A GRIP ON SPORTS
A few random thoughts for this Tuesday that are neither there or, well, yes, they are here. Read on.
• There is a column in one of the Salt Lake City newspapers this morning concerning the new college basketball rules and how they will help the game. I agree. However, they will help only if they continued to be called. I'm already seeing some slippage. Sunday night I counted nine different times Eastern players drove to the hoop, had an arm bar or one and sometimes two hands put on them and no whistle blew. And I quit counting about three-quarters of the way through. Last night, as I was whistling through games, I saw the now-outlawed grabbing happen off and on in my limited viewing time. And didn't hear many whistles. Maybe the officials are already tired of being yelled at. Maybe someone upstairs told them to cool it. Or maybe they are just reverting back to old habits. Either way, for this to work, they have to be consistent and keep enforcing the rules.
• Remember when USC hired Pete Carroll? He was the school's third or fourth choice. He did pretty darn well even though the alums and boosters weren't on-board right away. Now it seems those same folks want Pat Haden to name Ed Orgeron (pictured) the head coach right now based on the Trojans' play the past couple months. He should. After all, those are the people who pay all the bills, right? Let them make the call. If it doesn't work out then he can hire someone they don't like – and win a national title or two.
• I'm working to suppress the urge to root for Washington State on Saturday. I would like to see the Cougars become bowl eligible. After all, it's been so long since they have been able to play in the postseason I'm having trouble remembering the date. Was it in December of 2003? The Holiday Bowl? Seems to me a Dec. 26 bowl date in frigid Detroit would be a lot of fun (not) – and a lot easier to remember down the line.
• Travis Wilson is out with a dangerous head injury. Keith Price may be out with a shoulder injury. Marcus Mariotta denies he has a knee injury but he certainly isn't moving as well these days. Quarterback may be the glamour position, but it isn't easy. Connor Halliday faces Utah this week, the team that put him in the hospital two years ago – though he finished the game with a lacerated liver. (That, my friends, is the definition of toughness.) And the Utes will come into Martin Stadium having sacked the quarterback a nation-leading 36 times. The WSU offensive line has been playing better than any group in Pullman since 2007, but it needs to have its best game of the year. There will be no greater indicator of success for the Cougars than the time Halliday has to throw.
• WSU: We'll leave most of the Pac-12 links to Jacob Thorpe and his morning post today, but we would be remiss not to highlight all of Jacob's work yesterday. He posted videos from Mike Leach, Elliott Bosch, Marcus Mason, Deone Bucannon and Justin Sagote after Monday's media availability. It is Senior Day Saturday and 19 players will be honored. Jacob has a story on what they want to accomplish this week and next. If you are wondering how WSU will be next season, I want to point out those 19 players hold down 17 of the 44 spots on the Cougar two-deep (including six of the 10 spots on the offensive line) along with both kicking specialists. There will be some rebuilding to do next year. ... Jacob also has a transcript of Leach's comments, a story on Leach and Bill Moos agreeing to kick-in the rollover clause of Leach's contract, and a quick look at the Utah game. ... Jim Meehan highlights the Cougars' win over USC in this week's volleyball notebook. ... Is Orgeron the Pac-12's coach of the year? ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog looks at that question and this week's games. The site also picks its own offensive player of the week. We agree.
• Gonzaga: The Gonzaga women announced the three high school seniors they signed to letters of intent in the early signing period. Don't be surprised if coach Kelly Graves isn't done. ... Speaking of signings, St. Mary's went for size in its 2014 men's class. ... USD is 4-0, something that hasn't happened in a while.
• EWU: The Eagles welcome Walla Walla College to Reece Court this evening.
• Preps: St. George's has accomplished a lot in boys soccer the past few years. Jim Allen has a feature on the person in charge.
• Seahawks: It's a bye week and Pete Carroll had a simple message to his team has he sent them out on their NFL-mandated time off: Don't screw up. And stay in shape. Let's see if they listened. After all, he feels they need to continue to improve if they want to win the ultimate prize. ... That didn't take long. Seattle re-signed quarterback B.J. Daniels to the practice squad. ... John Moffitt doesn't mind being retired.
• Sounders: All I can say is they must be grading on the curve. A very well-banked curve that is relatively simple to negotiate. ... And the team MVP is ... What, you thought it would be somebody else? ... The Sounders will return to Arizona for a quick match in the spring.
• That's it for now. We'll be back tomorrow. Until then ...