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Archive for August 2014

We always (over)react to college football’s first full Saturday

A GRIP ON SPORTS

My first impression of the initial full week of college football: It's good to see the Pac-12 officials are in midseason form. Read on.

They aren’t who you thought they were

What's the most predictable thing about college football? It's the unpredictability. Jameis Winston hardly looked like a Heisman Trophy winner while defending champion Florida State eked out a win over Oklahoma State, West Virginia gave Alabama all it could handle and who knew Marshawn Lynch played for Georgia?

My sincere apologies to anyone who placed money based on my Pac-12 picks for week one. We may print my cell phone number, but there's a reason we don't print my home address.

Follow the jump for links from around this crazy, messed up conference.

Sebastian LaRue back at practice

The Cougars held practice for about an hour tonight. There wasn't much worth noting – some punt drills, lots of scout team work at half speed – except for the return of one Sebastian LaRue, who has been away from the team because of family matters since the middle of fall camp.

After practice we talked to defensive coordinator Mike Breske for the first time since before the Rutgers game.

More on practice after the jump.

EWU vs. University of Western Montana

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Eastern Washington's victory over University of Western Montana, 41-9, in the NCAA college football game, Aug. 30, 2014 in Cheney, WA. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos!

Lightning, rain wash out Idaho football opener at Florida

The University of Idaho's football season will have to a wait a week.

With The Swamp turned into an actual swamp and the playing field deemed unsafe, the Vandals' date with the University of Florida was “terminated” after two extended lightning delays in Gainesville Saturday night. The terminology was later amended to “suspended” in a statement issued by Florida. 

So will the game ever get played? Follow the link for more on the Vandals.

 

Highlights from WSU player availability

Connor Halliday, Darryl Monroe and Vince Mayle addressed the media on Saturday afternoon to talk about Thursday's loss to Rutgers, Friday's game at Nevada and more. Highlights from those interviews are after the jump.

Quotes from Mike Leach press conference

Washington State will play another weekday game this week, traveling to Reno, Nevada to take on the Wolf Pack. Because the schedule is still off the Cougars held their typical Monday press conference today.

 

A transcription of coach Mike Leach's interview is after the jump.

The M’s are sinking in the West

A GRIP ON SPORTS

If you wondered when this M's follower's dream of winning the American League West passed away, wonder no longer. It occurred in the fourth inning last night, when Wilson Ramos drove a high changeup over the left-field wall, the fourth of four home runs Felix Hernandez would surrender. Read on.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

Some teams still play their games on Saturday and without a Washington State game it's the perfect opportunity to spend a day on the couch flipping between two or three matchups. The Cougars will hold their weekly press availability today so keep an eye out for some WSU news and the team will practice tonight.

Links are after the jump.

… 

Everyone gets in act for Indians

The Spokane Indians capped their regular-season home schedule Friday with a balanced offensive performance. All 11 Indians who came to bat, including late-game replacements Chuck Moorman and Pepe Cardona, collected hits during the 15-hit effort that buried Salem-Keizer 11-5. Read story

Grading the Rutgers game

Just like last season, each day following the Washington State game I'll be posting letter grades for each position unit based on my observations of how it did during the previous game. To answer an oft-asked question: No, I won't be grading the coaching staff. We're not privy to what's going on in the minds and headsets, and these grades are simply a reflection of what I can see playing out on the field.

So with that, the Rutgers position grades are after the jump.

There is something about this that seems familiar

A GRIP ON SPORTS

If you woke up this morning thinking you were in some sort of reality TV version of “Groundhog Day,” don't fret. You aren't alone. Pretty much every Cougar fan in America feels the same way. Read on.

Eastern football links

Sorry this is so late, but I just had to stay up watching the Cougs. … In happier news, here's my story on former WSU (and current Eastern Washington) wide receiver Blair Bomber. … In case you missed it, we had a lively live chat yesterday, and here is the transcript. … The Eagles host Montana Western on Saturday night, and here's all you need to know (until my own preview comes out tomorrow, of course!). …In the better-late-than-never category, here's a recap of MWU's win last week over Montana Tech. courtesy of the Dillon Tribune. … Husky receiver Kasen Williams says he's “ready to go” against Hawaii. …So is Christian Caple of the Tacoma News Tribune, who files this report from Honolulu. …Montana State isn't intimidated by FBS team Arkansas State, according to this story in the Bozeman Daiy Chronicle. That's a good thing, since four Big Sky teams got mauled last night. Cal Poly lost a relatively close one at New Mexico State, but Idaho State was whipped at Utah, Weber State was steamrolled at Arizona State, and North Dakota was routed at San Jose State.

Morning after links

Washington State overcame an early deficit to take a solid lead against Rutgers in Seattle yesterday, but was unable to sustain it, eventually falling 41-38.

Links from that game and from around the Pac-12 are after the jump.

Destination: Vancouver and TBD

The Spokane Indians will wrap up their Northwest League regular-season home schedule Friday with the final game of a five-game set against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The Indians will cap the regular season with three games at Vancouver, starting Saturday. Wasting no time, they'll play Game 1 of the NWL North's best-of-3 divisional series Tuesday on the road. WHERE on the road remains a mystery with four games left in the regular season. Read story

Idaho’s Florida connection jazzed to go home again

What everyone else in college football calls “body bag games” are something entirely different to guys like Richard Montgomery and Jacob Sannon.

Of course, there isn't an underdog out there who thinks he's auditioning to be a victim. 

Click on the link for more on the Vandals. 

WSU pregame chat


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Ewu sports chat Aug. 28 (noon)

Read the transcript from Thursday's chat here:

You’ll need some time to get through today’s links

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You working today? If you are, I'm sorry. This is the type of day that should only occur on a Saturday. Or a Sunday. Or a holiday. That's it. Today should be a holiday. Read on.

Eastern football links

Don't forget, it's Thursday, which means we will be chatting at noon on all things EWU sports. … Saturday's game against Montana Western offers one of the visitors a chance for a memorable homecoming. … Want more on Saturday's game? Here is the official release from the Eagles, plus the MWU football home page. … The Washington Huskies are preparing for their opener Saturday at Hawaii. The Tacoma News Tribune has more on the Dawgs, who leave this afternoon for Honolulu. … Here is the latest on Montana State, courtesy of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. … The Billings Gazette offers a look at the future of FBS vs. FCS games. … UC Davis has perhaps the toughest opening-week assignment of any Big Sky  team. … I also don't envy Idaho State, which is at Utah tonight. …

WSU game day links

Well, everyone, the countdown is over. Zero days until Cougar football. Still quite a few hours however, now that college football is a nocturnal sport, so let's pass the time with some links.

Pena turns attention to playoffs

Wednesday night served as a playoff tune-up for Spokane Indians starter Richelson Pena, who capped his regular season with a fine performance marred by basically one pitch — a 0-2 high fastball that Salem-Keizer's Austin Slater deposited over the left-field fence for a three-run homer in the third inning. The next batter, Skyler Ewing, doubled to left field before Pena closed his night by retiring the final 11 Volcanoes, including five by strikeouts. Read story

Good news for Dish subscribers

I just arrived in Seattle and saw that there is some good news for Dish subscribers who want to watch tomorrow's game between Rutgers and Washington State.

More after the jump.

Wednesday WSU football chat

 

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Pac-12 power rankings: Week 1

The first iteration of our weekly power rankings are in the paper today. I'm also going to share these weekly snapshots here as well.

Let me know what you think.

Eastern football links

The way the Eastern Washington players and coaches were talking Tuesday, you wouldn't know the Eagle were coming off a three-touchdown win last weekend. Up next: Montana Western, an NAIA school, and here's the early scoop from EWU and also from Montana Western. … One UW player offers an interesting blend of culture, as this Seattle Times story  explains. The Tacoma News Tribune profiles Husky defensive back Budda Baker. … Montana has a big opener Saturday at Wyoming.

One more day to Cougar football

Today is the last day of Washington State's offseason. We'll wrap it up today with a live WSU football chat right here on SportsLink at 11 a.m.

Until then we have some links, after the jump.

Indians will affect postseason races

The Spokane Indians don't have to worry about qualifying for the Northwest League playoffs, as they took care of that by winning the North Division first-half title. But the Indians will definitely have a say in what two teams join Spokane and South Division first-half champion Hillsboro in the best-of-3 divisional round, which begins Tuesday. Read story

Hits highlight underclassmen scrimmage

One thing I love about watching these underclassmen scrimmages, the young defenders always load up for the big hit. Not that the hits are illegal or especially dangerous – I haven't seen anyone try to spear a teammate or lead with the helmet or anything like that – but with their older teammates watching and commenting from the sideline it's apparent the defenders want to assert themselves.

