A GRIP ON SPORTS
We've been asking you for a couple days, via a poll, if you believe Washington State and Idaho have a football rivalry. If we had asked the same question 70 years ago, there would be no question about the answer. Though then would have had to either go door-to-door or use a dial phone to ask. And we would have been really tired. Read on.
• For you youngsters out there (and I know there are a couple people under the age of 28 who actually read this; after all, it is carried by that new-fangled World-Wide-Internet thingee), back then Washington State and Idaho were actually in the same conference. Yep, the two Palouse neighbors were rivals in the Pacific Coast Conference in football from 1922 to 1959, or until the conference fell apart due to scandal. So for 37 years the schools' matchups had a bearing on a league title. Not that such things ever mattered to Idaho, which never won a PCC football championship. And it rarely mattered to WSU, which last won in 1930, when it was undefeated. But given such a historical foundation, you would think the two would be joined at the hip. Nope. Idaho's football history took a left turn after the PCC collapsed, competing as an independent for a while before joining the Big Sky in 1963. Washington State did whatever it could to stay with its West Coast brethren, finally joining the Pac-8 in 1962, before it was even called the Pac-8 (a name that came into use in 1968). As football bloomed on the coast, WSU continued to try to keep up with the big boys from California while Idaho hitched its fortunes with Montana – a PCC member from 1924 to 1950 – and the rest of the Big Sky. The Vandals were successful, first winning a portion of the conference title in 1965 and taking eight overall, including three consecutively in the late 1980s. But the Vandals wanted more and left the 1-AA ranks in 1996. Since then football success has been intermittent and fleeting, as has been their conference affiliation – let's see, there was the Big West until 2005, the Sun Belt for football from 2001 through 2005, the WAC, independence this year and then back to the Sun Belt for football next season, with the rest of the sports returning to the Big Sky. In the years since 1959, the rivalry with WSU started to wane and basically expired six years ago. So now, the visit from the Vandals on Saturday seems, for the Cougars at least, a lot like a get-together with someone from the old neighborhood. You know, a time to catch up. You do it because there are memories to share, sure, but both of your lives have changed and your interests are different. The nostalgia kicks in, stories are swapped but, in the end, you go your separate ways. The meeting can rekindle a friendship or just be a rest stop on life's long road. No one is sure of the outcome just before the door is opened – and oftentimes even after it closes again. So what the future hold for WSU and Idaho? Like old friends, we'll have to wait and see what Saturday brings.
• WSU: Christian Caple, entering his penultimate game as Cougar beat writer (the only reason I mention his departure is because I love to use the word "penultimate;" it might be my favorite word ever, right up there with plethora and doughnut) has you covered once again. There is a well-researched story on the local connections between Idaho and WSU along with a chat with defensive coordinator Mike Breske after practice. Of course, there is today's morning post. ... Christian had his Pac-12 picks yesterday but we have more for you.
• EWU: The Eagles are off this week so we thought we would pass along this nice story out of Missoula. Imagine, rivals treating each other well. What is our world coming to? ... Former Eagle Nicholas Edwards is back with the Seahawks, signed to their practice squad yesterday.
• Idaho: As we said earlier this week, there is Vandal news in the WSU section above. Plus, we pass along this story on the "rivalry" from the Idaho Statesman.
• Preps: The weekend football action got underway last night at Albi, with Mt. Spokane remaining undefeated by getting past Central Valley. Greg Lee has the story and Colin Mulvany has the photographs. ... We also have a roundup of other prep action from Thursday.
• Golf: Jim Meehan has another golf column as the season winds down, this one on Tracy Hanson, the former LPGA member from North Idaho.
• Mariners: The bullpen has been struggling as of late, with Thursday's 5-4 loss to Detroit just the latest example. The inability of Charlie Furbush to get out of a jam cost James Paxton another win in just his third major league start. ... Michael Saunders is disappointed in his season. We understand. ... Will the Mariners' direction change with Hiroshi Yamauchi's death? No one knows. ... When is a celebration bush? When this happens. Geez, show some class. And act like you've won something before.
• Seahawks: Yes, we know the Hawks offense needs to be more efficient. But it will have to do it without its best lineman, who seems hell-bent on finding someone who can fix his toe. The key is cutting down on the penalties. ... Richard Sherman is another in a long line of Hawks who liked former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who has been replaced by Dan Quinn. ... Bad news for Jacksonville. It seems some of the banged-up Hawks (like Brandon Browner, pictured) are about ready to play again. ... Remember the blocked punt against the 49ers? ... The Hawks had a lot of NFL players in training camp. Way too many for them to keep.
• You know what today is, right? Yep, it's Friday, the last day until the weekend. A football weekend. Enough said. Until later ...