How Many Football Fans Will Die So Huskies and Cougars Could Have a Week Off?
Didn’t take Cliff Mass to predict this: A football game played in Pullman, Washington, on December 4, will not be played in ideal conditions.
We can argue which Apple Cup participant will have an advantage in the 25 degree F temps and possible snow showers. But one group is a sure loser: Football fans, some of whom may make it to the pearly gates instead of Pullman.
Pullman is 75 miles south of Spokane, along meandering, two-lane Highway 195. So it’s a pain to get to on sunny days. Add blowing snow and freezing fog to the equation and you’re going from painful to treacherous.
Freezing fog? That’s what I said 45 minutes ago, when my Coug fan co-worker, who had a hotel room and an SUV booked for the weekend, told me she’d canceled both because of it. Evidently it’s condensation that freezes to the road, turning into black ice.
With icy conditions from North Bend eastward, drivers will be crawling along–it could take 8-10 hours to reach Pullman from Seattle. Inevitably, some cars will hit black ice. Hopefully, their human cargo will emerge from the subsequent wreck safely. My friend isn’t taking the risk; her seats will be empty.
So you may ask: Why the hell are they playing a football game on December 4 in Pullman, Washington? To win more.
College football seasons, once 10 or 11 games long, are now 12 or 13 games long. Coaches like to schedule weeks off during the season–called “bye weeks”–for injuries to heal and for extra practices. Washington State has had two consecutive bye weeks leading into this game, so at kickoff they won’t have played in 21 days.
From 1979-2006, the game was played the week before Thanksgiving (so, two weekends ago). But with the lengthening football season, playing on that date meant that either the game wasn’t the last regular season game of the year for both teams, a long-held tradition, or that neither team got a precious bye week.
So the schools agreed to play this year’s game December 4, the latest date in the history of the rivalry. To make things worse, for television scheduling reasons, the game kickoffs at 4 p.m. That’s sundown in Pullman this time of year. The nighttime temperature could fall below 20 degrees F.
It’s one thing to inconvenience your fans–but our state’s two biggest universities are asking fans to risk their necks in a dangerous weather situation that was eminently foreseeable. If scheduling football was a pass/fail class, neither would be getting a credit.