PULLMAN, Wash. (KTVZ) -- Leaders of Oregon State and Washington State universities met Thursday, discussing the state of the Pac-12, and the big football game this Saturday between the two ranked conference rivals.
They had a clear message: Off the field, they're partners working towards the best possible outcome for both school's athletic futures.
On the field, for this Saturday, it's Cougars vs. Beavers.
However, Saturday's game will feature an atypical amount of unity.
The WSU band will play the OSU fight song 18 minutes before kickoff, and the mascots will be friendlier than usual.
For Scott Barnes, the athletic director at Oregon State University, this new partnership has helped the schools appreciate each other more.
"When you're in a fight together, in sort of the foxhole together, you do learn a lot more,” Barnes said. “For me, it confirmed what I thought about the Cougars, and our fan base have always cheered for each other because of our commonalities.”
Pat Chun, the athletic director at Washington State University, talked about how great both programs are doing.
"The stage is in Pullman, Washington, the opponent is a top 25 Oregon State, it's a Pac-12 conference game -- and you're going to see a great football game on national TV,” Chun said.
Most of the call focused on the ongoing legal battle with the Pac-12, the impact it's having on its athletes and recruitment, and what the future looks like.
They hope to have a more clear legal direction in the next 30 days or so.
They're aiming for a decision on the 2024-25 season some time before the end of the fall, noting how difficult scheduling will be the later it gets.
As of this week, Dr. Jayathi Murthy, the president of Oregon State University, said they're not publicly leaning in any specific direction.
"I can tell you that the preferred option is to play at the highest level,” Murthy said. “To give our student and student athletes every athletic and academic chance we can possibly get for them."
The schools have a ton of options at play: operating as a two-school conference, joining the Big-12, bringing new schools to the Pac-12, joining the Mountain West, merging with the Mountain West and re-branding as the Pac-12, or even creating a European soccer-style relegation system with the two western conferences.
Chun commented on the existing public options.
"Those may seem like options we may have to pick from at the moment, but we're not picking them at the moment right now,” Chun said. “We’re going to keep doing our due diligence, we're going to keep positioning ourselves and whatever decisions we make are going to keep both athletic programs on the same upward trajectory."
Either way, this all takes a pause, or center stage, as both teams look to take each other down on the gridiron, Saturday at 4 p.m. in Pullman, airing on Fox.