Follow the jump for more on today's scrimmage and the rest of practice.

Chalich, Linehan to share QB duties in opener

Call it resolution or call it compromise, but the big question dogging the Idaho Vandals into the first week of the college football season — who's the quarterback? — has been answered.

It's both of them.

More on the Vandals below.  

 

Our local sports community is virtually endless

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Social media is really big on creating virtual communities, groups of people with like-minded interests that gather in the ether of the Internet to converse and commiserate. It's a pretty new phenomenon, though it mirrors something I've seen going on in Spokane for, I don't know, 30 years. Read on.

The end of the Seattle game

Bill Moos had a full day in Seattle yesterday, promoting Washington State athletics as part of Seattle Week leading up to Thursday's game against Rutgers. He did radio, television, and even stopped by the Seattle Times for a live chat.

It may be the last time Moos does this for a while. While he says that he still will stump for WSU in Seattle, he won't send his football team there any longer unless it's for an Apple Cup.

That's the main item in today's WSU notebook.

More links are after the jump.

Playoff picture remains scrambled

The Northwest League regular season is down to one week and seven games. First-half champions Spokane of the North Division and Hillsboro of the South know that they'll open best-of-3 divisional series on Sept. 2, but their opponents are still unclear. Read story

No LaRue at WSU’s practice

Tomorrow will be a Thursday Night Football underclassmen scrimmage, Wednesday will be a walk-through and travel day and on Thursday the Cougars open the season in Seattle against Rutgers.

So, today was the last “typical” day of practice, complete with drills, more drills, some passing drills and even the far-off echoes of electric drills from last year's constant construction reverberating around the Palouse.

Our practice report is after the jump.

Rutgers game at 26,000 tickets sold

As of early Monday afternoon Washington State's game in Seattle against Rutgers has sold around 26,000 tickets. WSU officials were hopeful that ticket sales would pick up about a week before kickoff and that the Cougars could still approach 40-45,000 in ticket sales but it appears now that could be difficult.

More after the jump.

Cougar Calls with Bill Moos highlights

Bill Moos joined Bud Nameck for his weekly call-in show earlier today. In case you missed it you can listen to the podcast later on iTunes and if you can't wait I've written down some of the highlights below.

Moos will also be joining the Seattle Times for a live chat at noon today on its website.

Highlights are after the jump.

DISH subscribers could miss WSU game

As Bud Withers of the Seattle Times pointed out yesterday, Washington State's season-opener against Rutgers on Thursday night is one of six Pac-12 games that are going to be televised on FOX Sports 1, which is in the middle of an apparent dispute with satellite TV provider DISH.

DISH claims that it already agreed to pay an “inflated price” for FOX Sports 1 content, and that FOX is now asking for an additional charge. If the two sides can't come to an agreement this week then DISH subscribers will miss Rutgers at WSU on Thursday, Colorado at Colorado State on Friday, North Dakota State at Iowa State on Saturday and Southern Methodist at Baylor on Sunday.

In addition to the two games this week, the Pac-12 games between Arizona and UTSA, UCLA and Arizona State, Utah and Oregon State and Oregon and California are scheduled to be televised on FOX Sports 1. The matchup between UCLA and ASU in particular could have major conference implications, and the contest between Utah and Oregon State will likely be a big game for fans of those teams as well.

Now we’ve seen it all

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Like a lot of you, I've been following the Mariners for a long time. We've seen most everything, from the improbable comeback of 1995 to the nearly flawless 2001 regular season. We've seen awful defeats – way too many of those – and heart-stopping victories. We've seen great pitchers, terrible pitchers, marvelous hitters and Mario Mendoza. Heck, we've even seen a player try to blow a ground ball foul. But, until yesterday, we hadn't seen the M's sweep a three-game-or-more series in Boston. Read on.

A different sort of Monday

Today's the first Monday of the 2014 WSU football season, but don't expect the usual press conference. Because the Cougars play on Thursday, they're considering today a Wednesday.

Confused? So are we. But hey, we can look forward to Thursday Night Football tomorrow.

Links after the jump.

Singleton and Ware off the WSU roster

Washington State just finished up a two-and-one-half hour practice on Rogers Field, their last in full pads before opening the season against Rutgers in Seattle. There were some roster changes today.

For starters, Dylan Hanser is now No. 43, Darryl Paulo is No. 99 and Peyton Pelluer is No. 47, so mark that down somewhere. Of more interest to you, in all likelihood, was the omission of freshmen Barry Ware and Deion Singleton from today's roster.

Singleton, a defensive back, and Ware, a receiver, never joined the team after signing letters of intent with WSU back in February. However, both were listed on the roster and coach Mike Leach said early in fall camp that he expected them to join the Cougars at some point.

Singleton is a plus athlete who could potentially have contributed at either corner or safety. Ware originally committed to UCLA and at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds has great size for a receiver. Here is what Leach had to say about each when they signed:

(Ware) “Big target, great receiver skills both physical and explosive.”

(Singleton) “Tall, rangy secondary player. Can do a lot of things and just an incredible athlete. His brother plays Arena Football there in the Tri-Cities.”


Classes start tomorrow, however, and neither has enrolled at WSU, likely prompting the removal of their names from the roster. That's not to say that they'll never play for WSU, however, just that they almost certainly won't this season. The players could greyshirt and enroll in January like Hanser, Marcellus Pippins and Nick Begg did last season. They could also go the junior college route. However, in either scenario Singleton and Ware will no longer be bound to WSU by their letter of intent, opening the door for other schools to recruit them.

Leach said after practice that he was unsure if he could comment on their absence, but “we're only worried about the guys that are here.”

Follow the jump for a report from today's practice.

Eastern breathes new life into college football scene

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You want to know one thing that made me really happy about watching Eastern Washington's win over Sam Houston State yesterday on ESPN? Not once, as far as I could tell, did the self-proclaimed world-wide leader show the tired old shot of the Spokane Falls roaring in downtown. That seems like a win to me. Read on.

Pac-12 morning links: Now it’s WSU’s turn

Eastern Washington kicked off the college football season in style yesterday with a fun win over visiting Sam Houston State. With that game out of the way, all eyes on this side of the state will be on the Cougars, who are just a few days away from their own season-opener against Rutgers.

Links are after the jump.

EWU vs. Sam Houston State

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Eastern Washington University's victory over Sam Houston State, 56-35, in the NCAA college football game at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., Aug. 23, 2014. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos! 

A closer look at WSU’s week one depth chart

In yesterdays' game notes we got a look at WSU's first depth chart since the start of fall camp and while it was mostly as-expected, there were a few surprises.

Read on after the jump.

The M’s rallied and so did the fans

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Like a whole bunch of you, I was torn last night. Watch the end of the Mariners' game or the first part of the Seahawks, when the starters would be playing? After Yoenis Cespedes' three-run, sixth-inning home run seemed to seal the M's fate, I decided on the Hawks. But I made sure I turned back for the ninth inning. I'm sure glad I did. Read on.

Pac-12 morning links: Nugent remains undefeated

So, about that new Washington State soccer complex … the lights work, so does the drainage system. All the new equipment got a workout last night thanks to some pouring rain and lightning storms that pushed back new WSU soccer coach Steve Nugent's debut by nearly three hours.

But the Cougars ops guys really wanted to make this game against TCU happen and they pulled it off with just 10 minutes to spare before the mandatory cancellation time.

It's a good thing they did because the Cougars won handily. Here's our story in today's paper on the WSU victory.

Pac-12 links are after the jump.

No practice report, but some game notes

I wasn't able to make it out to Washington State's football practice today because lightning storms and rain delayed the start of the women's soccer game I was covering by nearly three hours. But hey, the soccer team won, so keep an eye out for that story in tomorrow's paper. 
  

The football team is less than a week away from opening up its season against Rutgers in Seattle. The game notes are after the jump.

