No, the program will not cease to exist next year, leaving behind only fond memories of beating North Carolina three times in Omaha en route to three national championships. For decades, and especially since the new millennium, Oregon State solidified itself as one of the best college baseball programs in the West and nationwide.
At a time when blue-blood powerhouses along the West Coast (Southern California, Cal State Fullerton, Pepperdine, and Cal) began to lose their footing amidst the growing popularity and success of college baseball in the South in the late nineties and early 2000s, Oregon State’s baseball program, under the direction of Pat Casey, was beginning their ascension into one of the most unnoticed peaks in college sports history
From 2006-2018, the Beavers won three College World Series championships, including back-to-back titles in ’06 and ’07. Oregon has the most of any program in that stretch since LSU’s ridiculous run, which included four championships in the previous decade. Oregon State, by far, has had the most success in that same time frame in the Pac-12.
Ah, yes, the Pac-12, a conference that will cease to exist at the end of the ’24 season. Some consequences surrounding the dissolution of an entire Power 5 conference over college football presented themselves almost immediately. The repercussions of prioritizing some things over others and choosing to disregard the ramifications decisions could have over other sports programs are now beginning to appear. Namely, the situation in which one of college baseball’s most storied programs is essentially homeless for 2025 and beyond.
UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Washington will compete in the Big 10 beginning next season. Colorado, Arizona State, Arizona, and Utah have also announced plans to leave the Pac-12 at the end of this season. They will compete in the Big 12. Stanford and California are leaving the Pac-12 to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference, with most of the teams in the ACC existing on the other side of the country.
What’s left of the Pac-12 are Oregon State and Washington State, with virtually no one to play but each other conference-wise in 2024.
According to an article from The Oregonian, Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes is focused on keeping the Beavers ‘relevant’ as a baseball program going forward. Baines aims to continue competing under the ‘Pac-12 Banner’. Options for Oregon State baseball include constructing a 2025 baseball schedule as an independent program, competing in the West Coast Conference, and competing as an affiliate program in the Big 12.
In the same article from Nick Daschel, Barnes expresses a stronger inclination toward the first option (constructing a 2025 baseball schedule as an independent program) over the other two alternatives.
Barnes is working with head baseball coach Mitch Canham to make it happen. Canham, a former Oregon State baseball player, was essential to Oregon State’s two championships from 2006 to 2007. Understandably, Canham wants to continue the excellence of the Oregon State program he helped build as a player.
Competing in the West Coast Conference (WCC), which boasts no College World Series championships since Pepperdine’s in 1992, would not accomplish that goal nor would that goal be achieved by competing in the Western Athletic, Big West, or Mountain West. The teams Oregon State would be playing would significantly lower their RPI.
In the case the Beavers do not absolutely destroy whomever they meet in any of those conference tournament championship games, their argument for an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament could be severely weakened by them playing in a soft conference.
As mentioned, Barnes and Canham are crafting a schedule to include opponents from other Power 5 conferences for 2025. According to The Oregonian, Oregon State will decide on the
future of baseball before the beginning of the 2024 season.
Despite the drama surrounding the future of Oregon State baseball, expectations for the Beavers’ success in 2024 remain characteristically high. Perfect Game released the first preseason college baseball rankings in 2024, and they have Oregon State in the top 10 at the No.9 slot. The Beavers are sitting ahead of 2023 College World Series participant Stanford(No.12) and UCLA(No.18).
Australian junior infielder Travis Bazzana is returning to Oregon State’s lineup for year three in 2024. In the 2023 season, Bazzana delivered an impressive performance - slashing .374 with 20 doubles and 11 home runs while also driving in 55 runs in 2023. Bazzana was also recently named a Preseason All-American per Perfect Game, with more honors certainly on the way for one of MLB’s top prospects.
Regardless of what the future holds for the Pac-12, it’s clear that Oregon State baseball’s legacy on the game of college baseball remains unchanged, and their story is far from over.
Edited by Sydney Rogers
Social media content created by Melissa Neglio