Pros and Cons of Reviving the Gonzaga Series


Reviving the Gonzaga Series…


Just mention those four words and suddenly the Seattle Times Husky Basketball Blog explodes with hundreds of comments. I am not sure there is a more sensitive topic in the world of Husky Hoops than that (and that may even include the exploits of one former UW player)….

Whenever the topic comes up, the comments usually start logically enough but then quickly break down into a hissy fit focused primarily on the rumored personal issues between Mark Few and Lorenzo Romar, the incident when Mark Few reported to the NCAA that Cameron Dollar for contacting Josh Heydtvelt outside of the proper contact period (rather than having the courtesy of talking to Lorenzo Romar and allowing UW to self-report), and of course how well Gonzaga performed against UW during the series in the last few years.

For the record, Washington leads the series 29-14, but Gonzaga did go 8-2 in the last 10 meetings.

I also do not want to delve into the area Zags fans usually go with this “we’re scared of Gonzaga” dribble that is constantly talked about. I think we all have to recognize that all of the Athletic Directors and Coaches involved are professionals and ultimately, the revival of this series is going to come down to one primary factor…MONEY!

So, rather than explode into taunting, let’s just look at the numbers. A match up of this nature is regional, not national. While it certainly would be a marquee match up for us in the Pacific Northwest, we have to be honest with ourselves on both sides of the mountains and recognize that most major media outlets probably would not pick up this game nationally unless it were one of those 10 pm Eastern starts no one stays up to see.

While a game of this nature certainly would help each team’s strength of schedule and thus the RPI, we also have to recognize that Gonzaga has more to gain scheduling this game than UW does based purely on RPI factors alone. The reason is that 25% of the RPI is based on an opponent’s opponents record. That means for UW, it is taking into account all of the WCC teams. For Gonzaga, they benefit with all the Pac-12 teams.

But, like I said, ultimately this comes down to money. If the games are played at the small venues of Hec Ed (10,000 seats) and the McCarthy Center (6,000 seats), there wouldn’t be a lot of ticket sales for the teams to take in or split. UW football already suffers from the unfair agreement that when they play WSU in Pullman the stadium is only half the size of Husky Stadium. So, WSU makes way more when they come to Seattle than UW makes going to Pullman.

TV revenue would also not be that great. More than likely it would be just picked up by Root Sports and shown in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe Fox Sports would show it nationally as a late game. But, unless it goes to a neutral site and becomes an “event”, I don’t see ESPN jumping to grab that game for prime time slot.

So, why would either team risk a loss on the road when they could generate similar income with some no-name mid-major coming to town instead? It’s almost as if these games are for bragging rights only.

When UW proposed playing all of the games at Key Arena (17,000 seats), that guaranteed 2-3 times the revenue for the games for each school. Another proposal would include Spokane Arena (12,000 seats) instead of “The Kennel”. That might make it a little more palatable financially. But, still for UW to play a road game with 12,000 seats instead of a home game with 10,000 seats is not really that justified monetarily. Thus is the nature of modern college basketball. If you want to play a Top 25 team outside of your conference nowadays, you pretty much have to play it at a neutral site. Could UW play Gonzaga in Portland? Would people attend? It might take a little of bite out of the resistance of each alumni/student body by having the game in a third-site neutral location. What do you think? Take the poll at the top of this article and add your comments below! We’d love to hear from you.