Details about WSU's new three-year deal with Gonzaga are worse than they first appeared

Ethan Miller

On Thursday, news had broke that WSU Men's Basketball team would be playing its 2014 game against Gonzaga at Spokane Arena. On Friday, the news got even worse as details of the three-year contract revealed that the 2014 game will actually be hosted by the Zags.

Gonzagagate was the topic dominating discussions on WSU sports on Friday. What began with some pretty heavy blowback from losing a true home game to be played at Beasley to a ‘neutral game' in a town where Gonzaga has frankly become the hotter ticket turned into full blown outrage when it became known that the 2014 game would be a home game for Gonzaga at Spokane Arena.

To summarize what happened:

During the summer of 2013 WSU and Gonzaga were in negotiations over the continuation of the Men's basketball series, which had been running on a home-and-home arrangement for quite some time. With the 2013 game being played at the McCarthey Center, the 2014 game was in line to be played at Beasley Coliseum had the contract been continued under the running agreement.

But things did not work out like that. In 2013 Gonzaga was coming of its most successful regular season in school history, while the Cougs experienced their worst and first losing record since 2006. Gonzaga apparently saw a chance to leverage and used the need to ramp up their RPI as an excuse to reset the terms of the series.

For whatever went on in the back and forth in those negotiations, the outcome was this: WSU will travel to Spokane this year for a second straight season and play the Bulldogs at Spokane Arena in a game that will be hosted by the Bulldogs. In 2015, Gonzaga will return to Beasley Coliseum for the first time since 2012.

In an interview with Jacob Thorpe, Bill Moos stated that the rivalry between the schools was in jeopardy, so he "conceded" since he "appreciated their dilemma."

That statement really irked me at first. However, I got to thinking about the "appreciated their dilemma" part and I took it more in the context of somebody that has been an athletic director for over two decades. It was a sugarcoated way of saying, "They were in the driver's seat, and they did what they should have done." Still, we conceded and that doesn't do much for fan psychology, especially when the story leaks a few short weeks after another painful reality check.

My respect and approval of Bill Moos is still very much intact even though this instance looks bad. To plagiarize an oft used campaign slogan used by incumbents, we are better off today than we were four years ago with Cougar Athletics as a whole. Whatever we "lost" in the negotiation process, I hope to make up on the court at least once in Spokane Arena. In the deepest part of my heart where no machismo pride exists, maybe I am glad the "rivalry is preserved" since the games will be played with some elevated interest and intensified rivalry. But I am not going to admit that to many people except you folks, so let's keep it between us.

Four weeks ago, the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament had just completed second round while Cougar fans were sitting tight and waiting and Coug fans that root for Gonzaga, I made this HCA post asking fans what their opinion of Gonzaga was. Here are the results from that poll:

SO WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON GONZAGA?

20% After the Cougs, they are my second favorite team (47 votes)

27% They're local, so I root for them (62 votes)

22% Indifferent (51 votes)

19% They are our rivals, and I don't like them (43 votes)

12% I'm a playa hater like Buc Nasty when it comes to the Zags (28 votes)

At the time I wrote my little essay and everybody voted, nobody had any clue of what had transpired the previous summer in negotiations between Pullman and Spokane. For Coug fans that have become acclimated to cozying up to "the Zags" every winter up until the second round of the NCAA tournament, I hope that you reconsider your position.

GONZAGAGATE

Current Spokesman beat writer Jacob Thorpe and former Spokesman beat writer Vince Grippi weighed in on the situation.

At least they are still playing - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - April 18, 2014
A GRIP ON SPORTS It is amazing what gets fans worked up some times. Just amazing. Read on.

WSU AD Bill Moos on Gonzaga series and more - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - April 18, 2014
From Pullman -- Yesterday we reported that the Washington State men's basketball team will play Gonzaga in Spokane again next season as part of a three-year contract. The news drew a wide range of reactions from people like our own Vince Grippi, to CougCenter's Jeff Nusser to Barry Bolton ($) of Cougfan. ...

BASEBALL

WSU's Baseball team's slim postseason became slimmer as they dropped a 6-3 decision Friday night to Oregon assuring the Ducks the series victory. Things started off well for the Cougs who jumped off to a 1-0 lead in the third inning on an RBI single by Collin Slaybaugh that drove in Patrick McGrath. Cougar starter Tanner Chleborad retired the first nine batters he faced before becoming unglued in the fourth inning and allowing five Oregon runs. The Cougs got two runs back in the top of the fifth on a two run double by Yale Rosen. The Ducks added another run in the bottom of the sixth to reach the eventual final score. The only excitement after that point was provided by Cougar head coach Donnie Marbut who got ejected from the dugout and came out for an extended and demonstrative conversation inches away from the home plate umpire's nose. The Cougs and Ducks will square off again for the final game of the Easter weekend series Saturday at 2pm.

Big Inning Costly for Cougars - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Washington State drops second-straight to No. 10 Oregon.

TRACK AND FIELD

Linton Runs Impressive 10k Debut at Mt. SAC Relays - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Sophomore CharLee Linton ran the third-best 10k in WSU history Thursday night at the Mt. SAC Relays.

An earlier version of the story mistakenly stated the 2015 game would also be at the Spokane Arena. The 2015 game will be in Pullman in the final year of the three-year agreement.

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