The WSU-Oregon series at Qwest Field is obviously Bill Moos' first plan. I like that he shot for the moon with his first choice, but there's a decent probability this idea gets shot down. It never hurts to aim high and attempt to make a big splash. Even if the proposal is shot down, this is the kind of thing that excites WSU fans.
With that in mind, it's time to look at the contingency plans. In the event this all falls apart, there's little doubt Bill Moos has some fall back options. Some of these options, however, are better than others.
If WSU is dead set on getting Oregon to the table, Moos may have to create a deal more in the Ducks' favor. This means slanting the revenue in favor of the Ducks, instead of dividing it equally. Money talks and Oregon has the leverage in this situation.
A 60/40 or 70/30 split in Oregon's favor is still good for WSU, and a net profit, but the Cougs could do better. From a PR standpoint, it makes WSU look desperate for money and attention, things that won't sit well with the fans or Moos himself. don't think Moos would bend to Oregon's will if a 50/50 plan is rejected, opting to walk away from the table at that point.
Another option floated by The Coug would alternate Oregon and Oregon State at Qwest Field every other year. The positive side is that WSU would keep the whole gate from the game, only having to cut a $200,000 check to either school. Keep in mind that WSU, and the rest of the conference, are in line to receive a significant financial windfall from the next TV contract. The added money is nice, but we're in a less desperate position than we were a few months ago.
The negative that comes with this is the loss of a Pac-10 game in Pullman. Taking a conference game out of Pullman, and being the only party making a sacrifice, would bother the fans, students, and community of Pullman. In my opinion, there's better options than this.
Replacing Oregon with Oregon State seems like a more logical choice for a Qwest Field game. Take it away, Matt Daddy.
I think it would be great for OSU and WSU to play at Qwest, and I think if Moos is smart (which I know he is) he'd be on the phone with DeCarollis right now saying, "if UO doesn't do it, we really want to do it with you guys."
I think OSU would jump at that chance, considering they don't even sell out Reser, plus they'd love the chance to have the extra benefits that a game in Seattle would bring. It's much more of an equal situation both financially and fringe benefits wise for those two schools.
Plus, I know it would bring a lot more interest to game that right now doesn't have a lot of sizzle. A game at Qwest between those two would most likely sell out early on just from a novelty sake then because I'm sure as WSU elevates their play from a rivalry standpoint. Plus, UO and UW already have a nice little "hate" rivalry going, WSU and OSU would add to the NW experience.
Oregon and Washington have a heated rivalry. Why not take the two "state" schools from the Northwest and create a rivalry? From what I've seen, Oregon State travels decently well to WSU games, almost outnumbering Coug fans during the game before Thanksgiving break a few years back.
The first game WSU held at Qwest, against a Nevada team that wasn't a big name, sold out. As Matt Daddy said, a game between WSU and OS would probably sell out the first few years just on novelty alone. After that, WSU should be much more competitive, allowing the Cougs to carry their own weight and generate interest in the game.
Oregon State also desperately needs money. Their athletic department is the second smallest in the conference, leading only WSU. This past year, they ran up a deficit around $5.9 million dollars, While Oregon is on fairly solid footing, Oregon State is is on shakier ground, with the state legislature telling them, and to a lesser extent Oregon, to shape up. The money to be made in this deal, if successful, would be enticing enough for OS to jump at the opportunity.
The Beavers may not be the sexy pick like the Ducks are, but they're a quality football program that can draw a crowd in Seattle. This option, in my opinion, is the best alternative.
Another idea is to continue with the status quo of using Qwest Field as a venue for a non-conference opponent every year. After years of doing the same thing, the idea had gone stale, with attendance numbers dipping lower in its last years. After a few years off, the idea may be able to pick up steam again.
The problem with using a non-conference opponent is the lack of big names the Cougs have been able to schedule. Bringing in the likes of Grambling State, UNLV, and SDSU doesn't draw the crowds out like a major conference opponent. The only way this deal works and lives up to its potential is if we can schedule a team that can draw crowds every year. Teams are more likely to want to play a non-conference game in Seattle, but sadly it keeps the big names out of Pullman.
Finally, we can just scrap the idea completely. If Moos can't get Oregon or Oregon State to agree to move the conference games there every year, I'd be in favor of walking away and trying again later. It would be a loss for the university, but losing games in Pullman, especially games that don't draw crowds that make it worth it, are a bigger loss. The community of Pullman gains another home game and it allows us to work on rebuilding a home field advantage.
Scrapping the whole idea and walking away from Qwest Field for a while may not be ideal, but in the end it may be for the best if Moos can't engineer something that works out in the Cougs' favor.
I trust that Moos will do what's best for WSU and the athletic department with this decision. What he decides to do, and whether he can pull off the original plan, will say a lot about the direction he's going to take the Cougs.
Edit: Matt Daddy posed a question in the comments that I'm moving up here because I'm curious what the response would be.
Would you guys be willing to set up a consistent game with Boise State at Qwest?
I'll keep my opinion to myself for now, but what do the rest of you think.
If you missed them earlier, please see the WSU and Oregon perspectives on a Qwest Field series, or use the wsu-oregon at qwest field tag to see them all..