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Apple Cup revolt: It's time for UW, WSU to join forces

Some genius scheduled this year's Apple Cup for the Friday after Thanksgiving. In Pullman. When all of the students are home for Thanksgiving break.
Coach Steve Sarkisian and his team

Coach Steve Sarkisian and his team Photo: Flickr user Neon Tommy

Scroll down for "Two Minutes with Thiel," an exclusive video segment from Crosscut contributor Art Thiel. 

Whichever genius thought that playing the Apple Cup in Pullman at noon the day after Thanksgiving was a good idea, has to have been the the same guy who invented burlap underwear.

How oblivious, dimwitted, insensitive, reckless and addled. How did this person avoid being a contender for the Republican presidential nomination?Description: http://sportspressnw.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif

In the 104 previous meetings between Washington and Washington State, there have been moments glorious and grotesque (I'm thinking here of ex-UW athletic director Barbara Hedges being beaned by airborne dog poop), words profound and profane, and lots of splutter and fulmination.

But never in the state's longest-running cultural tradition (admittedly a modest list) has there been a planned idea so devoid of even a sub-atomic particle of sense.

Hey, Pac-12 Conference and your infernal network — IT'S THANKSGIVING WEEKEND! THE STUDENTS ARE ON HOLIDAY! SCHOOL'S CLOSED! ABOUT 42 PEOPLE OTHERWISE LIVE IN PULLMAN, AND THEY CAN'T TAKE IN GUESTS BECAUSE THEY ALREADY HAVE CELLMATES! AND THE CROSS-STATE NIGHT DRIVE FROM SEATTLE IN LATE NOVEMBER MAKES THE PARIS-TO-DAKAR RALLY LOOK LIKE THE DRIVE-THRU LINE AT WENDY'S!

Back to lower case. I realize that the safety and comfort of fans who enjoy supporting the state's biggest, best annual event with their ticket-buying money and full-throated passion in the stands are of minuscule concern relative to the financial majesty of the Pac-12 Network, the demon spawn of the unholy alliance between big-time colleges and big-time sports networks.

So . . . why not just turn the game into arena football? Play it indoors in August, midweek, 5,000 seats at $1,000 per, and 67-56 final scores (oh, wait, that was the Alamo Bowl last year; but you get the point). The nets need the filler, y'know?

Look, I get the part about the value of the windfall that came to the Pac-12 this year — $3 billion over 12 years, mostly from ESPN and Fox, the latter of which will televise the Apple Cup nationally. That's more than $20 million per year per school at a time of financial crisis for many schools, plus the exposure. I get it.

But that doesn't have to mean everything is surrendered to the nets that dictate to the conference office. Much deserved praise has come the way of Commissioner Larry Scott for the deal's significance. But, fergawdsakes, he didn't have to give away Grandma and the dog.

I hope WSU AD Bill Moos and his UW counterpart, Scott Woodward, privately waged a ferocious battle to avoid the sellout, and remain silent only because the code of omerta bears upon them when joining a gang, mob or cartel. I doubt they battled much, but I can't expect them to accept the risk of a bloody mascot head in their bedsheets.

When asked about the sellout, everyone around both schools just seems to shrug: "It's what the network wants." Well, wait a minute. Each school's president, board and athletic director agreed to terms and conditions. It wasn't like the imposition of Pac-12 martial law, or anything.  

I asked Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian this week if, after the season, he was sufficiently annoyed — and he is annoyed — with the dictates of TV that he would offer his opinion that something needs to be changed.

"I don't know what I get out of doing that," he said.  "I can control what we do, the way we practice, the way we prepare and I guess what we wear. I can't control what time we play, where we play, who the officials are. I can't control that stuff. And so I try not to waste too much time or my energy."

I understand that, but I don't agree with it. I imagine every one of his Pac-12 coaching colleagues (except Jeff Tedford at Cal, who doesn't have to care any more) is privately steamed. If, instead of rolling over, all 11 took a stand, it would get a sports nation's worth of attention.


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 1:32 a.m. Inappropriate

I do not understand why Art is so angry with the Pac-12 schedulers. They are only doing the bidding of 12 universities that make up the conference - it has long been all about the money. Why should the UW care that this years Apple Cup is inconveniently scheduled for the students? After all students do not have much money (especially after paying tuition) and the UW has already indicated what it thinks of student support by confining future generations of students to the worst seats in the end zone in the revamped Husky Stadium (or does it now have a corporate name).

