Moos leaves door open on future Seattle games

SPOKANE – Another blowout loss in the annual Seattle "home" game left many Washington State football fans steaming, even if they were soaked to the bone during Saturday's 55-17 loss to No. 5 Stanford at CenturyLink Field. WSU athletic director Bill Moos has been a strong supporter of the Seattle games, but Monday on his weekly radio show he left the door open to keeping all home games in Pullman.

"I've said all along if our fans are going to pack Martin Stadium week in and week out regardless of who we're playing, I'll take under consideration down the road," Moos said. "But right now, we're trying to keep our budget solvent.

"Even with the crowd that we had – around 40,000 in Seattle – that's 7,000 more fans than we can get in Martin Stadium. That equates to about half a million dollars."

Moos said the Cougars made "a good profit" at Saturday's game. The rain-soaked crowd of 40,095 was the smallest the Cougars have drawn since moving one game a year to Seattle (except for 2010) in 2002.

The football game is the centerpiece to an entire week of fund-raising and other WSU activities in the Puget Sound that extend beyond athletics. The majority of WSU students and alumni live in Western Washington.

"There's that debate about whether we should be playing in Seattle or not," Moos said. "We've discussed that. I've given the reasons for it. We are going to play there next year. That cannot be compromised. We open the season with Rutgers on Labor Day weekend.

"I think that could draw well. We can count on, I think, good weather. You should be able to count on some decent weather in September, anyway."

Moos said WSU will play six games in Pullman next season, including all their Pac-12 Conference home games. Moos had once planned to play conference games with Oregon or Oregon State in Seattle every year.

The Cougars drew more than 61,000 in Seattle for Nevada in 2002 and Oregon last year.

"We heard a lot of complaints a year ago, and we had 61,000 there on a real good (weather) day," Moos noted.

After winning five of their first six Seattle "home" games, the Cougars have lost five in a row by a minimum of 18 points. The WSU Athletic Department lost a record $6.6 million last year.

"We're trying to establish our budget, trying to grow it," Moos said. "It can't all be done with the TV money. We have to have people in the seats regardless of where we're playing. We need to have people supporting the program through the CAF (Cougar Athletic Foundation) and season ticket sales."

THE COUGARS LEARNED Monday that the sold-out Dad's Weekend game with Oregon State will be held at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2 or ESPNU. That will be the third night game in WSU's first four home dates.

Moos said he prefers 1 p.m. kickoffs. He acknowledges that fans are "frustrated" throughout the country with schedules dictated by television, but he notes that the Pac-12's $3 billion deal with ESPN and FOX makes it possible to televise every Washington State football game.

"The more exposure, the better," Moos said.

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