By and large, the two schools have gotten along famously, both on and off the courts and fields of play. Even in the 1970s, '80 and ‘90s, when Gonzaga would accept any high school student with a pulse and a D+ average, the Cougar faithful were always polite about it.
There was a time, of course, when a Spokane game between the two effectively meant a Cougar home game, because the WSU faithful were indeed faithful and the Zags' following was very modest. That's all changed over the last 15 years with GU's unprecedented success.
And with that success apparently comes unprecedented arrogance.
Make no mistake, the Cougs don't have clean hands here. Except for the brief window of Bennett Ball glory, the program has been largely ho-hum since Mark Hendrickson and Ike Fontaine left campus.
That's 20-some years of putting yourself in a bad spot.
In contract negotiations between a struggling program and a high flyer, you know who holds the upper hand.
But this isn't merely the case of struggling vs. thriving. This is the case of two friendly neighbors who've been playing ball together since 1907.
Moreover, let's not forget who held the upper hand in this series for roughly the first 90 years of it: Washington State.
George Raveling once quipped that on the recruiting trail in the East, kids would look at the WSU schedule and wonder if Gonzaga was a school or a venereal disease. That's how obscure the Zags were in those days.
WSU had little to gain from playing them. A victory would mean nothing and a loss would be a huge red flag. Yet most years, and often in Spokane, the two would play.
The series was so lopsided, that CF.C co-founders Greg and John Witter once told me they were OK with the Cougs' overtime loss to GU in December 1983 because their old friend and Gonzaga Prep classmate, John Stockton, was a Zag senior and had hungered to beat the Cougs (who only offered him to walk on) just once.
WSU AD BILL MOOS easily could have walked away from Gonzaga's 2-and-1 mandate. Instead, he chose the classy route. By saying yes, he kept the long rivalry going, he secured a non-conference game against a name opponent that will cost little more than the bus ride north to the "neutral site," and he has a fighting chance of getting some Cougar fans into that neutral site.
Nonetheless, the whole "gun to the head" approach by Gonzaga is just so unsavory.
For Cougar fans, especially those in Spokane who have been very generous in their support of the Zags, Gonzaga's actions should be seen as a shot across the bow. Not only do they take you for granted, but they take your school for granted.
Moos made mention a few weeks back on how much money WSU had helped pump into Spokane by hosting the second- and third-round games in the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Spokane. Moos said local businesses reaped "millions upon millions of dollars" from the tournament.
Mr. Few needs to step down off his high horse. He needs to tear down that wall of arrogance he's built with all those first-round NCAA Tournament appearances.
The recommendation here is that Cougar fans in Spokane start voting with their wallets. Don't attend, don't watch and don't acknowledge the Zags in any way -- at least not until Few and his sycophant AD, Mike Roth, check the ego at the door at go back to the standard home-and-home arrangement.
Being neighborly isn't a one-way street.