Saturday, April 18, 2009

At What Cost?

I'll admit it. I grew up a husky fan. Born and raised on the "coast" (as we call it over here on the side of the state that doesn't matter) and with no familial ties to ANY university, I was a husky fan.

I vaguely remember seeing bits of a Warren Moon-led uw team beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl and cheering along with all the adults in the room. I remember pretending to be Tom Flick as I lobbed wobbly Nerf football passes to my buddy Scott in the street in front of my house. I thought no one could run like Toussaint Tyler and surely no one could have a cooler name.

The first Apple Cup I ever remember was the epic 1982 clash. I was 12 at the time and knew absolutely nothing of the history of the rivalry to that point. Before this game, WSU wasn't even a speed bump on the seemingly annual husky road trip to the Rose Bowl. I watched the game on TV with my family in our basement. It was the first time I ever remember watching a sporting event of any kind with the whole family. We were all so sure the huskies would win that game...all of the boys anyway. Mama McBoob was the only one pulling for the undergog that day and we teased her mercilessly before the game. Father knows best, my ass. Without knowing it, we all witnessed the magic of Pullman, Washington for the first time that day.

Fast-forward a few years to my senior year in high school. I really never expected to go to college but (in what would turn out to be a fruitless effort to get laid for the first time) went ahead and applied to the same schools as my girlfriend. I'll never forget the day I pulled my old Jeep into the driveway to find Mama McBoob waiting anxiously for me on the front porch. She was holding a piece of paper in her hands and was jumping up and down as she proudly told me I had been accepted to WSU.

"Am I going?" I asked her, still not really sure of what my future held.

"You're damn right you are!"

The rest, as they say, is history. Among many others, I now have vivid memories of hearing the roar on campus that day during my freshman year in 1988 when the Cougs toppled #1 UCLA - and crying like a baby when I walked through the concourse tunnel on January 1, 1998 and saw the turf of the Rose Bowl painted Crimson and Gray. I now know that Shaumbe Wright-Fair could kick Toussaint Tyler's ass with both hands tied behind his back; and I throw perfect Nerf football spirals to Mini McBoob in the back yard: Bledsoe to Bobo-style. Win or lose, there's simply nothing better than being a Coug.

To the unwashed masses of purple-clad lemmings, we're hard to figure out and I suppose I can't blame them - afterall, I was one. There have certainly been far more downs than ups in the history of Cougdom but even so, we've all undoubtedly been at the butt-end of far too many bad jokes, jabs and insults from co-workers, friends and family who have either gone to "better" schools or consider themselves die-hard fans. We're used to it. We can handle it. But it gets old.

Pullman is our fortress. Only within its wheat field-armored walls can a Coug find strength in numbers. Within these walls we commiserate in defeat and rejoice in those wonderous moments of improbable victory.


From wherever we have landed after leaving Pullman with degree in hand, the drive "home" is always worth it - especially for Apple Cup. We get excited when we cross the Whitman County line. We get goosebumps when we see the glow of Bryan Clock Tower as we come down the hill into town. We get COCKY when it snows...and win or lose, we throw a pretty damn good party.

In the eyes of this born-again Coug, to remove the Pullman gameday experience from the Apple Cup would be an unspeakable tragedy. I can think of three - no, FOUR good reasons to keep the game in Pullman where it belongs: 1982, 1988, 1992... 2008. Keep the Apple Cup on our campuses!


video

Go Cougs! Go Pullman!

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Being a Coug that was born in Pullman and went to WSU I still remember when the home games came back home. Taking my expenrnce from listining to Bob-Rob to seeing it in real life at Martin. Going to every Apple Cup and bouncing between every tailgate (remember you can't tailgate at Quest!) that surrounds the field not because you knew them but because they offered to bring you in to their Coug circle. It makes me sick that my 3 y/o may have seen his last Apple Cup in Pullman sitting with Mama and Papa. It is something that can't be replaced. My parents will not travel for the game and I will not ether. Why pay an extra $1000 to get the family over the pass hotel rooms and feed them. I have also not heard one person say that this will be part of the Season ticket package. If it is I am sure that we will all get the chance to trade good seats and sit in the nose bleeds on the 5 yd line when in Pullman I sit in row 1 on the 30.

kaddy said...

