For the coming 2023-24 NCAA campaign, Oregon and Oregon State will battle each other in their usual conference showdowns across all sports. Beyond that, however, seems to be a bit of a mystery.
With Oregon hopping to the Big Ten and Oregon State desperately trying to stay afloat in a quickly sinking Pac-12 conference, will we get to see the bevy of Civil Wars we’ve grown accustomed to over the past 100+ years?
For that to happen, both schools would need to be on board with continuing the rivalry as a non-conference showdown, and, as with most things, money takes center stage.
Obviously the goal of any non conference venture is to turn a profit, and fanfare may be the most important factor in doing so.
When it comes to Oregon/Oregon State matchups on the gridiron and the hardwood, that’ll not be an issue.
The annual football game is always highly anticipated and usually fairly entertaining. Despite their sizable disadvantages with facilities and recruiting, the Beavers always up their game against the Ducks, and pull off the victory more than just once in a blue moon. Even the Oregon victories tend to be competitive games.
Fans pack Autzen and Reser for the yearly contest, often braving less than favorable weather conditions due to the game being played in late November.
But there’s an interesting point. The Big Ten has a pretty clear policy about non conference football games having to take place in the first three weeks before conference play begins. If the Ducks and Beavs want to continue to clash, might they be forced to do it in September? It’s hard to imagine the Civil War taking place on a balmy 80 degree day with each team having only a game under their belt, but it’s a realistic scenario given the circumstances.
In men’s basketball the David vs Goliath storyline also holds true, with the Beavers consistently taking on an Oregon team boasting far more blue chippers and a much more impressive arena. But again, the games tend to be very competitive, and Oregon State claims its fair share of victories.
On the ladies side the basketball showdown has been a spectacle for the past several years, due to the success level of both teams. Matthew Knight Arena, which for some odd reason has trouble selling out, is usually filled to the rafters for the women’s basketball game.
So in those three cases, it makes financial sense. But what about the less popular and more sparsely attended sports?
Well, what may be lacking in ticket and television revenue can be made up for due to a distinct advantage: travel.
Oregon and Oregon State are only a bus ride away from each other, a bus ride that’s less than an hour. Facing the prospect of having to travel across the country for matchups with new conference opponents like Rutgers and Maryland, a little hop, skip, and jump up to Corvallis would probably be a welcome one for the Ducks.
So then the final hurdle becomes the schools agreeing to do it. While there are some “reports” circulating that the Beavs may dismiss continuing the rivalry out of pure spite, this idea seems to be quite implausible if looked at from an athletic director’s standpoint.
Not only that, the athletes want to face each other. Just to see the dreaded Green and Yellow or Orange and Black across from you on the playing surface probably gives the competitors an extra jolt. If anyone were to ask OSU Football coach Jonathan Smith, who played in three Civil Wars (the second being one of the most high profile of all time) what this rivalry means to him personally, they’d likely get an earful.
So with those factors considered, the continuation of the Ducks/Beavers rivalry seems to make total sense despite not being in the same conference. That just leaves the question, will it actually pan out?Only time will tell.