I am glad Steve Sarkisian did not complain about the TV-driven schedule since it would be hypocritical of him to do so. He and his fellow coaches would not be paid so handsomely if it were not for the TV revenues.

WSDW

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 8:15 a.m. Inappropriate

"fergawdsake" - I have a new word for scrabble.

Couldn't agree more about the scheduling. And add to it that WSU scheduled Dad's weekend last week, 5 days before the westside kids come home for the holiday. And they showcase pullman in November. Not exactly a chamber of commerce time to visit. Again for the bucks. Nothing else would be happening in Pullman that weekend if dads weren't forced to make the trip. What ever happened to the "customer comes first".

g

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 9:28 a.m. Inappropriate

Here here Art, well done. The middle of November frequently seems to bring on ugly weather . What about moving the Apple Cup to earlier in the season? There is nothing but silly sentiment that places this game at the end of the season. Oh and yes, the students should have seats in the middle of the stadium. If it were not for the students there would be no college football. The arrogance ok the UW athletic department the university administration in general knows no bounds. Consigning the student body to the end zone is simply not justifiable. Let's not forget that earlier this week the Seattle Time published a gushing and glowing profile of the admissions director and his "holistic" approach. Apparently, after the perfect student is admitted the UW does not care one iota about it's students so long as they pay their tuition. Ask UW students how easy it is to get the courses they need? Ask them how much they owe in student loans after graduation? It appears that we are loosing sight of the fact that public institutions of higher education are here for the students. If intercollegiate sports are part of the mix the students come first. Scheduling the Apple Cup in the middle of a long holiday weekend is simply stupid.

bartlet

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 12:31 p.m. Inappropriate

"Consigning the student body to the end zone is simply not justifiable" The visiting teams at Husky Stadium are always consigned to the ends of the Stadium, either the west end for most visiting teams, or both the west and the east endzone bleachers for rivalry games such as the Cougs, OSU, or orygun(displacing those of us who have been sitting there since Warren Moon was a pup).
The decision by the Pac-12 Network to put the Apple Cup this Friday was stupid and short-sighted: it's not like the UW and WSU are less than an hour away from each other, like the California and Oregon schools. Of course, the Pac-12 is also the conference that has decided to place its basketball tournament in a state where the conference doesn't do business. I really have to wonder what kind of back-handers the conference brass got for that move: of course they're getting comped rooms and meals wherever they stay, and I would assume meals and "companionship" are thrown in.
A 730PM game, followed by 1030PST, followed by 1230PST FRIDAY? You know what they say, "If they start moving you around, don't send out your laundry". It's obvious that the Pac-12 honchos don't give a crap about the NW schools, or their fans- the people who have been paying their inflated salaries for years.
It's bad enough that ISP/IMG Sports have carpetbagged its way into our midst, forcing ignorant, out-of-town "announcers" down our throats, but the SoCal-dominated PAC-12 Network is a complete joke, with sub-par commentators providing nearly worthless coverage. (However, I am rooting for USC this weekend, after the heresy of rooting for the U of Zero last week)

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 1:10 p.m. Inappropriate

Blame the scheduling on so-called bipolars, maybe an instate replica of Jesse Jackson Jr. and/or James Clapper, as it must obviously be due to some secret slush fund of money siphoned off somewhere similar to the Kansas Jayhawks ticket scandal last year which resulted in numerous federal felony convictions. Or, let's blame the anti-Muslim guy with the inflammatory video that nobody saw. Always follow the money.

animalal

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 2:02 p.m. Inappropriate

Thank you Art. I too wondered aloud what the Pac-12 idiots in San Francisco were thinking when they scheduled this game. If they can't schedule games more than a week out or have most of the late season games during the day, I for one don't see any reason to attend Husky football games anymore.

It may be all about the TV money but then why are we spending $250 million on renovating Husky Stadium when a really big studio would have sufficed?

fred117

Posted Mon, Nov 26, 12:40 p.m. Inappropriate

So how did that Pullman experience work out for you Art?

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