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More study is always needed

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Yesterday I asked for your input on this commentary in the Chronicle of Higher Education. You gave it to me. Read on.

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• First off, thanks for all of you folks who took the effort to comment. It's not an easy thing and it takes a commitment of time that I appreciate. Like me, you cast a critical eye on such a radical proposal, which is always a good thing. As I read the comments, it seems that almost everyone sees some merit in, if not the proposal as stated, at least the direction in which it is headed. In other words, it's an idea that is worth kicking around – of course, as long as we don't let a committee turn it into a camel. One flaw a couple of you wondered about concerned the athlete who entered college thinking they could become a pro but really was just fooling themselves. What would they be left with if they were in this program and their dreams didn't pan out? Let me just say many big-time athletes at big-time schools end up with general studies – or the like – degrees, which is basically four years of courses designed to keep them eligible. It's not a degree that's going to open the door at a Fortune 500 company, that's for sure. But it's what we have now. The professional athlete major, as defined in the article, seems much more demanding to me and should prove as useful in the real world as the degrees many leave with today.

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• Washington State: The longest running basketball rivalry west of the Mississippi – just wondering, when I was a kid that phrase was used a lot and had some weight to it; does it anymore? – continues tonight in Pullman when the Cougars host Idaho. Christian Caple has a story and a blog post on one WSU coach, Ray Lopes, that has deep connections to both programs. ... Christian also offers his morning post and will be back this evening with a live chat prior to the basketball game. ... WSU looks as if it will finish ninth in the nation in passing yards per game, just where it finished last season. ... More on California's coaching search. ... Ernie Kent will be back at Oregon for a basketball game for the first time this week.

• Gonzaga: Not too long ago, I was talking with someone closely associated with the Gonzaga basketball program. We were chatting about this year's team and the talent available up and down the bench. But we kept coming back to Kelly Olynyk, who this person feels is one of the Zags' top pro prospects. That wasn't the case a couple years ago, when Olynyk decided to redshirt a season, helping GU out for the long term. The decision also seems to have helped Olynyk, who has returned this year stronger, quicker and more aggressive. Jim Meehan chronicles Olynyk's return in this feature in today's S-R. ... The GU women have earned some national exposure for their ability on defense this season. ... Around the WCC, BYU has made a change at point guard that seems to be helping. ... Portland struggled but got past Division III neighbor Lewis & Clark.

• EWU: There may be no more dangerous foe than a highly motivated team, and in Wagner, that's what Eastern Washington is getting this Saturday. The Seahawks have had a season to remember, in more ways than one, as John Blanchette's column and Jim Allen's story show. ... Weber State has a tough basketball assignment this week.

• Idaho: The search for Robb Akey's successor (or is it Jason Gesser's? I'm not sure) continues in Moscow, with Rob Spear talking with former coach Keith Gilbertson (pictured) for advice on filling the position. Josh Wright talked with Gilby and filed this story and a blog post. By the way, Gilbertson is in the return-to-the-Big-Sky camp if you are interested. ... The UI women topped Eastern with a buzzer beater last night. ... The WAC added Grand Canyon yesterday, one day after losing Denver to the Summit League. ... Utah State is hitting the road in hoops.

• Whitworth: The Pirate women have a consistent threat from beyond the arc in Emily Guthrie. They also hit leadoff in Chris Derrick's women's basketball notebook.

• Seahawks: Sometimes it seems like you needed to be a pharmacy major to be a fan of the Seahawks these days. Though having a law degree might help as well.

• Mariners: The date is set. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12. That doesn't seem all that long, does it? ... Don't expect the money available from regional television deals to last forever, but it is good for the foreseeable future.

• Sounders: Management put a bow on the 2012 season yesterday, though there was no commitment to spend whatever it takes to bring a winner to the Northwest. Too bad. ... The award season was good to the Sounders in most cases. ... One last thought about the MLS. It still is a Mickey Mouse league, which is sad. As evidence I present the format for the playoffs. In the first two rounds, there are home-and-home games, with aggregate scored determining who moves on. But for the final, arguably the most important event of the season, it's one game, winner take all at the site of the team with the better record. If that's good enough for the championship game, why is it not good enough for the earlier rounds? Or if you think one game is not enough, why not a three-game series with the team with the better record earning two home games? There is a distinct advantage for the LA Galaxy in the final. After all, all they have to do is win once at home. If that were the case in the first two rounds, the Sounders would be hosting the title match. But that's not why I believe the current playoff format makes the league look rinky-dink. There is no consistency in the format, which just makes it seem odd.

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• That's it for our middle-of-the-work-week post. We'll be back again tomorrow, as consistent as, well, more consistent than the MLS, that's for sure. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi





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