A GRIP ON SPORTS
There is a yearly debate on which conference in college football is the best. The SEC usually wins that one, though this season the Pac-12 has made some strides and is considered a strong second. There is also a debate on which conference has the weakest officiating. In that one, the Pac-12 has held a huge lead lately. But the Big 12 made up some ground last night. Read on.
• If you had a chance to watch the end of the Texas at Iowa State game last night, you know what I mean. To summarize quickly, the Longhorns drove the length of the field with time running out, trailing by six. After a deserved pass interference penalty in the end zone, they had a first and goal. The Texas running back tried the middle, was stonewalled and, while he was going to the ground, an Iowa State linebacker ripped the ball free and began to run the other way. Except the whistles had blown. No problem. That's what replay is for. ESPN showed the play over and over and, by watching all the angles, it was obvious the ball was out before his knee touched. Don't take my word for it. Mike Pereria, the former head of NFL officiating and now a Fox commentator, felt the same way. So did the ESPN crew. As did just about everyone in the stadium. But the guy who matters, the replay official, must not have seen all the angles. Either that or he was too timid. Or was doing a Ray Charles imitation. Whatever, the call stood, which means there wasn't indisputable evidence. Ya, right. Two plays later Texas scored – but not after fumbling again and the officials placing the ball at the wrong spot. To add more insult, Iowa State had a chance to drive for a field goal but, with some 30 seconds left, the Cyclones' quarterback took off on an ill-advised scramble. Tackled short of a first down and facing a third-and-5, the offense hurried to get set as the clock ticked down. Except the official spotting the ball dropped it, couldn't pick it up and, in his hurry to get it spotted, ran through the Iowa State offense as the ball was snapped. That seemed to throw everyone off and the quarterback just threw the ball. It hit one Texas defender and caromed to another. Game over. But not the excitement. Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads (pictured) went off in his postgame press conference. It was the kind of verbal explosion that is fun to watch – and will probably cost Rhoads a few thousand dollars.
• By the way, the Pac-12 officials tried to mount a late comeback in Salt Lake City, slowing down an already interminable game with a handful of gratuitous replays, but they still lost to the Big 12 last night.
• Speaking of explosions, Brett Rypien (pictured) exploded again last night at Albi Stadium. The junior quarterback, who already is the all-time GSL career passing and total offense leaders, passed for 613 yards in a win over Mt. Spokane, the best ever for an 11-man quarterback in the state of Washington. If Rypien wasn't already on every major college's radar, he probably is now. I still believe it would only be fitting he would be flinging the ball around for Mike Leach and Washington State in a couple years, but who knows? A few more 600-yard games and he might be headed to Stanford, where he can hand off every play.
• WSU: It's time to head to the Bay Area. Not for me, I'll be watching tomorrow afternoon's game (ya, a 1 p.m. start) in the comfort of my living room. But the Cougars will be leaving soon, as will Jacob Thorpe. Before Jacob hopped on an airplane, though, he filed this story on California's freshman quarterback, Jared Goff (pictured), whose status as the starter was confirmed yesterday. ... Jacob also had a blog post after practice last night – it looks as if the Cougars will go with the offensive line they used the last 20 minutes or so against Stanford, with Rico Forbes benched as right tackle – and another one this morning. ... More on Cal's quarterback situation. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has some things you might not have known heading into this week's games. ... Former WSU quarterback Jeff Tuel made his NFL regular season debut last night and things didn't go so well.
• EWU: Another full day for Jim Allen, who held a live chat yesterday – our new chat provider doesn't have the entire transcript on the blog afterward, but you can read the final dozen questions and answers – and also this feature on Will Katoa, a run-stopping defensive lineman along with a morning post with links. ... Weber State will try to snap a four-game losing streak tomorrow in Cheney.
• Preps: The big story last night, of course, was Rypien's performance in the Highlanders' 63-42 win over Mt. Spokane. Greg Lee has the story and Colin Mulvany has the photographs. The Shadle win means there are no more undefeated GSL teams. ... Central Valley opened the night with a shutout of Lewis and Clark. Greg Lee has that story as well. ... We can also pass along a roundup of other prep action from Thursday.
• Seahawks: One given each Thursday is Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman will meet with the media. Another given is Wilson will not say anything controversial and Sherman will use some big words. By the way, Sherman was the NFC defensive player of the month. ... Another given for Thursday? The injury report slims down a little. ... So where are the Hawks after four games? ... Marshawn Lynch (pictured) is a big enough name big newspapers write about him. ... Bruce Irvin will try to get lucky on Sunday (sorry about the pun). ... The Hawks are such a big draw, CenturyLink needs a few more seats. ... Andrew Luck and Wilson will always be connected by the 2012 draft. ... This Sunday's game with Indianapolis is a big one. ... Did the Hawks pick up B.J. Daniels to spite the 49ers? He says no. But the lost a linebacker because of it.
• Sounders: Yes, we all understand the U.S. National Team comes first. But we don't have to like it. Or like the MLS policy of playing through qualifying periods, unlike most major leagues in the world. ... In Clint Dempsey's case, he may still be too injured to play anywhere. ... Mauro Rosales wants to be a Sounder for a while longer.
• I was joking about Rypien and Stanford, of course. Heck, even the Cardinal throw the ball around these days. Sure, it's usually to the tight end, but they do throw the ball a few times every game. Until later ...