Some things matter tonight, others don’t

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The Seahawks take to the CenturyLink turf again tonight, the third of four preseason games. As always there is one overarching goal for Pete Carroll and his team: stay healthy. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Game day is almost here, and I'm as excited as anyone. I love my job, especially when I have a chance to write feature stories on Eastern players. Ever wonder what it's like to be Vernon Adams? This morning's story offers a glimpse behind the helmet. … We had a great live chat yesterday, and here is the full transcript. … Want all the details on Saturday's EWU-Sam Houston State game? Eastern has it all right here. … The Eagles are also hosting a kickoff celebration tonight in downtown Spokane. I'll be there, but not until I interview a certain national sports radio personality (and EWU alum) who's flying into town this afternoon - look for that tomorrow, along with my game preview. Did I mention that I love this job? … Elsewhere, Montana Western has updated its football home page, but that's all for now. … The Washington Huskies get a tad more media coverage, including this Seattle Times story on the Husky freshmen. … Montana State names a kicker and punter - and it's the same guy.

Pac-12 morning links: The offensive line carries a heavy burden

Mike Leach says that the offensive line is the most important offensive unit no matter what scheme you run. That's especially true for Leach's Cougars, who will rely on a young offensive line to protect Connor Halliday, the only quarterback on the roster who has ever played in a college game.

That's the story of today's position preview. More links are after the jump.

Chiefs’ camp loaded with plot lines

Who will become the No. 1 goaltender? Whose offensive game will blossom to fill the void of departed Mitch Holmberg and Mike Aviani? What defensive players will step in after Reid Gow and Jeremy McIntosh decided to step away from hockey? These and other questions are on the minds of Spokane Chiefs fans as the Western Hockey League season approaches. Thursday was the initial step, the first day of camp at the Arena. Read story

Sanders honored by AFL

Spokane's Terrance Sanders, recently selected to the All-AFL first team as a kick returner, was named playmaker of the year at the league's awards ceremony Thursday night..

More below.

Gabe Marks could redshirt

The Cougars consider today to be a Saturday – they're one week from playing a game, after all. Because there is no game today they had a contact practice, albeit a very short one.

Because practice was only about an hour, there isn't much of a report to pass along. There is some news, however, as coach Mike Leach acknowledged after practice that receiver Gabe Marks could potentially redshirt this season.

“Well we'll just look at it and see how it goes,” Leach said. “It's a possibility but nothing's been decided on it.”

Regular readers will know that Marks, who lead the team in receptions and receiving yards last season, missed spring practice and has been limited for most of the fall. Marks has been playing recently, but mostly on scout team.

A couple more practice notes after the jump.

Ewu sports chat Aug. 21 (noon)

Here's the transcript for Thursday's EWU chat:

Football season has officially begun

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The NFL began a while ago. Colleges started late last month. And now football season is officially here. Yep, the high schools here in Washington began practice yesterday. Read on.

Eastern football links

Warmup question: You really know it's football season when …..? For me, it's today, when we publish our annual college section. This year, it's devoted to the players and coaches who put so much into the game. At Eastern, we chose defensive lineman Dylan Zylstra, who also is on the cover. I also have a quick look at some talking points for the upcoming Eagle season. Speaking of talking points, we'll have our weekly live chat today at noon, right here on Sportslink.  In the daily section, a feature on new Sam Houston (and former Delaware) coach K.C. Keeler. Also, the Eagles will be sporting new uniforms on Saturday. … From the SHSU web site, everything you want to know about the Bearkats. … Next week's Eagle opponent, Montana Western, is a member of the NAIA Frontier Conference, which has some useful info. … Washington needs to improve its pass protection, according to this story in the Seattle Times. The Huskies have some new faces on special teams, says this article in the Tacoma News Tribune. … Montana State coach Rob Ash isn't overly concerned about his banged-up secondary. …The Montana tight ends are finding their role.

One more week

Eastern Washington kicks off the college football season in just a couple days and we're only one week away from Cougar football. So what better time to preview the college football season? Are we really starting a new season, however? Or just starting the game-playing portion of a season that never stops? In the paper today our college football preview looks at 24/7/365 enterprise that is college football.

That and more are after the jump.

To redshirt or not to redshirt

Redshirting freshmen – having them sit their first year in exchange for a fifth-year of eligibility – is often considered a sign of a healthy program. After all, you are in effect trading a player's worst season for their best one.

However, if no true freshmen play than a school probably isn't recruiting enough high-impact guys. What's the point of redshirting a guy who is going to head to the NFL before his fifth season?

Still, you'd rather redshirt more players than not, giving young guys a year in the weight room and to adjust to college life.

In Mike Leach's first season at Washington State the Cougars played nine true freshmen, and won three games. Last season they played just five first-year players and won six.

We won't know for sure how many freshmen will play this season until its conclusion, but let's take a look at the most likely candidates after the jump.

Live WSU Football Chat

 

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Our allegiances are about to be stretched

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Is there anything worse than your Pop Tart breaking and half of it falling on the floor? Yes, there is. Read on.

Eastern and opponent links

College football may start in Cheney, but your Eastern links begin here. To start, here is my story on EWU practice, plus a preview from the EWU athletic site. … Gee, Sam Houston State has a preview as well, along with a retrospective on their 2004 playoff win over the Eagles. … A UW defensive end is grateful for a second chance to play, while the Husky safeties are still locked in competition for the two starting spots. … Montana State has settled on a starting quarterback.

Give the defensive line a break

Destiny Vaeao, Toni Pole and Xavier Cooper probably won't play as much for Washington State this season, and that's a good thing. Why it's a good thing is the subject for our story in today's paper.

More links after the jump.

*We'll be holding our weekly live WSU football chat today at 11 a.m.

Big plays abound at WSU practice

“Intense and sloppy … kind of an exchange of big plays,” were the words coach Mike Leach used to describe today's underclassmen scrimmage, which they're still calling Thursday Night Football.

He was absolutely right.

We'll describe those big plays and more, after the jump.

Tyler Hilinski signs with WSU

With the above tweet the Washington State football program made official the financial aid agreement signed today by prep quarterback Tyler Hilinski. The NCAA allows student athletes that are able to graduate high school early to sign with schools well before national signing day in February, and to enroll in time for spring football. 

Last spring Calvin Green and Sean Krepsz took advantage of this rule and participated in spring football after finishing up their high school careers ahead of schedule.

More on Hilinski after the jump.

 

What could have been in the Northwest

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Want to see what Seattle's professional basketball future could have looked like? Just watch Steve Ballmer's introduction to the Los Angeles Clippers fans yesterday. Read on.

WSU linebackers a veteran bunch

How experienced is Washington State's linebacking corps? Even the backups have starts under their belt. The Cougars' deep linebacking corps is the subject of our story in today's paper.

More links after the jump.

About as bad as it gets

Most people around these parts had a better night than the Spokane Indians. Yes, the Indians pounded out 17 hits and scored 12 runs against the Tri-City Dust Devils on Monday night. But the Dust Devils played their blackjack hand by collecting 19 hits and scoring 21 runs in a Northwest League game that played havoc with pitchers'  earned-run averages. Read story

Cougars bounce back

Washington State's coaches agreed that yesterday's practice left a lot to be desired. They were similarly unanimous (among the ones we asked) that today's was a lot crisper.

Our practice report is after the jump.

Zags open WCC with three road games

The WCC released its 2014-15 schedule — yes, GU plays conference games in late December again — and it looks nothing like last year's slate. The Zags open with three straight road games, including a WCC lid-lifter at BYU, followed by dates with San Diego and Portland. GU plays five of its first seven on the road.

Last year, Gonzaga opened the WCC with four consecutive home games.

BYU is picked second behind Gonzaga in most preseason polls (I'm picking Saint Mary's at No. 2). San Diego and Portland are contenders to finish in the top five. The Zags' home opener will be against USF, which shared second place with BYU last season, on Jan. 8. Gonzaga takes on Saint Mary's on Jan. 22 in Spokane and visits Moraga on Feb. 21.

The Bulldogs close the WCC schedule against BYU at the McCarthey Athletic Center on Feb. 28.

GU's non-conference and television schedule will be released at a later date.

More on Gonzaga's WCC schedule here and here's a link to the entire WCC schedule.

 

The next few weeks are going to be fun

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's Monday. The workweek begins. But there is hope. After it ends Friday, there is college football Saturday. Read on.

WSU secondary learning quickly

The dorms in Pullman are open again and students are trickling back onto campus. School doesn't start for another week at Washington State but the football team's young defensive backs are studying hard for their first big test. That's the subject of our third WSU position preview.

Follow the jump for more links.

