A GRIP ON SPORTS
Mondays are usually the quietest days of the week, at least in the area sports scene. Oh sure, there is the occasional Monday Night Football game in CenturyLink that has some drama (see Packers vs. Seahawks, circa 2102) but other than that, it's mainly a day of rest. Read on.
• So what do we write about? We'll probably cover prep sports with a pretty heavy hand this week, so not that. And the Cougars meeting with fifth-ranked Stanford will be all over this space until Saturday, so that's not in the cards either. How about this little nugget from the NCAA? There was a summit held in Indianapolis on Monday addressing the future of the women's tournament. The 35 attendees don't have any power to make changes, per se, but it's obvious the NCAA will use their suggestions as cover if they do want to alter the postseason format. “We're only doing what the women's basketball leaders want,” the NCAA will say. Hogwash. The main suggestion of the group, and the one suggestion that will probably be acted upon, is to move the first and second round games back to the homes of the highest seeds. Instead of picking a site in advance, and marketing it, as has been done the past few years, the first- and second-round games would return to the top schools' ownership, as was the case for years. The problem with that plan is obvious. The arenas don't fill up. They never did before and they won't in the future. Sure, Tennessee, UConn and maybe Baylor will fill the stands. Those are places women's college basketball is a big deal. But most of the first- and second-round games will be played in front of half-filled mausoleums. Sorry to be blunt, but it's true. History has taught us that. Contrast that with the excitement of the past few tournaments. With schools like Gonzaga hosting the opening rounds, the arenas have been full, the noise has been deafening and the games exciting. And that's the problem – at least for some. The big schools would rather have the advantage of playing at home – or at least not the disadvantage of playing on the road. Take a couple of years ago as an example, when Gonzaga eliminated Rutgers and Miami. If the system had rewarded the top seeds, the games would have been in Coral Gables. At least 945 people would have been in attendance, most of them wearing Miami gear. (Remember, the site announcement wouldn't come until just a few days before the event and the women's basketball fan pool isn't deep enough yet to sell out an arena in most places.) And the Hurricanes probably would have moved on. They were the most talented team in the pod. Instead, there were two incredibly emotionally charged games – pretty good TV as I recall – and the Zags, fueled in part by the power of their fans, upset the Hurricanes and moved on. The only folks who win in the suggested scenario are the power schools, as they can have more assurance they'll be third-round bound and will rake in all the peripheral benefits that come with that – money, exposure to recruits, etc. So why would a group of NCAA women's basketball leaders, as were gathered in Indianapolis yesterday, want that? Take a look at the participants at the bottom of this link from the NCAA website. Check out the coaches. All but one are from a usual women's basketball power, from the schools that, under the new plan, would be expected to host games. And the one that isn't, Jennifer Rizzoti, Hartford's head coach, played at Connecticut under Geno Auriemma, who was also in attendance. The fix was in. Most of the others in attendance could care less, though I'm sure any voices for the status quo were drowned out. However, there is one thing to remember. This group can only recommend, it doesn’t have the power to make changes. Only the NCAA, with a vote from the schools, can do that. Let's hope they don't. Women's basketball has made some steps forward the past few years and the excitement of the current format – and the upsets that have occurred due in part to it – has helped that process. It would be sad if it took a step back.
• WSU: Christian Caple attended the Cougars' weekly press conference Monday and passed along the videos from the four players in attendance. He also did the same with Mike Leach, and added Leach's comments here. Christian's story is about the upcoming matchup with Stanford in Seattle as is his weekly first look. Oh, and one last thing. He has his morning post with links. … We can also pass along a quick look at this weekend's Pac-12 games and a mailbag from ESPN.com. … By the way, the picture? I just liked it. Linemen deserve to have their pictured shown once in a while.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan emptied his notebook from the Adam Morrison interview on the blog yesterday.
• EWU: Jim Allen is back and has an Eagle notebook concerning this weekend's trip to Sam Houston State, the school that knocked Eastern from the FCS playoffs last year. He also has a morning post. … We found this feature on Portland State's punter and thought we would pass it along.
• Preps: The team atop the local football rankings has changed. It's now the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups (sorry about that, and thanks SpectreCoug, actually thought I wrote Bullpups originally) .
• Mariners: Let's put it this way: The M's don't win many games; when they do it is regulation; extra-innings have not been kind. They lost for the 15th time this year in extra frames, 6-5 to the Kansas City Royals. … Brad Miller returned from his injury and was in the lineup. … Stephen Pryor is out of a sling. … Raul Ibanez is not Ken Griffey Jr., circa 2009.
• Seahawks: Pete Carroll will admit one thing: Being 3-0 is better than any alternative. But winning the first three games of the season doesn't guarantee anything. As Carroll is sure to let you know that. … The defense has used a faster group of front due, in part, to injuries. … Former Hawk fullback Michael Robinson (pictured) is still waiting for a call from anyone. … The Texans are standing between Seattle and 4-0. … The Hawks' tight ends got involved in the offense last week. … No one was injured in a major way against Jacksonville. And Chris Clemons' return was better than expected.
• That's it for this morning. We'll be back tomorrow and the lead subject will be different. I promise. Until then …