You will never meet a better guy than Oregon State head coach Mike Riley. In a coaching profession filled with snake oil salesman and clowns, Riley is the kind of guy that restores your faith in the profession. Putting football in its proper perspective is an institutional ideal at BYU. When you see a guy like Riley succeeding in Corvallis, doing it the right way, you can't help but feel endeared.
Bronco Mendenhall played defensive back for Oregon State and later coached the Beavers. He commented on how Corvallis taught him how important worth ethic was and how difficult it was to win football games. While Riley was never in charge at OSU with Mendenhall on staff, the decade-tenured head man instills a similar hard-nosed, just find a way to win attitude. Riley and Mendenhall are now friends and their programs are analogous.
And there's more:
36% of Oregon State fans align themselves with the Republican Party, compared to just 21% that do so with the Democratic Party. 51% of BYU fans align with the GOP; 13% with the Democrats. Oregon State's rival, Oregon, is the opposite ideologically. The same can be said for BYU's rival, the University of Utah. Also, both Oregon and Utah have been to multiple BCS games in the past 10 years, while the Beavers and Cougars have not.
Mike Riley coaches and calls the OSU's offensive plays; Bronco Mendenhall does the same with BYU's defense.
Corvallis and Provo are similar in their socio-economic make-up as well, with one notable exception: Corvallis was rated as the least religious county per capita in America. I am going to go out on a limb and say that Utah County is, uh, NOT Corvallis in that aspect.
Oregon State is the only public school in America that is recognized as a land, sea, sun, and space grant institution. BYU places heavy emphasis on undergraduate research and is a Top 100 university according to U.S. News and World Report.
Each program wins with grit, determination, and scheme. Many have wondered how BYU would perform if faced with the weekly grind of a BCS conference schedule. 2013 and beyond might answer that question without the necessity of conference affiliation. It is an interesting thought-experiment, nonetheless. I think BYU would be similar to Oregon State. The Beavers have been a consistent bowl team under Mike Riley, only falling under .500 when a slew of injuries or graduations come at inopportune times. The Beavers are always tough as home, and rarely go a season with scoring an upset.
Similarities do not equate identical make-up, and comparisons can only go so far before they become unusable. BYU and Oregon State will play for the third time in four years on Saturday. When the clock strikes zero at Lavell Edwards, I will go back to being an Oregon State fan. In more ways than not, the Beavers are the closest thing to BYU in the Pac-10.
NOTE: (Yes, this is an intentional use of the term Pac-10)