Dust Devils make playoff push

The Spokane Indians had little trouble against the Tri-City Dust Devils during the first half of the Northwest League season. The Indians outscored Tri-City 49-17 in winning five of six games. But the second half of the season has a different feel, as the North Division first-half champion Indians are discovering. Tri-City routed Spokane 7-0 on Sunday, outhitting the Indians 16-6. The Dust Devils are 3-2 against the Indians during the last five days and are tied with Vancouver for the division's second-half lead with 14 games left in the regular season. Spokane leads the season series 7-4 heading in to Monday's regular-season finale between the teams at Avista Stadium. It may be the end of regular-season play between Spokane and Tri-City, but the Dust Devils have put themselves in position to win the second half and set up a Sept. 2 divisional playoff opener in Pasco. Read story

WSU practice a bit sloppy

There was a lot going on at practice today. The Pac-12 Networks were in town filming and Rick Neuheisel took a keen interest in what the Cougars were doing, observing the drills closely, particularly the ones involving quarterbacks.

The Cougars also made use of the scout teams against the first string for the first time, which always creates some confusion. After practice coach Mike Leach had a bucket of water dumped on him for a good cause, which you can watch here.

The coaches acknowledged that there are always a few dud practices at this time of the year. But that doesn't mean they're happy about it.

“I didn't think it was a very good practice. I thought we started out pretty good, didn't do a good job of finishing practice,” Leacj said. “Today was the first day we traded scouts so sometimes, a lot of times that has an impact. It shouldn't, it shouldn't but yeah I thought both sides were soft in the team period. Prior to that I thought we were doing some good things but we have to be better than that tomorrow.”

More after the jump.

Mike Leach after practice

After practice Mike Leach cooled off before speaking to reporters by taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The video is below and the highlights of Leach's interview with reporters are transcribed after the jump.

 

Your Saturdays are no longer yours

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You know what yesterday was, don't you? Yep, the final Saturday of 2014 without a college football game. Really. Read on.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

Good morning, everyone. I hope you were able to sleep in today or had an otherwise productive morning. If not you can make up for it by reading our Pac-12 links and catching up on all the conference happenings, after the jump.

Rare 1-0 games come back to back

Several years ago the Spokane Indians' scorekeeper, an affable man with a wry sense of humor, announced that he had one big wish in his job: to witness a 1-0 Northwest League game. He never got his wish, but maybe he noticed what happened the last two nights between the Indians and Tri-City Dust Devils. Tri-City blanked Spokane 1-0 on Friday and the Indians turned the tables Saturday with a 1-0 shutout at Avista Stadium. Read story

No clarity in Idaho QB race

We posted Paul Petrino's comments earlier. Below is our recap of Idaho's second fall scrimmage, with special focus on the muddied quarterback battle between Chad Chalich and Matt Linehan.

Also, a personal note: Today was my last covering the Vandals for the Spokesman-Review as a correspondent. After six years, I'm leaving to focus on my full-time job and my young family. It's been a privilege writing for the S-R, and I'm sure you'll be in good hands with my replacement. Thanks for reading and following along on this blog. You can find my story on Paul Petrino for the paper's season preview next week.

Petrino Q&A after second fall scrimmage

Paul Petrino went easy on his players Saturday morning, at least compared to what they're used to. Idaho scrimmaged just over 120 plays — instead of their customary 150-plus plays — over the course of about two hours in the Kibbie Dome.

Petrino's full comments to the media are below.

What a fun Friday night

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Well that was fun. As fun a Friday night as I can remember in a while. Maybe all the way back to high school. The M's win. Dominate really, and take over the lead in the second wild-card race. The Seahawks win. Dominate really, and take over, well, nothing, as it was just the second preseason game. But they won. And easily. That's enough. Read on.

Eastern football links

The Eastern Washington cornerbacks might face their toughest test of the season this morning at Roos Field. Here's my story on a talented by inexperienced group, along with a look at the entire EWU defense, courtesy of sports information director Dave Cook. …  Nothing new out of Sam Houston State, but here's the Bearkats' home page. …  UW coach Chris Petersen is trying to make the program friendlier, according to this story in the Seattle Times. … The Tacoma News Tribune has a blog on the Huskies. … Past struggles have made some Montana State players better, according to this story in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, which also previews today's MSU scrimmage.

WSU’s new specialists

The Washington State coaches value special teams pretty highly. All coaches do to some degree, of course, and all will say that it's a third of the game, etc. Still, many coaches see coverage teams as a place to stick second string players, and save their starters for use on offense or defense. Maybe they're worried about injuries, or maybe they think a player whose only chance to make a play is on special teams will find just a little something extra in themselves to really blow up the ballcarrier.

Not the Cougars. In the words of Mike Leach, “Best players play. If you can't start on offense and you can't start on defense then you better have a good reason for being able to start on special teams.”

The Cougars will have new starters on special teams this season, at least they will at kicker, punter and punt returner. Our first 2014 position preview takes a look at the replacements.

More links are after the jump.

Cougars practice in Pullman

Washington State held its first Pullman practice of the 2014 season at 8 p.m. tonight. The practice took on the dual roles of a Sunday night postgame practice – the Rutgers game is on a Thursday so Friday is effectively Sunday now – and a Thursday practice, with the underclassmen scrimmaging at the end.

Our practice report is just a click away.

… 

Coleman headed to Georgetown (Kent.) College

 

Former Gonzaga Bulldog Gerard Coleman will play his senior season of basketball for Georgetown (Kent.) College.

Tigers coach Chris Briggs expects Coleman to be a productive player for the NAIA program, which won the national championship two years ago.

Coleman transferred to Gonzaga from Providence, where he was a double-digit scorer for two seasons. The 6-foot-4 wing from Boston averaged 6 points and 1.6 rebounds as a Zag last season. He reached double figures five times in the first nine games, including a 21-point effort versus New Mexico State.

Coleman’s playing time and production decreased over the last three months of the season.

Lunchtime Links: Meanwhile, in China …

While most of Pullman has been gearing up for fall sports season, DaVonte Lacy and the Pac-12 All-Stars have been barnstorming around China and beating up on professional teams. The All-Stars are 2-0, both blowout victories, and Lacy has been a solid contributor averaging 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and three assists per game.

The All-Stars will face their toughest test tomorrow in the Shanghai Sharks, former NBA All-Star Yao Ming's old team that he now owns. The Sharks have a couple former American college basketball stars in Quincy Douby and Darnell Jackson, so the All-Stars should get a good test. Unfortunately, it appears that the team will no longer face the Guandong Southern Tigers and former NBA lottery pick Yi Jianlian.

We have a couple links to pass along after the jump.

Can the M’s make a run at the West title?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Up early today thanks to an early tee time. It's good though. I went out on a limb yesterday and really wanted to know what you think about it. So an early start is good. Read on.

Eastern football links

As the Eastern Washington football players chase their dreams, former Eagle running back Demitrius Bronson may just realize his dream of playing in the NFL. … Back in Cheney, a quintet of quarterbacks all dream of seeing the field at one point or another. … Speaking of Eastern football, we did just that Thursday in our first live chat of the season, and here's the full transcript. … Want more EWU football news? Here's a look at the defense, courtesy of Dave Cook of EWU Sports Information. …Nothing new today out of Sam Houston State, so you'll have to settle for the SHSU home page. … Montana Western will have a scrimmage on Friday. … Slightly off-topic, Christian Caple of the Tacoma News Tribune has a story on the demise of EA Sports' college football game. … There's a battle for backup QB at Idaho State. … It's been a an ugly week off the field at Cal Poly.

WSU players get their play books, er, tablets

Washington State linebackers coach Ken Wilson tweeted out a photo of the new iPads the Cougars are using. The tablet devices can presumably be used by players to watch cut up videos of plays, rather than simply looking at diagrams.

 

Let’s put yesterday behind us

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Wednesday was a day of brooms and bad backs, moving vans and moving the ball, of exonerations and expectations. It was also hump day. Read on.

Eastern and opponent links

Is it really just nine days till the Eastern football opener, which by the way is sold out? No matter, the Eagles' defensive line is ready, partly because of some grizzled veterans who are all of 19 years old. … Also here's an overall look at the team from Dave Cook of the EWU athletic department… And don't forget about today's live chat at spokesman.com/sportslink. … The hometown Huntsville Item offers a comprehensive look at Sam Houston State , which is giving fans an interesting way to follow the team. …How young is the Montana Western coaching staff? Here they are. … The UW linebacking corps looks especially strong, according to this story in the Seattle Times, and a former Husky head coach was in court this week.. … The Tacoma News Tribune has a feature on Husky receiver John Ross. … Montana State has a pleasant problem: a crowded backfield, and a not-so-pleasant problem at kicker.

