A quite full Monday morning, what with the Washington State baseball team still playing – that looked doubtful early Sunday – and Pac-10 commissioner getting the go ahead from the conference presidents Sunday to pursue expansion and to do it quickly. We have items for you on both those subjects, so read on.
• We’ll start with baseball, as the Cougars rallied back in Sunday’s first game before holding on in the second to stay alive in the Fayetteville regional. Should they find a way to win tonight – their pitching staff is worn thin, they’ll be playing in front of 10,000 loud, enthusiastic Arkansas fans – they will move on to next weekend’s super regional at Tempe against Arizona State. Those games will start … well, we don’t know yet. The NCAA, in conjunction with its senior partner, ESPN, starts a group of four super regionals on Friday and four on Saturday. The organizations haven’t decided which yet. So we wait. … The Cougars wasted no time in their nightcap yesterday. After coming from way down to eliminate Kansas State 9-6, they broke on top early against Arkansas and kept adding-on – the Razorbacks helped with some sloppy defense – before Chad Arnold, making his first relief appearance of the season, kept Arkansas at bay over the final four innings. In a true rarity, pitcher James Wise started both games Sunday, doing poorly in the opener (bailed out in large part by late-season find Richie Ochoa), but much better in his three-inning nightcap stint. … Who will start tonight (you can follow the 5 p.m. start here)? The smart money (of which I have none) is one either Paris Shewey or Adam Conley, but we’ll see. … Here is our story, brought to you by freelancer Nathan Allen. Freelancer Howie Stalwick has this piece on Cougfan and this story in the New Tribune and other papers. … The rest of the Pac-10 did not fare as well yesterday, with only three teams remaining. The winners were Arizona State and UCLA (where former UCI coach John Savage’s team knocked out this year’s UCI team). Those two will host super regionals on the weekend. The losers were Arizona, Oregon State and Oregon.
• Now to the other subject, Pac-10 expansion. As we’ve been saying all along, this is going to happen. It’s just going to be sooner rather than later. And it’s going to be a big deal, with Texas being everyone’s No. 1 target, which might mean the Pac-10 may have to take Baylor. The big force is money, of course, TV money. The expansion scenarios will play out over the next few months, with a lot of backroom wheeling and dealing. In the end, the Big 12 more than likely will be toast, and the Pac-10 will include schools ranging deep into the Central time zone. TV money will increase for everyone – which is especially good news for schools like WSU – and everything will settle down. For a few years. Then something new will pop up. By the way, WSU’s role in an expanded Pac-10 will not change dramatically as far as I can discern. There is no talk of any contraction, only expansion, so the school seems to have a solid foundation in any new order.
• That’s it for this morning. We’ll be back with baseball news later. Until then …