Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: WSU, OSU find a linear home for home football games, which begs a question: Is that a good thing?

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Here’s an outdated notion. Disagreement is fine. You can have an opinion, we can have the opposite one and that’s OK. It’s a sign of maturity. Intellectual prowess. Two things that rarely have a place in the world of college football.


• We kid, of course, but we do have a point. And it has to do with the new football media deal the Pac-12 agreed to this week. Washington State and Oregon State will have 11 of 13 home football games on The CW, with the final two – visits from Oregon (to Corvallis) and Texas Tech (to Pullman) – on a Fox channel.

Is it a good plan or a bad one?

Those in the good camp include two of the brightest minds in West Coast sports journalism, the Mercury News’ Jon Wilner, whose work also appears in The Spokesman-Review, and former Oregonian columnist John Canzano, who has a website these days.

But there is also a dissenting opinion, that of the current Oregonian columnist, Bill Oram. After reading every word the trio wrote about the deal, today and in the recent past, we are torn. We see each side clearly. Understand the pros and cons. And are struggling to form a definitive opinion.

What’s the debate about? It’s not exposure vs. money, the narrative that dominated the process, seemingly, since the Northwest duo was left adrift by its 10 myopic Pac-12 brethren.

It’s about the past vs. the future.

Wilner, after citing sources within the broadcast industry in favor of the deal, one that will bring in an estimated $1 million per home game, ended his column with this statement: “What (the two schools) need now – what they cannot survive without – is exposure. The deal with The CW and Fox offers exactly that.”

Canzano highlighted the same, writing the deal “provides maximum exposure for the two schools. That was a key point of emphasis for the Cougars and Beavers.”

OK, we understand that. And agree with it. Exposure is more important than money. Keep the Pac-12 in the national spotlight, at least to some degree. The two schools must let folks know the conference isn’t dead. Isn’t going anywhere – at least for two years. And having their games broadcast on a network that is available in 99% of American households is one way to do it.

But Oram asks a key question. Will anyone actually watch? If the answer turns out to be no, the schools have just proved the other conferences’ point. The duo doesn’t provide value. With that in mind, he believes there was another path, one that looks beyond the present, beyond the staid, beyond, possibly, the outdated.

It’s a point George Kliavkoff – don’t let his involvement color your thinking too much – tried to make with the final 10 members not too long ago. The Big Two of college football, the SEC and Big Ten, have taken over the only linear broadcast entities worth having. For the Pac-12 to survive, then and now, it has to embrace streaming to a large degree. It’s not the future anymore. It’s the now.

“One industry veteran I’ve spoken to said (Oregon State) would have been wise to negotiate an over the air option in local markets – Portland, Eugene, Bend, Medford – and then provide an over the top, or streaming, option for fans everywhere else,” wrote Oram wrote this morning, focusing on OSU, sure, but his thoughts cover Washington State as well.

The point is simple. With this agreement, the Pac-12 once again is chum in waters containing sharks that reside in the SEC and Big Ten. Instead, if they had reached agreement with Apple TV, Amazon or Paramount Plus, buying its way on those services if needed, they would be the big fish in an ever-growing pond.

“And yet, here again, what’s left of the Pac-12 chose not to bet on itself. It made a safe choice with no long-term upside,” Oram wrote.

Who is right? No one? Everyone? We’re sure of only one thing. The status quo in college athletics no longer exists. Everything is changing. What worked yesterday isn’t working today – at any level.

We understand why WSU and OSU played it safe. We’re just not sure they really are. Or ever will be. Might as well blaze a new trail. And see what happens.


WSU: Of course we linked the commentaries about the football media deal above, from Wilner (in the S-R), Canzano and Oram. But we also have Greg Woods’ nuts-and-bolts story from Pullman and coverage in the Oregonian. And other places. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, this story gives every college basketball fan everywhere hope. If Doug Gottlieb can be hired as a Division I coach, anyone can. … Back closer to home, the UC Regents decided UCLA has to send $10 million a year north to poor California. But only for three years. At first. After the $30 million is paid, they will re-examine the issue. Why did the Bruins help USC destroy the conference again? …On the football field, we pass along Stewart Mandel’s mailbag in The Athletic just because we enjoyed it. … There is TV news out of Colorado as well. … On the basketball court, Caleb Love has to make a decision about whether to come back to Arizona. … Stanford’s women added another transfer. What is going on at the Harvard of the Bay Area? … Finally, Arizona got the better of Arizona State in their last Pac-12 rivalry competition.

EWU: The Eagle women had their most successful season maybe ever. But in today’s world, such a result is hard to build on. Joddie Gleason experienced that when three key players decided to enter the transfer portal. Dan Thompson talked with the Eastern coach and has her thoughts in this story. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Idaho State’s women have filled out their roster.

Preps: The district golf tournaments finished up Tuesday. Jim Meehan has the results. … Dave Nichols has a roundup that covers the other district sports while also putting together a preview of State baseball and softball matchups. … Greg Lee put together a track and field notebook that leads off with a look at the tough decisions outstanding athletes must make this time of year.

Indians: Dave had other duties Tuesday as well, heading out the Avista Stadium to cover Spokane’s series opener with Vancouver. The weather was certainly better than the last time the two met, or didn’t meet actually, in Vancouver. The Indians’ prevailed 4-1 and took over first place in the Northwest League by percentage points over Eugene. … Elsewhere in the NWL, the Emeralds lost 3-2 to host Everett while Tri-City dominated visiting Hillsboro 8-4.

Velocity and Zephyr: It’s that time of year. Addition and subtraction to rosters.

Mariners: If Logan Gilbert is going to win the Cy Young Award, he’ll have to not leave sliders in the middle of the plate. He made one bad pitch last night and, with the M’s impotent offense in full display, it cost him and his team. The Royals won 4-2. … Hey, there is offensive help developing in the minors. Hopefully, the starting pitching will still be around when the help matures.

Seahawks: Nearly all the Hawks’ draft picks are signed.

Storm: Seattle opened its season against Minnesota. And lost. But the group is new and it may take a while to come together. … We’re not sure what the ratings will be for ESPN2’s broadcast of Caitlin Clark’s debut last night, but we watched some. How about you?

Golf: The PGA is this weekend. Stop yawning. It’s a major, even if it is the least of them. Who is favored? We have our money on Rory McIlroy, even if the PGA Tour doesn’t. No, not Scottie Scheffler. He has probably been up all night lately, what with a new baby in the house.

Sounders: With some momentum after the win at Portland, Seattle takes on Real Salt Lake in a midweek match.


• If you think WSU and OSU did the right thing, good for you. If you don’t, we’re OK with that as well. We’re torn. But we figure if a 67-year-old dude is all with streaming, and we are, it isn’t “new” anymore. It’s mainstream. Until later …