Bombshell: Cougs-Zags hoops series all done?

THE WEEKLY “Cougar Calls” radio program was filled with the standard collection of upbeat information about Washington State athletics Monday morning when Bill Moos dropped a bombshell near the end of the hour-long show.

“From what I’m hearing,” the athletic director said, “Gonzaga is looking to discontinue our series with them.”

The Bulldogs’ response? Not necessarily, but possibly.

“You have a series, and then it comes to an end,” Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said later Monday morning. “Then you’re in the discussions of, “Do we continue or not?’”

Roth said that’s true of all opponents, not just Washington State. The three-year contract between Gonzaga and WSU will be completed when the Bulldogs come to Pullman on Dec. 2.

Roth said strength of schedule, location and long-range scheduling plans enter into Gonzaga’s decisions on who to play. Roth said Gonzaga’s first priority for 2016-17 scheduling is “resume-building games.”

The Bulldogs and Cougars have played most years since 1907. WSU leads the all-time series 98-51, but Gonzaga has won four in a row and 13 of the past 16 meetings.

Moos, noting that coaches often handle much of the scheduling in basketball, said he has not spoken directly to Gonzaga representatives about continuing the series. Moos said he would leave that up to WSU coach Ernie Kent and Gonzaga coach Mark Few.

“We want to play them,” Moos stressed. “We want to keep that series going and the rivalry going. I think our fans really, really love the rivalry.”

OTHER NEWS COMING OUT OF THE RADIO SHOW TODAY:

  • Uri Farkas of the Cougar Athletic Foundation announced on the radio show that CAF membership grew by more than 600 the past two weeks during a fund-raising push. Membership now stands at 6,642, yet another record.

    “We’re not done yet,” Farkas said. “We’re going to keep pressing until we hit that magic 7,000.”

    Farkas said recent donations to the CAF ranged from the minimum $50 for membership to $10,000. Farkas said the CAF focused more than ever on making email contact with potential members outside the Northwest, “nationwide and worldwide.”

  • Moos announced the Oct. 17 homecoming game against Oregon State will kick off at 1 p.m. The Pac-12 Networks televises the game.

    “We expect a packed house,” Moos said.

  • Moos and Cougars radio broadcaster Jason Gesser spent much of Monday’s show discussing the many positives that came out of WSU’s 34-28 loss at No. 24 California on Saturday. However, both men bemoaned the lost opportunity to open the Pac-12 season with a road win over a ranked opponent.

    “We’ve got to win those kind of games,” Moos said. “We’ve talked about this before.

    “There’s going to be a lot of tight games in this conference. There’s going to be a lot more games that are going to come down to the wire.”

    Gesser said a “players-only meeting” might help the Cougars take the next step mentally. Gesser said coaches can only do so much with their motivational tactics.

    “Unless it comes from within the team, the team’s leaders, it’s not going to take grasp,” Gesser said.

    Next up for WSU is a Saturday contest at Oregon (3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). The Ducks have won eight straight against the Cougars, but UO starting quarterback Vernon Adams may be sidelined with a broken finger on his throwing hand. Adams’ backups have struggled.

    “They don’t have a Q (quarterback,” said Gesser, a former quarterback standout at Washington State.

    The Ducks (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) dropped out of the Top 25 when Utah blasted them 62-20 two weeks ago in Eugene. Oregon came in 26th in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll after winning 41-24 at Colorado without Adams. Oregon’s defense and special teams have been spotty.

    Oregon relies heavily on a running game spearheaded by Royce Freeman, who has rushed for 122.6 yards per game and 13 touchdowns. The Cougars held California to 79 rushing yards.

    “I continue to be impressed with what we’re doing defensively,” Moos said.

  • The Pac-12 bills itself as “the conference of champions,” and WSU fans can witness some of the nation’s best women’s volleyball and women’s swimming talent this weekend in Pullman.

    In volleyball, No. 14 Arizona takes on the Cougars at 6 p.m. Friday, followed by No. 6 Arizona State at 11 a.m. Sunday. The defending NCAA swimming champions of California come to town at 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday.

    WSU swimming coach Tom Jager pushed hard for more dual meets among Pac-12 schools, and to bring top teams to Pullman, when he left Idaho to take over the Cougars five years ago. The Cougars opened the season Sept. 25 with a 142-119 loss to Stanford. No swimming polls are out yet, but the Cardinal came in third at the NCAA meet last year.

    “We love swimming against these great teams,” Jager said, “because our athletes know we’re going to get better with every opportunity.”

  • The 20th-ranked WSU women’s soccer team snapped a 10-year, 10-match winless streak versus UCLA teams by knocking off the Bruins 4-2 Sunday at Lower Soccer Field.

    The match drew 1,305. The only larger crowd in WSU soccer history was 1,652 for UCLA in 2011.

    The Cougars visit Utah and Colorado this weekend.


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