A GRIP ON SPORTS • UPDATED 9:45
A few years ago I gave up on the NFL. I almost did the same thing yesterday. And one play was the tipping point. Read on.
• The reason I quit watching the NFL a few years back was simple: The refereeing was so hinky it made me doubt the validity of the league. The Seahawks loss in the Super Bowl started the process, but it was a bunch of games early the next season in which there were a handful of game-deciding calls that sent me over the edge. I just gave up. But, when this job opened up (and I discovered RedZone, which eliminated the nightmare of watching too many blown calls), I figured I needed to get back to the league. After all, I had to be able to discuss the Seahawks game each Monday morning. Then yesterday happened. There were a few iffy calls early in the Hawks game that got my blood boiling, but I was still on-board. Then came a Bears punt. And a flag. Illegal block below the waist was the call, pinning Seattle deep in its territory. Fine, didn't see it. But, wait here's a replay. OK, the Bear player engages with the Hawk. Wait, the Bear is grabbing the Hawk player's facemask. Now he's ripping it off and throwing the Seahawk to the grass. And tripping over him. That's the penalty? And, ladies and gentlemen, that was also my tipping point. I couldn't take it anymore. I clicked the TV off (about 15 minutes later) and left the house. And I didn't watch another second. I was through. ... Of course, sitting at GU waiting for the women's matchup with No. 1 Stanford, I continually checked my iPhone and kept the guys in my row updated on the score. But I didn't watch it. I have my principles.
• Speaking of principles, how about those BCS bowls? Did anyone who voted in the polls even look at Northern Illinois' schedule? The Huskies even lost to Iowa, which was the California of the Big Ten. Heck, WSU probably would have won eight or nine games playing NIU's schedule. Just because a team wins a bunch of games, that doesn't mean it's any good. The Huskies barely defeated Army (a one-point come-from-behind-late win), a team that not only lost to Wake Forest, but also lost to the FCS' Stony Brook. I'm sorry, but NIU doesn't belong in the Orange Bowl.
• Washington State: Not a lot from Christian Caple and the Cougars, but he does have a morning post. ... We have some more football links, with Ted Miller giving us the Pac-12 power rankings at ESPN.com and rewinding the weekend. Also, Jon Wilner looks at the conference's bowl games and the BCS bowls.
• Gonzaga: There is a large gap between No. 1 and very good, especially in women's basketball. Gonzaga is a very good team that should win its conference again. But Stanford is the best team in the country (though the Cardinal has a weakness at the point that will probably get exposed down the road) right now and showed it yesterday, winning 69-41 before 6,000 at GU. Chris Derrick was there and has this game story and blog post. John Blanchette was also there and has this nice column on the Tinkle sisters' matchup. There was a nice moment near the end of the game when Elle got tied up on the defensive end with Chiney Ogwumike and came out a little woozy, then ran down to the offensive end where he sister was ready to guard her. As the referee waited to inbound the ball on the endline, older sister Joslyn said something that made them both smile broadly. II'm betting it had something to do with Ogwumike's elbows. ... Jim Meehan checked in yesterday with a day-after post on the men and their win over Pacific.
• Idaho: The Vandals have a new football coach. Paul Petrino has accepted the job and will be introduced to the Idaho faithful this afternoon in a press conference. As you may know, Paul was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas, where his brother Bobby used to be the head coach. (At this point I could insert a bad joke about riding a motorcycle to the press conference, but I won't.) Josh Wright had this blog post on the hire yesterday and this story in the morning S-R. ... UPDATE: Got yelled at (figuratively) via email by Jim Meehan about missing this story on a former Vandal and Coug qualifying for the LPGA tour. My bad. I accept my 40 lashes.
• Seahawks: OK, so the Hawks rallied to win, scoring with about 20 seconds left in regulation to win 17-14. Wait, the defense allowed the Bears to tie it with field goal, letting Brandon Marshall get loose again deep? Great. Nice fail. But you say Russell Wilson, who was money all day, led them on a scoring drive to open overtime and they won 23-17? Alright. At least he didn't go out for the coin flip and say something like "we'll take the ball and we're going to score." Though, actually, it would have been cool if he had done that considering what happened. ... Looking back at the pregame hype, it seems neither team got much doneit wanted to. But that doesn't mean there wasn't stuff to like, including Sidney Rice (pictured) being OK.
• Mariners: The winter meetings are up and running in Nashville and the M's have already missed out on a free agent (Mike Napoli) they had been courting (he signed with the Red Sox this morning, three years for $39 million). But there are still trades to be made. And chances to improve. Though I'm not holding my breath.
• It's a cold and clear Monday, so we'll try to get out and about today. Hopefully, we can get some of our Christmas shopping done. But we'll be back here tomorrow. Until then ...