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It's November, which means the heat is on - figuratively

COUGARS

The 2011 calendar has turned another page. It's November, the month of Thanksgiving, college basketball tournaments and crunch time for Washington State football. Read on.

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• Washington State: This is the month the weather around here turns really cold and the schedule turns burning hot. Not because of the strength of the opponents. No, it's because, if the Cougars want to achieve their goal of playing in a bowl, they have to play as if their hair is on fire. It starts this Saturday afternoon in a major league baseball park against a school that came this close to not having a baseball team on campus this year. OK, I know I'm the only one who finds that ironic. Let's move on to our first look at the matchup. ... By the way, talked with Jeff Tuel last night. The junior quarterback really wants to get back on the field this season, despite all the injuries he's suffered. He's walking better and his shoulder feels better, he said. As for his prognosis, he hopes to return to practice in a limited bases some time this week if possible and then go from there. Doesn't know when he'll be cleared to play again, but hopes it will be before the year is out. ...  The News Tribune also has a quick look at the game. ... And that's about it from this side of things.

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• Around the Pac-12: A big day for the conference office. First, Larry Scott goes all Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Lane Kiffin's rear end, fining the USC coach $10,000 for telling his version of the conversation he says he had with officials Saturday night. I thought one thing a college experience was supposed to teach our young people was the importance of the free exchange of views? I loved Scott's statement on the fine: "The Conference expects each Pac-12 coach to ... conduct himself or herself in a manner which will reflect credit on the institution and the Conference.” By standing up for what he thought was right and speaking out, it seems to me Kiffin did just that. ... We let ESPN.com's Ted Miller cover the particulars along with those on the players of the week and the Heisman watch. ... The chances of the Pac-12 filling all its bowl berths? Slim to fat. In other words, very little. ...... Washington: I agree with Steve Kelley concerning Chris Polk, but would add one thing. Polk isn't running behind as good an offensive line as Napoleon Kaufman or Corey Dillon. Now Hugh McElhenny, he didn't need an offensive line. ... There may be some distractions this week with Oregon looming but the Ducks don't see this as a rivalry. ... Oregon State: Nothing here today. ... Oregon: The Husky game is just the beginning of a crunch month for the Ducks. ... California: If the Bears decide to make a change at quarterback, Allan Bridgford will be ready. ... Cal nearly flunked last week. ... Stanford: You can see the Cardinal's grades in the previous link, but more important to the future is the health of tight end Zach Ertz. ... Colorado: The Buffs are getting some guys back, finally. ... Utah: Nothing here either. ... USC: More here on the Kiffin fine, including another sophomoric opinion, and the T.J. McDonald suspension as the Trojans' season winds down. ... UCLA: Inside, outside, it doesn't matter to Datone Jones. ... Arizona State: The Sun Devils are in sight of their goals. ... Arizona: As interim coach, Tim Kish can be positive positively all the time.

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• That's all for this morning. We'll be back with more after a dozen press conferences and practice. ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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