Commentary: Disappointment in the Cougars for Apple Cup cancellation – but not the ones from WSU

 

Apple Cup has been cancelled this week. And I’m really upset at the Cougars.

Not those Cougars. The BYU Cougars. I’ll get to that in a second.

If you missed it, Apple Cup was cancelled because Washington State did not have the minimum number of scholarship players available due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases and the isolation of other players under contact tracing protocols. We knew this could be coming because the Cougs game against Stanford was cancelled after a total of nine players were placed in COVID-19 protocol, including quarterback Jayden de Laura.

So now, the Huskies are in search of a new opponent this week. And it should be the BYU Cougars. It makes perfect sense – for both teams.

BYU is currently the eighth-ranked team in the country. They’re a perfect 9-0 this season. (Yes, they’ve somehow played nine games already – don’t ask me how!) They just happen to have an open date on their calendar this weekend. But aside from a 51-17 thrashing of Boise State on the road, BYU does not have any Top 25 Wins. They need another win – preferably another road win – against a strong Power 5 opponent to have any chance of convincing a playoff committee that they’re worthy of consideration.

The Huskies fit that bill perfectly. And earlier this week, the Pac-12 approved flexibility for teams to schedule non-conference opponents – as long as they adhered to all testing and protocols and agreed that the Pac-12 team (in this case, the Huskies) would be the home team.

Just yesterday, BYU Football tweeted this: “Any team. Any time. Any place.”

But according to Bruce Feldman from The Athletic, UW reached out yesterday, but was told BYU wanted to wait until after the College Football Rankings came out on Tuesday to gauge their place.

So it’s more like, “Any Team. Any Time. Any Place….But only if we have to.”  It’s a terrible look.

In BYU’s defense, there is a wrinkle in this whole non-conference situation in the Pac-12. If the Huskies schedule BYU or any non-conference team, and then another Pac-12 team becomes available to play before Friday, then the Pac-12 team becomes the priority, and BYU would be out of luck. Yahoo Sports reported tonight that BYU is concerned that the Pac-12 will make the Huskies play Utah this week if Arizona State can’t play.

But that makes no sense. BYU wasn’t playing this weekend anyway. So they either play UW with a chance to improve their status, or they go back to Square One. Nothing gained, nothing lost.  

Whatever happens, hand it to the Huskies for avoiding positive COVID tests so far. Their reward should be another game. They were already hosed out of their season opener against Cal. And their 2-0 start, including a dominant win over Arizona last night has shown that the Jimmy Lake Era has a ton of promise. At the very least, it’s important to continue to give them chances to build a solid foundation.

A number of schools give them that chance. But BYU is the team that would provide the best test available. And frankly, it looks like they’re running from that fight and hiding behind Pac-12’s rules.

Any Team, Any Time, Any Place? Kind of hypocritical, until those (BYU) Cougars say yes.