A GRIP ON SPORTS • UPDATED: 10:20 A.M.
While driving back from the Seattle area yesterday, the ride was accompanied by a sports soundtrack. There was the news of Seth Greenberg's firing at Virginia Tech. There was the fallout from Ron Artest's elbow to James Harden's head. And, most prominently, there was the news from Arkansas that John L. Smith was headed back to the Razorbacks to become head football coach for the next 10 months. That, by the way, is twice as long as he was head coach at Weber State, his alma mater. Read on.
• My first thought when the John L. Smith news broke: So all the kids who signed letters of intent in February to play for Smith at Weber State are now free to go wherever they want, right? After all, Smith signed a contract with the school, but that didn't seem to matter. He can coach in Arkansas next year, right? So the players' signed contracts shouldn't mean anything either, right? Wait, this is the NCAA. That's not how it works. As this basketball story outlines, the coaches' contracts don't mean a thing. The players' contracts are even more binding than the one Joe Boyd signed with Mr. Applegate. We have more links on this story in the Eastern Washington section below.
• I also had a second thought, one that germinated while re-reading this story that John Blanchette tweeted about yesterday. In it, Smith said loyalty was the No. 1 attribute of an assistant coach. Loyalty. That's rich. Anyway, the thought came to me. Montana needs a head coach. Weber State needs a head coach. It's nearly May. What successful Big Sky coach is available? How about one Paul Wulff, who won at Eastern Washington and has experience parachuting into tough situations? Wulff would seem to be an outstanding fit for either spot (and might be able to get them to bid against each other). And either spot would allow Wulff to begin erasing the stain his Washington State won-loss record (which we won't mention) put on his record. One other aspect that can't be overlooked: The offensive coordinator at UM is Timm Rosenbach, who filled the same role for Wulff at EWU. The defensive coordinator at Weber State is Jody Sears, who filled the same role for Wulff at EWU and WSU. It would make for an easier transition for the staff and players. Heck, if Wulff is hired at Weber State, he wouldn't even have to change initials on his coaching gear.
• My third thought about Smith's depature: Why would anyone rather live in Fayetteville than Ogden? Shoot, in Ogden you are only 30 minutes or so from an In-N-Out.
• Washington State: Today is the final day of Mike Leach's first spring practice at WSU. Like most things Leach does, the final day is different than at most schools. There, the spring usually ends with the spring game, or spring scrimmage. For Leach, it's another full-pad practice with the emphasis on teaching tools for the summer. Pretty good idea if you ask me. … Christian Caple, as usual, has everything you need, including lots of links, in his morning post. … Christian linked stories on the Husky Stadium renovation (and I have these two links), something I was able to experience first-hand yesterday (I was at UW for a freelance project). Right now the stadium is the northside stands and a lot of dirt. But boy will it be cool in a couple years. … We want to call your attention to a couple of interesting stories today, including this one from Illinois. It involves George Raveling's brother-in-law and points out some odd aspects of high school sports. … Colorado State entices a College of Southern Idaho center to sign. This is a guy WSU could have plugged in next year I'm sure. The Cougars need to get bigger considering how the Pac-12 improved yesterday with this news. … Some thoughts on Cal and Oregon from Jon Wilner. … Don't mess with the Rose Bowl. We agree with Ted Miller on this.
• Gonzaga: That story we linked in the first Smith section above? It has news on Trent Lockett's transfer status.
• Eastern Washington: Jim Allen was busy yesterday, writing two stories and walking his dog (saw him yesterday evening as Kim and I were headed out; yelled at him as we drove by the S-R needed more Eastern coverage, just so he would feel at home). Jim's first story is on the prep the Eagles are undergoing for next weekend's spring game. And then he caught up with former basketball center Gregg Smith for a Then and Now. UPDATE: My bad. The story was actually written by Jim Meehan. But it's still the same story. (And isn't the picture cool?) … First we went to the Utah papers for their take on Smith leaving Weber (in summary, it's not very well received) and then we went to Arkansas, where the stories were behind a pay wall. We will pass along this, however. And this from Seattle.
• Preps: From the Westside, Lakes High basketball coach JoJo Rodriguez has stepped down.
• Chiefs: Portland, in the midst of the WHL playoffs, is trying to get better for next year.
• Mariners: No game yesterday, but a lot to pass along, including more on Saturday's perfect game. … The Sportspress Northwest staff has some statistics to pass along that will chill the heart of any Mariner fan. It may be early, but April trends have a tendency to stand up in the bigs. … OK, here is the second story I thought was too good to miss. It's from Scott Ostler and it's about foul balls. Yep, foul balls. It's a fun read.
• Seahawks: The draft is looming. Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider talked with the media yesterday (we listened in on the radio), covering everything from draft philosophies to linebacker injuries to the depth of the quarterback class this season. It made for interesting listening and for a lot of stories from Seattle.
• One more day of nice weather. That's what we've been promised. Then back to more seasonable temps. Enjoy the day. Until later …