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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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June 13, 2008 2:52 PM

Another reason for scheduling LSU

Posted by Bob Condotta

Former Husky assistant coach Dick Baird helped revive the debate this week over Washington's recent scheduling practices with this piece on (You need a subscription to read it, but I'm linking to it to acknowledge the impetus behind this discussion.)

Driving around doing some errands today, I then heard Dave "Softy'' Mahler at KJR-AM reference the Baird piece and weigh in with his own thoughts. Both think the Huskies shouldn't have scheduled LSU, instead getting in place a team that will be easier to beat.

UW officials point out that filling an opening this late isn't as easy as just picking your opponent, making a quick phone call and sealing the deal, and when the chance came to play a big-name like LSU, they grabbed it.

And they aren't alone in feeling that scheduling isn't quite as simple as it seems --- or even as it used to be.

USA Today had this story this week on how hard it is becoming for big-name teams to schedule "inferior'' opponents with smaller schools demanding more and more money and often pulling out of signed contracts.

That's exactly how UW ended up needing to find another game for 2009 in the first place, something I detailed in this post last month .

Originally, UW was to play Nevada and Illinois at home in 2009, along with a game at Notre Dame, a schedule that would have pretty much followed the old "A-B-C'' philosophy of scheduling one marquee game (at Notre Dame), one home game against a good team but one that in most years you should be able to beat (Illinois) and one relative gimme (Nevada --- and yes, I know what happened last time they played the Wolf Pack in Seattle, but for the sake of this argument, we're looking at the historical statures of the programs in question). But both Illinois and Nevada backed out of the games leaving UW scrambling to fill the holes.

So now in 2009 it's LSU and Idaho at home and at Notre Dame, a schedule that Baird, Mahler and others think is too tough for the Huskies right now. Maybe, though as I argued last month, there's something that should be applauded about trying to schedule tough games and giving the fans their money's worth (and I think most of the players would rather play those types of schedules, as well).

And here's another reason the Huskies may have decided to schedule LSU for 2009 that I haven't heard talked about much --- that it could help the effort to get $150 million in public money out of the state legislature for a renovation of Husky Stadium.

Part of UW's selling point in that quest will be the economic benefits to the region of Husky football games, especially contests against marquee non-conference teams that are likely to bring in a lot of fans.

I was reminded of that this week when I got an e-mail from the Seattle Sports Commission, a monthly newsletter it sends to media and others in the area (a group that I assume includes politicians).

This month's theme was the impact of sports organizations on the local economy and included this paragraph:

"The athletic department at the University of Washington plays an important role in the life of the school, driving exposure for the college and connecting alumni to their alma mater. The foundation of this department is the football team, which generates revenue that helps fund the balance of the sports programs. It also drives business in the region by hosting games against teams such as Ohio State University in 2007, which brought approximately 10,000 fans to Seattle and the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers who will visit in 2009. These games fill hotels and restaurants, generating economic impact in tax dollars that assists in funding police, fire departments, schools and other important services.''

That's exactly the message UW officials will be trying to peddle in Olympia next January when they try again to make a case for funds to renovate Husky Stadium. Another home game against a team like Idaho, obviously, isn't going to help that cause at all.

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