Sept. 29, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; A couple of Washington State Cougar fans hold up flags against the Oregon Ducks during the first half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
This is an argument ongoing among the Cougar faithful, but I wanted to address my thoughts on the Seattle Game and why it’s good for Washington State football. I know this probably isn’t going to change the view of the people that don’t like it currently, but there are plenty of reasons why it’s not only good, but important for the program overall.
- Recruiting Across the State of Washington
Say what you want, this is another feather in the cap of the coaching staff for a recruiting trip. Telling the recruits and their families that WSU will be over on the West side one to two times a year could mean all the difference in a recruit’s decision to attend WSU over UW. It might not be the biggest determining factor, but it definitely doesn’t hurt the cause. Let’s face it, the Huskies have kicked Cougar butt forever when harvesting the best talent from the West Side and if it’s going to come down to family and friends getting a chance to see him several times in his career, the ammunition is huge for the Cougs.
- Rallying the Cougar Fans on the West Side
Having a presence on the West side of the state is more important than fans here want to believe, or admit. You can say all you want that the Cougars on the West side aren’t real fans if they don’t make the trip over the pass every other Saturday to watch the team play, but it’s simply a cop out. In fact, it’s the exact same as if they said that we weren’t true fans for not travelling the other direction for the Seattle game or the Apple Cup (after all, it’s only once a year).
Come on, it’s a 12 hour (or so) round trip that simply isn’t that easy to make, thus the reason a lot of Pullman/Spokane residents complain about making it for one weekend a year. The fans that do make it either way often are quite the bunch of loyal troopers, but it doesn’t make them any more of a Cougar than those that can’t. In addition, the fact that there are so many Cougs on that side calls for something that keeps them directly involved with the program on a yearly basis. Putting a game over there is the easiest way to continue donations and yearly support from the richer portion of the Cougar faithful, same as the Cougar Classic does for basketball. As long as the contingency is strong at the games, this is a win-win for the program.
- Cougars Still Own a Home Field Advantage
Let’s get real, this is not a neutral site game and the sacrifice of home field is not as big as fans make it out to be. True, it doesn’t quite capture the familiarity of Martin Stadium and most of the Pullman fans don’t get to go, but by the account of anybody who’s ever attended a Seattle game, the atmosphere is raucous with a significant amount of Cougar fans packing a good portion of the stands. In fact, there’s easily 1/3 more Cougar fans than you can even fit into Martin.
Sure, with Oregon and OSU in town there’s bound to be some loud cheers when they score and it may sound like more Ducks/Beavs are there when they’re kicking butt. Honestly though, both those teams travel well and it’s similar in Martin, it really is. Meanwhile when a Stanford comes into Seattle for the game it will be an even bigger advantage for WSU from a crowd perspective. The biggest change is that the craziness of the student section isn’t as relevant and there are too many folded arms and hands being sat on, but if the Cougs are in the game there’s plenty of excitement throughout the stadium regardless.
- Great for the Kids to Get to Play in a Top NFL Venue
This goes back into the recruiting aspect of the program, but expands across the country. To be able to tell all your recruits that you’ll get to play a big game in what is largely considered one of the (if not THE) best atmosphere’s in all of the NFL, is a pretty big deal. This is especially true when you consider that Wazzu does indeed play in the smallest venue in the Pac-12 Conference, even after the remodel is complete. People will argue that Century Link is not the atmosphere for the Cougs that it is for the Seahawks, which is valid, but you gotta understand that a Cougar team with a lot of excitement surrounding it is going to draw a bigger HFA there than a team that’s expected to lose. It’s the same up and down the West Coast when the Cougs play road games, because WSU travels surprisingly well when the team is even halfway competitive.
- Opportunity for National Appeal
It’s pretty easy to understand that a national television audience (and in particular the larger market area of Seattle) is more likely to watch a Seattle game against a nationally ranked conference opponent than they are to watch the game in Martin. Therefore a national station is more likely to pick up the game, as it has in the past. It’s also simply easier for a national station to get to Seattle to pick up the game. This ties directly into another positive reason for the game, which is the additional revenue base that the game can generate.
You can complain and argue that other teams around the country don’t do this. But the fact is that Washington State is in a truly unique situation and there are plenty of people who would use that as an excuse or simply blow it off, but not Bill Moos! He wasn’t even the person who put the game in play, but he understands that Washington State University has to balance being little brother to the University of Washington with dwelling in a small corner of the Palouse, which has always been difficult to recruit from and to continue a national draw on an annual basis.
Any advantage the Cougars can give themselves in building (or simply maintaining) the following and support base that they are currently incurring across the state is something that can not be dismissed. As little as this means to some fans in this area, it’s huge for Bill Moos and the athletic program, which applies to all the reasons that I have explained. The Seattle game is good for the University, like it or not, which is why it has continued under the Moos regime and has been re-contracted out. I don’t understand how people can say “in Moos we trust” and then bash the Seattle game as something that’s not good for the program when clearly Moos supports it. It completely baffles my mind. At any rate…