What a time to be an Oregon State Beavers football fan. The wins just keep on coming. First, the Beavs are two score favorites in the Las Vegas Bowl over Florida in what would be the program’s first-ever win over an SEC program. Second, the Beavers have a chance to complete just their third 10-win season in program history if they can pull off the win. They had shown recent success against rival Oregon, including the dramatic comeback win just a few weeks ago. The Beavers have also beaten UO two out of the past three meetings, which hasn’t been done since OSU won three of four from 2004-2007. But potentially the best news of the season for OSU locking in head coach Jonathan Smith to a new six-year and $30.6 million deal.
Smith, who is starting to be recognized as potentially the most underrated coach in all of America, has rebuilt OSU’s program. From 2015 through Smith’s first year, 2018, the Beavs were the bottom feeders of the Pac-12. Oregon State won a combined eight games over the four seasons and never came close to bowl eligibility. The rebuild wasn’t instant, but Coach Smith has now guided the Beavers to back-to-back bowl births and, as mentioned earlier, a chance at a ten-win season. He was also recently named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, an award he split with Kalen DeBoer from Washington. From eight wins in four seasons to at least sixteen in the past two, things are clearly trending up in Corvallis.
But it’s not just the winning on the field; momentum is also being felt off the field. The $161 million renovation to Reser Stadium is due to be completed by kickoff of the 2023 season, bringing yet another charge of momentum into the program.
Considering the recent momentum and stadium upgrades, it’s easy to see why OSU needed to keep Smith around. But Beaver fans have every right to expect even greater things in the coming years. With USC and UCLA’s departure from the Pac-12 and the College Football Playoff growing from four to twelve teams, Oregon State and all other conference members have a much higher possibility of reaching the CFP. It’s not crazy to suggest that with the current rise of the program, the Beavers could be playing in the CFP within the next five years.
Imagine saying that just a few years ago, but now it’s not out of the question whatsoever. Critics might say OSU might have already reached its ceiling under Smith, and heck, they might have a point. The history of this program suggests just that. But the Beavers also have never had so much momentum behind their program, and now they have a head coach who is bright, innovative, and motivated to win and stay put at Oregon State, his alma mater. Those are all things that have never been the case before him.