SEATTLE – It’s Seattle Week for Washington State University.
Not to be mistaken for Junior Cougar day or Recent Grad Weekend or any other marketing ploy designed to pump up crowds at Martin Stadium.
For one thing, Saturday night’s Pac-12 game with Oregon State isn’t in Pullman. For the ninth time in 10 years, the Cougars are playing at what-is-now-called CenturyLink Field.
But for the first time it’s a conference game.
Athletic director Bill Moos, wanting to supply a centerpiece for the university to build its Seattle Week festivities around and to attract the West Side alumni base, has opted to schedule the Oregon schools in CenturyLink each season.
“You always want to have a home-field advantage when you have a home game,” WSU football coach Paul Wulff said of the decision. “When the Oregon schools come to Pullman, I don’t know if we get that much of a home-field advantage, not as much as we could against the other (conference) schools.”
Wulff went on to say the late-season weather seems to affect the California and Arizona schools much more than it does the Northwest ones, so he “felt if there is a series or league game we could (move to Seattle), the Oregon schools would be the best ones to do it (with).”
Besides, Wulff understands the school’s need to be in Seattle.
“It’s a necessity for us right now, as we continue to grow the football program and the athletic department,” he said. “We are branching into a lot of new ideas from a marketing perspective, we’re reaching out to our fans.
“This is a necessity to grow our program.”
WSU brings a 3-3 overall record and a 1-2 Pac-12 mark into the contest. OSU’s conference mark is the same, but the Beavers have struggled to a 1-5 first-half.
CenturyLink, home of the Seahawks, seats 67,000 and more than 50,000 are expected today, a large majority of which are expected to be clad in crimson and gray, not the orange and black of OSU.
“We need our fans to take control of the noise factor and create problems for the opposing team,” Wulff said.
The whole atmosphere excites the players, many of whom were disappointed when the Cougars did not play on the West Side last season after eight consecutive years.
“I am (excited),” said junior quarterback Jeff Tuel, who made his first start of the season last week against Stanford. “I’ve never played there. When I was (planning on) redshirting my freshman year I went to the game and didn’t play. It was a cool place, though.”
Not too cool, if Wulff has his way.
“Hopefully it affects us in a positive way,” Wulff said. “Hopefully our crowd is the dominate crowd, which it will be. That 12th-man can have an impact on this ball game.”