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Failing To Revive Gonzaga Vs. Washington Rivalry

One of the greatest lessons one can learn in life is what they can accomplish if they really want to.

The University of Washington and Gonzaga University have spent a lot of time talking as if they are genuinely interested in resuming a key in-state basketball series, but so far have yet to come to an agreement. They’ve failed to accomplish their goal, begging the question, how much do they really want it?

The series was going strong until 2006 when after 10 straight years of playing each other, Washington cancelled the series. Gonzaga had won eight of those 10 contests.

Washington came up with a proposal in October of 2009 to resume the series with three games at KeyArena in Seattle with both universities splitting the total ticket allotment and all revenues, but Gonzaga rejected the deal with Bulldogs’ coach Mark Few being quoted as saying, “The chances of that happening are about the same as Bigfoot having my baby.”

Few said that would be like him suggesting the series be played at Spokane Arena. Not really when you consider KeyArena seats nearly 5,000 more for a basketball game than Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, but we’ll just ignore that.

And it’s not like Gonzaga fans aren’t used to traveling across the state to Seattle anyway considering they’ve done so each year since 2003 for the “Battle in Seattle.” We can ignore that too though, I guess.

Gonzaga actually came up with a reasonable proposal saying the games should alternate between home sites with the first game being at Gonzaga because Washington was the team that cancelled the series in the first place. This sounds reasonable, but apparently Washington felt differently.

So what’s holding everything up? It certainly isn’t about a lack of fan interest because it seems like every year the discussion gets brought up again. This is about both universities not wanting it enough. Neither university wants to drop its pride and compromise on its original proposal.

The main problem I see is that neither university feels like it needs each other. As a Pac-10 (now Pac-12) university, Washington usually has little problem scheduling intriguing out-of-conference games against nationally-ranked opponents. You might think Gonzaga would have difficulty being in the West Coast Conference, but the Bulldogs have proven consistently that they can get big-time opponents as well.

Without feeling like they need each other to provide a significant boost to strength of schedule, both universities seem content to go on without the series, regardless of fan interest.

What makes this especially difficult is that the more both universities increase their national appeal by playing well, the more they’ll continue to draw high-ranking opponents and the less they’ll feel like they need each other. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to one university swallowing its pride. But for that to happen, they have to care.

Right now, they just don’t.

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