A GRIP ON SPORTS
Hype. It is a funny word. Any word that's first vowel is a "y" is, by default, a funny word. And its connotation is kind of strange as well. Negative for sure. Each and every BCS national title game was hyped. Over-hyped. And only a couple ever lived up to that pre-game hype. Last night was one of them. Actually, the last one of them. Read on.
• To paraphrase Mark Antony (and no, not the singer; his name is spelled differently), we come not to praise the BCS but to bury it. But before we can pat the mound of dirt on the bureaucratic nightmare that was the Bowl Championship Series, we have to pat it on the back. Last night's 34-31 Florida State win over Auburn – ending the SEC's seven-year run as national champions – was worth every bit of pregame hype that could be heaped on it. Funny, because this game, easily the second-best BCS title game in its 16-year history, may have been the least hyped. With a four-team playoff looming next year, an upset SEC champion and a Florida State team that had yet to be really tested, the matchup didn't seem to be one for the ages. But the game was. A big early Auburn lead. A gutsy fake punt. A kickoff return for a touchdown. A key turnover. A safety being run over. A last-minute drive. A last-second score. Yep, this one had it all. It was worth the price of admission. For the 94,208 in the Rose Bowl, that was a lot of money. For the millions of us watching at home, it was having to deal with endless commercials. Still, when the hokey crystal ball was raised at the end, the hype was over. And all that remained were the memories.
• Speaking of memories, there are a couple of them I'll take from this game. One is Tre Mason using Florida State's freshman safety Jalen Ramsey as a speed bump en route to what looked to be the game-winning touchdown (pictured). And all I could think of was Deone Bucannon's hit in Auburn some five months ago. It wasn't Mason Bucannon destroyed that day (it was backup running back Corey Grant) but if the WSU senior had been in the hole last night, I think Mason wouldn't have scored on his 37-yard run. And who knows, the Tigers might have won. See, if Mason had been tackled there and Auburn had found a way to get the ball in the end zone a bit later, there wouldn't have been enough time for Jameis Winston to engineer his comeback drive.
• Up until the final drive Winston didn't look like an All-Pac-12 quarterback let alone the Heisman winner. Even with the game-winning drive in his resume – he was 6-of-7 leading the Seminoles down the field – he still wasn't all that impressive. In fact, after having seen him a few times this season, I would say he would have struggled to make the All-Pac-12 team. Oregon's Marcus Mariota, ASU's Taylor Kelly and UCLA's Brett Hundley all seemed to be superior quarterbacks. But Winston does have the national title ring – and that really heavy trophy modeled after Jay Berwanger.
• Finally, if you're wondering which of the 16 BCS title game I felt was the best, it was the USC-Texas game in 2006, played on the same field as last night's contest. Yes, I know Vince Young won the game with a late touchdown run but what I remember from that contest is the ill-advised Reggie Bush fumbled lateral when the Trojans were about to put the game out of reach (pictured). Come to think of it, Bush did a lot of ill-advised things over the years to hurt the Trojans, didn't he?
• WSU: Jacob Thorpe wasn't doing anything as exciting as covering the national title game last night. Nope, he was busy keeping up with the Cougars' basketball fortunes. He monitored Bill Moos' radio show yesterday – the big news there is Moos reiterated once more the Apple Cup will be on a Saturday the next few years – and posted a summary. He also posted a look back on the basketball weekend in Arizona and had a morning post with links today. ... The Cougars' opponent Wednesday night in Spokane, Colorado, moved up the polls a bit this week after defeating previously unbeaten Oregon. ... Another high school defensive back from Northern California announced he's going to attend WSU next year.
• Gonzaga: The Bulldogs moved up in the polls yesterday. ... It's already been a trying year for St. Mary's, though last night's non-conference game wasn't. ... The same can be said for BYU, though it's not as bad as it could have been.
• EWU: The Eagles were ranked third in both season-ending FCS polls.
• Whitworth: New football coach Rod Sandberg reached into the Spokane high school ranks for his offensive coordinator, plucking Alan Stanfield (pictured) from Shadle Park. Greg Lee has the story.
• Seahawks: We mentioned above how expensive national title game tickets were. Well, if you want to attend the Hawks playoff game Saturday with the Saints, you are going to have to pay through the nose as well. Speaking of that, why would anyone want to have their local sporting event in this area competing with the Hawks game? I'm sure no one does, but at least a couple – Eastern Washington's men and Gonzaga's women – will. It's too bad because either would be worth attending – if the Seahawks game were on Sunday or later in the day. ... Was the early December win over the Saints too easy? The doomsayers around the area might think so, but Pete Carroll would disagree. In fact, the Hawks' coach would rather not let that outcome play any part in his team's thinking this week. But the Saints, they will remember. ... The key players this Saturday? The quarterbacks, like always. ... Darrell Bevell may not be in Seattle much longer.
• Mariners: There is a pretty good chance, heck, a nearly 100 percent chance, Edgar Martinez will be disappointed Wednesday. That's too bad.
• That's our report this morning. Once again I will be a guest on the Patchin, Lukens and Osso show today. Want to listen? You can here. Until then ...