Media UW influence trying to squash WSU stadium talk?

Ok, this is kind of weird.

As you probably have figured out, not only is the media coverage pro-UW around here, it’s particularly bad in the local rags. I keep the News Tribune out of this, it’s an excellent sports page that’s very fair, but the Times and especially the P-I is nothing but cheerleading. It’s flat-out blatant this week, and I’ll tell you why.

On Sunday, my bro-in-law and I talked about a lot of things at the Hawks game, including stadium expansion. He said their campaign is just a mess and they keep asking the same people for money, time and again, but to make it worse, they don’t have a plan. They can’t dig down and put seats closer to the field, because all that would do is make the upper deck another 30-40 yards further away from the field, and they are WAY far away as it is. The only answer appears to be a complete tear-down and build a brand new facility, and they would do what the Hawks did only in reverse and play at Qwest field for two seasons.

Anyway, what struck me as odd is how much he knew a lot about our scheme, and made it appear that we have been the topic of some of their discussions. He also made it sound as though even though we are down in the revenue world, there is a bit of a fear as to what we could become. In other words, “the Ducks and Beavs have done it right, the last thing we need is the Cougs to rise from the ashes!”

So, this caught my eye the other day. As you know, the P-I outside the go-to-guy doesn’t cover WSU. They reprint Glenn’s stuff from the Spokesman Review. Earlier this week there was a WSU notebook, where they took Glenn’s article about Doba and the stadium expansion and printed it as their own. The BIG difference?? The P-I conveniently chose to LEAVE OUT THE HUGE PART DETAILING THE STADIUM EXPANSION!

Here’s the one big thing I learned from working the media room from back in 2000 – the media in sports IS biased, folks. I worked with writers, producers, reporters and camera men from Kiro, King, Komo and Fox, and to a man, they not only told me the reporting in Seattle is heavily biased, towards UW in particular, but they even told me tricks of the trade to make their favorties look better! Everything from the writing style to even camera angles, favorable for any subject UW including great lighting and angles, and, sadly, if they didn’t like their subject? They would go out of their way to make the subject look bad, from weak lighting to the ABSOLUTE worst camera angles that could make Angelina Jolie look like a DOG.

Anyway, here’s the article from the Spokesman, which includes the stadium details. It’s funny that the article is almost half about the stadium, yet the UW slurpers at the P-I left it on the cutting room floor?? Don’t believe me, compare the P-I’s copy vs. the Spokesman’s:

Glenn Kasses
Staff writer
November 16, 2005
PULLMAN – Sitting up in his box at Martin Stadium during a game or standing nearby while coach Bill Doba talks to the media afterward, there’s not much Jim Sterk can do.But as Washington State University’s athletic director, the 3-7 disappointment – some would say disaster – that is this football season hits him as hard as anyone. As with Doba, Sterk is charged with helping to put the pieces back together.”There’s a lot of factors that led to this season being one of those – I was thinking about it, I think we’re Best Supporting Actor,” Sterk said Tuesday morning, just days away from an Apple Cup pitting two teams that have combined for five wins. “We’re made-for-TV because our games, they know they’re going to be down to the wire. It’s exciting. I’d like a different ending, though.”

For the first time in Doba’s three-year tenure as head coach after 14 years as a defensive assistant, serious questions about his fitness for the job are being asked. Fans have openly booed some decisions during games and second-guessed them on the six days in between. Losing all seven Pacific-10 Conference games hasn’t helped.Sterk sees things differently. His support for the coaching staff that works just down the hall from his office has publicly been clear.”I get a few e-mails here and there.

But people understand, and if they really look at it the coaching staff didn’t become dumb overnight,” he said. “We didn’t get the wins, but I think those people over there are the type of the people that will get it done. They’re still a great coaching staff. Everyone said it’s the best coaching staff we’ve had here at Washington Sate University. They’re the same guys.”Realistically, even if Sterk felt the same as fans calling for massive changes, such a move might be difficult. A buyout of the head coach’s contract alone would cost more than $2 million. (The deal goes through the 2009 season and all of the assistant coaches have one year left on their contracts.)Minutes after expressing confidence in Doba’s performance, Sterk talked about the weighty burden of $1.3 million in scholarship expenses that has fallen on the department because of cutbacks in state funding. So the likelihood of making such a huge splash to bring in an unknown entity would seem at best a long shot.

Furthermore, Sterk said the department hasn’t done its share to assist the football program. The renovation and expansion of Martin Stadium has become the top priority of the department, and one that Sterk suggested is necessary to ensure a competitive team and department in the long run.

The planning stages for the expansion still have a long way to go, although conceptually Sterk and his staff seem to have agreed upon a general outline. Eschewing the major upgrade to the south (press box) side of the stadium because costs would have spiraled into nine figures, the Cougars are hoping to put luxury suites on the north end of the stadium, widen the north concourse, and improve restroom and concession facilities on the north, east and south sides. A more significant addition to the east end zone near Stadium Way (a second deck, a multipurpose club area) remains a possibility.

Sterk said keeping costs less than $60 million is a near necessity, but WSU hasn’t figured out how much of that it can raise through bond issues and how much must be from private donors. Nor is it certain that WSU has the donors to provide the needed cash.The athletic director insisted that the losing seasons in 2004 and 2005 won’t dramatically affect the short-term ability to raise money for a construction project he still hopes to begin in 2007.”You know, I think that the people – our steering committee and those folks – are people that are, they’re not fly-by-night fans. They’re invested in the program,” he said. “Yeah, it’s fun and nice to win. But (losing) gives us even more resolve why we need to get this stadium completed and renovated.”Still, he said it would be about a year before the school reached outside its primary fund-raising circle for donations – possibly a sign that WSU is hoping a better season in 2006 would help bring in more dollars.

Circling back to the issue of his football coaches, Sterk emphasized how the commitment to winning has to be a two-way street.Asked if WSU would be a school that could sustain football success, as opposed to the current peaks-and-valleys trend, the athletic director paused for nearly 15 seconds before choosing his words.

“They need all the … I want to say weapons in the arsenal, but I’m kind of sensitive over that. But that’s the analogy, I guess,” Sterk reasoned. “Sixteen years ago, Bill Doba was told the stadium was going to be renovated in two years. And that hasn’t happened.”

Cougars win needle spaceWSU fans donated more than $30,000 more than Husky fans to the Space Needle’s Hurricane Katrina relief effort, and as a result the Seattle landmark will be painted crimson and gray for Apple Cup weekend with the message: “Go Cougars!”In less than two weeks $97,947 came in from Cougars supporters while Washington backers raised $66,346. The contributions, which came from 32 states and three countries, will go to Habitat for Humanity.NotesFuneral services for Janice Walden, wife of former WSU coach Jim Walden, will be held 11 a.m. Friday at Manito Presbyterian Church at 401 E. 30th Street, with a reception afterward at the downtown Doubletree. The Walden family asks for donations in lieu of flowers to the Mark Rypien Foundation. … X-rays revealed a small fracture in wide receiver Jason Hill’s left index finger, but he will play with a splint. Hill was also named one of 15 finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wideout. … Fellow wide receiver Brandon Gibson (hip) is questionable but did participate in practice. Jerome Harrison took the day off, as did Mkristo Bruce after tweaking his sore knee near the beginning of the session.

The link to the P-I (I won’t re-paste it, but see if you can tell where the cutting began):

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