Got a note back from Sterk this morning - he said the money would definitely allow Phase III to move forward, and help with other costs, such as tuition for student athletes. Nothing has been signed at this point, however.

Chris '04 said...

Not to rain on your blog-parade, but this is a 6-year deal, nothing more. That means we lose 3, no more no less, games in Pullman. Three. Think about it. Three.

We lose three games in Pullman and gain the immense rewards garnered from Phase three of the Martin Stadium renovation.

Qwest sucks for college games no doubt, but this is for three games.

And hell, the Husky's have more to lose. Most purple-and-golder's that I've talked with think this is the beginning of the end for Husky Stadium. They envision this as being a "test" to see how successful the move to Qwest could be. Think about what that would mean. In ten years, we may never ever have to step foot in Husky Stadium again. Think about it. Then think about the 3 games we gave up. Who wins? We do.

Anonymous said...

great story of how you were a husky. im at wsu now and i know exactly what your saying in making the switch. all of my friends rag on me when i go home but i dont care cause im a Coug baby and they will never know what thats like!!! anyways i would hate to play the game in the huskies back yard for the better half of a decade but it makes sense financially. im just upset i only got 1 apple cup in pullman and i was sick for it.

sedihawk said...

If Sterk is telling Kaddy the truth, and this deal means phase III is a reality, plus the other thingsto help w/ student athletes? And it's only 3 games lost in Pullman, meaning it DOES return when the contract ends? Then I understand it. I won't love it, but it's a means to an end. But it is the reality of the situation. If we had the donor levels adequate for the upgrade this never would have been on the table. But because we have been awful on the field and the money has slowed down off it, this is simply where we are. If we didn't need to do this, we wouldn't.

LouisianaCoug said...

Hate saying it, but people are foolish to think this is only going to be a 6 year endeavor.

Sure, best case we don't completely alienate our fan base and phase III gets built.

But then there will be pressure to extend the contract- maybe they offer 4 million instead of 2 million (or whatever tops the additional revenue that phase III would be bringing in).

Then Sterk would still be financially irresponsible for not renewing the contract. Its one hell of a slippery slope.

Travis said...

You know what really sucks, is that this takes hold on our year for the cup meaning that the next 8, even if it is only a six year deal take place in Seattle. That means that I'll be 32 before I see another Apple Cup in Pullman again. I can't even imagine my life that far out, but that definitely puts a huge damper on my willingness to donate once I graduate at the end of this year. This sucks the high hard one.

Anonymous said...

When they took the Nevada game away from Pullman it was one game for one year next thing you know it is 6 years later moving the Apple Cup.

Anonymous said...

In a Spokesman Review article tonight, Sterk says he has UNLV (big deal), Utah and WISCONSIN under contract to come to Pullman. If the extra revenue from the AC makes it feasible to offer guarantees big enough to bring schools like Wisconsin to Pullman some of the pain of this deal is dulled in my mind. I also think despite some great memories like the 92 AC and this years, there is potential for the Qwest game to be pretty damn fun. I will be shocked it it's not a sell out for 6 years straight.

Anonymous said...

My fuskie friends are pissed because it means the end of their tailgate parties and it may be a precurser to moving all their games into Quest instead of fixing their stadium. They aren't thinking of the home field advantage, mostly just the inability to park outside a rivalry game and get drunk with a few thousand rabid fans. I can sympathize.

Sucks for the E. WA fans for sure but it's pretty damn convenient for us Seattle Cougs, provided it doesn't cost 75 bones a ticket. They just better get the students front and center because it wouldn't be a proper rivalry game without the hardcore emotionality of the student section. Old, lazy Seattle alumni just can't cut it as screaming fans. In fact, nobody who can afford more than $50 a ticket should be visible anywhere within 10 rows of the field.

Anonymous said...

In the same Spokesman article Sterk mentioned playing Utah, Wisonsin etc. in Pullman, he said AC would be part of the student pass. I agree, they need to be on the field making noise. Since so many of them are from Western Wa., and those that aren't most know someone over there for a Thanksgiving road trip, I think there will be good student support for this game. 6 years folks. Try it,you may like it.

