It is being reported that a shakeup is coming to the 2024 Texas Tech football schedule and many Red Raider fans are wondering what the payoff for their program is. Oregon sports radio personality John Canzano (who is rather well-connected when it comes to all things to do with West Coast college football) is reporting that Tech has agreed to play at Washington State next season instead of at Oregon to allow Oregon and Oregon State to continue their annual rivalry, which is unofficially known as the “Civil War”.
Originally, the Red Raiders were set to face the Ducks in Eugene, Oregon on September 7th next season. Of course, that is a return game from Oregon’s visit to Lubbock this season.
Now, if this report is true (there has been no confirmation from either university), Tech would assumedly make the trip to Pullman, Washington on either September 7th or 14th instead. However, many fans are wondering if that move is wise for the Red Raiders.
Oregon is one of the marquee programs in the nation and playing them is an opportunity for any team to make its mark. Remember that the Red Raiders’ game against the Ducks this year was nationally televised on FOX and it drew considerable national attention.
What’s more, plenty of eyes will be on the Ducks next year as they play in the Big 10 for the first time. On the other hand, no one knows what will become of Washington State.
The Cougars are one of two teams (along with Oregon State) to be left without a conference home after the latest round of conference realignment left the PAC-12 essentially defunct after this season. Thus, taking on WSU will no longer be considered a “Power 5” matchup (though that term is about to be antiquated next year thanks to the end of the PAC-12’s existence as we know it).
Rather, Washington State will be viewed more like a Mountain West program. Therefore, is this trip going to be held in the same light as Tech’s week-one trip to Wyoming this past September?
Obviously, that loss left a sour taste in the mouths of Texas Tech fans, and more importantly, Texas Tech football decision-makers. In fact, there are rumblings that Tech might stop the practice of playing road games against non-major conference opponents altogether as a result of the debacle in Laramie.
With a deal in place to play half of their 2024 schedule against Moutain West teams, it is going to be hard for Washington State to avoid being viewed as anything but a mid-major program. Thus, the opportunity to face Texas Tech makes perfect sense for the Cougars.
They will have a chance to prove they still matter in the grand scheme of things by beating a Big 12 opponent and that game will likely be one of, if not the, biggest home game on their schedule bringing some excitement to a fan base that has to be rather disappointed in where its program sits in the current NCAA landscape.
For Tech, the benefit is hard to find. Sure, Washington State should be more beatable than Oregon but to start to shy away from playing top-end teams is a bad practice, especially for a program looking to climb back to relevance on a national scale.
What’s more, Tech fans will be far less interested in a game at Washington State. Many Red Raiders had been planning for years to make the trip to Eugene next season (myself included) but how many are going to be just as pumped to head to Pullman instead? Not many.
Also, it seems strange that Tech is willing to simply swap road games instead of insisting that Washington State comes to Lubbock next season. That trade-off would have given some extra juice to a home schedule that will not have Texas or Oklahoma on it.
When (or if) this move is announced by Texas Tech, it will be interesting to see if there is some financial compensation from Oregon. Other than that, there seems to be no discernable reason for Tech to facilitate this move.
Does Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt simply believe in helping Oregon and Oregon State keep their rivalry alive out of the goodness of his heart and his fondness for traditional college football rivalries? Is he afraid to send his team to Eugene next year? Those are questions Texas Tech fans want answered.
Hopefully, Hocutt and the football program will explain why this decision makes sense for the Red Raiders. Sure, keeping the “Civil War” alive is good for college football as a whole but it does nothing for Texas Tech.
That’s why this move is a bit strange. In a sport that is increasingly centered around each individual university’s own self-interest, Tech is making a decision that seems to benefit three other programs more than it benefits the Red Raiders. Regardless, the Red Raiders appear ready to bend over backward to help the Ducks, Beavers, and Cougars. It’s a strange development and one that Hocutt or McGuire will need to explain to the fan base.