A GRIP ON SPORTS
Last year I trekked up U.S. 195 to Northern Quest Casino for Washington State's signing day get-together. This year all I had to do was drive from home. But there was a lot more that was different to the event than just a much shorter drive. Read on.
• We're going to keep our remarks short today, because the links speak for themselves – and if you want everything in the world related to Washington State's football recruiting, just click on Christian Caple's morning post, but don't forget to come back; there is more here. Why? Well, remember that scene in Jaws where Roy Schneider sees the shark for the first time and says, to no one in particular, "you're gonna need a bigger boat?" That's what needed to be said last night. There were about 300 folks scattered around the big room at Northern Quest last year. This one, more than 700 – a sellout – were crammed into the same place. They were all there to see Mike Leach, making his first appearance in Spokane since AD Bill Moos hired him in early December. Leach was at the event to ostensible introduce the 28 players WSU signed to letters of intent – the most tired man in the room had to be WSU compliance director Steve Robertello, who had to be at his office at 4 a.m. to certify the first LOIs – but it was more important for the Cougar faithful in Spokane just to see the new coach and ensure he's real. Heck, just the mention of his name by host Derek Deis incited a standing ovation. And when Leach took the podium to show highlights of the newest Cougars, another, longer one ensued. There was a crass – but necessary – aspect to the night as well, as Moos campaigned for ticket sales – promising the home opener against EWU would be a sellout – and donations – saying the Pac-12 media money is mainly going to pay for facility improvements and for Leach and the "best staff in the nation" – to fill the scholarship-funding gap WSU has endured for years. But the main thrust was to celebrate the future, whether it be Leach's hoped for success or the 28 new players. If things pan out the way Moos, Leach and the more than 700 Crimson supporters at Northern Quest last night imagine, there is no doubt the Cougars are gonna need a bigger boat next year.
• Washington State: As we said, Christian has all the recruiting – and basketball – news you'll need on his morning post. He put up so many posts yesterday I'm not going to link them, but you can find them on SportsLink's front page if you want. ... We have some more, including links to Christian's feature on WSU's newest quarterback, Austin Apodaca, his basketball story talking with Ken Bone at the season's halfway point and his look at the weekend ahead – USC and UCLA are in Pullman. ... To that we add Ted Miller's Pac-12 recruiting stories that were posted to ESPN.com after Christian finished his links, including some notes, a look at the needs every school tried to meet, the different recruiting services' rankings and a wrapup. ... Christian had this link but I wanted to pass it along as well in that it's Craig James' thoughts about the Leach controversy, something we haven't heard much of before. ... Bud Withers has a nice column on Leach's recruiting trail. ... Utah hired a new offensive coordinator. ... Finally, a final look at signing day.
• Gonzaga: There is a big game tonight in Provo and Jim Meehan has it covered, starting with this story and the lead of our college basketball notebook. He also has a look at the week coming up for GU. ... John Blanchette chimes in with an interview of BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe. ... Withers also has his thoughts on tonight's game. ... From Utah, the Cougars are gearing up for what is a crucial game, though it may not have the luster some thought it would at the beginning of the season. And, for fun, here is a story from the BYU student newspaper.
• Eastern Washington: The Eagles signed 20 players yesterday and Jim Allen has a look at them, first in his story for the S-R and in this blog post. ... EWU is on the road tonight in hoops and Jim has this look at its weekend schedule. ... Around the Big Sky, we found stories on Montana's signing class, Montana State's, Idaho State's and Sacramento State's.
• Idaho: Rob Akey roped in 24 players despite recruiting with a depleted corps of assistants. Josh Wright goes over each in this blog post and has a story in today's paper. ... The Idaho Statesman has this piece on the class. ... Josh covers the week ahead for the Vandals in hoops. ... Nevada and Utah State meet in a big WAC game.
• Preps: Thursday is always a big prep day, made larger by signing day. A bunch of local football players inked letters of intent, highlighted by ISU and former Eastern coach Mike Kramer bringing in three Ferris players. Greg Lee has all the signings in this story. ... Greg's Prep Page column is on Lindsay Stockton, the feature is from Mike Vlahovich and it's on Mead wrestler Sam Voigtlaender (with more on Mead wrestling here), and there is also this notebook.
• Chiefs: Not a good night for Spokane as it dropped a 4-1 decision at first-place Kamloops
• Boxing: Not our usual fare, but the news of Angelo Dundee's death last night needed to be passed along. I picked this story from former Los Angeles Times staffer Steve Springer, who I worked with 30 years ago at the Orange County Register. He was a good writer and had a deep understanding of boxing.
• That's it for this morning, though there is so much I'm not sure you could ever get through it in the morning. We'll be on the radio this afternoon to discuss all this stuff with Rick Lukens and Keith Osso. You can listen at 3 p.m. right here if you want. Until later ...