Moos takes high road in face of petty Gonzaga

BILL MOOS

GONZAGA, THE ugly stepchild of the long-running basketball rivalry with Washington State for the better part of the series' first 80 years, threatened to end the annual battle a year ago unless WSU agreed to play two of three games in Spokane, a source tells Cougfan.com. That's why this season's game will be played at the Spokane Arena even though this past season's was at the McCarthy Center.

The Cougs will have to wait until 2015-16 to get the Zags in Pullman.

A source with knowledge of the situation told Cougfan.com today that while Bill Moos was tempted to tell the Zags to pound sand, he felt the tradition of the series -- which dates to 1907 and includes 148 games -- trumped Gonzaga's petty power play.

The source, who asked not to be identified, said that Gonzaga coach Mark Few and athletic director Mike Roth presented a "take it or leave it" proposition or they would cancel the 107-year-old rivalry.

Gonzaga demanded the contract had to be three games, with one on Gonzaga's home floor and another at the "neutral site" of the Spokane Arena.

Moos, said the source, ultimately came to the conclusion it was more important to preserve the rivalry, and that he hopes to negotiate the next contract from a position of greater strength.

CRIMSON COMMENTARY

News of the 2-and-1 arrangement, broken by the Spokesman-Review, generated a fiery response from the Cougar faithful. On Twitter, former WSU star Brock Motum declared that playing in the Spokane Arena this upcoming season "is the WORST decision ..."

KJR Radio host Ian Furness, a WSU grad, tweeted that WSU should "just say no."

The ire is understandable, particularly when you consider Gonzaga hails from what amounts to a glorified high school conference and WSU owns a 98-50 series lead. But facts are facts: the Cougars have spiraled downward since Klay Thompson headed to the NBA while Gonzaga -- however perpetually overrated they may be -- continue their streak of NCAA Tournament berths.

WSU vs. Gonzaga is good for both schools and the region. These neighbors have been playing each other since Teddy Roosevelt was in office. It's a rivalry that absolutely should be preserved.

Moos deserves a pat on the back for sticking with tradition and plugging his nose at Gonzaga's arrogant, underhanded nonsense.

Gonzaga University's mission statement says it's committed to fostering "a mature commitment to dignity."

I wonder where putting the gun to the head of a long-time neighbor fits into that notion of high-minded Jesuit thinking?

The guess here is that St. Aloysius himself is rolling in his grave.

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