As you know, the kids today love the interweb, and AD Jim Sterk took full advantage of it by conducting an online chat at yesterday. In it, he talks candidly about the future of Martin Stadium, the challenges the program faces (hint: it’s $$$) and why the mighty Portland State Vikings find themselves on the schedule for the Cougs this fall.

The beauty of these chats (for Sterk in this instance) is that the moderator can skip over any questions that the person chatting doesn’t want to answer. Some topics may very well have been off-limits for the chat, although there’s no way to know which issues were censored.

But give Sterk credit. He does a very good job of answering some intriguing questions, especially regarding the Pac-10 and the conference’s often-criticized TV deals:

Bruce Johnson (Virginia Beach, WSU ’74): Jim – My sincere thanks for your stewardship of our Athletic Department. Your enthusiasm, vision and dedication to our University is unequaled in my time. My questions are first…what is the liklihood of PAC-10 expansion? (Or is 10 teams optimal?) Second…I question the TV contracts for PAC-10 football and mens/womens basketball. At a glance, they don’t seem to be as favorable as the contracts for other conferences (u$C being the notable exception). Are the conference TV contracts receiving any attention, with thought being to enhance coverage/viewership? Thanks, and GO COUGS!

Jim Sterk: Bruce, I do not see any expansion of the Pac-10 in the foreseeable future. The expansion that took place in other conferences was driven by the opportunity to capture more revenue from TV contracts and/or conference championship games. Four years ago, I was on the TV committee for the Pac-10 and asked an ABC vice-president whether the Pac-10 should be looking to expand or whether it would be a financial boost to current members. He did not think it would. In responding to your second question, the contracts for the Pac-10 in football and basketball were negotiated three years ago. We are in our second year of a five-year agreement. At that time, we explored all options and ESPN came in with ABC for football to hold our primary rights. We retained FOX as our secondary rights holder in football. In basketball, FOX was the primary cable network that was interested in broadcasting a complete season, as well as maximizing conference revenue.

Of course I am still in favor of expansion and a conference championship, but at least Sterk outlines the reasoning a little better than Tom Hansen has in the past.

The one question I really wanted to see that didn’t show up is the one regarding Tony Bennett’s buyout. That’s one topic where I haven’t seen a direct answer from the athletic department, although it is a topic we probably don’t need to be worrying about for at least another year. Still, I’m 90% sure that someone asked, and if they didn’t, it was because they are like me and forgot to send in a question before the deadline.

But the news gets even better. That’s because on June 24th it’s Tony Bennett’s turn at the computer for a chat. The buyout is a possible topic of discussion, but then again it’s weird to ask Tony why his own buyout isn’t any larger. Ultimately I think the chat will center on next year’s team, the schedule and his decision to stick around Pullman. Less likely topics that I hope come up surround his thoughts on DeAngelo Casto, improvements to Beasley and how close he was to brutally murdering Tim Floyd in the 2007 USC game.

Off-topic, I know, but as I wrote this Miguel Batista just blew a save in a 5-4 loss for the Mariners. This was the sequence:

M. Batista relieved A. Rhodes
– K. Johnson walked
– G. Norton doubled to deep right center, K. Johnson scored
– M. Teixeira intentionally walked
– J. Francoeur hit by pitch, G. Norton to third, M. Teixeira to second
– B. McCann singled to right, G. Norton scored, M. Teixeira to third, J. Francoeur to seco

Miguel, please donate your salary to charity, because you do not deserve it. There are sick and starving children all over the world who need the help. Also, the majority of those kids are better at pitching than you are.


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