So here we are. Reaction pours in from all corners of the state. Is it safe to say that the majority view on the idea of moving the Apple Cup to Qwest is a really bad idea? A lot of comments, here and everywhere, more or less back that up. Today's article from Bud Withers shows that even true purple-blooded Husky fans don't like it. Mike Lude, the former AD?
"If I were still the athletic director," said the man who once was AD at Washington, "they'd have to do it over my dead body.
"It would be a tragedy."
I have to say I would think the UW fan base wouldn't be quite so hating on this. The game is just a few miles south of their campus, they don't have to travel to "the armpit of Eastern WA" in late November, as someone put it yesterday in comments, etc. And the finances, forget about it. To trade in a miserable trip to Pullman where they only take home a few hundred thousand, to now play in Qwest Field for upwards of $2 million? WHERE DO WE SIGN?? I thought there were many reasons that this is a major benefit to the purple-n-gold, but maybe not.
But, what did the powers-that-be expect the overwhelming response was going to be? We love it? I mean honestly, we are COLLEGE FOOTBALL FANS. College athletics are some of the most emotional athletic competitions on the planet. The NFL is intense, sure, and the NBA playoffs at least can get pretty hot. But there is more of a sense of "ownership" by students, alumni and just fans, at least in a lot of regions throughout this country, in NCAA athletics. There isn't a Steinbrenner or Nintendo in the ownership box. We believe (right or wrong) that WE are part owners of this thing. That WE are right there with them, doing the heavy lifting and carrying the torch for our respective institutions. We are the ticket buying public, we write checks for the athletic department, we buy the apparel, and most of all, WE are the butts in the seats!
So to rip the game out of the heart of both campuses to make some extra money? It's a little naive to think that the initial wave of fan reaction was going to be positive.
However it also must be said - not everyone hates this in the blogosphere. The lads at Cougcenter? They like it, to the point they sound like they are endorsing it. And after reading some of their arguments for the game, they do raise some decent points. They might be in the minority today, but they appear to be on the bandwagon.
Moving on, Grippi bellies up with his offering on the WSU reaction. The players don't sound real upset by it. But coach Wulff kind of goes around and around with it, but doesn't exactly hate it. In fact he likes the idea of a guaranteed bye with moving the game to after Thanksgiving in a twelve game schedule. But most of all, don't forget he's in the administration. He is all too aware of the bottom-line challenges that we are facing in the coming days.
In the same article, Grippi notes how Pullman isn't skipping down main street over this one.
In a more concrete development, the Pullman Chamber of Commerce sent an open letter to WSU athletic director Jim Sterk, stating the group was “astounded at the idea of moving the Apple Cup game to Seattle for the next 6 years,” and urging Sterk take into account “the broader economic and psychological impacts of moving this game out of town.”
The letter, signed by chamber president Tom Handy and executive director Tammy Lewis, cited Apple Cup economic impacts that, according to those surveyed, are for some, “double or triple the revenues they reap from a regular home game weekend.”
NOT IN LOVE WITH THIS. Not. One. Bit. And can you blame them? Punting double or triple the revenues they get compared to a regular game pretty much sucks for said college town. And let's face it, they don't (or won't) come from all corners of the state to watch New Mexico or SMU in Pullman, will they?
I talked to a good friend in Spokane last night, who is part of a key demographic of WSU eastern WA alums. A season-ticket holder for several years, in his late-30's, married with young children, a homeowner, and some disposable income living in Spokane. You know what his reaction was? Disgust. And if he was forced to buy a ticket for that game as part of his season ticket package, how fast can he get his tickets on Craigslist, Ebay, Stub-Hub or anything else for that matter?? To him, it is a sellout move by the administration and a big chunk of the season-ticket base in Spokane is feeling awfully betrayed by this.
In a down economy, we are all making tough choices with our discretionary income. Will something like this lead to some sort of backlash? Time will tell. While the financial carrot is awfully large in this, man, I would tread lightly when dealing with the biggest contingent of your fanbase - the eastern WA alums.
We'll see what happens in the coming days. It sounds like it could be announced soon, as in early next week.
That's it. ENJOY YOUR FRIDAY, and GO COUGS!