Hurricane Ike caused the Cougars' game Saturday against Baylor in Waco, Texas, to be moved up to 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time today. WSU planned to fly out this morning from Pullman, and also would like to board the charter and return home immediately after the game.
If you feel like complaining about your commute this morning, consider what the Washington State football program has in store for the day.
Hurricane Ike caused the Cougars’ game Saturday against Baylor in Waco, Texas, to be moved up to 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time today. WSU planned to fly out this morning from Pullman, and also would like to board the charter and return home immediately after the game.
Asked whether he was aware of a situation when a team traveled and played the same day, WSU athletic director Jim Sterk cracked, “Probably not since they played Gonzaga.”
Gonzaga, 80 miles north of WSU in Spokane, dropped football in 1941.
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The Cougars (0-2) were originally due to fly out of Pullman at 9:30 a.m. today for Waco. They were trying to move that flight up about an hour, which could get them there by 2 p.m. Central Time.
Paul Wulff, first-year WSU coach, said the Cougars would then “go to the hotel, have a pregame meal and a meeting or two and go to the game. Our goal is to get out at night [afterward] as well. It may not be until 1 or 2 in the morning until we can get out of there, which is OK.”
Sterk said an effort was made to procure a charter plane to leave Thursday night, but none could be found.
Wulff said the only alternative date in 2008 would have been Dec. 6, but there were problems with that. The Big 12 championship game is that day, and while not many folks are expecting Baylor to be in it, it might not be the right message for the Bears to schedule another game that day.
WSU, meanwhile, already has a Nov. 29 game against Hawaii, so another game would have meant two games after the Apple Cup with Washington, plus more time cut into the recruiting calendar.
“I just don’t think we want to push things that late,” Wulff said. “Right now, as coaches and players, we want to play. We want to do whatever it takes right now to play and get better.”
Waco is about 90 miles south of Dallas, and the Saturday forecast was for rain and wind. But the immediate concern was the game traffic potentially clogging roads and slowing a possible evacuation from cities in southeast Texas.
Sterk, who had been consulting with Baylor officials, said consideration was first given to moving the Saturday kickoff up by 90 minutes, to 10 a.m. Central (8 a.m. Pacific). But officials decided the game still might be a risk to evacuees.
“Obviously, it’s not ideal from our standpoint,” said Sterk. “Given what other people are doing — in Houston, evacuating — other things fall by the wayside. It puts things in perspective.”
Sterk said he wasn’t immediately certain of the financial arrangements for the game, but most home-and-home agreements stipulate expenses, or slightly more, for the visiting team, so finances likely aren’t a factor.
Fox Sports Network will pair the stadium scoreboard feed with Baylor’s radio broadcast and show it live on Fox College Sports and FSN Southwest. Fox Sports Northwest, which has the Mariners-Angels baseball game live at 7, will delay the football showing until 11 p.m.
The telecast will also be available live on wsucougars.com.
Wulff said the change of plans would cause WSU to have a lighter practice Thursday. His quarterbacks, Gary Rogers and Kevin Lopina, have been dueling for the starting job in practice this week, but Wulff said he wouldn’t name one until game time.
As for the travel change throwing another element into a rough 0-2 start, Wulff said, “I couldn’t tell you what it does or doesn’t do. It’s all how you handle it. [Overcoming] adversity is what we talk about here. It’s going to get ingrained into these guys. There’s no better time to do it than now.”
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org