A GRIP ON SPORTS
I have been awake a long time. And I haven't done this much reading in a short span since my senior year in college. OK, I'll admit it. I read more this morning than I ever did in college. And today's subject matter (college football, high school football, baseball) was a heck of lot more interesting than "Paradise Lost" or "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." Well, the latter was really good, but not as interesting as Christian Caple's feature on WSU coach Mike Leach. Read on.
• Yes it's a big day on the Palouse. Idaho is opening its football season by hosting Eastern Washington, two Inland Northwest schools going at in what very well may be a conference game in a few years. Think that might lead to some trash talk on the field this evening? Whatever is said, it pales in comparison to what was written about football today. There is no way to read every word of The Spokesman-Review's football section today, what with every high school league in the area being covered to in-depth features coming from the colleges. We tried to get through every word but, like our college reading, skipped a paragraph or two. But we will link everything, just in case you have an interest in pairing a story about Idaho's quarterback with a look at the upcoming IEL season. After all, college football is beginning tonight, so I know you are hyped up.
• Though I will have half an eye squinting toward Moscow this evening, it will be impossible to pull my attention away from ESPN and the clash of the Cougars in Provo. The Mike Leach era opens at his alma mater, BYU, and after covering 40 losses in the past four years, I'm as interested as anyone to see if Leach can turn the ship around quickly. Not sure that will happen tonight – the guys in Vegas are usually pretty good and installed BYU as a nearly two-touchdown favorite a while ago – but there could be signs a sea change is in store for WSU fans and we'll be looking for them. I'm pretty confident the Washington State offense will scored points – despite the inexperience up front, there is just too much skill-position talent to be stifled – but I am just as confident the defense will have to play at the top of its game to limit Brigham Young to less than 30 points. Which, when you think about it, should make for an interesting and fun game, no matter who wins. Sort of like the 1981 Holiday Bowl, when BYU and LaVell Edwards topped Jim Walden's WSU team 38-36 after leading 31-7. I'm using that game from 31 years ago as my benchmark, predicting the blue Cougars win this one 38-36 as well.
• By the way, I went back and found my picks from last season when I predicted each of 89 Pac-12 games (you can read Christian's picks for the first week of this season here). It's a good thing I retired after last season as it was one of the only times in my tenure I actually was right a majority of the time. I put together a 64-25 record overall (not all that tough) and a 47-35 mark against the games with a spread (my proudest accomplishment in my tenure as a college football beat writer; and no, I didn't make real wagers, cashed in and that's why I am retired, though it sure would have helped). You want more picks? Here are Ted Miller's and Kevin Gemmell on ESPN.com.
• Washington State: Christian was busy again yesterday, holding a live chat with you folks, writing a blog post in which he ranked the Pac-12 teams, putting together a weekly contest, five questions with a BYU beat writer and some news from basketball on the TV schedule. He also has his usual morning blog post and an advance in today's paper, which includes his two-minute drill and a quartet of items in our football section. There is the aforementioned feature on Leach, a look at freshman Gabe Marks, some story lines and a short piece on discipline. Christian will be in Provo tonight along with John Blanchette. We'll be in our living room watching ESPN's coverage and may have a comment or two on Twitter. Then don't forget to catch our postgame radio show which will start about an hour after the game ends. It will be broadcast over the air in Eastern Washington, including on the Spokane flagship KXLY 920, where we will be broadcasting for this first away game. if you live outside of Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Pullman and other spots in Eastern Washington, you can find it via the all-access broadcast section at the WSU website. It will cost you. ... More from Jon Wilner on the stupidity of the Pac-12 Network's carriage issues with DirectTV and others. The network took to the offense yesterday. ... If you can, this is what you should watch for this weekend. ... And we end with a preview of tonight's game from CBS.
• Gonzaga: No football, of course, but a story about a GU cross country runner I thought I would pass along in case you are interested.
• EWU: Jim Allen has pretty similar items as Christian in our football section. There is a nice feature on quarterback Kyle Padron and story lines for the year. Jim also has a blog post this morning with more quotes.
• Idaho: Correspondent Josh Wright takes care of the advance of the game with Eastern and has this blog post. ... The Vandals are also featured in our section, with Josh covering the year's story lines and passing along a feature on quarterback Dominique Blackmon (left), whose story is not a happy one. This one is pretty sad as well. ... Utah State hopes to live up to expectations.
• Preps: Where to begin? Greg Lee and his band of writers have covered every prep league in the area, in most cases with two pieces, so I guess I'll just list them. ... We start with the Greater Spokane League, follow with the Inland Empire League in North Idaho, the Great Northern League in Eastern Washington, Idaho's North Star League and Intermountain League, the Northeast A, the North teams in 1B along with the South and its story lines, the Southeast 1B and the Northeast 2B and Southeast 2B. That's about it, isn't it? If I missed someone, I apologize.
• Indians: Eugene has the best overall record in the Northwest League after its 8-2 win over Spokane on Wednesday, but the Emeralds are struggling to make the postseason. Just another odd happenstance in minor league baseball.
• Mariners: Just figure it is one of those games and let it go. Jason Vargas got ticked at the umpire, the Twins had magic in their bats and the M's lost 10-0. They are better than that. The two teams will be going at it again this morning. ... A couple of regulars had the night off yesterday, though one has had a lot of nights off this season.This guy hasn't.
• Seahawks: The Hawks will be hosting Oakland tonight, with the guys on the bubble having one last chance to impress the coaching staff. Bruce Irvin (right) isn't on the bubble but he hasn't been playing like a star just yet. ... Some guys are still nursing injuries. ... The NFL will have replacement refs for at least the first week of the season.
• Sounders: Seattle is a long way from home for its CONCACAF game tonight at 5. Trinidad to be more precise. The Sounders have lots of long road trips but this is ridiculous. ... One man's power rankings.
• Olympics: For someone who lost a lot while serving in the military, Josh Olson is still able to give. To us, to his country, to the armed services. John Blanchette has a incredibly uplifiting column today.
• I'm sorry this is so late, but I've been going at it from more than twice as long as usual today. There was just so much to get to and a cat that, for some odd reason, wanted attention. She doesn't like me much right now. As I said, we'll be on the radio tonight – I hope I don't flinch when the callers' axe-like blows start to rain down on my neck – and should have some thoughts for you after the WSU game ends. Then we'll be back with all the links in the morning. Until then ...