They may not be as flashy as that team from Eugene with the seemingly endless array of uniform combinations, but the Oregon State Beavers aren’t really worried about how they look. They’re way more concerned with whether or not they’ll win the next Civil War, the annual gridiron battle that has divided loyalties in the Beaver State since 1894. The boys in Orange and Black wrestled victory away from the University of Oregon the very first time the two schools met, and as the years have gone by, they’ve strived to duplicate that thrilling triumph time and time again.
Football first debuted on the Corvallis campus in 1893, but highlights were few and far between during those early days (aside from vanquishing the Ducks in their inaugural rivalry showcase). The Beavers earned a hard-fought win on the Rose Bowl stage in 1941, but any semblance of consistent success was still years away. Head coach Tommy Prothro manned the sidelines from ‘55 to ‘64, and in his time, produced a few shining moments. In both ‘56 and ‘64, he guided OSU to an appearance in the Rose Bowl, as well as a finish in the top ten of the national polls. Prothro is also fondly remembered in the Pacific Northwest for being the one who directed Terry Baker during his incredible Heisman winning campaign in ‘62.
In ‘67, the Beavers were dubbed the “Giant Killers” after they downed three opponents ranked in the top five in a single month, but their 7-2-1 record wasn’t enough to secure a postseason berth, and it was all downhill from there. From ‘71 to ‘98, OSU registered zero winning campaigns, and predictably, no bowl showings either. However, the new millennium provided the fresh start that the Beavers sorely needed. In 2000, the squad posted a record of 11-1 and booked a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, the first BCS bout in school history.
While there have been struggles on the gridiron, the OSU men’s basketball program has been able to alleviate some of the suffering felt by fans. Over the course of their proud history, the Beavers have had the good fortune of being steered by not one, but two Hall of Fame coaches: Armory “Slats” Gill from ‘28 to ‘64 and Ralph Miller from ‘70 to ‘89. Gill orchestrated two Final Four runs during his tenure, while Miller nabbed AP Coach of the Year honors twice while leading OSU to eight NCAA tournament appearances. In 2013, a Beaver player finally joined the two celebrated play-callers in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame when point guard Gary Payton was inducted after a stellar career in the NBA.
He may wear a zero on his oversized jersey, but Benny Beaver is definitely the #1 fan of OSU athletics. This eager mascot is a welcome sight at both Reser Stadium and Gill Coliseum, where he doles out high-fives and hangs out with his thousands-strong family of devoted supporters. Together, they belt out the words of the alma mater, “Carry Me Back To OSU,” while imploring the Orange and Black to capture the victory that is at hand.