War of words between UW, WSU ADs better than Apple Cup
The schoolyard exchange between Washington Scott Woodward and WSU's Jim Sterk over the Apple Cup moving to Qwest Field is crazy enough to put on pay-per-view.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Scott Woodward and Jim Sterk, report to the Octagon immediately.
You're not merely rival athletic directors anymore. You squabble well enough to headline a UFC event. If you're still worried about how to generate the money squandered in that controversial, ill-fated attempt to move the Apple Cup to Qwest Field, here's a thought: pay-per-view.
Sterk has the size advantage over the diminutive Woodward, but let us not underestimate short stack's Louisiana grit. To the victor goes the right to have his stadium renovation hopes dashed again by state lawmakers.
From the disappointment of the failure of Senate Bill 6116, which would've provided much-needed funding for a Husky Stadium makeover, came this intoxicating, goofy sideshow. Really, it goes back a few days earlier, when the Apple Cup/Qwest Field discussions died, but after watching Washington State fans organize a campaign against the bill, Woodward couldn't help expressing his frustration.
"It was just an irritant, that's the best way to put it," the Washington AD said after witnessing the Cougars' efforts, which included renting a plane to fly a banner over Olympia last week telling legislators to vote down the bill.
Those words alone would've been sufficient to boost a slumping rivalry, but then Woodward directed his ire toward Sterk and Washington State president Elson Floyd.
"The most disappointing thing about it is that Elson Floyd and Jim Sterk didn't do anything to try to contain that little group of Cougars that were out there doing that. It was a shame that they didn't show leadership or courage to curtail something like that."
In this politically correct age of sports, rarely does an athletic director call out the competition. So that was an unexpected treat offered up without any goading. Even better than Woodward's honesty was that Sterk — AD of the Fightin' Irritants — couldn't stop himself from resorting to the adult version of, "I know you are, but what am I?"
"It was so inappropriate that I laughed, basically," Sterk told The Spokesman-Review of Spokane. "I could not believe those comments were coming from him. One, to me as athletic director, but then two, to the president of the university."
When I was in elementary school, some kid would step up right about now and say, "I bet y'all won't fight." And then we'd get a fight we could talk about for weeks.
So let me be the instigator here.
Keep it up, fellas. Come back with some "Yo Mamma" jokes. Tell your "little group of Cougars" to fly a banner with a joke about Woodward being short, Jim. Respond with a cut down about Tony Bennett running from Pullman, Scott.
Please do it. Puhleeze. After watching the Apple Cup turn into a laughingstock game last season, this rivalry needs the spice.
"I hate to burst your bubble, but there's no animosity between me and Jim," Woodward said Wednesday, adding that the two will probably have fun with this controversy during the Pac-10 Conference meetings in Phoenix next week. "I think the world of Jim."
That's, um, nice. Nice and lame.
Woodward and Sterk are both good men and promising athletic directors. If any two rivals could brush off a harsh exchange, it would be those two. But here's guessing it won't be as easy to heal this wound as Woodward claims.
"My role in the rivalry is minor, and what matters is when we play on the field," Woodward said. "We both need to be healthy and doing what we need to do. I was very disappointed, and I still am. I want to be very clear here and very consistent. If I had a group of alumni, and their sole intent was to interfere with a capital project, I would vociferously tell them that it's not the right thing to do and that I don't agree with such methods.
"It's just a difference of opinion on how to handle something. I was disappointed in the lack of leadership."
Back on the "lack of leadership" train? Oh, those are fighting words. Put your dukes up, Scott.
"I'm sure we'll laugh it off," Woodward insisted.
Whatever. Bet y'all won't fight.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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