A needed break

After 12 straight days of covering football practice I know I'm starting to lose my legs, so I can only imagine how Washington State's players and coaches must feel. The kickers certainly looked a little wobbly yesterday, and maybe the defense could use a break, too (except the freshmen defensive linemen that is, those kids looked like they'd had a little too much sugar).

But we all made it through fall camp in Lewiston, Idaho no worse for wear. In fact, apart from one apparent head injury to Gabe Marks and some bumps and bruises along the offensive line and secondary, the Cougars Sacajawea Junior High with their health intact, which can't be said of a lot of schools.

Anyways, the links are after the jump.

Idaho camp notes: Hampton in the fold

Idaho completed its second two-a-day of the week on Wednesday, and coach Paul Petrino was again happy with what he saw. In fact, he said the Vandals' morning practice session “might have been the best practice we've had since I've been here.”

The second-year coach was also in a good mood because a certain 346-pound defensive tackle has officially joined the team. Read on for more on that, and other notes from Moscow.

Videos courtesy of Idaho media relations.

Cougars end camp in Lewiston with a scrimmage

Washington State ended its Lewiston fall camp with an 85-play scrimmage on Wednesday and both sides had plenty to crow about afterwards. Running backs Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow had big days, so did Connor Halliday. 

Still, the defense totaled eight sacks, a couple big hits and an interception.

Read more after the jump.

Mike Leach post-scrimmage quotes

(Can you evaluate the offense's play in the scrimmage?)

I thought our first offense really played well and then, understandably, our second offense had their hands full with the first defense. It was good seeing them get some big plays but we were disjointed at times. The threes got good work, too, and I thought a couple of the running backs did some good things.

More after the jump.

Live WSU Football Chat

 

Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.

 

No, this is not another bogus M’s post

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Yes, I know. I have been writing a lot about the Mariners lately. Can you blame this old baseball fan? Yes, you can. So we'll switch gears today. You may not be too happy. Read on.

Eastern and opponent links for Wednesday

How good can this year's Eastern wide receiver corps be? Read my story and find out. … as always, here is the Montana Western football home page (until something else shows up). … Marcus Peters is the leader of the UW secondary, according to this story in the Seattle Times. … The Tacoma New Tribune offers an assessment of the Husky defensive line. … Montana State has found another standout middle linebacker, says the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, which also offers this blog post on the Bobcats. … An old name is back in the fold at UC Davis. … Here's a feature on the Idaho State D-line coach, courtesy of the Idaho State Journal. … A Missoula kid is making the most of his opportunity as a wide receiver at Montana.

WSU’s time in Lewiston comes to a close

Washington State's fall camp in Lewiston, Idaho wraps up today with a scrimmage at 3 p.m. at Sacajawea Junior High. The Cougars braved heat, smoke and lightning to practice for 12 consecutive days. Let's celebrate their accomplishment with some links.

(We'll be holding a live WSU football chat here on SportsLink at 11 a.m.)

WSU finds calm in storm, holds practice

One day after smoke sent the Cougars back to Pullman, the Lewiston weather appeared to bend to coach Mike Leach's will on Tuesday. The day's rain disappeared as soon as Washington State began practicing and lightning appeared just when the post practice interviews started running long.

Never doubt how much power college football coaches can exert for their program.

Our practice report is after the jump.

Videos from WSU fall camp

Here are videos of two drills the Cougars run during practice.

The second video is after the jump.

WSU adds a 2014 safety

Although last year's recruits are in camp and Washington State's 2015 recruiting class appears to be well under way, the Cougars weren't quite finished with the class of 2014. The team announced the late signing of safety Jeffery Farrar to a financial aid agreement on Tuesday. The 6-foot-1, 195 pound safety out of Upland High in Upland, California signed with Virginia out of high school, over scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State, and other schools.

Although Farrar signed a binding National Letter of Intent, WSU says that he is eligible to play immediately. Even if he doesn't redshirt, he'll presumably need some time to get ready after missing fall camp. Farrar is expected to enroll and begin class later this month.

Farrar was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN. 

A postseason chase will be fun

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Want to cook up a great baseball atmosphere? Start with the American League's best pitcher on the mound. Add 20,000 little yellow towels. Stir in 10,000 or so Canadians, down from the north to cheer on the visiting team. Let simmer for five or six innings. Then turn up the heat. Don't forget to add a bit of rain and a smidge of lightning. The perfect recipe for an exciting game. Read on.

Petrino pleased after first two-a-day

The Vandals practiced outside Monday morning in the smoke-clogged air, then worked for about two hours at the Kibbie Dome. After the first two-practice day of fall camp, Idaho coach Paul Petrino was happy with how his team went about its work. “I thought we had great fire in the second practice,” he said. “You always do in the first one. Thought they came out in the second practice and worked really hard, and I was really happy.”

Petrino was also pleased with his quarterbacks' performance. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

There was a lot to like about the Eagles' first scrimmage, coach Beau Baldwin said, but things got sloppy at the end. Here's my story from Monday's practice, along with a report from the school's web site. Also in today's paper, a look at some scheduling coups of late by Eastern… Meanwhile, Sam Houston State has canceled its final scrimmage. … Still no football news out of Dillon, Mont., but here's the Montana Western web site. … Ticket sales are brisk at Husky Stadium, where former running back Kendyl Taylor hopes to find playing time this year as a wide receiver. … Sports Illustrated has a profile of new Husky coach Chris Petersen. … A former walk-on is in the mix at receiver for Montana State. … UC Davis' web site is running an interesting football blog - have a look. … Highlights from Idaho State's scrimmage, plus an interview with Bengal coach Mike Kramer. … One of Montana's kickers is coming back from adversity.

The show must go on

Today's practice will be the second-to-last of Washington State's fall camp in Lewiston. It will be held at Sacajawea Junior High at 2:30 p.m. unless it isn't. The following links will explain why, and more.

Weather chases Cougars to Pullman

There was a time, today, when Bud Withers and I thought we might be late for practice. It seems silly now, but you see, but construction crews were doing something called “chip sealing” on US-195 South, shutting down all but one lane, forcing Bud and I to spend upwards of 15 minutes stalled outside of Colton watching the wheat grow.

Little did we know that unsealed chips would be the least of our troubles.

Follow the jump for our thrilling conclusion.

There are nothing like college football fans

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You might notice a new poll on this page, just to the left of where these words sit. Then again, you might not, especially if you access this column via your mobile device. But either way, there is a new question, though we are going to spend the next few minutes discussing the previous one. Read on.

Some big cleats to fill

Washington State fans watched a few of their favorites move on from college this offseason. No matter how the Cougars do this season, safety Deone Bucannon will be missed and so will kicker Andrew Furney. Our story in today's paper looks at Erik Powell, the guy tasked with following Furney. More links after the jump.

A return to normalcy

After a pair of shortened practices — one for rest, one for scrimmage — Washington State resumed its normal camp schedule on Sunday. The offensive line took a more familiar form as well with the return of Joe Dahl at left tackle, who had been limited most of this week. Dahl's return slid Gunnar Eklund back to his familiar role at left guard, and Devonte McClain, who had also been limited, returned to bolster the depth.

Quarterback Connor Halliday celebrated their return by torching the defense during team period. All that and more, after the jump.

It’s easy to get all worked up over Lou

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It seems as if everyone has a Lou Piniella story. I wish I could say the same. Read on.

A big day for WSU football

I didn't get to this with yesterday's scrimmage, but lots of recruiting outlets are reporting that 6-foot-5, 300 pound offensive lineman Noah Myers out of Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek, California has verbally committed to play football for Washington State. Myers, whose highlight video is above, also claimed scholarship offers from Montana and Weber State.

Myers is the 12th player in the class of 2015 to pledge his services to WSU. He told Barry Bolton that he will probably play guard ($) for the Cougars. Scout.com rates Myers as a three star prospect and considers him to be the No. 91 guard in the class.

Links from WSU's scrimmage and from around the conference, after the jump.

Indians improve to 8-0 in series against North Division

By winning the final two games of a three-game series against Everett at Avista Stadium, the Spokane Indians made it 8 for 8 this season in series against Northwest League North Division foes. Read story

Notes from WSU’s scrimmage

Washington State went live for the first time since fall camp began in a 62-play scrimmage on Saturday. The defense probably had the upper hand overall but it was close. Unless, of course, you ask linebacker Darryl Monroe, that is.

