So we all saw the comments from Scott Woodward, UW AD, over their failure in Olympia to secure taxpayer dollars towards their $300 million dollar renovation. For a refresher, Woodward said he held out "remote hope" that something could be done, but knew they were up against it.
"How do you lay off teachers and cut back on programs and then build a stadium?" Woodward said Monday in commenting publicly on the bill's failure for the first time. "That was the psychological disconnect that a lot of people had a hard time getting around and I understand that wholeheartedly."Fair enough. The guy understood that times are tight, and politically this was going to be an extremely hard sell. But he didn't stop there. When asked about the loud, mouthy WSU alums who had the audacity to actually speak out against UW's request of using taxpayer funds towards their massive renovation? "It was just an irritant, that's the best way to put it."
I'm sure it was irritating. Irritating, as would any individual or group when they complain to the legislature that they oh, I don't know, might want to second-guess handing over dollars for what would become a single-purpose facility, hosting six or seven events a year? But it's understandable that Woodward would be irritated. I was irritated, and I'm a WSU guy!
But then, something happened. Instead of taking the high road and ending it there, Woodward lashed out at Jim Sterk and Elson Floyd. "The most disappointing thing about it is that [WSU president] Elson Floyd and [WSU athletic director] Jim Sterk didn't do anything to try to contain that little group of Cougars that were out there doing that. It was a shame that they didn't show leadership or courage to curtail something like that."
Think Jim Sterk took this lying down? He didn't. Per Grippi yesterday evening, Sterk responded to the call-out:
“It was so inappropriate that I laughed, basically,” Sterk said Tuesday. “I could not believe those comments were coming from him. One, to me as athletic director but then, two, to the president of the university.”
Does it even need to be said?? IT IS SO ON! But there was more, much more.
Washington State made a decision to not get involved in light of the financial stresses on a state legislature dealing with a $9-billion deficit.
“WSU felt it was not appropriate for the institution, for us to ask for any stadium support during this legislative session,” Sterk said. “The legislature and the governor, they were already facing all the significant challenges of the economic crisis. So that’s why we didn’t take a position.
“When the economy improves and if the legislature and the governor change their minds on stadium funding, as long as it’s fair to both institutions, WSU would join UW in the discussions.”
There's more in the article, so we highly encourage you all to check it out.
Obviously this is a WSU blog. So can you guess what our reaction would be to all this?? But even taking the view from 10,000 feet, it's clear. Sterk was right all along, and he's right again here. It was always in WSU's best interests to stay out of the way on this one. The university was right in the idea of watching how this whole thing plays out, and then, act accordingly. If UW gets access to the treasure trove of tax dollars, well, you can bet Elson Floyd and Jim Sterk will be running up the steps in Olympia, plans in hand, ready to ask for help. Until then, things will proceed as normal, with private donations as the backbone of our renovation.
Sterk's comments were direct, to the point, and most importantly, STILL ABOVE THE FRAY. He clearly had a chance to return some nasty fire over the Cascades, yet chose to do what he's done all along. He responded, yet still refused to get in the mud. And you know what happens when you mud wrestle with a pig? You both get dirty, and the pig is happy. It just isn't worth it. BRAVO JIM STERK!
Moving on, hey, remember the photo contest? Well, we're down to the LAST COUPLE OF DAYS OF VOTING. We're up to around 300 votes right now, and it's pretty tight...
"Mama Sledge", the mother of rising Coug linebacker Mike Ledgerwood, has a slight lead over "Devard Daaaughling". But "Bone the Dawgs" is lurking, just a few votes back. Polls close at 11:59 PM tomorrow, April 30th. Check out the link for the finalists, and keep voting. Good luck!
Lost in all the fray over stadiums, dollars, etc, was Grippi's STRONG spring wrap-up for WSU football. Grippi looks at each position, and weighs in with his "Player to Watch", "Unanswered Question", "Time to Step Up", and "What the coordinator said". It's a really good wrap on a spring that, let's face it, didn't go according to plan. Not when there were so many freakin' injuries. I guess the good news is that it doesn't appear that any of the nicks and cuts suffered by so many players weren't of the season-ending variety. At least in April, it looks like most of the guys who were out will be ready to go by August. But we'll see about that.
The most encouraging thing is that, according to Chris Ball in Grippi's article, the culture is starting to take. Proof of that could be the big change in so many players' weights, showing that the hard work in the weight room and at the training table was starting to mesh:
“We’ve instilled our culture,” defensive co-coordinator and associate head coach Chris Ball said. “With instilling our culture, the kids understand what to expect out of practice. When we come out here and coach, we’re coaching ball, not coaching how to run on-and-off the field. They’re doing that stuff.”
Sounds like light-years from last year, where they were so far behind they were teaching players how to get into a proper three-point stance?? And as Grippi has said on a few occasions while freezing his behind off for many practices....the team is, in fact, more physical, something we never heard last season. Physical in football is VERY, VERY GOOD! But they still have a full fall camp to survive. August is going to be hot and intense. Let's hope they save some in the tank for Stanford in early September, and beyond??
Finally, we are hopeful the fund-raising idea can get finalized in the next couple of days. We will have an update for you, of some kind, probably on Friday. Until then, enjoy your Wednesday, and GO COUGS!