A GRIP ON SPORTS
Kind of an odd day. Maybe it's because the sun is shining. OK, not really, but it's not raining and the clouds are a bit scattered. Or maybe it's because we found a series of stories worth passing along on Olympic sports. But whatever the reason, it's kind of an odd day. Read on.
• To make it even odder, there were four blog posts on SportLink yesterday after we put up our morning one. It's been a long time since there has been a day like that. Three of them covered news out of Pullman, and we'll get to that in a bit, but one was from Jim Meehan on the imminent return of former Spokane Shock head coach Rob Keefe (above). Keefe's story is an odd one, as he was the special teams coordinator for the Shock when Adam Shackleford was moved out as head coach following the 19-1 2009 Af2 championship season. There was talk at the time of Keefe's background role in Shackleford's dismissal but the move seemed to payoff when the rookie head coach led the Shock to the AFL title in their inaugural season with the league. But less than two years after replacing Shackleford, Keefe was himself fired by the Shock after last season's 9-10 record. But even then owner Brady Nelson said Keefe's dismissal had nothing to do with the team's won-loss record, saying there were conduct problems, though not defining what those problems were. Keefe moved on, being hired as the offensive coordinator in Orlando. And was fired after four non-productive games. But the former Shock defensive back landed on his feet, being hired by Utah, a division rival, as the defensive coordinator. Since Keefe has been in Salt Lake City, the Blaze's defense has done nothing but improve. Which brings us to Saturday's game. With Keefe, offensive coordinator Matt Sauk – the Shock's OC in the 2010 AFL championship season – and more than a half-dozen former Shock players all representing the Blaze, the contest should be a grudge match.
• The lifeblood of college athletics is recruiting (or is it money? I get those two mixed up sometimes). And the recruiting news was good in Pullman yesterday, with four-star quarterback Tyler Bruggman from Phoenix announcing his commitment to Washington State. The importance of Bruggman's announcement is founded on where he's from. The Brophy Prep product is a born-and-raised Arizona State fan, one who probably imagined playing in a Sun Devil uniform his whole life. But instead of heading down the road to play for new coach Todd Graham, who wanted Bruggman, he decided to leave the Valley of the Sun and head to the Fields of Clouds. That Leach could entice Bruggman north bodes well for the Cougars' future recruiting. ... There was the other side of the recruiting coin played yesterday as well. When Patrick Simon committed to WSU as a freshman at Ephrata High, the basketball coaching staff was headed by one Tony Bennett. But by the time the 6-foot-8 forward graduated from high school, Bennett was on the other side of the country and Ken Bone had taken over in Pullman. Both parties decided to continue the relationship and Simon enrolled at WSU. But in his two years in the Palouse, playing time was hit-and-miss, as was Simon's vaunted outside shot. So yesterday Simon and WSU announced an amicable divorce. The junior-to-be will transfer and the Cougars will wish him well. There is no way not to. Simon is the type of college kid any coach would want in their program. He works hard, he studies, he never gets in trouble, he is just an all-round great person. It just didn't work out. Here's hoping Simon finds a place to play where he will enjoy the game.
• Washington State: Christian Caple was busy yesterday, that's for sure. He had two blog posts on Bruggman's commitment, one of Simon leaving WSU and one this morning with links to all that and more. He also has this highly edited story on Bruggman in the S-R (here is more in the Seattle Times) and this short on Simon (right) leaving. ... ESPN.com's Ted Miller looks at the Pac-12 defenders who should be best at sacking the quarterback this fall. WSU's should be Travis Long once again. ... With the college World Series starting tomorrow, Long Island's Stony Brook College is the darlings of the media. The small school from New York, which opens against UCLA, seems like an improbable contender until you realize the school's best pitchers are from Southern California. ... Arizona coach Andy Lopez is making the Omaha trip one for the family memory book.
• Shock: Jim Meehan caught up with Keefe this week and filed this story for the S-R.
• Mariners: The M's were not the biggest news in baseball yesterday. Nope that would be, after more than 100 years of trying, a Giant finally being perfect (though those who root for the team are still trying). Matt Cain tossed the first perfect game in Giant – San Francisco or New York – history, defeating Houston 10-0. ... The M's were a lot closer than the Astros, and had a few more hits as well. But they also lost, 1-0, to the Padres in spacious Safeco Field – looking even more spacious with only 13,391 in attendance. Though Hector Noesi threw well, the M's could not generate any offense, though manager Eric Wedge wants the Safeco talk to stop. Sorry, not going to happen. ... Franklin Gutierrez is set to return to center field today and Erasmo Ramirez is ready to join the rotation.
• Olympic sports: There are two stories revolving around London in the S-R sports section this morning. The first is from Rich Landers, who talked with Mead High graduate Amanda Furrer (who will join our radio show this afternoon) about her upcoming trip to the Olympics. She'll represent the U.S. in shooting. And Greg Lee has a story on recent Lewis and Clark High graduate Ben Lovell (above), who heads to Omaha later this month where he will try to qualify in the 100-meter butterfly. ... Former cycling great Lance Armstrong is facing more troubles, this time from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
• We're back on the radio for one more day this afternoon, joining Keith Osso and Rick Lukens from 3 to 5. You can listen here if you like. Until then ...