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.
• If you have been waiting all year for college football to start, good for you. But why is a guy in Birmingham, Alabama, reading this column? If you have enjoyed the time you've had on Saturdays to pull weeds or watch golf or cook a gourmet meal, that all ends next Saturday when Eastern hosts Sam Houston State. That game on the red turf is a harbinger of things to come, the first leak in the dam so to speak. After that, the flood. Every Saturday crammed with games – and some weeknights as well. You want to watch 20 games a Saturday? It's possible these days. Morning games from the ACC or some obscure conference in the Eastern Time Zone. Mid-morning games from the SEC and Big Ten. Noon starts. Afternoon games in the Big 12. Dinner-time kickoffs. Evenings in LA, late-night in Hawaii. All football, all the time. It's either heaven or hell, depending on your perspective. About 20 seasons ago I would have written gender instead of perspective but I've learned over the years some of the more deeply disturbed college football fans are women. And I mean that as a compliment. So dust off your Cougar flag, wash your Vandal sweatshirt, put out your Eagle placemats. College football is just about here. It's about darn time.
• I'm headed down to the Pullman today to see the Cougars in person. I have a list of players I want to watch and make snap judgments about. Just kidding. I learned years ago seeing a player once is never enough to understand their abilities – good or bad. It takes repeated viewings. So today is just a foundational exercise. Building a base of knowledge that will expand as the season rolls along. I know. It doesn't seem right. Making a definitive pronouncement based on a small sample is what we do these days. Guess I'll just have to buck the trend.
• WSU: Jacob Thorpe is into his position previews these days and, as per tradition, the quarterbacks are saved for a Sunday. Though, with Washington State this season, the story could have been really short. There is Connor Halliday (pictured), Luke Falk and freshman Peyton Bender. In that order. End of story. … Jacob also has a blog post this morning with links. … If you were wondering why WSU cut ties with basketball recruit Tramaine Isabel, who is at Missouri these days, this story in today's Times might explain it. … Thanks to injuries, Rutgers is thin at defensive back. So an offensive player has answered the call.
• EWU: Though Eastern is ranked No. 1 in most FCS preseason polls, there are still some freshmen who will see the field this season. Jim Allen has this story on who they are and why they've earned playing time already, all wrapped within coverage of yesterday's scrimmage.
• Idaho: Before we get into yesterday's scrimmage, we want to say a fond farewell to Josh Wright, a professional journalist who decided journalism was no longer for him. That's sad in a way, but better for Josh's family. He kept his hand in the business the past couple years by covering Idaho for the S-R and he did it professionally, which is the best compliment I can give. His reporting will be missed. … The Vandals didn't get any more clarity in their quarterback situation yesterday, despite a long scrimmage. Josh has a story on the battle as well as a blog post on the scrimmage and one with quotes from coach Paul Petrino (pictured).
• Indians: A 1-0 game in the Northwest League is a rare animal. Two in two nights? That's got to be some sort of record. The Indians won the second of the two last night, shutting out the Tri-City Dust Devils. Chris Derrick has the game story and a blog post.
• Seahawks: One day after a preseason game is always – always – reserved for a post-mortem, whether the results were excellent, as in the Seahawks' case this week, or lousy. People like Robert Turbin, who excelled, and Percy Harvin, who always excels when healthy, are written about as are schemes and position groups. … What did we learn from the game with the Chargers? Oh, about five things. … Even sources outside Seattle have their thoughts on the game.
• Mariners: Not to sound all whiny or anything, but the M's got homered a bit yesterday. The plate umpire was awful and had rabbit-sized ears to boot. He also tossed Lloyd McClendon on general principles, seemingly. Nice. Any way you look at it, though, the M's got beat, 4-2 and Felix Hernandez's record string of extremely strong starts came to an end. Plus, what's wrong with Brandon Maurer all of a sudden? His last two appearances have been horrid. Ya, I know. I'm whining. … What would you rather have: A shortstop who makes every routine play but doesn't get to some balls or one who has great range, makes some spectacular plays but will boot more than his share of routine plays? The M's have decided, in going with Chris Taylor, the latter is their choice. … Here is one man's rating of all the MLPB teams.
• Sounders: The double-digit MLS-points lead is gone, done in by a long layoff and some really poor play. There was a great example of the latter yesterday when the Sounders lost to now-MLS-leading Real Salt Lake 2-1, done in, ultimately, by an own goal. … What has happened? Sigi Schmid saw yesterday's defeat as a breakdown of individuals. The players, from both sides, had other opinions.
• And that's our report for this Sunday morning. We'll be back tomorrow with thoughts on the Cougars and Martin Stadium. Spoiler alert: I love brick. Until then …