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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Many Cougs will set rivalry aside, cheer on home state Huskies in title game

You wouldn’t find a Coug cheering on the Huskies six weeks ago when Washington escaped Husky Stadium with a three-point win over Washington State in the Apple Cup.

Now, many Cougars fans say they will put the bitter rivalry aside and support the enemy on the West Side when the undefeated Huskies take the field in Monday’s national championship game against the unbeaten Michigan Wolverines in Houston.

Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown, who served as chancellor of Washington State University Spokane from 2013-17, said she will always back the Cougars, but she and her husband, Brian McClatchey, will root for the Huskies on Monday as a matter of state pride.

McClatchey is a Washington and Michigan alum, having attended Washington as an undergraduate student before moving on to Michigan Law School.

“We’re all Huskies on Monday,” Brown said.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., will also be pulling for the Huskies.

Murray graduated from Washington State with a bachelor’s degree in 1972, but the Bothell native has family ties to both Washington schools.

“As a proud WSU graduate it’s no secret I’m a Cougs fan – but my family has UW and WSU grads, and as a Senator for all of Washington state I’ll be rooting for UW all the way in the championship Monday,” Murray said in a statement. “Go dawgs!”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer engaged in playful trash talk about the game on Twitter.

In a 40-second video, Inslee, a Washington alum, told Whitmer he was looking forward to closing out the Huskies season with a win.

Whitmer said Michigan will come out on top and she looked forward to telling Inslee, “I told you so.”

“Look, Gretchen, our letter is ‘W’ for ‘Win’ and ‘Washington,’ OK? This is in the bag,” Inslee responded.

The two Democratic governors then made a bet.

If the Huskies win, Whitmer said she will send Inslee some of “Michigan’s finest brewskis.”

Inslee said Whitmer will get bottles of Naches Heights wine, “some of the finest wine in the world right from Washington state,” if the Wolverines win.

The governors ended the video with “Go Blue” and “Go Dawgs” for their respective schools.

The Huskies have a lot on the line heading into the championship game.

With a win, Washington will finish the season with an impressive 15-0 record and its first national title in 33 years.

West Coast pride is another factor.

Washington would be the first college football champion on the West Coast since the University of Southern California won it all in 2004. The Bowl Championship Series years later stripped USC of its national title because of NCAA violations.

The Southeastern Conference has dominated the sport since the USC title, winning 13 of the last 18 national championships.

A Husky win would also send the Pac-12 conference – as we’ve known it – out on the highest of notes.

The conference is dissolving as schools announced over the last several months their intentions to join other top conferences, leaving Washington State and Oregon State as the remaining schools in the Pac-12.

Meanwhile, expect Spokane bars, like the Swinging Doors on the North Side, to be packed when the 14-0 schools kick off at 4:30 p.m.

The popular bar and grill always draws a large crowd for big games, including last Monday’s Sugar Bowl when the Huskies beat the Texas Longhorns in New Orleans to advance to the national title game.

Madison Czarapata, a bartender, said adult beverages will be 20% off and appetizers will be discounted $2 during Happy Hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday.

“We plan to be busy,” Czarapata said. “We have a lot of reservations down but still welcome walk-ins.”

Scott Sylvester and Michael Ziskrout were sitting inside the Swinging Doors on Saturday afternoon and planned to watch the title game at the establishment Monday.

Both are Coug fans but will have different rooting interests for the championship game.

Sylvester, a WSU alum, said his wife works at the school’s Spokane campus and his daughter attends its medical school in Spokane.

“I’ll pull for the Dawgs in this case,” Sylvester said.

Ziskrout, who was born and raised in southern California, became a Cougar fan when he moved to the region.

He said he’s always hated the “purple people eaters,” referring to the Huskies, so he will support Michigan.

Ric Samuels, another WSU fan at the Swinging Doors, will be cheering for the home-state Huskies.

“I don’t think they’ll win, but I’m rooting for the Huskies,” he said.