Cougfan is reporting that Gonzaga Bulldog’s men’s basketball head coach Mark Few and athletic director Mike Roth threatened to end the 107-year old rivalry with Washington State, unless the Cougs agreed to play two games in Spokane — a road game at the Kennel and a home game at Spokane Arena. According to Cougfan’s article, WSU athletic director Bill Moos was tempted to cancel the rivalry but decided that having the game was more important than not having it.
The contract between the two schools mentioned in the article has WSU traveling to play Gonzaga in “the Kennel “(WSU lost this match-up, 74-90), in Spokane Arena (2014-2015 season), and in Pullman (2015-2016). This contract was agreed to before the most recent basketball season — which ended for the Cougs in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament — and remained hidden from the public eye until it was leaked in an article in the Gonzaga Bulletin (Gonzaga’s student newspaper) on April 17th, 2014.
My gut reaction when I read Cougfan’s article was that Moos should have told Few and Roth that he wasn’t going to negotiate with them if they were going to behave like spoiled children…and he apparently had the same reaction:
“A source with knowledge of the situation told Cougfan.com today that while Bill Moos was tempted to tell the Zags to pound sand, he flet that the tradition of the series — which dates to 1907 and includes 148 games — trumped Gonzaga’s petty power play.”
While I appreciate the sentiment, I strongly disagree with the idea that maintaining the rivalry game is more important than showing Gonzaga that WSU won’t give in to threats. If the Zags are willing to end one of their longest standing rivalries because they feel like they are too good for the Cougs now, then let them. After all, it would take 48 straight victories (48 years) for the Zags to even the record, Washington State currently holds a 98-50 advantage in the rivalry.
This browbeating by Gonzaga could be seen as a sign of weakness by other mid-major schools, and that could lead to the Cougs non-conference schedule becoming an unmitigated disaster. Especially when you consider the fact that BYU has already backed out of the promised return trip to Pullman, after the game that was played in Provo, Utah this past season.
If Washington State can’t get its biggest non-confernce rival to come to Pullman anymore, what reason is there for other mid-major schools to make the trip?
Anyways, this is just another reason for Coug fans to keep on hating on the Zags…and hope that the program implodes on itself in short order.
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