You would think, with 66 days until we move into the next phase of our life, things would be settling down. You know, Laz-E-Boy easy. But no. Nothing is ever that simple, especially around Washington State University. The school must have an exceptional drama department, if you get my drift. Let's see. On the link we examine the ongoing struggle to expand and modernize the football stadium and build a much-needed football building, the ongoing quarterback injury situation and the ongoing soap opera that is the head coach's life. And we do our typical run around the Pac-12. Read on.
• Washington State: We spent more than an hour in a regents meeting yesterday listening to the university staff update the group on the financials behind the Martin Stadium project, all the time wondering what the meeting would have drawn for a crowd if it had been held at CenturyLink Field. Our story on the current state of the expansion project is available here. Our take on the Nov. 18 vote? The premium seating/press box building will pass, construction will start Nov. 21 and this time next year Martin Stadium will look amazingly different. You can check out all the architects renderings on the WSU website. … We have our story on Jeff Tuel's injury. We didn't delve into what acute compartment syndrome is in the story but, if you have forgotten since James Montgomery suffered it a couple years ago, in a simple form it's when blood builds up in the compartment surrounding a muscle, puts pressure on the muscle tissue and cuts off the blood supply to the cells. If it goes on too long, it causes the muscle to die. In Tuel's case, it never got that far, thanks to the quick response of the player himself and the athletic training staff, most notably Bill Drake. This is one of those feel-good stories when it could have been a lot worse. … Finally, we'll have a story for tomorrow's paper on all the criticism surrounding the loss at Oregon State (freelancer Howie Stalwick delves into it in his weekly notebook) and how it affects the players. A quick preview: They know they played poorly, the feel like crap about it but it doesn't help when people pile on. … Our sports section was dominated by WSU news this morning, with John Olerud leading the induction class for the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame. Retired – what a great word – WSU sports information director Rod Commons also was honored. I didn't link John Blanchette's column on Olerud yesterday but should have. … We didn't have time yesterday to do all of the Pac-12 roundup, but we did sit down and cover some of the news and pick our game of the week (Stanford at USC of course). We couldn't find the items online, so we have them for you below. … The start time for the California game in San Francisco was finally set late Tuesday. The game will kickoff at 3:30. As far as I know, there will be no TV in this area, so I guess you'll have to follow my Twitter feeds, especially if WSU wears its gray jerseys. … A basketball story from CougCenter. … And that's it from around Pullman today.
Four from the Pac-12
1. The Arizona Wildcats are scrambling this week after losing four defensive players due to sanctions handed down after last Thursday's brawl with UCLA. “We're moving some people around in the back end with the people we do have,” said interim coach Tim Kish, saying there are even a couple offensive players helping out. “We're not sure how all that's going to fit together by Saturday.” To make matters worse, the Wildcats travel to Seattle to face a Washington team smarting from a 65-21 loss to Stanford.
2. The Bruins have their own problems on the other side of the ball, with only two receivers with experience available for the home matchup with California. At 3-4 overall and 2-2 in conference, UCLA is trying to salvage the season. “We believe in our players,” said coach Rick Neuheisel. “No one who has coached any period of time hasn't been in a place where there is adversity. The opportunity exists to dig yourself out.”
3. The Pac-12 has proved to be tough for newcomer Utah, 0-4 in conference play though 3-0 in the nonconference. The Utes, who have finished ranked each of the last three seasons, have scored just 52 points in those Pac-12 games. “It's exactly what I anticipated,” coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We need to play better and quit turning the ball over.” The Utes, 34-10 losers to Cal last week, host Oregon State on Saturday. The teams have each turned the ball over 17 times this season, worst in the conference.
4. USC used to be known as Tailback U., but that's changed over the years. Now the Trojans will be down another running back. Sophomore Dillon Baxter, who gained 259 yards on 59 carries last year, has left the team so he can work on his academics, according to coach Lane Kiffin. Baxter has struggled on and off the field this season, and his parents had a well-publicized meeting with Kiffin earlier this year.
Game of the Week
Stanford (7-0, 5-0) at USC (6-1, 3-1)
5 p.m. Saturday; ABC
Two teams atop their respective Pac-12 divisions – but with markedly different season goals – meet in a renewal of a rivalry that burned red hot under the previous coaching regimes. The Cardinal, under first-year coach David Shaw, are fourth in the nation and hope to play not only in the Pac-12 title game but the national title one as well. USC, with second-year coach Lane Kiffin, are coming off a solid win vs. Notre Dame, but know its season will end Nov. 26, no matter the record, due to NCAA sanctions. This was must-see TV when Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll were at the helm, and is still in that category thanks to the stakes.
• Around the Pac-12: The NCAA released graduation rates yesterday with WSU football in the top half of the conference. ESPN.com's Ted Miller has the list as well as a look at this weekend's games. … Jon Wilner ranks the conference and examines the newest expansion news. … Washington: It's all about the defense, and the scowling defensive coordinator. … Oregon State: It's all about youth for the Beavers, especially in the running game. … Oregon: Chip Kelly is disappointed with Cliff Harris while Harris' father is disappointed in the Eugene police. But no one is disappointed in the Ducks' depth or in the speed of LaMichael James' recovery. … California: A defensive back returns from injury. … Stanford: Can the Cardinal, with Andrew Luck at the controls, win the national title? What's the road like? Is David Shaw experienced enough to take them there? And is the defense deep enough? … Colorado: The Buffs want a signature win. How about any win? … Utah: The Utes can't protect their quarterback. … USC: The Trojans say goodbye to Dillon Baxter. … UCLA: The Bruins get a receiver back just in time. … Arizona State: The Sun Devils get their kicks with this kicker. … Arizona: Is Mike Leach the right guy to coach the Wildcats, even though quarterback Nick Foles won't be around next season?
• That's it for now. We'll be back after practice today. Until later …