There's only one Christmas carol appropriate for Pullman this time of year. "Silent Night." Not sure how many of you attended WSU as a student or, if you did, stuck around over Christmas break, but there is something so relaxing about the town right now. Heck, even Arby's was empty last night. Read on.
• Washington State: Bowl games get underway today but that doesn't mean much here in sunny Pullman. Basketball gets back on the Beasley hardwood tomorrow and all three formerly hurt players, Mike Ladd, Abe Lodwick – who has been out all season – and Faisal Aden will suit up. How much they will play depends on how they feel. For example, Aden has yet to practice this week but will today and will be available Sunday when the Cougars host Division II Western Oregon. We'll have a story in tomorrow's paper about WSU's start thus far and how the return of the trio may affect the team. ... Ken Bone held a live chat with the Seattle Times on Friday. You can read the transcript here. ... One of Paul Wulff's former assistants, defensive coordinator Chris Ball (in most mentions of his hire Ball is still referred to a co-defensive coordinator, but he took over the role by himself last season), found a job Friday, hooking up with new Arizona State coach Todd Graham. In communicating with Ball yesterday, he made it clear he was headed to Pittsburgh, where he coached under former head guy Dave Wannstedt, and switched gears when Graham moved to ASU. ... As for Mike Leach's staff at WSU, Brian Floyd does a nice job of updating the search as it is now at CougCenter. There are just a few spots open and there have been names attached to each position except one: strength coach. Though I don't know if he would be returning to WSU, former Cougar strength coach Rob Oviatt was the SEC strength coach of the year in 1997 and 1998 when he was with Hal Mumme and Leach at Kentucky. Oviatt is currently with former Cougar assistant Robin Pflugrad at Montana, whose season ended last night with a 31-28 loss in the FCS semifinals. Just passing that information along.
• Around the Pac-12: Being it's Saturday morning, it means we link Ted Miller's Friday mailbag. ... One Husky moves from long-snapping to dental school. ... As Oregon prepares for Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, quite a few Ducks have to think a bit about the NFL, including LaMichael James. ... The conference did a bit better on the court last night, with Cal defeating Weber State at home, Utah doing the same to Idaho State (thanks Big Sky) and Washington, riding the 27 points of freshman – and starter – Tony Wroten to an 87-80 win over UC Santa Barbara, Lorenzo Romar's 200th. ... UCLA, the tallest team in the conference, has struggled on the boards. ... Arizona travels to Seattle today to face Gonzaga.
• That's it for this morning. No news. Until later ...