The schools must leave a positive lasting impression
When Oregon State and Washington State meet in a primetime game on FOX on Saturday, there will be a lot on the line. Both teams are ranked, undefeated, and vying for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game.
That’s all well and good. But what exactly is at stake for the two schools left out of the realignment game?
It makes no difference which team wins. Rather, the level of play is important. The TV ratings are important. The lasting impression is important as the Beavers and Cougars join forces and chart a course for the future.
“People can watch these teams and say, ‘They play like power conference schools, but they aren’t going to be a part of it, really?” According to an industry source. “In that case, what exactly does it mean to be a Power Five school?” These are not, but Vanderbilt is. Boston College is one of them. So, what am I overlooking?”
WSU and OSU believe the only thing they are missing is membership in one of the power conferences.
The Cougars have been bowl eligible for seven consecutive seasons (excluding 2020) and have drawn a larger TV audience in the playoff era than any other Big 12 school.
Last season, the Beavers won 10 games, defeated Florida in the Las Vegas Bowl, and are ranked just below Alabama and just above Oklahoma in the AP poll.
“When you talk about what Saturday means,” WSU athletic director Pat Chun said on Thursday, “it’s college football at its peak.” And the fact that these two programs are in this situation is inexplicable.”
Earlier this month, the Beavers and Cougars took the Pac-12 to court to determine the composition of the governing board and gain access to critical financial documents.
Once they have reached a decision, they will take one of two paths:
— Join the Mountain West in the same way that Washington and Oregon will join the Big Ten next summer.
— Make an attempt to rebuild the Pac-12 with Mountain West and possibly other Group of Five schools.
The renovation project is more uncertain, but it could be more profitable, depending on the assets that remain in the Pac-12.
Other issues remain unresolved.
Would a reconstructed conference retain its Power Five status in terms of College Football Playoff access and revenue?
For legislative purposes, would it continue to be an Autonomy Five conference — an NCAA designation?
Would it be able to secure a respectable media rights deal?
On each issue, the competitive forces in college football are stacked against WSU and OSU.
On-field success is important not only on Saturday, but throughout the season.
If the teams compete for the Pac-12 title, maintain their top-25 rankings, and play in marquee games, their case for respect and money will be strengthened.
This Saturday will be like every other Saturday for the next few years.