I remember when I learned Maryland was going to the Big Ten -- couldn't believe it. A charter member of the ACC leaving -- that felt like a lot. It was all money-driven, I said at the time -- I hate it, but I get it. As it turned out, it was a remarkably shrewd move when you look at the tens of millions more Maryland receives each year in revenue distribution.
It was hardly the end of the seismic change in collegiate athletics, but I wouldn't have imagined a conference road game at Oregon would ever be a thing. However, it will be next season when the Ducks, along with Washington, USC and UCLA, come to the Big Ten.
Their departures precipitated the death of a storied conference more than a century old. Last week in Las Vegas, Oregon vs. Washington was the last gasp for Pac-12 after dark. The reasons behind it were the same as why my alma mater left, but the ACC remains -- albeit an entirely different version of the one I grew up with. The "Conference of Champions" will be no more.
Thankfully -- not everything is dying with it. Before the Apple Cup this year, Washington and Washington State announced that their traditional game would continue through at least 2028. Wednesday, John Canzano reported the matchup formerly known as the Civil War will as well. The matchup between Oregon and Oregon State -- like the Apple Cup -- is a game the sport simply has to have. For all that is abandoned in the name of progress and profit -- rivalries and true generations-old battles must be maintained or the lifeblood of what makes the sport spectacular evaporates.
As Canzano wrote: "It took work." To that, I'd say the things in life worth having and keeping mostly do. The easy thing to do for a lot of schools and rivalries after a conference breakup is to throw your hands up and say -- I'm sure honestly -- it's too difficult, we can't make it work. In this instance as Canzano explained, it required the assistance of Texas Tech and Boise State to move games already scheduled to make the puzzle pieces fit.
They could have simply explained -- we don't want to. Or -- we do, but we're stuck -- so we're sorry. But that's not how it went. So the Ducks-Beavers series continues, and to those who did the work behind the scenes to ensure it will, I salute you.
From all the way on the other side of the country, a guy who's never seen the game in person and likely never will, it makes me smile to know the people to whom this game matters more than it should get to continue to enjoy it. It's worth the work required to preserve it for generations to come.