“Since we've been out here I think we won pretty much every day,” Monroe said after practice. “Which is great, because when you've got a lot of young guys coming in on this defense you think, 'Oh, their competition level (isn't good),' or they can get intimidated at the college level but these guys came to play with high competition and intensity.”

Stats are here, quotes are here and some observations are after the jump.

Quotes from WSU’s scrimmage

The Cougars went live for the first time today, scrimmaging for 62 plays. After practice we asked players and coaches their thoughts on the scrimmage, tackling for the first time and more.

Stats from the scrimmage are available here, and the interview transcriptions are after the jump.

Don’t confuse ‘experienced’ with just plain old

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Woke up this morning feeling a little like Tiger Woods. You know, a little old, a little over the hill, a little like yesterday's news. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

The season is still two weeks away, but Friday was still a big day for Eastern Washington football fans. First, the Eagles were ranked No.1 in the FCS in The Sports Network media poll, and the school announced a two-year home-and-home with North Dakota State. Read about both in my story and also in the releases from Eastern on the poll and the N.D. State series. … On the field, All-American receiver Cooper Kupp may be busier than ever this season. … Sam Houston State also is ranked in the media poll. … I'm still looking for news on Montana Western (EWU's opponent) on Aug. 30 - no luck, but here's the team page. … On the other hand, there's plenty of news on the University of Washington, both from the Seattle Times and the Tacoma News Tribune. … Montana State has some questions at defensive end, according to this story in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. … Spokane product Chase Naccarato is poised for a big year, according to the Missoulian.

WSU to hold first scrimmage of fall camp

The Cougars are going to hold their first scrimmage of spring at the conclusion of today's practice, probably around 3:15 p.m. The scrimmage will last around 50 plays and will probably be the first chance since the Spring Game to see the team go full contact.

The big news yesterday was the decision of U.S. District Court judge Claudia Wilkins against the NCAA in the Ed O'Bannon case. The decision says the NCAA cannot prevent student-athletes from profiting off a school's use of their likeness, and up to $5,000 per year can be put into a trust that will be turned over to the athlete when they graduate. Here is more information on the ruling and you can also read the 99-page decision.

Here at the S-R we have a story today about a versatile freshman the Cougars are trying out all over the field … The Cougars had a short day of practice yesterday to rest up for today's scrimmage … After practice Mike Leach reacted to the NCAA's recent step toward Big Five autonomy … There are still tickets available for the season-opener in Seattle … The Huskies will play plenty of first-year defensive backs this season … Arizona State says there is one foodstuff that won't be welcome on game day … UCLA has more talent at linebacker than it knows what to do with … Oregon State's freshmen are getting acclimated … Jon Wilner previews Stanford's training camp.

Just like that, close game becomes rout

The Spokane Indians were protecting a 2-1 lead when Pepe Cardona stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning on Friday night. The final five innings of the Northwest League game unfolded in scoreless form, but what happened for the rest of the Indians' fourth was best described by manager Tim Hulett as “the floodgates opening.” Read story

An easy day of practice for the Cougars

The Cougars aren't the kind of team where players run until they puke as some sort of homage to the Junction Boys. Mike Leach doesn't kill his charges, he'd rather they run hard in the drills and hit the whirlpool. That's why the Cougars don't do two-a-days during fall practice, don't always use up their spring scrimmages and why today's practice was an hour shorter with the Cougars back in shorts and shells.

“Just that time of camp, you know, the consideration is do you want a practice that's fast and crisp, you're getting full speed or do you want one where they're trying to push through and going to drag at some point so we went with the fast one,” Leach said when asked about the abbreviated practice. “So it went good, and then back out tomorrow.”

More on today's shortened session after the jump.

Leach addresses ‘Big Five’ autonomy

In a 16-2 vote yesterday, the NCAA board of directors approved a governance proposal to allow the 65 schools in the five richest conferences to govern themselves in areas such as player stipends, but not in things like academic requirements. You can read more on that decision here.

After Friday's practice Washington State coach Mike Leach praised the decision. He also responded to recent comments by coaches that think Big Five schools should only play one another, and defended the NCAA from critics who think it does a poor job of policing its member schools.

Read more after the jump.

Eastern, North Dakota State to play in 2016, 2017

After four years, the two most successful teams in the Football Championship Subdivision are guaranteed to meet again.

Eastern Washington and North Dakota State – the only NCAA Football Championship Subdivision teams to win a national title since 2009 – will play a home-and-home series with each other starting in 2016, the two schools mutually announced Friday.

The Bison and Eagles will play in Fargo on Sept. 10, 2016, then play at “The Inferno” in Cheney, Wash., on Sept. 16, 2017. Eastern won the 2010 title, including an overtime victory over the Bison in the quarterfinals, but NDSU has won every playoff game since en route to titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Eastern No. 1 in FCS media poll

For the fourth time in five seasons, Eastern Washington is the top team in the Football Championship Subdivision media poll.

On Friday, the Eagles -12-3 last year - were picked No. 1 by The Sports Network in the FCS preseason poll of sportswriters, broadcasters and sports information directors.

Eastern finished the 2010 season No. 1 and as NCAA Division I champion. Eastern also was ranked No. 1 during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

For want of a quarterback nailed, an exhibition game was lost

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The big plays earn all the ink. The stars are all over television. The little things get lost in the shuffle. It's the way it's always been and probably always will be. But it isn't right. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

So how is the EWU offensive line shaping up this fall? That depends on whom you ask. Here's my story, plus a link to the Eastern football site and the one at Sam Houston State. … The Washington Huskies need a running back to step up , according to a Seattle Times story…. The Huskies also could see some young faces in the secondary, according to this story in the Tacoma News Tribune. … Montana State has lost a key member of its offensive line …Montana linebacker Jeremiah Kose is poised for a big year, he hopes.

Idaho through four days of camp

The full pads didn't go on as planned Thursday night, but Idaho still had a lively practice under the lights on its Sprinturf field adjacent to the Kibbie Dome. We have a full report from Day 4 after the jump.

Camp is half over

If you're planning to make the trip out to Lewiston, you should probably think about coming out this weekend. Today starts the second half of WSU's Idaho excursion, and after the 13th there won't be any more open practices until Spring.

We've got WSU links and more, after the jump.

North Division plays topsy-turvy

The Northwest League's second half has given the Everett AquaSox a second chance. Everett was the worst team in the league (11-27) during the first half, but the AquaSox (8-6 second half) lead the North Division by two games over Vancouver and Tri-City. The prize for winning the second half will be a best-of-3 divisional playoff matchup against the Spokane Indians, who are in last place (4-10) for the second half but won the first half with a record of 25-13. Read story

Isiah Myers does it again

Who could forget Isiah Myers' catch, the one coach Mike Leach called one of the best he's ever seen? I mean, it's only been a day, you should probably be able to remember. But just in case you happen to be living out some Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates scenario, don't worry, Myers was back at it again today.

Our practice report awaits, after the jump.

Andrew Furney hits NFL game winner

Andrew Furney had a penchant for big kicks in his career at Washington State. There was the Apple Cup game winner in 2012. The 60-yarder that same year. Another game-winner last year to beat USC in the Coliseum and two big kicks in the snow against Utah in 2011, including one with just seconds left to send the game to overtime.

Just because Furney's WSU career is over doesn't mean he's done with those types of kicks, of course. In fact, he just finished his first game since graduating in style, hitting what ended up being the game winner in the Jets' preseason-opener.

EWU volleyball coach Benson takes leave of absence

After spending much of the spring battling throat cancer, Eastern Washington women's volleyball head coach Wade Benson will take an indefinite leave of absence beginning Friday, the school announced Thursday.

Associate head coach Michael King will lead the program in Benson's absence.

“Eastern Washington Volleyball is in great hands,” Benson said. “The players are ready for a great season. I want to thank EWU for its outstanding support of myself and my family.”

NCAA takes a step toward autonomy

The NCAA Board of Directors approved by a 16-2 the governance reform proposal set forth by its steering committee that would grant the 65 schools in the “Power Conferences” (ACC, Big-12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) to approve new benefits to its student athletes, including monetary stipends.

The board created 11 different “areas of autonomy” in which the five richest conferences will be able to self-regulate. Those do not include areas like academic requirements.

“We are delighted that after years of debate, a consensus has emerged that the time has come for a modern approach to governance that recognizes the need to give more flexibility to those conferences pre-pared to do more for student-athletes and, at the same time, preserves the collegiate model which works so well for the vast majority of Pac-12 student-athletes,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in a statement. “This is a great day for the 7,000 current student-athletes in the Pac-12 and for generations of future student-athletes who will benefit from the educational opportunities and life lessons made possible by college athletics.”