Sedihawk said...

I wonder what the other big OOC name teams had on their contracts before they bailed, like Ohio State? I remember all the speculation was that we would see them and Notre Dame at Qwest after playing out in Columbus in '02 and South Bend in '03. Yet Ohio State canceled. Now we're playing Notre Dame in San Antonio! Although this WSU-ND in San Antonio is just a one-time deal, not the back-end of our visit out there 6 yrs ago. Did the Notre Dame contract back then feature ND coming back out here at some point? I can't remember if it was and they canceled, or if it was just a one-time at ND?

Anyway, Sterk can talk about Wisconsin coming to Pullman....but I think we have to be in serious wait-n-see mode for that to happen. Utah and UNLV, sure, but an upper-division Big Ten team? I mean other than Illinois, what team on that level has actually come to Pullman in the modern era? Wisconsin has in fact traveled to smaller venues (UNLV a couple of years ago) so maybe they would be open to still come to Pullman. But it does seem like a stretch?

I sure hope it is a temporary solution. But what if, in 6 years, First-n-Goal comes back and says you know, this thing sold so many tickets and was such a boost to the local area, let's re-up for 6 MORE years, and we'll pay you even more, like 3 million per game/18 million over the 6 years. What would he say to that? No thanks, we're a superpower now that phase III is done and we now seat something like 40,000? Don't get me wrong, Phase III is beyond crucial to even stick in this conference, let alone take a step forward and actually move up a rung or two on the ladder. It's well-reported that the extra revenue from the new suites and luxury seating will match if not exceed the rest of the stadium revenue. But it's not like we'll suddenly become Oregon? I don't know.

Then again, we just might have to get used to the idea that Qwest is going to host the game, at least every other year. If Uw's stadium funding fails, they are either going to have to buck up their own $150 million to enhance husky stadium, or move to Qwest. I wouldn't want to try and raise $150 million today for a stadium renovation. The noise will get louder and louder for them to just move to Qwest. We'll see!

Anonymous said...

Putting aside tradition, home field advantage, getting phase 3 of martin stadium completed, etc - has anyone thought of the lost revenue to the city of pullman and surrounding areas(i.e. hotel, restaurant, bars, wsu bookie, souvenier sales, moscow hotels, and retail sales in general)??? Also, do we lose another home game a year when this goes to Qwest on our even year (like we already do losing a home game on the early season WSU qwest game)? If so, we are getting to the point where Pullman will only get 3-4 home games a year in a 12-13 game schedule.....do teams go to bowls with that kinda schedule? I can't think of any - sure seems like a major disadvantage to me/being setup to fail...not like this program needs more obstacles in its way to success.....so I guess what is the cost/benefit of 4 home games in pullman, 2 at qwest (with whatever $2M payout?), and no bowl game vs say 6-7 home games in pullman and possibly being in a bowl game (assuming we get a idaho and e.washington coming in)?.....yes my assumption is we will not make a bowl having so few true home games.....anyone know our home record over last 10-20yrs?....I bet it is over 55%.....so this is a big disadvantage and lost revenue and to me, making a deal with the devil which will keep the program down for the next 6+yrs......please do not do the deal....do not take away home games in pullman......we would be in a situation where we'd have to win 3-4 games outside of Pullman a year to be bowl eligible which is damn tough in the pac-10 for any team...also, lastly consider this deal will most likely cost CPW his job - will be next to impossible for him to succeed :(

OK those are my early sunday morning thoughts - hope I made a little sense here ;)

Billyblaze
Reno, NV

Anonymous said...

To those who have posted here saying your husky friends have objected to this idea... who are these supposed friends? Are you sure they are not just some people who like the Huskies and don't really understand the UW? What actual Husky fan is fearing this move to Qwest is a test to see how permanently moving the Huskies out of Husky Stadium will work?

