A GRIP ON SPORTS
Let's just be honest. We like it when college football coaches show they are human, as Stanford's David Shaw yesterday. Read on.
• Believe it or not, I was in the room that July day when Jim Harbaugh first laid down the challenge to USC a few years ago. The Stanford team he was taking over wasn't very good, wasn't very physical and wasn't respected. But on that Pac-10 media day, Harbaugh made it clear the Stanford team of the future would stand up to the then bullies of the conference, Pete Carroll's USC Trojans. That led to, within just a couple years, one of the biggest upsets in college football history and the "what's-your-deal" game down the road. The two coaches currently continue their rivalry – and animosity – in the NFC West, making the Seahawks games with the 49ers just a bit more interesting. Now two members of their respective coaching trees, Stanford's David Shaw (pictured) and Washington's Steve Sarkisian, are continuing that fine tradition of back-and-forth started by Harbaugh. If you don't know what it's about, you can catch up quickly by reading any number of stories about this past week's spat, including this nice, down-the-middle summary by ESPN.com's Ted Miller. I don't blame either coach for speaking their mind. In fact, I admire it and wish more of them would do the same thing. Too often such things are said behind the scenes, kept out of the public view by some coaching code. But the funny thing is, anyone who hangs around college football knows what's going on. By not speaking publicly about it, or by just plain lying when asked, coaches just keep their fans in the dark. And not all of them. Oftentimes well-connected boosters somehow know all about who is ticked at whom and what happened on the road in the offseason. But the average Joe is left to speculate, hoping enough information will leak out he or she will be able to piece the puzzle together. Not in the case of Harbaugh or Carroll and now Sarkisian and Shaw. We all know what the deal is. And we will going forward. It will make Stanford's visit to Seattle next year all that more interesting, even if, as I really hope now, Sarkisian is in Los Angeles coaching USC. A Stanford/Washington war of words is one thing. When it's Northern California vs. Southern California, that's another thing entirely. Those two areas don't like each other on a cellular level. Dodgers vs. Giants. Fog vs. smog. Nob Hill vs. Hollywood. Stolen water, stolen football teams and stolen votes. The two parts of the Golden State are as different as Pullman and Bellevue. Harbaugh, who coached for a while in San Diego, understood that and used it to his advantage to accelerate Stanford's uphill climb. Now his protégé is calling a similar play. Let's hope this is just an undercard and, down the road, the big bouts will pit Shaw and Sarkisian at the same schools Harbaugh and Carroll used to represent. That would be even more fun.
• WSU: No war of words here, though Jacob Thorpe uses his Pac-12 notebook to examine the Shaw/Sarkisian brouhaha. Jacob also passes along his conference power rankings, a blog post following practice yesterday and this morning's post with links. He also talked with SWX's Neil Stover and will hold a live chat this afternoon. ... We seem to have this problem around here every year: Pac-12 teams are penalized more than anyone else. We all know why. ... Numbers may not lie, but they don't always tell the truth. ... We can pass along a basketball story from Oregon. Yes, the season is getting closer.
• Gonzaga: Speaking of hoops, Jim Meehan has a feature in today's S-R on the Zags' Gerard Coleman, eligible this season after transferring from Providence. ... BYU must have held a media day yesterday, as both Salt Lake papers have stories about the upcoming basketball season.
• Chiefs: There is no team in the Western Hockey League with a better winning percentage than the Spokane Chiefs. Chris Derrick has the coverage of last night's 6-3 win over Kelowna at the Spokane Arena. Beside his game story, Chris also has a WHL notebook and a blog post and Jesse Tinsley has photographs.
• Seahawks: The draft is not an exact science, as this Seattle Times story today shows. ... The Hawks ran the ball really well in Indianapolis and it didn't help. So why didn't they run it even more? ... Looking at who played the most against the Colts offers no clues on why the Hawks lost. ... Seattle made a another minor roster change. ... The weekly depth chart is available.
• Sounders: Seattle has its hands full tonight with Vancouver, which includes the MLS player of the week in its lineup. ... The Sounder lineup should have two key players back and Clint Dempsey might even play a little. ... One man's view of the MLS power rankings. ... Tonight's game has some charitable aspects to it. ... The postseason is just around the corner.
• Mariners: It looks as if Kendrys Morales will test free agency, which probably means we've seen the last of him here in Seattle. ... We've seen the last of Henry Blanco after the M's made a roster move yesterday.
• Unlike my feelings about college football coaches and speaking their mind, if you don't like what I wrote this morning, then keep your mouth shut. At least I didn't fake anything, other than faking like I know anything at all. I do that every day. By the way, I got a new shop vac for my birthday, so I can toss the one I have had since 1985. Cool. Until later ...