Apple Cup at Qwest is a No-Brainer

Let me get this right - the Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars are being offered as much as $10 million each for six years to move their rivalry game to Qwest Field? That's an easy decision: Take the money and run. This whole thing has to be driven by the Cougs, who obviously have the most to gain by swapping their once-per-year non-conference game with a guaranteed sellout.

Considering that over 60 percent of their alumni resides in western Washington, it makes sense to move to Qwest as much for their fan base as for the money. Of course they will be giving up their home field advantage - with the constant threat of snow and cold weather at that time of year - but the trade off is well worth it because both teams will receive an equal number of tickets, estimated at 31,000 each.

Considering they only have 35,000 seats or so in Martin Stadium anyway, they would be stupid not to push this through. That stadium was originally built and then later refurbished with state money, by the way.

From a Husky standpoint, it is a positive for the Husky fans, the Husky players, and their administration. Playing the game on Thanksgiving weekend means they may be the only two conference teams playing, and not having to travel to Pullman will cut travel costs and eliminates a potentially dangerous (at that time of year) 500 mile round-trip for the team and 95 percent of their fans.

I can remember a couple of times in the Palouse when we went to bed the night before thinking it was pretty cold, but by morning it was snowing and a lot colder. Some of our players from Hawai'i had never seen snow before, so they would run around, catching snowflakes in their mouths like little kids.

No Husky can ever forget how miserable the 1992 Apple Cup was. The 'Snow Bowl' was miserable, and since we had locked up a bowl, our kids simply shut it down in the snow. Even the great Corey Dillon balked at running in the snow, and I can vividly remember freezing toes and fingers almost every year we played there.

Pullman is hard enough to get into and out of at that time of year - especially with only two lanes and a regular car, let alone charter busses. And flying out of Lewiston is just as treacherous because of the trip down Lewiston Hill. Most of WSU's students take an extended vacation over Thanksgiving anyway and often go home the weekend before. Besides, the majority live on the west side of the mountains, just like the alums do.

When I went to school in Pullman, it used to take us 8-10 hours sometimes just to drive one way to Seattle, and that was usually in the winter when we had to chain up. Of course we stopped along the way for refreshments but it still took the better part of one day. I marveled that my parents made close to 20 round trips over the course of my stay at WSU just to watch me play, and even this past year I couldn't believe how far the drive home was. That drive is significantly worse if you lose, by the way, and last year I had to ride back with Softy rocking Metallica, which made it even more miserable.

Now the downside for the Huskies: Washington loses their home crowd advantage when it is the host team because they usually only give the Cougars about 5000 or so tickets whenever they play in Seattle. UW stands to lose the most money in this deal but it is obvious the extra money made will help them keep the other 22 sports afloat. Considering the Cougars have the smallest athletic budget in the conference, funding a total of 15 sports, their share has an even bigger impact on their other sports.

I have never felt it was right for the Cougars to play a game in Seattle anyway, particularly if it conflicted with a UW home game. It would be like USC playing one of their games every year in the Bay Area just to get a recruiting advantage up there. Considering the Cougars already play one game a year at Qwest, why not just make it at the end of the season rather than at the start?

By playing their last game away from Husky Stadium, it could give Washington a jump on any remodel that could be in the works. There is also savings in not having to staff or manage their end of the Apple Cup. In fact, this money would definitely help both schools in their stadium projects.

Face it - money is the driving force here and neither school can afford to leave that much cash on the table. Because of that, this deal will most likely be done and at the end of the sixth year we will look back and say that it wasn't really all that bad.

This game is the biggest annual rivalry match-up in this state, and it's not even close. It shouldn't have to be dictated by money, but what the heck! Both schools need to fund their programs, and in today's economic climate it is like a gift from above. This deal seems too good to be true, and in my opinion it would be irresponsible for either athletic director to ignore the offer.

Steve Miller and I say...Go on, take the money and run … woo-hoo-hoo.


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