Its long been known that Mike Leach’s scheduling preferences are to play relatively nondescript, high chance of winning non-conference games in an effort to make sure his teams reach bowl eligibility. Another future schedule announcement today matches that almost perfectly.
Utah State, Washington State add home/home series; 2020 at USU, 2021 at WSU— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) August 30, 2016
The addition of the Aggies to the schedule means the Cougs have one more nonconference game to fill out in each of those years (vs. Idaho in 2020, vs. Central Michigan in 2021 are already on the schedule).
If you’re getting a sudden rush of being underwhelmed by this, you’re probably not alone. But not only does this jive with how Mike Leach likes to schedule, it meshes with what athletic director Bill Moos has said previously: one-off payments to teams to travel to Pullman are getting too expensive. Idaho will only travel eight miles to play WSU in 2020 but the school is paying them over half a million dollars and the Vandals will be back in the Big Sky by then. Next year, Idaho will get a seven-figure check just to fly to Columbia and play Missouri.
By scheduling the home-and-home, WSU is defraying a lot of the cost of having Utah State come to Pullman for a one-off game. Would I, and most of you presumably, prefer either a more marquee opponent or travel to a more desirable location (COUGH Vegas COUGH)? You bet. But as long as Mike Leach remains the coach and WSU remains in a financially difficult position to afford cutting a check to someone to just visit once, these lackluster home-and-homes will likely continue.