Canzano: Civil War is on for 2024 and beyond
Beavers and Ducks finalizing deal.
Operation ‘Preserve the Civil War’ is nearing completion. The rivalry game between Oregon and Oregon State will continue in the 2024 football season and beyond, per sources.
The Ducks will travel to Corvallis to play the Beavers on Sept. 14 next season, continuing the alternating home-and-home series that started in 1894. In 2025, Oregon will host Oregon State at Autzen Stadium.
Count me among those who like the idea of the two high-profile football programs in the state continuing to play each other. There’s mutual benefit. OSU needs a “Power 4” home game. Oregon needs a home opponent every other year (the Big Ten plays a nine-game conference schedule). And both sides save on travel expenses given that the rival schools are only 44 miles apart.
It took work.
Multiple schools were involved, I’m told.
Texas Tech helped, for example. The Red Raiders were originally scheduled to play at Oregon on Sept. 7 next season. They’ll instead play at Washington State on that same date. WSU was previously scheduled to play on Sept. 7 at San Diego State. That game will move to a date later in the season.
Boise State also helped. It was UO’s originally scheduled opponent for Sept. 14. The Broncos State will instead play in Eugene one week earlier (Sept. 7).
Boise State was supposed to play at home vs. Oregon State on Sept. 7 but will instead travel to Autzen Stadium on that date. The Beavers will still make a trip to Idaho, but later in the season.
Got all that?
The Beavers’ long-awaited football schedule is starting to materialize. It would include six Mountain West Conference opponents in addition to home games at Reser Stadium vs. Purdue, Oregon and Idaho State.
Oregon State is also negotiating with Cal for a home-and-home series that would begin in 2024, I’m told. Throw in a game vs. Washington State (home or away?) and another vs. Cal (home or away?) and that makes 11 total games for OSU in 2024. The Beavers are also involved in negotiations with one other “Power 4” opponent, believed to be the University of Virginia.
A source familiar with the negotiations told me that Oregon State has been focused on securing a 2024 football schedule that features seven home games — a rarity in the school’s history. Those seven games would be packaged and sold to a media-rights partner.
Scott Barnes, the athletic director at Oregon State, told me 10 days ago that his staff was working on the schedule.
Said Barnes: “We’ll have six ‘group of five’ games, we’ll have five ‘power 5’ schools, and an FCS that we’ve always had. Some of those are already booked, additional ones will be announced very very soon, and some of the ink won’t be dry on a couple of those. It may linger a little further. Until you have the ink dry on the contract you can’t really say.”
Barnes declined comment on Wednesday. The OSU AD has said all along that he plans to release the 2024 schedule in its entirety.
Washington State and Washington agreed last month to extend their rivalry series — The Apple Cup — through 2028. The game next season will take place on Sept. 14 at Lumen Field, a neutral site. The 2025 game will be played at Washington State and will alternate between Pullman and Seattle going forward.
There are some lingering bad feelings about the breakup of the Pac-12 Conference. Some Washington State and Oregon State fans may not want to see those rivalry games continue. But it’s apparent that the administrators at both “Pac-2” schools see the economic value in continuing to play each other.
For me it’s more about the intangibles. I know a lot about the Civil War history. I’ve read the newspaper accounts, talked with former players, coaches and fans. I’ve watched 20 of the games in person. There’s nothing quite like it.
The Civil War wasn’t played in 1911, for example, after a riot the previous year in Corvallis. It also wasn’t played in 1943 and 1944 due to the war. The rivalry series endured some bad football at both schools, it survived the pandemic, and has become a fixture of the sports scene in the state of Oregon.
• Did you know OSU played without a head coach in the 1898 game?
• Did you know that news accounts of the 1914 game noted that banks and grocery stores closed early on Civil War game day?
• Did you know the 1965 game, the final one at Hayward Field, ended in a brawl?
• Did you know the game’s trophy — the Platypus Trophy — is an obscure and interesting part of the rivalry?
It’s been a somber year for the Pac-12. The 108-year-old conference failed to get a media rights deal. The other conferences and their TV partners poached it like a bunch of buzzards. Maybe the Civil War ends someday, but I had a hard time accepting that 2023 would see the death of this historic rivalry, too.
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