So, Vince Grippi got in on the Pac-12 football action last night, reporting WSU's schedule for the 2011 season thusly:
|Sept. 3||Idaho State||HOME||Pullman|
|Sept. 10||UNLV||HOME||Seattle (Qwest Field)|
|Sept. 17||San Diego State||AWAY||San Diego|
|Oct. 8||UCLA||AWAY||Los Angeles|
|Oct. 22||Oregon State||HOME||Pullman|
|Nov. 5||California||AWAY||San Francisco (AT&T Park)|
|Nov. 12||Arizona State||HOME||Pullman|
|Nov. 26||Washington||AWAY||Seattle (Qwest Field)|
I was all set to type up some brief thoughts on how this is a favorable schedule for the Cougars after this year's brutal setup, but Vince said pretty much the exact same thing in his morning post that I was going to, so rather than appear that I'm just ripping off his idea, I'll just pass along what he had to say:
I don't believe the Cougars could have received a much better schedule from the Pac-12 - a couple tweaks might have made it easier - than what they got. The three non-conference games include just one test - San Diego State on the road - then there's a bye to fine-tune the system before opening the conference slate at Colorado. Sure, it is the Buffs first Pac-12 game (though there are some problems with Colorado's schedule), but this year the Buffalos are struggling and could be coming off a game at Ohio State, which has been on next year's non-conference schedule for a while. Two of the road games - Cal and the Apple Cup - won't be at on-campus sites while another - UCLA - is in a place WSU should be comfortable, having played there this season. If the Cougars are ready to turn a corner, this is the roadmap to do it.
I concur. A couple of other thoughts:
- While the bye week early on is better than this crazy year, it's not ideal to have it in September, either. But, whatever. I guess we shouldn't complain.
- The bye week comes in the middle of three consecutive road games -- four if you consider that the Qwest game is effectively a road game for the team in every way but the crowd. The Cougs open in Pullman on Sept. 3 and don't come back until Oct. 15. That's a long time away from your fanbase.
- The dreaded "home game before Thanksgiving that's not the Apple Cup" is back. Maybe the fact that Utah will be a novelty and ought to be a Top 25 team will help. But I doubt it.
- Add it all up, and Bill Moos selling season tickets to this slate might be his biggest challenge yet. His best pitch might be, "Hey! We might win some of these!"
- A small nitpick. Since we're already playing in San Diego next year, it sure would have been nice to start with UCLA at home, rather than having two games in Southern California. But, again, whatever.
- Also, if you're thinking about the future ... playing at Eugene next year means the Ducks will be a home opponent in 2012. If you listened to "Cougar Calls With Bill Moos" this past week, you'll note his response to Bud's question about possibly playing Oregon or OSU at Qwest was (paraphrased), "We can do what we want, since it's our home game. They'll play it where we tell them to play it." Sounds to me like you can pencil in Oregon for Qwest sometime in 2012.
EDIT: Here's a link to the composite schedule for all Pac-12 teams -- as it stands now, anyway. Cal and Colorado have a little issue where they were supposed to play each other as non-conference foes. That has to be straightened out.