So I read an article in The Daily Evergeen about the Apple Cup being on a Friday and how awful of a scheduling move it was. There was also a letter to the editor reiterating these setiments. Family, friends and even complete strangers that I happen to overhear in Pullman just reinforce the overall displeased state of the Cougar Nation. And they all bring up great points, particularly about losing the student body during game day (as experienced during the Seattle game this year, where big plays seemed to garner golf claps).
But then why are we more fired up than we have been since 2003?
One reason. Mike Leach. And why do we have Mike Leach as our coach? I don't know for certain. Maybe he would have come here just because the Palouse is such an awesome place. Or maybe Bill Moos could have talked him into coaching here even if it meant living out of a trailer and eating Ramen everyday. But I bet no one will argue that his contract had a huge factor in his hiring.
How did we afford this contract? The Pac-12's new television deal. And what were some of the stipulations of this deal? Games played outside of Saturday.
As John McGrath notes:
The television contract requiring UW to play one game on a Thursday and two others on a Friday is the same television contract that enabled the Huskies to unload defensive coordinator Nick Holt and assistants Mike Cox and Jeff Mills, even though the school still owes more than $1 million on their contracts.
And we all know that WSU was the school to benefit most (well, perhaps other than Utah) from the media deal. A Friday Apple Cup is just a black lining to the silver cloud that is Mike Leach and I, for one, can't wait to see him rain touchdowns on our opponents next year.
I'm not just writing this up to say that we need to take our lumps (read: Friday Apple Cup) in order to win big (read: hire Mike Leach). I also want to point out some of the silver lining that is a Friday rivalry game.
Mike Leach isn't only a huge story in Pullman. He garnered national attention. If you ever have read any of the comments on the various Cougar Sports sites following his hire, you undoubtedly have seen many that read something like "I CAN'T BELIEVE WSU IS ON SPORTS CENTER FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN POT BUSTS!!!1!!!1!" Hell, Google "Mike Leach national attention" and see how many articles were written just on the amount of articles that were written about him.
Leach’s reputation means an immediate bounce in season ticket sales, national attention and recruiting.
Let's focus on that last word, recruiting. If you haven't yet seen how he has already affected recruiting, you can follow it here. Even Bob Condotta admits that Leach's national reputation will help our in state recruiting significantly. Now sure, I know what you are saying, it is Mike Leach's reputation that is bringing in recruits, not the media attention that WSU is getting. And while this is almost completely true, his reputation is not just built upon his win/loss record. While his record at Texas Tech was pretty stellar, his reputation was also built upon his play calling, coaching style, Air Raid offense, wide splits and post game interviews; things that can only be seen during (and immediately after) a game.
So how does a Friday night rivalry game help in this aspect? Well, the SEC does not have a game on Black Friday. Nor does the B1G Ten. The Big Twelve's schedule is still up in the air, due to adding teams like TCU, but like most major conferences, they also have an aversion to Friday games. Who else schedules Friday games consistently and often gets comparisons to WSU in regards to size, money and location? Why none other than Boise State.
By playing on Friday, Boise has garnered national viewership. Honestly, how many people would care to watch BSU destroy Fresno if it wasn't on a Friday night? But people from around the nation tune in because they are interested in the national hype surrounding Boise State as a non-AQ powerhouse.
Furthermore, this game potentially has some serious implications. Keith Price is considered a dark horse for Heisman after his performance against RG3. Marquess Wilson is also considered a dark horse. UW also made it to a bowl game with an atrocious defense. While they are losing Chris Polk, by making a great D coordinator hire in Justin Wilcox and with Price becoming a sophomore, it is hard not to see UW (already a bowl team) taking a significant step forward. And even unbiased eyes are predicting a bowl game for our Cougs next year. Oh wait, did I mention that it is a rivalry game as well? Additionally, the Apple Cup is the last game of the year, unlike Stanford and Cal's Big Game, practically guaranteeing serious bowl game implications.
And what is the typical 18-40 year old male doing on Black Friday? Sitting around watching ESPN and eating microwaved leftovers while his significant other is out shopping. Recruits are most likely doing the same thing. The mere fact that the game is on Friday, in addition to the new television contract, strongly suggests that the game will air on a major station.
So while attendance at the game will be lower than normal and the student body will not be in full force, there are still some positives to a Black Friday Apple Cup. The national exposure to Mike Leach and his offense that this game will inevitably bring can only help out WSU in all aspects of recruiting.