The WSU version of the Hot Stove League has kicked off. The WSU Hot Stove League generally consists of off-season news that revolves around three things: recruiting, scheduling, and the coaching staff. We'll focus on each in separate articles this week. First up is the 2010 and 2011 WSU football schedule!
Hit the jump below for the latest news and our thoughts on what's happening:
WSU 2010 and 2011 schedule:
So, 2010 is going to be an awkward schedule for WSU. We have to travel to Oklahoma (Ok State) and Texas (SMU) for two out-of-conference games and we have a home game with Montana State that is in flux. The additional travel isn't good for a young team and neither road game represents a huge opportunity for a win. They should both be competitive games but at this point in the programs development we should be scheduling OOC cupcakes to get easy wins, increase confidence, and minimize possibility of injury.
It's also awkward in the sense that Sterk is faced with an unappetizing Seattle game scenario. His options are to schedule Montana State over in Seattle which likely draws only about 45K and doesn't bring back much money for the program OR do a one-year deal to bring Oregon to Seattle. The Oregon game would likely sell-out but it would truly feel like a neutral site game for us and that means essentially giving a home field advantage game away in 2010. What would you opt for? The half million dollars that an Oregon game would bring or send the Montana State game over to Seattle and bring home around 100k?
My guess is that he opts for Oregon in Seattle depending on what his big donors say and if that's the case we are looking at a difficult 2010 schedule. We'll be an underdog in 2 of our 3 OOC games and we'll be giving away home field advantage for an in-conference game against Oregon. This wouldn't do Paul Wulff any favors.
In a weird way, the 2010 schedule is a re-building schedule as well. We move our Ok State and SMU obligation off the books and we can experiment with what a conference game in Seattle would look like. It might set the table for doing an annual in-conference game in Seattle that would be a more ideal scenario. Imagine if we do Oregon State every year in Seattle with tickets split 50/50. That makes more sense since both teams would give up home games and both teams could split revenue. I bet the base would be less toxic to the idea of a neutral site Pac-10 game in Seattle if the experience is fun and WSU is competitive in that Oregon game.
So, the next big piece of news will be whether Sterk opts to put the Oregon or Montana State game in Seattle. What would you prefer? I am torn. The Oregon experience would be a ton of fun. It would be a split stadium and if they do this I hope they make every effort to put Oregon fans on one side of the stadium while we get the other. It would be similar to what it feels like when you travel to a bowl game. It would also bring in much needed cash. However, the psychological impact of having to move a Pac-10 game away from Pullman and the actual impact in the game of losing home field is a lot to take. My feeling is that if Sterk has a vision for a recurring neutral site Pac-10 game then he should do Oregon to see how it looks and feels for our alumni and First and Goal which runs the Qwest field scheduling. If it sells out and they make a ton of money it will give him massive leverage in negotiating an annual contract with Qwest and a future opponent like Oregon State. If he doesn't, then he should move Montana State and keep our home field advantage for season ticket holders, local business and the team.
The 2011 story is very different. It sounds like Sterk is going to do everything he can to help us get to a bowl game in 2011. That includes scheduling out-of-conference SEC style. We are currently committed to UNLV at home and San Diego State on the road. The third game is wide open at this point.
Sterk indicated recently that he might be killing the UNLV series . As much as I have dreamt about a Coug football game in Las Vegas in 2012, I think this is 100% the right move. UNLV is an improving team and that could be a dangerous series for us. I would opt to kill it and schedule a "guarantee" win like New Mexico State. San Diego State will be a nice trip for alumni and they are much further behind UNLV in program development. We should be a favorite in that game in 2011. If you have New Mexico State at home and SDSU on the road you are a prohibitive favorite in both of those games.
Finally, the third game should be our Seattle game and it should be a body bag game as well. Give us a west coast team that will travel a couple thousand alumni to supplement Qwest game revenue and give us a guaranteed win. I'm thinking San Jose State would be a great fit.
The bottom line is that everyone is pointing to 2011 as a season in which we should be "competing" for a bowl. The schedule needs to be geared to give us every advantage to do that. Of course, that means scheduling like the SEC and putting in 3 guaranteed wins before you even play a conference game. Then all we need to do is take home 3 of 9 conference games and then it would be Hello Humanitarian Bowl! Evan a minor bowl will allow us to make the case that real stability and tangible results are now part of the program. That's something we can sell to recruits, press and alumni. 2010 might be a sub-optimal schedule but Sterk better nail a 2011 schedule that points us towards a bowl game.