A GRIP ON SPORTS
You know how, when football season starts, everyone seems to lose interest in the Mariners? I do. The optimism of what-hasn't-happened-yet always trumps the pessimism of another losing season. So when college basketball season begins around here, do people lose interest in football? Read on.
• If by "college basketball season," you mean "Gonzaga Bulldogs" and, if by "football," you mean "WSU Cougars," then I guess the answer is yes. For the same reason. The optimism of what-hasn't-happened-yet always trumps the pessimism of another losing season. Now, I'm only speaking from a Spokane perspective (that's where I live, after all), but September and October around here are dominated by Cougar football. The signs are everywhere. Literally. You can't walk into a Pita Pit or a Subway or a gas station and not see a Cougar schedule. But more importantly just check out the folks in the movie theater or the mall or Riverfront Park. The kids are wearing WSU T-shirts, their parents' golf shirts sport Cougar logos. Everywhere you look, there are Cougar fans. But as the weather cools (and the losses mount), so does the ardor for Wazzu. The Zag signs starting popping up. The sweatshirts are more likely to have a Gonzaga emblazoned across the front than a Washington State. The blue of GU replaces WSU's crimson. It's as predictable as the neighbor's maple tree leaving 1.7 million leaves on your lawn. But it wasn't always that way. Heck, when the 20th Century gave way to the 21st, and the Cougar football was winning 10 games a season, the crimson-colored sweatshirts would stick around until the snow started to pile up. Yes, Gonzaga apparel was popular, but not overwhelming – like it is now. Yet it's not too late for that to change. The Cougars have three football games left. Win two of them and they'll become bowl eligible for the first time since George Bush the Younger's first term. And the Cougar cold-weather gear will begin to make a reappearance. Sure, some of the heavy jackets might have the wrong markings on them – WSU was a Russell Athletic school the last time it went to a bowl; it's in Nike's orbit now – but they may still fit. But don't worry about the folks around here. If the Cougars should fail to win a couple more games and spend another bowl season at home, Spokanites won't freeze. They always have their GU gear to keep them warm.
• Gonzaga: Speaking of the Bulldogs, they put on a display of offensive firepower last night. (Yes, it does look like the new rules – or old rules if you can remember the 1970s like I can – will improve offensive flow and generate more scoring, at least around here where officials have always liked blowing their whistles.) Paced by Gary Bell Jr.'s shooting (pictured), the Zags routed rebuilding Colorado State 93-61 at the Kennel. Jim Meehan, John Blanchette and Dan Pelle were there, with Jim having the game story and a blog post while John adds this column and Dan these photographs. ... Everything wasn't perfect for GU last night. A new-look BYU team took the floor at Stanford and posted a 1970s-style win, 112-103. Just about everyone in BYU's lineup can score. ... St. Mary's started its game at midnight last night. The Gaels won handily.
• WSU: Part of the lack of Cougar fever in these parts right now is a schedule straight from a Dicken's novel. You know, long stretches where nothing happens. WSU hasn't played on a Saturday yet this month and has played just one game in the last four weeks. That changes this weekend when the Cougars travel to Arizona. Jacob Thorpe was able to get back on a routine yesterday, what with media interviews and the like. He posted video of interviews from Mike Leach, Deone Bucannon and River Cracraft (pictured) yesterday and followed that up with a story this morning on the freshman Cracraft. He also has a morning post with links and a first look at Arizona. ... The Cougar soccer team will open the NCAA tournament at home. Jacob has more in this story. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has a first look at all the games. ... Oregon State, we would like to talk with you about how you are spending your money. ... If Stanford doesn't make the NCAA basketball tournament this year, the Cardinal will be looking for a new basketball coach. ... Even the third-ranked Stanford women struggled yesterday. Of course, they were playing top-ranked Connecticut. On the road.
• EWU: Vernon Adams just keeps winning national awards. And the Eagles have picked up a reinforcement at safety.
• Idaho: As a lost football season winds down in Moscow, there is optimism about hoops. And awards.
• Shock: The Arena Football League released its 2014 schedule yesterday. It's a joke. The Shock will play three teams three times. Great. And they play newcomer Los Angeles twice. Both times on the road. Ya, that's fair. Jim Meehan had this blog post yesterday.
• Seahawks: The Hawks may be 9-1, coming off their best game. They may have the top record in the NFC and one of the NFL's best. The road ahead may be wide open. But there are problems. Injury problems. The latest of which is Brandon Browner's "serious" groin injury. At least some players are getting healthier and closer to playing, including Percy Harvin.
• Sounders: Will Sigi Schmid (pictured) be back as Seattle's coach? General Manager Adrian Hanauer said yesterday, while talking with the media on a conference call, no decision has been made on the coach's future. But if you read everything Hanauer had to say (and what he didn't say), you may get the feeling he's laying the groundwork for a change. After all, the Sounders had too much talent to end the season so meekly. But then again, you could see Clint Dempsey's arrival as subtraction by addition. If you are so inclined.
• Mariners: What a shock. Kendrys Morales rejected the M's qualifying offer and became a free agent. How many of you think they will be able to resign him? Anyone? ... New manager Lloyd McClendon made a hire yesterday.
• I don't know about your home, but ours is pretty much evenly divided between WSU and GU apparel. My wife has a bunch of Gonzaga women's basketball items. There is a smattering of Cougar shirts in my kids' closets. And I have a WSU baseball jersey hanging on my office wall, a retirement gift from the guys in the equipment room at Washington State, good people I will always be thankful I worked around. Until later ...