A letter from the football beat writer: death of tradition

Illustrated by Cat Smith
Illustrated by Cat Smith

On the eve of the Rivalry Series being played for possibly the final time; I want to take a minute to express my thoughts on this meeting of both schools in this historic rivalry and the fall of the PAC-12 Conference.

Since I’ve been covering this as both the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles announced their moves to the BIG-10 Conference in 2024. I also helped orchestrate coverage this summer for the Barometer of conference realignment, while balancing fall camp coverage for Beaver football as summer sports editor.

Personally, I’m very disappointed that the PAC-12 Conference will not be the same as we know it beyond the 2024 and 2025 seasons. In a year where the PAC-12 has the best quarterback play and the highest level of competition in years, it sucks to know that 10 of the 12 teams are leaving for new homes.  

However, it should have never gotten to this point, we’ll now have two remaining teams of the PAC-12 Conference or ‘2-PAC or PAC-2’, whatever you want to call the conference now.

Eventually, when those teams do move after 2024 to their new conferences, we’ll be losing a lot of those historic rivalries in the PAC-12 and a lot of storied history from a century-old conference. Especially one rivalry that is near and dear to my heart if it does not continue, which is the Rivalry Series or the game formerly known as the “Civil War”.

I have fond memories of this rivalry between Oregon State and Oregon, especially as both a fan and a broadcaster.

As a fan, I got to watch OSU beat Oregon at Reser Stadium twice both in 2020 and 2022. In the 2020 season, I was living in Virginia at the time and stayed up until 3 a.m. when the Beavers won 41-38 over the Ducks.  

In 2022, like many other fans that season I saw the famous 19-straight run comeback from the Beavers to win 38-34. While a fan I got to experience the thrill and rush of beating your rival and the big game atmosphere for the first time last year, which is a core memory for my time at OSU.

As a broadcaster, my first ever football game was at Autzen Stadium in 2021 but that ended in a 38-29 loss for the Beavers. While it was a loss, I had fun being in a new stadium calling a football game for the first time and it was my first time watching a game in person at Autzen.

Although I’m not a lifelong Oregonian and didn’t grow up with the rivalry, when I came here to OSU in 2019 as an undergraduate student, I was dropped into it and looked forward to it every year.

I’ve spent the past three years as the football beat reporter for the Barometer and have spent my fair share of time around the Beaver football team in-season as well as in the off-season.

I know when rivalry weekend comes around the football team gets excited for the opportunity to beat their rival. Especially when that rival is no more than 50 miles south of them.  

I know that players and coaches feel the significance and passion of the game when it comes to game-week preparations against the Ducks.

Former Oregon State offensive lineman Brandon Kipper echoed those sentiments when talking about playing Oregon at Reser Stadium last year.

“This one is a special one, the 2020 season, that’s a game I will always remember,” Kipper said. “Beating them here in 2020 was awesome, but having no fans kinda sucked. I think this one is a special one, allowing us to not only play here in front of our fans but have the opportunity to win our ninth game and to beat them here.”

Head coach Jonathan Smith echoes a similar sentiment and has the unique experience of being a part of this rivalry as both a player and coach against the Ducks. Smith had a 2-2 record against the Ducks when he was the starting quarterback for the Beavers from 1998-01.

“There’s no question when you’re a player, playing in rivalry games is fun,” Smith said of his experience. “So there are some great memories there and some painful ones in the game.”

The experience of this rivalry is unique for people who have ties to both schools and for myself. I’ve had the unique experience of being in this rivalry as both a fan and sportswriter. 

I know that many fans are ready to not continue this rivalry and I get that as Oregon played a role in breaking up the conference back in August. However, whatever decision is made by both athletic departments to either continue it or not, I hope that we respect that decision and hope history is not lost from this rivalry.

I don’t want to see a death of the tradition but that’s out of my control. As a writer, if it does happen, it would be disappointing to see in college football. I have a few parting words for the 10 schools leaving the PAC-12 next year to close out this season, especially after losing a lot of sleep when covering the news that broke.

To Oregon, don’t let the door hit you on the way out when you go off to the BIG-10 Conference. You made the decision to quit the conference and leave just as OSU was getting better and if this rivalry series isn’t played anymore then it’s your fault for ending it as well.

To the other nine teams, all I’m going to say is sayonara and thanks for destroying this historical conference.

OSU and Washington State – 2PAC Conference for life.


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    Patrick PineNov 19, 2023 at 8:06 pm

    In the long run Oregon State may end up better off – I suspect USC will not be able dominate in some sports in the Big 10 as they were often able to do in the PAC 12/10/8. But Oregon State will have a better chance to compete in whatever new league/alliance they develop.

    Oregon State also has a modern stadium with better sightlines and amenities and ticket prices than at the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl and better than the stadiums in Berkeley and Palo Alto and Boulder and Tempe. And they will likely be traveling to much nicer locations like San Diego and Las Vegas and Honolulu which easily beat going to games in most of the Big 10 locations (such as Rutgers, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Maryland, Iowa) or Big 12 locations (like Waco or Stillwater).