I was born and raised a Husky. My father is an alumn of UW, I'm graduating from UW in June, and my younger brother is a Sophomore at UW. My family and I are well connected with other die-hard student and alumni UW fans, and I can tell you for certain that nobody is fearing the end of Husky Stadium, the original symbol of football in the state of Washington. It was here way before "Seattle sports," the wave was invented here, it is nationally recognized as one of the most beautiful college football venues, and there is just too long a history tied to the stadium. There is certainly no lack of rich and connected alumns who would not bring down the state of Washington before they see their beloved Husky Stadium being bulldozed. Is this really news?

From my understanding of the general opinions of Husky fans, most either really support this move to Qwest or don't care at all. The atmosphere here at the UW is that it's really only the sports writers who evoke the "tradition of college football" and quote a handful of Huskies to imply that even the "purple-n-gold" do not wholeheartedly agree.

Here's the thing...even as a diehard Husky, the Apple Cup is just not a great rivalry. Cougs show very random bursts of brilliance or competition, but they are just not at a level to be considered a rival of UW. I think this is the mentality a lot of UW fans have (especially students).

Cal and Stanford are legitimate rivals. They are similar in academics and athletics (for obvious reasons that do not need to be explained). UCLA and USC are also legit. Oregon and Oregon State are legit. Even Arizona and Arizona State can be argued as being legitimate rivals...

But, with emotions and loyalties aside, the UW and Wazzu just objectively do not compare.

Academically, the schools obviously cannot and do not compare. We are comparing a university that was ranked 17th and 19th best IN THE WORLD (according to two studies) to a tiny school out in the wheat fields of Eastern Washington that would barely compete with Bellevue Community College. Athletically, UW has a long and established tradition of winning and championships, in numerous sports. The Cougs have also won, but they are random and very few and far in between. Yes, all of these differences may be rooted in the fact that Wazzu is unfortunately based in Eastern Washington (an admittedly big disadvantage), but the point is this: To Huskies, Wazzu is a little brother with a chip on his shoulder, always swinging and missing because we can easily hold them at an arm's length. How is that a rivalry?

If you were a Husky, could you take the Apple Cup and this "rivalry" seriously?

Moving the Apple Cup to Qwest is great for Huskies. It is bad for Cougs. I do understand why you would be adamantly against this idea, but you Cougs are alone in opposing this move. I think it is definitely wrong to imply there are mutual opinions over on this side in opposing this Qwest idea.

Soze said...

Anonymous Husky, thank you for your opinion. Please drive-thru.

LouisianaCoug said...

Besides the absolutely retarded comment on academics and how it affects rivalry, I actually don't totally disagree with Anonymous Husky's comments on the rivalry.

As far as the little brother thing goes.. that's how WSU is viewed by UW fans, period. While I disagree with him saying its not a good rivalry, he is right that it is pretty much one sided.

Here's the real kicker IMO.. Just think about how different both schools would view this rivalry had we not Couged it in each of our three 10 win seasons (or even 2006 with a bowl on the line- that was a huge Coug it).

In our greatest era in school history, we still couldn't beat the one team I think all of us really wish we would have.

Can you blame them for not taking this rivalry more seriously?

And he's right, this move to Qwest is great for UW and is pretty much a dagger to our program.. That said, that Husky better have 150 million to donate or he needs to get used to seeing UW play at Qwest.

Anonymous said...

Anonydog, nobody is implying that this is the absolute end of husky stadium. But it could be the end of the funding you so desperately seek from state taxpayers, that's all. It is going to take a political hail mary to at this point, and with the incompetence at the state level, good luck.

And yes, SB 6116 is now out of senate committee. But it still faces a long climb before it's reality. And UW asking their own to raise money to make the improvements is going to be a chore in this ecomony, period. Even with all your millionaire tyee club members, you can agree there. If they didn't think they could get it from within, would they be down in Oly with their hands out?

But I honestly can't disagree with much of what you said though, at least in regards to the Qwest idea. Personally I was surprised that some of the opinions heard from UW were negative. How does it do anything other than benefit UW? The only downside from their point of view is if WSU fans really do fill half the joint in the year in which UW would have been hosting at husky staidum. Then any perceived home field advantage for UW is out the window. But that's really it. UW is even going to take home more than double they normally would receive if the game was played at home, all for going a few miles down I-5. Seems like a win to me.

kaddy said...

That husky just proved that uw isn't a "higher" institution, academically.