A GRIP ON SPORTS
Let's get this right. The NCAA is contemplating a rule making it a "delay of game" penalty if a football team snaps the ball too quickly? Yep, we are through the looking glass. Read on.
• Are college defenses at a disadvantage these days? Yes they are. The rulemakers have made it that way. Why? Because offense thrills the fans and makes for a more exciting product. That's cool. So why change? A rule was proposed this week that would make it a penalty if the offense snapped the ball before 10 seconds had run off the play clock. This allows the defense a chance to substitute and would trim one or two plays a game. Yep, about one or two plays a game. See, most teams rarely snap the ball that quickly. However, they use the threat of a snap to keep the defense on its heels. And defensive-minded coaches don't like it. We ask again, so why change? There should be only one real reason but there might be a couple bogus ones. The real one? If you think you can make the game safer. That's actually a good reason for any rule. Study the game, see definitively if injuries occur more often because of hurry-up offenses and the increase in snaps, and then discuss a rule change. As far as I can discover, studies like that haven't been done. At least they aren't readily available. There seems to be no hard data either way. So that brings us to the bogus reasons. Nick Saban doesn't like hurry-up, no-huddle, race-to-the-line-of-scrimmage offenses. He's voiced his opinion before, saying they cause more injuries. He had no evidence, mind you, but when Alabama's coach speaks you might as well chisel it into tablets. From his lips to the NCAA's ears. And he's not alone. There is a growing schism in college football between those who have embraced the lightning speed and those would rather play a more plodding style. The latter believe the rules have titled too far toward the other side, even though the NCAA has tweaked them repeatedly, allowing the defense to substitute if the offense does, redefining what the huddle is and other incremental changes. Yes, games take too long. But that can't be a worry, can it, as each year more and more replay – and the ensuing delays – is mandated. So why this rule and why now? Could it be a hurry-up Auburn team cost the Crimson Tide – and Pope Nick – another national title? That's too simplistic. And giving the SEC's most powerful school too much credit. But something is at work here. Something other than the NCAA's usual penchant for audacious behavior.
• There was another rule proposal revealed yesterday, one that actually makes a lot of sense. Last season, the replay booth reviewed any 15-yard targeting penalty that came with an automatic ejection. If the ejection was determined to be incorrect, it was rescinded. However, the penalty stood. It couldn't be overturned. The proposal would allow the flag to be picked up as well. You know what this means, don't you? The NCAA has opened the door, ever so slightly, to adding penalties to a replay official's duties. Next year someone will propose allowing the replay official to throw a flag if, while reviewing a play, he sees an obvious violation. The logic is simple. The play is being reviewed, the penalty is there, everyone can see it, we are just getting it right.
• WSU: Jacob Thorpe was at Beasley for the late-night showdown last night – I stayed up for the entire game, which means I'm a bit grumpy today – and saw DaVonté Lacy put on a show. The junior guard torched California for a career-high 39 points. But the Bears held on for an 80-76 win. There was some discussion on Twitter after the game concerning Ike Iroegbu (pictured) missing a free throw on purpose with the Cougars down two and five seconds left. After watching it, I'm not sure it was what coach Ken Bone wanted as his two best outside shooters, Lacy and Dexter Kernich-Drew, had been called over to the bench and were in front of Bone when the shot was taken. It would seem you would want them on the arc if Iroegbu were going to miss, increasing the chances the loose ball would end up in a Cougar's hands. ... It's Thursday, so Jacob also has his weekend preview and a morning post. ... We can pass along this piece from the Chronicle. ... Jacob posted some thoughts on the blog concerning the proposed football rule changes. ... The WSU flag is at the Olympics. ... A former WSU recruit ended up at Auburn.
• Gonzaga: The Zags open the final homestand of the season tonight by hosting Pepperdine. Jim Meehan has a preview of the weekend as well as the lead piece to our college basketball notebook. ... It's also a big weekend for St. Mary's (which hosts USD tonight) and BYU, which meet on Saturday. ... The GU women are still atop ESPN's mid-major poll.
• EWU: The Eagles are also at home this weekend, needing a couple wins to get back to .500 in the Big Sky. Jim Allen has a preview and a feature on Eastern's leading scorer, sophomore Tyler Harvey. It's a good story about a good kid who has made the most of his opportunity.
• Idaho: Josh Wright has a preview of the Vandals upcoming weekend on the road.
• Chiefs: Despite being the top team in the WHL, the Kelowna Rockets hadn't been able to get past the Chiefs this season. That changed last night in the Arena. Chris Derrick has more on Kelowna's 2-1 victory in this game story and blog post. ... Portland won again and clinched a playoff berth. ... Everett suspended two players yesterday.
• Preps: Coeur d'Alene's girls got past Lewiston again and are headed to the state tournament. Greg Lee was at the win last night and has this game story. ... It is Thursday, so we also can pass along Greg's prep notebook, his feature on Gonzaga Prep's Hannah Caudill (pictured) and a roundup of Wednesday's action.
• Mariners: Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday and the M's had three big news events that deserved coverage. The most important: Hisashi Iwakuma has a strained tendon in a pitching-hand finger and will be out a few weeks. ... A way-too-big Jesus Montero met the media and apologized for his PED-induced suspension. ... Dave Valle will be the manager of the M's Everett team this year.
• Sounders: The Sounders are between training road trips, having finished in Arizona and waiting to head to South Carolina. So coach Sigi Schmid met with the media yesterday to go over the training thus far. ... The roster is still a work in progress but Brad Evans and others think the locker room will be better this season. We'll see.
• You know what day tomorrow is? If I tell you it is Valentine's Day and surprise you, you are in a world of hurt. So I am assuming all of you answered correctly. And are well prepared. I am. Until later ...