Dr. Elson S. Floyd, President of Washington State University and Chair of the Pac-12 CEO Group, said, “This new model will allow our conference, which has always coupled academic and athletic excellence, to continue to maintain those high standards while adapting to the changing needs and expectations of our student-athletes and our universities. We plan to address needs across the full range of sports, for both men and women, and reinforce something all of our university leaders emphasized earlier this year: education must come first.”

The new legislation could take effect by the 2015-16 academic year.

There will now be a 60-day comment period on the proposal. If 75 of 351 Divison I schools express disapproval of the proposal during that period then the board will reconsider the decision. If 125 universities object than the implementation of said autonomy will be suspended while the board reconsiders the proposal.

If, during that reconsideration, the board affirms its decision then all Division I schools will vote on the measure. A five-eighths majority would overturn the board's decision.

 

It’s time for introductions

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I'll admit I'm a bit prejudice here, but I've always felt the best stories to come from college football's preseason practice are the ones about players we know little about. Pieces about guys who are always destined for reserve roles. Features on players who have been under the radar but are about to break out into the consciousness of the fans. Stories like that. Today, Jacob Thorpe does one of the latter and boy is it fun. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

What a  difference  a year makes. In this case its the Eastern Washington linebacking corps, which looks to be one of the strongest units on the squad this year… I also spent some time with the Eagle basketball team on Wednesday, and here's an early, early look at the team. … Back to football: In case you didn't know, Sam Houston State has anew coach; here's a profile of K.C. Keeler. … Here's a look at the Montana Western coaching staff. …In a Seattle Times story, Washington QB Cyler Miles admits to some mistakes that led to his upcoming one-game suspension. … Montana State has some decisions to make on the offensive line, according to this story in the Bozeman Chronicle. … Montana wide receiver Jamaal Jones will command a lot of attention this year. …There's a quiet confidence at Idaho State as fall camp opens

Oh, what a catch

Let's get this link out of the way early. The catch by senior receiver Isiah Myers was the most impressive play by any individual so far in Washington State's camp, which wrapped up its fifth day yesterday. We had a full day here on the blog with a live chat, Drill of the Day and our daily practice report. We've also got some more WSU and Pac-12 links for you, after the jump.

Vandals release hoops schedule

The Idaho men's basketball team will make its return to the Big Sky Conference on New Year's Day against Idaho State. But before that, its schedule includes games against Boise State at CenturyLink Arena in Boise (on Nov. 25) and at Washington State (Dec. 3).

The Vandals, coming off a 16-18 season, announced their schedule on Wednesday. They open the season at home on Nov. 14 against Eastern Oregon — the first of five home nonconference games. They also host South Dakota State, Northern Kentucky, UC Davis, and Walla Walla. The schedule includes two out-of-conference home-and-homes — somewhat unusual in college basketball. They play at Northern Kentucky on Dec. 22 after hosting NKU on Nov. 29, and they play at South Dakota State on Dec. 13 after hosting SDSU on Nov. 17.

UI's full schedule is here. Last week coach Don Verlin announced his final signing of the 2014 class — Nahshon George, a 6-foot-9 JC transfer from Shoreline Community College.

No pads but plenty of hits

Mike Leach decided to wait until the fatigue of early camp wears off some before putting his guys in full pads. His guys barely noticed. The hits that were laid on both sides of the ball were worthy of body armor during WSU's fifth day of practice in Lewiston. Still, the hits played second fiddle to some of the catches made by WSU's wide receivers, including one that Leach referred to afterwards as, “one of the best catches of my entire career.”

Highlights after the jump.

Drill of the Day: Hard Tackle

Our second Drill of the Day installment takes a look at the drill Washington State uses to prepare its defenders to make touchdown-saving tackles at the goal line. The video and an explanation of the drill by linebackers coach Ken Wilson are after the jump.

Wednesday WSU football chat

 

Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.

 

Fix-it Felix is already taken

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I'm sorry but I don't believe Felix Hernandez's nickname is sufficient anymore. There has to be some leader who is above the king, right? Emperor Felix, maybe. Or Supreme Commander Felix? Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Here are a few links to start your morning. First, there's my story on an Eastern running back corps that could be one of the best ever. … Sam Houston State already has a week of practice under its belt, while Western Montana has yet to begin. … Look out, EWU secondary: Husky WR Kasen Williams said he's healthy and focused…. That's funny, Montana safety Matt Hermanson said the same thing to the Missoulian. I'd do more, but I need to catch an EWU basketball session (that's right, basketball, then some football).

The pads come on today

We're a third of the way through Washington State's fall camp in Lewiston and the expectation is that the Cougars will be fully suited up for the first time today. Let's take a look at yesterday's WSU news, as well as what's going on around the conference.

Yesterday was probably the hottest day of camp so far with temperatures just a line of sweat under triple digits. That heat plus the daily grind of camp may have started to wear on the Cougars … That being said, Gerard Wicks certainly hasn't seemed too fatigued … CougCenter gives examples of how Mike Leach could spend his new dough in Pullman … Last year injuries took a toll and now California is already losing players … It didn't take Oregon long to find its next star running back … UCLA's Marcus Rios has returned after two years away from football … Washington's Kasen Williams is ready to go … Oregon State is envisioning life without Scott Chrichton … A pair of Utah speedsters want to finish their career in style … Here's a shock: Ty Montgomery is doing well in camp. 

Fatigue sets in during fall camp

Mike Leach says that fatigue sets in on day three of camp for average football teams. That means these Washington State Cougars are no average team, they made it to day four. The Lewiston heat took its toll on the players, as both Gabe Marks and Sulaiman Hameed needed some extra stretching during practice, probably for cramps. Other players occasionally would head to sideline to take a knee with their helmets off, staring into the muggy distance.

Perhaps no unit was more exhausted at the end of the day than the offensive line, whose coaches are starting to grow weary of the veteran defensive line always coming out on top. These dog days will be over soon, though, according to Leach. And the Cougars will be better for it.

“I think just four days in a row is a part of it,” Leach said after practice, with eight more consecutive days to follow. “They'll get their legs back under them sometime in the next couple of days.”

More on practice after the jump.

A jam-packed day of news

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's been a long time since we've had a day as jammed with news as this morning is. Maybe since the end of last football season. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

With the Eastern Washington football season barely two weeks away, it's time to start my (almost) daily EWU/opponents/Big Sky links column. Here goes:

First off, here's my story from Monday's practice, focusing on the kickers, specifically the feel-good story of Roldan Alcobendas. I also have a short story in the first FCS coaches poll, which offers a mild surprise at the top. … Meanwhile, Sam Houston State held its first scrimmage, and the results weren't pretty, according to this story in the Huntsville (Texas) Item. Even the school's official web site doesn't try to sugarcoat the results. … There's not much football news out of Western Montana (EWU's opponent on Aug. 30), but here's a link  to the school's football web site. … The Eagles play Sept. 6 at Washington, which opened camp Monday. Here's a report from the Seattle Time and another from the Tacoma News Tribune. … Montana State also opened camp Monday, and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle was there. … Montana opens camp today, and the Missoulian has this preview.

Morning links before Lewiston

The Cougars resume practicing today at 2:30 p.m. in at Sacajawea Junior High, the last one before they can put their pads on.

The big news from yesterday had nothing to do with practice, of course. Bill Moos has invested in Cougars football once again, giving large raises to Mike Leach and his assistants. We have a story and a blog post on the topic. … But some stuff happened at practice as well and for that we have our daily report … Former WSU hooper Klay Thompson is trying out for Team USA and survived yesterday's cuts … On the other side of the state the Huskies had their first fall practice under Chris Petersen … Oregon State is searching for its next tiny, great wide receiver … Oregon is trying to be the first Pac-12 team to play in the college football playoffs … USC fans are returning to Troy … It looks like Tra'Mayne Bondurant isn't leaving Arizona after all.

Report from Day 1 of Idaho fall camp

The first day of Idaho fall camp went deep into Monday evening, and we're done filing our story. We've got an assortment of notes and quotes after Day 1 below the link. Read on.

Heat and tempers rising

The Washington State coaches' policy on fights in practice is essentially, “We don't care as long as it doesn't interrupt the next play. If it does, we'll roll you.”

