To believe that the Beavers could benefit from the Ducks surge to greatness is counter-intuitive, but that does not necessarily mean the idea is false.
First off, let me give you some back story as to why I am even thinking about this notion.
Since the National Title game, I've been reading posts from Beaver fans stating that the line has been drawn in the sand, and moving forward in the Pac-12 OSU will have no chance to compete against Oregon. My first instinct was to agree with them, but before committing that to print something triggered the memory of a summer day in 1992. It is interesting to consider why this memory came to mind, and it is equally interesting that it appeared at all. But that is another story all together. The memory in question is seemingly harmless: my best friend bought a guitar.
You're probably wondering, "what the heck does that have to do with the Beavers or Ducks?"
But, you see, I had a guitar first, before my best friend. It lay in the corner of my room for two years, but I didn't practice a lick until my friend bought a $100 Fender knock off and began to play it fairly well. Then, suddenly, I felt the pressure of time; the anxiety of being left behind; the humility of being worse than a peer. These forces combined to make me practice diligently, and within months I was the better player.
Maybe now you can see where I am going with this anecdote? The Ducks surge could be beneficial for similar reasons.
The Pink Floyd song "Time" sums up the anxiety and pressure of frittering opportunity with one profound verse:
And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death
Beaver players surely feel the dread of their numbered days. The natural tendency, as in my guitar analogy above, is to fight twice as hard so neither time nor peers pass you by. I argue we may see this happen, as it is human nature, and human nature has a way of rearing itself.
Further, Oregon State can use the Ducks national cache to their advantage in the following ways:
1. Market Oregon as the new California. In other words, the "hip" state to play in. The Ducks are doing this as we speak, and if the Beavers are wise they will follow the lead and ride their coattails. Before T. Boone Pickens made Oklahoma State relevant, they used this tactic on Oklahoma.
2. Speaking of riding coattails, if the talking heads are gloating about Oregon, they're one slip of the tongue away from mentioning Oregon State. It's hard to talk about one without mentioning the other. Beaver recruiters and media should use the fact that the national spotlight is focusing on the State as a whole. How do they do this? Well, every recruit knows about Oregon's high power running attack. OSU's staff should be able to land top defenders who want the challenge and opportunity of stopping said offense on a national stage in the Civil War. That challenge is a selling point.
3. Phil Knight knows the Civil War rivalry is good for the state of Oregon and his university. If Oregon gets too far ahead, the game not only loses meaning, but Oregon's body of work would weaken. Knight is an Oregonian first and foremost. For this reason, expect him to help OSU in some way if things get ugly.
In closing, the Ducks rise could spell the downfall of the Beavers as many have predicted. But it could–via the dread and anxiety of passing opportunity–force the Beavers to rise to the occasion or perhaps even above it. If creative, Oregon State could theoretically use the Duck's 15 minutes of fame to recruit an all-world defense.
Will they do so? History says no. The Beavers are not outside the box thinkers nor are they salesmen. To use my guitar analogy above, they'd simply let the instrument lie in the corner collecting dust. Opportunity knocks once again, but is anyone in Corvallis listening?