Bump & Stacy: Is this the end of the Apple Cup for UW and WSU?
Oct 12, 2023, 9:31 AM
Will 2023 mark the final Apple Cup football game between the UW Huskies and WSU Cougars?
It sure is sounding like that’s the case, especially after comments made by new UW athletic director Troy Dannen during his introductory press conference on Tuesday.
“My bias is I don’t want to lose history and the traditions. I also know that I have this economic model, particularly as we move to the Big Ten where we’re playing with people that frankly have an economic model that is, I don’t want to say far superior, but far greater than ours,” Dannen said. “We have to be really careful and seven home games is a piece of the economic model going forward that UW has to have.”
This is expected to be the final Pac-12 football season as numerous schools are leaving for other conferences.
USC and UCLA kicked things off last year by announcing a departure for the Big Ten. After a media rights deal didn’t come to fruition, Colorado announced it would be going to the Big 12. Next up were UW and Oregon, who were the final two schools to join the expanded Big Ten conference. Because the Huskies and Ducks joined late, they will receive a smaller revenue share from the conference’s media rights deal than the other Big Ten universities.
Later, Cal and Stanford joined the ACC, while Arizona, Arizona State and Utah went to the Big 12.
That leaves just WSU and Oregon State’s futures up in the air.
As for the Apple Cup, with UW appearing to want just five road games – all of which would be conference games – that would mean if the Apple Cup were to continue in a non-conference capacity, it would have to be in Seattle or, at best for the Cougs, at a neutral site.
Rost, a UW alum, hosts the show with Michael Bumpus, a legendary WSU football wide receiver.
Bumpus compared Dannen’s comments to an experience where he went to Las Vegas for the first time and brought less money than his friends.
“They were like, ‘Come with us. We’re good. We’ve got money. I don’t know what you’ve got, but come with us,'” he said. “… UW is in Vegas with not enough money. Now they’re trying to manipulate it with ‘We need seven home games’ … You decided to put yourselves in a situation, you decided to go, you decided to not get paid as much as everybody else because ‘We had to do it and there was no way financially we were gonna make it through.’ Yes there was. You just jumped ship.”
Bumpus said it’s not Dannen’s fault, as he just left Tulane to take the job at Washington and “inherited this situation.” But now it appears the Apple Cup will end because of UW’s apparent “economic model.”
“Now that you jumped ship, you’re not going to have enough money to support it, you’re going to kill a 100-plus year tradition?” Bumpus said.
Bumpus told Rost that many of his UW friends don’t take the Apple Cup as seriously as WSU fans do because historically it’s been one-sided in favor of the Huskies.
“It’s about the guys who play the game, but really it’s about the families that have supported this game generation after generation after generation,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but it makes sense. You’ve got to have a home game to create that revenue. It makes sense. But all that “We had to do it” (mentality) … you went to Vegas with $200-300 and now you’re asking the homies to hook it up.”
Rost said that with the conference shakeup, UW’s big end-of-season rivalry game will still be a geographical rivalry, but with Oregon rather than WSU.
Oregon also appears destined to end its historic rivalry game against Oregon State, which until recent years was dubbed the Civil War.
Rost said of Washington and Oregon, “The real answer is there is more that matters to them than this rivalry game. They could have chosen to stay in the Pac, they could have chosen to take a hard route, they could have chosen to keep these rivalry games. And the answer isn’t, ‘Now we’ve got our hands tied with home games.’ The answer is, ‘We chose to throw that out when we went to the Big Ten.'”
Added Bumpus, “But good riddance, man. If the Apple Cup doesn’t happen, it’s going to hurt, but we don’t want to force it … If you want to leave, go ahead and leave.”
Listen to the first hour of Wednesday’s Bump and Stacy at this link or check out this conversation in the video player atop this story.