With the tacit consent of their coaches alongside the competitive nature of fall camp, more Cougars than usual found themselves in skirmishes today. A long-standing chippiness between Vince Mayle and much smaller cornerback Sebastian LaRue turned into a little more. And the war of words between Gabe Marks and Daquawn Brown turned physical in a fight that drew in other players from both offense and defense.

But nobody was hurt and little practice time was lost. As Kalafitoni Pole said afterward, “Things get a little chippy but that's how it's supposed to be when you're getting after it.”

More after the jump.

WSU gives Mike Leach a $500,000 raise

As the on-field performance of the Washington State football team improves, so does its coaches' salary. WSU athletic director Bill Moos amended the contract for football coach Mike Leach to raise his annual media compensation from $100,000 per year to $600,000 per year, raising his total guaranteed annual compensation to $2.75 million.

Additionally, Moos allocated another $500,000 into the pool for assistant coaching salaries.

More on the coaching raises after the jump.

Eastern No. 2 in first FCS coaches poll

Eastern Washington is ranked second behind North Dakota State in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Coaches Poll, the NCAA announced Monday.

The other major poll – The Sports Network Top 25 – is set to be released on Friday.

The Eagles, who won the 2010 FCS title, received 615 points and six first-place votes in rankings. The Eagles finished third a year ago in the final coaches poll after finishing 12-3 and advancing to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs for the second-straight season.

Rivalry returning for GU, UW

The Gonzaga-Washington men's basketball rivalry will return in the 2016-17 season, the schools announced Monday. It's a four-year, home-and-home agreement. The teams last met in Dec., 2006, with Gonzaga winning 97-77 (Matt Bouldin and UW's Ryan Appleby pictured above in the '06 meeting).

It sounds like GU coach Mark Few and UW counterpart Lorenzo Romar ironed out most of the details over the weekend in Las Vegas. Gonzaga has three Pac-12 foes on this year's schedule (UCLA, Arizona and Washington State).

More below.

 

Is Tiger’s quest over?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We could talk about the Mariners lack of offense. Or the Hawks' training camp. Or, if we were so inclined, any of the local college football camps that are underway. But instead we switch gears a little bit. Read on.

The sounds of football

On day two of fall camp the Cougars found their voices. Coaches, players, the smattering of fans that made the trip to Lewiston, all could be heard on the muggy Sunday afternoon. Quarterback Connor Halliday had some fun at the expense of cornerback Patrick Porter, who gave up a couple plays just like Deion Sanders did his first time covering college receivers. 

Today's story focus on a mouthy Cougar and his verbal sparring partner … Our practice report details yesterday's close team session … Andrew Crookston is in Lewiston and he has a Q&A with safety Beau Glover … Here's a practice report from ASU's practice … Washington's season starts tomorrow, here are five questions heading into fall camp … What can Utah do to break through its Pac-12 bowl drought … The LA Times takes a look at USC's schedule … Will the football rivalry in LA be revived?

Indians need a break

The Spokane Indians boasted a winning percentage of .733 after their first 30 games of the Northwest League season. Their winning percentage in the 21 games since their 22-8 start is .333. Having dropped 14 of their last 21 games, the Indians approach this week's All-Star Break as a time to rest up and prepare for the final 25 regular-season games of the season. Read story

A spirited second day of WSU fall camp

Day two in Lewiston is in the books and it was a pretty fun practice. The team session was about as close as any I've seen in all my months covering the Cougars and everybody seemed to be in a pretty good mood afterwards.

We'll cover all that after the jump, but I wanted to get a couple notes above the fold. First, I was mistaken yesterday when I said that freshman Deion Singleton was at camp, he wasn't. A player wearing his number was in attendance but that was Dakota Sinchak and the switch was not reflected on the roster. Both Singleton and Barry Ware have yet to arrive.

Additionally, coach Mike Leach said after practice that backup quarterback Luke Falk will be on scholarship, “we just have to go through the numbers and whatnot.” So we'll be able to stop referring to him as “walk-on Luke Falk” soon enough.

Now let's get to the good stuff.

 

Idaho fall camp preview

The Idaho Vandals start fall camp tomorrow with a 6 p.m. practice. We've got a preview of camp, including the burning questions that UI needs to answer, and a boatload notes on players coming and going.

Read all of it below.

He’s the Guy. Really.

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The Pro Football Hall of Fame welcomed some new members yesterday, including former Seahawk Walter Jones. But one of the biggest oversights in league history was also rectified. Read on.

Shaking the rust off

Well, the first practice is in the books. The awkward questions about the players' weights and builds have been asked and we can get back into our daily routine. Part of my routine includes oatmeal, blueberries, brown sugar and about a gallon of coffee. And what could go better with coffee and oatmeal than links? Just about anything, I'd imagine. But you get links.

The Cougars showed newfound confidence in yesterday's interviews … Bud Withers says to expect big things from Connor Halliday … On the blog we have a practice report with additional notes and quotes from day one … Don't miss our new Drill of the Day feature.

Arizona State practiced as well on Saturday … Arizona lost a senior safety this weekend … The Buffaloes are a little more comfortable in year two … It's going to be hard to miss Brett Hundley this year … Sad tidings out of Montlake, where a very kind man who I was fortunate to have met  passed away.

 

 

Bonus Link: This story has nothing to do with the WSU FOOTBALL team. But wouldn't it be funny if it did?

Indians lose first home series of season

Hillsboro's 12-9 victory over the Spokane Indians on Saturday night allowed the Hops to clinch the five-game Northwest League series. The Hops lead the series 3-1 heading in to Sunday afternoon's finale. Hillsboro became the first team to take a series from the Indians at Avista Stadium this summer. Spokane had won its previous six home series. Read story

Shock crushed by SaberCats, 55-28

Spokane came into the playoffs on a roll, winners of five straight and playing its best football of the season.

None of that mattered to San Jose, which worked over the visitors from start to finish in a 55-28 playoff victory Saturday at the SAP Center. Spokane's 28 points equaled its single-game low in five AFL seasons (the Shock lost to Jacksonville 34-28 earlier this season).

Erik Meyer was intercepted three times in the first half. Spokane didn't crack the scoreboard until midway through the third quarter. By then, San Jose was on top 31-0 and coasting to the finish line.

Read the S-R game recap below.

 

Notes and quotes from WSU’s first fall practice

There was a lot to like in Washington State's first practice of the 2014 campaign. The seniors played well, some of the freshmen look like seniors and there wasn't a single death due to bugs or heat. At least not among the reporters there weren't.

The coaches seemed to have a pretty high opinion of today's practice as well. Find out what they said, and what we saw, after the jump.

WSU drill of the day: offensive line

While the Cougars are in Lewiston I thought it might be fun to introduce a new feature taking a look at some of the drills the team runs during practice so I'll occasionally post a “Drill of the Day.” What I'll do is choose a position drill to shoot a few minutes of and then after practice I'll ask the coach about that specific drill so he can explain what you're watching and how it helps the players get better.

I should note that it is possible some colorful language will occasionally be heard in the background of these videos. You should probably just assume it's the Sacajawea junior high schoolers causing a ruckus.

We'll start with the offensive line's medicine ball drill after the jump.

 

 

Shock open playoffs against San Jose

The two best pass-rush teams in the AFL collide tonight in San Jose and the outcome of those battles up front will probably tell the tale of the Shock-SaberCats first-round playoff game.

More here. Here's the view from San Jose.

Our desire for football is burning bright

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Let's see. It's going to be 99 degrees in Spokane today. Wonder what it will be in Lewiston? My guess: 104. But there should be a nice breeze off the Clearwater. Read on.

It isn’t football season without links

Welcome back, readers. It's football season. The Cougars are down in Lewiston (where I'll be heading shortly myself) and while many professional prognosticators have shared their opinion on what the 2014 season holds for the Washington State football team, we won't really know until they take the field.

Since that hasn't happened quite yet, let's take a look one last look at what the pundits think, after the jump.

Indians thrive with double-figure hits

When the Spokane Indians crank out double figures for hits in a Northwest League game, it usually means one thing: a win. The Indians pounded out 15 hits on Friday night, tied for their third-best effort of the season, to walk past Hillsboro 10-1. Spokane is 21-3 this season when it collects at least 10 hits in a game. Read story

A worthy honor for a worthy man

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Bill Moos has done a heaping handful of praiseworthy moves since becoming the athletic director at Washington State a few years ago. But the decision he announced yesterday concerning Steve Gleason was the best of the lot. Read on.

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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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