Oregon State doesn't have a football identity. It's in the Pac-12 and has been since 1964, but that's primarily been the extent of its history.
Oregon State is just there.
It plays its scheduled games against its conference opponents, and then just goes its merry way.
It won a conference title during that first season in the Pac-12 (then called the Athletic Association of Western Universities) and didn't win another one until 2000.
A blind squirrel is going to find a nut once in a while, and a hapless beaver is going to gnaw down a tree from time to time, but if Oregon State wants to find an identity moving forward,on Monday provides the program with the opportunity to do so.
I have been arguing for years that the have-nots of the Power Five conferences need to swallow their pride and face reality. Admit that you aren't going to be able to compete consistently on the same level as the powerhouse programs who share your home.
Run the dang option.
Look at what it's done for Georgia Tech in the ACC. Tech is a program rich in history, but most of the glory days came before the Korean War. When Georgia Tech joined the ACC in football in 1982, it had been 30 years since its last national title. The results were mostly mediocre at first, but in 1990 Tech won another national title under Bobby Ross (it was a split title, as the Jackets finished No. 1 in the Coaches Poll, but Colorado was No. 1 in the AP Poll). Ross left for the NFL two years later, and Tech began the process of going through some coaches, most of whom brought average results. George O'Leary had things headed the right direction, but then left to take the Notre Dame job. A job he held for a few days before everybody realized O'Leary had copied off somebody else's resume.
Chan Gailey replaced O'Leary and was mediocre for six years before Georgia Tech made a brilliant move. It hired Paul Johnson away from Navy, and Johnson's flexbone offense has made Tech a consistent factor in the ACC for the first time since joining the conference. In nine full seasons, Johnson has won an ACC title and four division titles. He's gone 44-30 in the ACC during his tenure.
Now, if Georgia Tech, a program with an actual football history and national titles can run the option, why can't other Power Five programs?
Running the flexbone, Paul Johnson has had one losing ACC record in nine seasons in Atlanta. Oregon State has had one winning season in the Pac-12 since 2010, and that came in 2012.
If Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech's success aren't enough, look at what Navy has done since joining the American. No, the American isn't a Power Five conference, but Navy is an option team that entered the AAC in 2015 and has gone 17-2 in 19 conference games since.
At Air Force, Troy Calhoun has gone 45-37 in the Mountain West, playing in nine bowl games over the last 10 seasons.
The idea that an option team cannot win in a major conference is a fallacy.
Oregon State is the perfect example of a Power Five team that needs to realize this.
There isn't a great football history at the school, and there's nothing to suggest one is coming if Oregon State continues along the same path it has always been on. Not only is it in a state without a ton of high school talent available, but it's one of two schools in that state, and the other one has the finances of Nike behind it. Oregon State is never going to compete with Oregon if it tries to play the same game, let alone other Pac-12 schools.
But if it goes to the option, the Beavers will give themselves an advantage they don't currently have.
The option is different. It's difficult for opponents to prepare for, particularly when they only have a week to do it. It's also a system that doesn't need superior athletes to be effective. That's precisely the kind of system a program like Oregon State, which rarely has a recruiting class that ranks in the top 50 nationally, or even in the top 10 of its conference.
I understand that there will be some desire to bring Mike Riley back to Corvallis for the third time should he become available, but it would be the absolute wrong move for the Beavers to make.
Instead, they should be going after guys like Ken Niumatalolo or Troy Calhoun. Go after a Willie Fritz or give Jeff Monken a call.
Just find a coach that can run the option and give your program an identity.
Dare to be different than everybody else, Oregon State. Dare to matter.