A GRIP ON SPORTS
I love Twitter. I really do. It's a fun, lively, entertaining way to have a dialogue across miles and among thousands. It's one of the more interesting recent social media inventions. But yesterday, when the Marquess Wilson walkout-turned-suspension-turned-who-knows-what played out at Washington State, the Twitterverse was rampant with misinformed commentary. OK, you're saying, duh. Read on.
• The one thing about opinions: Everyone is entitled to them. And in these days of social media, you can express them to a lot more people. Fine. But one meme that seemed to be repeated over and over again yesterday revolved around Wilson having been “coddled” by the previous coaching staff. That had changed, the Twitterverse proclaimed, and he was having trouble handling that. OK, so that's what some people believe. But I want to point out one thing: Marquess Wilson's position coach at Washington State his first two seasons was one Mike Levenseller. Yes, the same Levenseller who at times – multiple times – in his two decades at WSU was accused of being too hard on players. From the Fab Five to Brandon Gibson (pictured), from Nian Taylor to Michael Bumpus, from Jason Hill to Jared Karstetter, Levenseller demanded perfection at practice and in the film room. Anyone who has spent any time at a WSU practice over the past 20 years at some time witnessed Levenseller prodding, poking, exhorting his charges, sometimes to the point their jersey was covered in the little black rubber balls embedded in the turf, stuck through the combination of sweat and numerous up-downs. Ask Gibson, ask Hill, ask any of the 11 receivers Levenseller helped get a shot in the NFL. They'll tell you Levenseller did anything but coddle them. He instructed. He yelled. He provoked responses. He used whatever means necessary to help them reach their potential. And the same things happened with Wilson. The long, lanky, overlooked product from the San Joaquin Valley had anything but an easy freshman season on the practice field. The natural talent was there, sure, but the finer points of playing the receiver position at the college level were lacking. They had to be ingrained. Levenseller's methods for accomplishing that were harsh at times. But they worked – as the receiving records Wilson has set testify. Yes, Wilson had a tendency to take things a little loosey-goosey at times, but when it came down to it, a lot was demanded of him and he put in the work. Whatever happened in the past 10 months (which reached its zenith last weekend) it had nothing to do with being coddled by the previous staff. Not with Levenseller around.
• Washington State: Yesterday's soap-opera atmosphere permeates Christian Caple's report, including his blog posts from yesterday ( the news on Wilson, a video of Mike Leach's press conference and a transcript of his comments). Christian also has a blog post this morning with links. The S-R's coverage of Wilson's suspension includes this story from Christian and John Blanchette's column. … Tacoma's Dave Boling weighs in on Leach's methods. … By the way, the Cougars host UCLA this Saturday night. … The Pac-12 is rewriting its offensive record book, and that should continue through this weekend as well. … On a different note, the WSU women's soccer team earned another NCAA berth yesterday. Jim Allen has the story.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan looks a little deeper than the star players at GU today, with this feature on walk-on Rem Bakamus. … Who says BYU doesn't play football in the WCC? Well, the Cougars don't, but that sport may just help the hoops team.
• Chiefs: Spokane hosts Everett once again tonight. Correspondent Steve Christilaw has an advance.
• Preps: The weekend will be full of high school playoffs in the state of Washington.
• Mariners: Edgar Martinez is still dealing with New York.
• That's it for this morning. I have some tests scheduled for today – we should be able to say definitively this afternoon whether my brain actually works or not; I know many of you would vote for “not” – so that's why the post is available so early. We'll be back tomorrow. Until then …