A GRIP ON SPORTS
The best thing about Sundays? If your college football team won, you have all day to savor it. If your team lost, then you can use the NFL to cleanse your palate. Read on.
• It's the latter Washington State Cougar and Eastern Washington Eagle fans will be doing today. And, for the first time this season, Idaho Vandal fans can actually celebrate a victory. But the joy over a win never seems to be exciting enough to overpower the sorrow of a defeat. Let's take Washington State for example. The Cougars were on a high rolling into CenturyLink Field on Saturday and left it later that evening with a couple of flat tires. Those came courtesy of the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal. Heck, about all the Cougars could ask afterward was “why is Stanford ranked so low?” The Cardinal moved the ball consistently all night, with only a Deone Bucannon second-quarter end-zone interception keeping the score a respectable 17-3 at halftime. Then the Cardinal defense turned up the pressure after intermission, knocked Connor Halliday from the game – up until the hit that eventually sent him to the locker room and resulted in a pick-six, Halliday was having as consistent a game as he has had all season; alas, the same couldn't be said of the WSU receivers – and introduced backup Austin Apodaca to the Pac-12 with a bruising hit and another pick-six. By the time the Cougars started moving the ball against Stanford's reserves, the Cardinal already had five plays of longer than 33 yards and the game was over. No, the Cougars did not get better this week. And it remains to be seen if they can get better in the next few days, with a game looming at hapless California, a game the Cougars need to win to keep a postseason berth alive. And to prove this weekend was a glitch, not a pattern.
• We can't let this day pass without saying goodbye to Christian Caple, who is leaving the Review to take a position with the Tacoma News Tribune. Back in 2011, when I decided to take the S-R's early retirement offer, sports editor Joe Palmquist asked me for recommendations for a replacement. I immediately thought of Christian, who had covered the beat for the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. It's a decision I never regretted. Christian understood how hard one had to work to cover the WSU beat with the thoroughness it deserved, and he put in the hours. He took everything I had invested into the coverage and added to it. And he did it all while, early on, suffering the slings and arrows of Cougar fans who weren't all that enamored of a UW graduate covering their team. But he handled the demands and hadled them well. So what did he get out of his 19 months in Pullman? I'll let him answer that but my experience makes it easy for me to believe he'd say he's better for the experience. Better, yes, and heavier. That's what Cougar Country will do to you. So good luck Christian and don't eat at Dick's too often.
• WSU: It's nice to see the Cougars gave Christian an easy game to write about in his final day on the job. Well, if not easy, at least the outcome was decided somewhat early, allowing less pressure at deadline. It certainly wasn't the Cougars best effort of the season. Christian has his game story, his keys to the game and a notebook. Also in the paper is the statistics and the scoring. … On the blog, Christian passes along video of Mike Leach, Damante Horton, Deone Bucannon, Elliott Bosch, Gunnar Ecklund, Darryl Monroe, Gabe Marks and Austin Apodaca along with the tale of the tape. He also held a pregame chat. … John Blanchette was also at the game and has this column about the dated nature of the Seattle game. … Thomas Clouse has a sidebar on the Stanford offense. … Tyler Tjomsland has photographs from the game.
• EWU: The Eagles spent the week with the score from last year's playoff loss to Sam Houston State on the Roos Field scoreboard. It didn't help. They were run over by the Bearkats 49-34 in a game delayed more than an hour by lightning. Jim Allen was in Texas and has this game story. He also has this story on Sam Houston State's success.
• Idaho: The Vandals' Chad Chalich threw for more than 300 yards and ran for another 100-plus to lead UI to a 26-24 home win over Temple. Josh Wright has the game story and a blog post from the Vandals first win in 11 games.
• Whitworth: Chapman University (full disclosure, I was once Chapman College's interim sports information director) pulled away late to defeat visiting Whitworth 38-17.
• Preps: The 3A schools dominated the night at Albi on Friday, winning two games against their 4A opponents. Greg Lee takes a look back at that rare occurrence. … There was prep action Saturday and we can pass along a roundup.
• Chiefs: OK, so they didn't score six goals again. But the two Mitch Holmberg scored Saturday night were enough, as the Chiefs improved to 4-0 with a 2-1 victory over the Americans. Chris Derrick has the story and more in this blog post.
• Mariners: Today is the final day of this miserable season. And the final game in Eric Wedge's tenure as Mariners manager. He said Saturday money had nothing to do with him leaving. It was all about the direction of the team. He said he woudn't have taken a five-year extension. Talk about leveling a blast on the way out. … The M's did win Saturday thanks in large part to two home runs by Brad Miller, one of them a grand slam (pictured).
• Seahawks: You would think a team with a 3-0 record would engender some confidence? The Hawks do, but that will be tested in Houston this morning. A bunch of injuries to one position unit will do that to you. Especially when that unit is your offensive line and your opponent's strength is their defensive line. … A win today would make the Hawks 4-0. Noteworthy. Why? They have never been 4-0 before. … Russell Wilson has started where he left off last season. … If you like roster news, we have some for you.
• Sounders: There is a lot riding on the Sounders' match with New York today. The most important aspect is, of course, these are the teams with the most points in the MLS. Or maybe it is the fact Seattle can clinch a playoff berth after a slow start to the season. See, there is a lot riding on the match.
• That's it for this morning. After getting done with the Cougar post-game call-in show, we put this post together in the wee hours of the morning. That way we can set it up to become live in the morning, put our tweet on a timer and sleep in until the Hawks' game. And that is your peek behind the curtain today. Until later …