game against Utah on Oct. 1. 

This is big because Uiagalelei reached out to the Beavers rather than Smith reaching out to him and that is what ended up sealing the deal. 

The big part of finishing 10-3, is that recruits tend to notice.

PAC-12 departures: I wrote about this during the summer and have yet to see a significant update for a long period. The article I wrote mentioned the “slow demise of the PAC-12 Conference.” At the time, I thought that was a bit of an overreaction but has yet to be proven wrong so far as that is what it has felt like.  

There has been a long-awaited update on the issue of the PAC-12 departures as both the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles still are set on leaving the conference. 

The University of California Regents approved the move on Dec. 14 after delaying the initial approval a month prior in November. 

I mean, it felt inevitable, but it would have been nice to have this approved earlier. The biggest thing that came out of this approval is that UCLA will have to subsidize the University of California around $5 million with their move to the BIG-10 Conference, according to Jon Wilner. 

With the move being official, some questions remain over who comes into the PAC-12 as well as where the annual Rose Bowl will be played with UCLA going to the BIG-10.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself as only time will tell, but one thing is for sure. The Beavers are on the rise and the PAC-12 as a conference is going to be fun to watch in the 2023 season.

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