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The changing of the guard continues

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There are some questions that are impossible to answer definitively. Like why the M's are so mediocre year-in and year-out. Or why Pete Carroll is always smiling. Or why kids decide to leave one college for another. Read on.

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• There is a little blurb on a Los Angeles Times blog concerning former USC basketball player Byron Wesley (pictured). The 6-foot-5 Wesley averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Trojans last season, coach Andy Enfield's first in LA, then decided to leave for his senior year. Though Wesley is non-committal about where he may land in everything I've read, his father has mentioned Gonzaga as his first choice, saying his son wants to go somewhere he can win – USC won a single conference game last season – and play right away. Wesley may not land at GU, but if he does he'll certainly help a Zag team that could use an athletic wing player to go with its bigs and potent guard lineup of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell. But no matter where Wesley ends up, he'll be part of more than 350 players transferring from Division I colleges this offseason. You'll hear a lot of reasons advanced, but none fit every player. That's because every player is unique. And every player's circumstances are unique. What might drive a player from one school – say a coach's sarcastic demeanor – might be the reason his roommate wants to stay. A new coach always wants new players and that drives some kids away – see WSU these days – but it also fires others' competitive nature, making them want to prove they belong. Some kids find themselves too far from family, others see distance as a nice buffer. No matter the reason, the number of transfers seems to grow each year. Part of the reason for that is the NCAA has made it easier to make a move. Hardship waivers used to be a rare thing; now they are handed out like treats at a Halloween party. Not too long ago the organization decided a student-athlete that finishes his degree at one school can transfer and play immediately at another, as long as a major was offered he or she couldn't access at the first school. That led to some odd graduate degrees for some high profile players, though it's hard to see any aspect of education being a bad thing. The same can be said about the transfers. Oh sure, there are parts of the situation that seems out of whack, but there also seems to be a bit of re-balancing going on here. For years the schools held all the cards. One-year scholarships and the ability to block a kid from changing schools without sitting out at least a year meant little movement. Now the pendulum is swinging back toward the athletes, where it should be. If a school wants to offer a guaranteed five-year scholarship and the athlete wants to sign it, then that contract would need to be honored by both sides. A divorce would only be allowed with consent of both parties. But that's not how it works. Each scholarship is on a year-by-year basis. It can disappear at a moment's notice. That's fine. But then the player should be free to go – and compete – wherever and whenever he or she wants. Unless there is a labor agreement in place, such limits on their mobility seems un-American – and borderline illegal. (I know many businesses have non-compete clauses in contracts, but in the real world, competitors cannot get together and come up with a way to limit the market without being subject to anti-trust laws.) No matter the reasons behind the increasing number of transfers students in college basketball, the trend is going to continue as long as the current rules stay in place. And there really isn't anything wrong with it.

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• WSU: There is a lot going on in Pullman these days, what with spring football winding down, basketball signing days upon us and baseball still in play. Jacob Thorpe has something on all those sports, including a feature on Spokane's Mitchell Peterson and a spring football practice report from yesterday. He also has a blog post and a story on Ernie Kent's first basketball signee, Aaron Cheatum (pictured with ball), who is scheduled to ink his letter of intent today. And Jacob has his weekly college baseball notebook. Included in the latter item is a note WSU coach Donnie Marbut is serving a six-game suspension after having been ejected from a game at Oregon. That's an unusually long suspension and no reason for the absurd length – it's been my experience there is occasionally another game added on after an ejection but I don't recall any more than that – has been forthcoming. ... It's Wednesday, so we can pass along this midweek mailbag from ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog. It includes a WSU question. ... The site also looks at takeaways the last three Pac-12 seasons. ... Cal's basketball hire has perplexed some folks.

• Gonzaga: John Blanchette has a nice feature today on CCS distance runner Jessica Mildes (pictured), who is headed to Gonzaga next year. ... The Zags got past WSU in baseball last night.

• EWU: The Eagles rarely dip into the junior college ranks for football players but for a good long snapper exceptions are always made. Jim Allen has the story.

• Chiefs: A come-from-behind 4-3 overtime victory has given Portland a 2-1 lead over Kelowna in the WHL's Western Conference finals.

• Shock: Spokane's training methods are evolving and it is helping the players bounce back quicker. Jim Meehan has that and more in his weekly notebook.

• Preps: Gonzaga Prep avenged a Saturday loss to Mt. Spokane by rallying late for a 7-6 win at Avista on Tuesday. Dave Trimmer has the story. ... Chris Derrick has his softball notebook as well today.

• Seahawks: The Hawks and Richard Sherman are nearing agreement on a long-term contract that will make Sherman the highest-paid corner in the NFL. That's the rumor anyway. ... It's no rumor. The Hawks have traded for Terrelle Pryor. What does it mean? ... The NFL preseason times and dates were finalized yesterday while the regular season will be given an Academy Award-type reveal tonight.

• Mariners: What can I say? Eight and counting. Losses, that is. The eighth came last night at Safeco in front of 10,466, all of whom who saw the M's drop a 5-2 game to the lowly Astros. For the second consecutive night, the Mariners struck out 12 times. ... Hisashi Iwakuma couldn't get his work in during a rainy night in Tacoma, so plans have been changed. ... Could there be some odd reason for the M's poor play? Nope.

• Sounders: Seattle has been thriving on the road, especially with its late comebacks, but the Sounders will be home for their next tree matches. ... The team's depth has helped in the comebacks. ... There were some strange calls in the Chivas USA game, but there are strange calls in every soccer match. ... One man's power rankings.

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• I need a haircut. That is all. Until later ... 




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Vince Grippi





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