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It's time to hit the road

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's an odd type of week. Washington State plays on the road Friday night, meaning a flight on Thursday. Eastern Washington has a bye. Idaho is traveling to the bayou to play LSU – as an aside, wouldn't it be cool if that were a home-and-home series and we got to see the Tigers in the Kibbie Dome next season – so they will be getting out of town as well. Heck, even the Whitworth Pirates are on the road. In other words, no college football in the Inland Northwest this week. Read on.

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• I don't really remember a weekend like this, though my memory isn't what it used to be. With four colleges within an hour-and-a-half of Spokane to choose from, there is usually a game or two to attend. Heck, next week there are three games to pick from if you live where I do and enjoy college football (as I do). Instead, you can watch the Cougar game on TV Friday night – it's the only college game being broadcast and it's on ESPN – and, if you have a good internet connection, you can watch the Vandals play Saturday on your computer – ESPN3 has it. Which brings up the point I want to make. The television contracts today are great in one way. They allow just about anyone to see their favorite team no matter where they are playing – or when. It's egalitarian in a way – though, with the prices of cable packages these days, equality goes only as far as your bank account – in that the games are no longer limited to those folks who can make the trip to the stadium. But how about those folks? If you look at WSU's football schedule, you'll see the acronym TBA (pronounced Tee-Bee-Aaa, with the emphasis on the second syllable, though Fonzie liked to emphasize the last one) on just about every game. Makes it pretty tough to make travel plans, doesn't it? The upshot is, college football Saturdays have become a weekend endeavor if you want to attend the game live. Not so with the NFL. If you wanted to attend a Seahawks game, as soon as the home dates were announced, you knew Seattle would be starting around 1 p.m. and finishing somewhere around 4:30. An early morning flight, another in evening and a train or cab ride from SeaTac to CenturyLink and, bingo, you're covered. It's convenient for the fan and the television viewer. But contrast that to the Oregon game in Seattle. There is no time set, and won't be for a while, so good luck trying to get in and out in one day. The lack of certainty makes that impossible. The game is on TV, which is convenient for most of us. But the crowd has to be stifled a bit by the uncertainty of the start time. If you want an example of what college football used to look like, take a gander at Eastern's schedule. Every game has a start time listed. You want to head to Cedar City to watch the game with Southern Utah (and bag a couple of Double-Doubles, as there is an In-n-Out there)? You know the game starts at noon, so if you're flying into Vegas, better go Friday night. And don't put the game tickets on red. There's only a 47.37 percent chance of winning.

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• Washington State: The big news from Pullman yesterday was safety Deone Bucannon (making the tackle at left) being suspended for a half-game by the Pac-12. The suspension was in response to his high and late hit on EWU receiver Greg Herd, a hit that earned a 15-yard penalty and gave Herd a concussion. A lot of folks think the penalty wasn't enough and I agree with them. A game would seem to be more appropriate, considering the possible repercussions of a hit like that. If the players' safety is paramount, then make hits like that hurt the hitter as well. But there was another late hit that earned a 15-yard personal foul call during the game and it probably should have resulted in some sort of post-game penalty as well. Everyone in this area knows Connor Halliday suffered a career-threatening (possibly even life-threatening) liver laceration last season. It forced him to miss spring ball and, if anything like it occurs again, could spell the end of his career. So what happens on the third pass Halliday throws against Eastern? Dylan Zylstra, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive lineman, takes a couple steps after Halliday released the ball and nails him in the lower back. Referee Land Clark threw a flag and assessed the roughing the passer penalty, but where the contact was made seemed a bit suspicious. Now, I can't get inside the player's head. I don't know if Zylstra meant to hit Halliday in the liver anymore than I know if Bucannon tried to pull up, as he was quoted as saying afterward. But I just wonder, with all the emphasis being put on safety, if Halliday had been knocked from the game, would there have been any post-game punishment? I'm not sure. ... Christian Caple had the Bucannon news covered with a blog post and a story, but that was just a part of his Tuesday chores. He also listened to the Pac-12 coaches conference call and summarized Mike Leach's segment, then he wrote this Pac-12 notebook. Add in his work after practice and this morning's blog post and he had a busy 24 hours. ... Here's more on the offensive lineman's Sunday workout.

• EWU: Herd is still dealing with his concussion but that wasn't the only injury the Eagles suffered Saturday. Jim Allen has more on that and all things Eagle in this story from today's S-R.

• Idaho: Though the Vandals are 0-2 and yet to play a BCS conference school, the LSU Tigers say they know better than to overlook them. But really, even if they did, how many of you think UI could pull an upset in Baton Rouge? It's possible, sure, but I don't believe a six-touchdown favorite has ever lost before. ... Utah State has to travel to Madison to play Wisconsin a week after the Badgers were upset by Oregon State. Not fun.

• Whitworth: Jim Allen has a college soccer notebook in today's paper and leads with the early season success for the Pirate men.

• Preps: There was quite a bit of local volleyball action last night.

• Seahawks: The lockout-breaking officials have Pete Carroll's attention this week, but maybe he should be spending more time fixing the red-zone offense.

• Mariners: Neither the Times or News Tribune traveled to Toronto for last night's 4-3 Mariners' win, so we don't have a lot to link. But we can tell Erasmo Ramirez (left) earned his first win and Kyle Seager hit his 18th home run. ... One other thing. Is it just me or does it seem like the M's run through stops signs from third-base coach Jeff Datz a lot? If I were Datz, I would be a bit pissed off.

• Sounders: Seattle needs a better game in Portland this time. ... It's hard to imagine Eddie Johnson playing better than he has recently. ... A Sounders win coupled with a Chivas USA loss clinches a playoff spot for Seattle. ... Not much to report on the injury front. Let me rephrase that. Not much in the way of bad news to report on the injury front.

• NBA: People all over the Puget Sound area today are jumping around and celebrating the soon-to-be-official arena deal. The theme of the day seems to be the system works. But the negotiations and changes made to the agreement sure look as if it will be harder for Chris Hansen to make a go of it.

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• It was so cold last night (typing "how cold was it" would probably not resonate with that many readers anymore) there was a touch of frost on the neighbors roof. Can that really be true? Wasn't it just Memorial Day? Time flies when your sitting at your computer blogging each day I guess. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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