PULLMAN – On Saturday, moments after his Washington State team knocked off Oregon State, Jake Dickert took reporters back to his morning. He was watching College GameDay, he said, when he thought he heard host Lee Corso call the Cougars/Beavers game “The Nobody Watches Bowl.”
“I would love to have a conversation with Coach Corso about the value that he sees in breaking up the premier West Coast conference,” Dickert said. “And I’d also love to have a conversation with Coach Corso about how he thinks student-athletes and mental health and flying them all over the country is a positive thing. I’m open to those conversations, because I’m fact-based on everything that we do.”
Over the weekend, Dickert got a chance to do just that. During his availability on Tuesday, he said he called Corso on Sunday and chatted about his comments, saying he “meant no disrespect” to Corso or the TV show. Video clips of Corso’s comments shared online opened debate on whether Corso had actually said “Nobody Wants Us Bowl,” in reference to the two being the last in the Pac-12.
“They’re tremendous for our brand and what they do for us nationally every week,” Dickert said, referring to the WSU flag Ol’ Crimson, which has flown at College GameDay for 291 straight shows. “It was never a comment about disrespect toward any of those people. My frustrations really still stem from, there’s a conglomerate of people that have made a lot of decisions that have been outside mostly our control. And the lack of clarity, based on the metrics and the real facts, is where my frustration really comes from.
Dickert discussed the impact he sees conference realignment making on the Cougars, one of two Pac-12 teams still standing, and teams across the country.
“I think it is my job to stand up for the people of Washington State, because I think these decisions greatly impact all of us,” Dickert said. “It impacts our academic institution, our faculty, student body, alumni, the community, Pullman at large. I mean, the grocery store owner down the street. Fighting for my staff and their families, all the men and women in our athletics programs. It’s really important.
“But most importantly, I’m standing up for our student-athletes. They’re the ones that are impacted the most. I think a lot of decisions that are made impact players. ‘We’re gonna move this team to this conference, and these games are gonna be awesome.’ But as coaches, we deal with people – 18- to 23-year-old people – that it matters greatly to. I think there’s more pressure on young people today than ever before. My No. 1 job is to equip them with a toolbox to handle these things. And in our four years together here, there’s been plenty of those situations.
“I just want to make no mistake about it: These guys matter to me. And it isn’t about Cam (Ward) throwing touchdowns. It’s about 15 years from now, Cam sends me a Christmas card and I see him with his kids and his wife and his family. And I know I’ve done everything to just make sure he’s a good husband and father. It’s not about RJ (Ron Stone Jr.) or BJ (Brennan Jackson) getting sacks. It’s about me instilling character values and discipline, hard work, and those guys go impact this world the way they wanna do it.
“So I have a lot of vested interest in our people here. The players will always be No. 1, and I’ve been really appreciative of their focus, their discipline. Obviously, we’re off to an amazing start and want to keep building on that. But these decisions do impact us all, and going forward, our whole focus is on helping Kirk (Schulz, president) and Pat (Chun, athletic director) find the next wave for Washington State. We want to compete at the highest level, and we believe and know we can do that. That’s going to be our focus going forward, and I’m excited to be a big part of that.”
WSU and Oregon State, the only teams set to remain in the Pac-12 after this season, are still looking for conference homes. On Sept. 11, a Washington judge ruled in favor of the two schools, granting a temporary restraining order against conference commissioner George Kliavkoff, canceling a board meeting that would have gathered the other 10 departing schools.
That prevented the exiting schools from trying to dissolve the conference, which could force an equal split of the conference’s remaining assets. The schools’ next step is to wait for a preliminary injunction hearing, which will give them a better understanding of those assets, and that will inform their next moves.
Last week, during a joint news conference with OSU’s president and athletic director, Schulz said he expects some level of clarity within 30 days.