A GRIP ON SPORTS
Tick. Tick. Tick. That's a non-digital clock marking the seconds until Sunday's NFC title game in Seattle. It also may be counting down some other things as well. Read on.
• Yes, kids, clocks used to make noise. Lots of noise. Back in the day some of them didn't even have digits. Yep, times have changed. Except at CenturyLink Field, where the two combatants Sunday are more old-school than that big round thing grandpa wears on his wrist. Sure, off the field the 49ers and Seahawks are all 2014, what with the tats and grills and such. But between the lines both teams play a brand of football Art Donovan and Lou Groza would understand – and love. Sunday's game may just come down to who is the toughest nut on the field. You know, the one who won't crack. These teams are going to beat on each other. The guys up front are going to need ice (and something to pour on top of it) when it's over. Sure, there are outstanding skill position players on both sidelines, but their artistry may just have to take a backseat to guys with sideways noses, muscles that ripple like the ocean and have nicknames like "The Beast." Yes, this game is so physical the two featured running backs probably could have played defensive line back in Groza and Donovan's NFL – and fit right in. So Sunday, sit down, prop up your feet and enjoy a little old-school football. It's going to be fun.
• It's no secret Washington State basketball coach Ken Bone's tenure is tenuous right now. After five years, there is a growing disconnect between the fan base and the veteran coach. You can witness it every home game by just counting the empty seats. And you can read it in the fan website's comments section on a daily basis. Heck, even some of the intelligent, reasoned folks that visit here seem to have had enough. So when the Cougars get blown out – maybe beaten down is a better description – as they were last night at Stanford, it doesn't help Bone's cause. You know, it's quite possible there's nothing Bone's team can do right now top help him stay, with the possible exception of a story-tale run through the rest of the Pac-12 season and a magical postseason run. But there are reasons magic is fictional and storybooks and fairy tales are used to put kids to sleep at night. They aren't real. Reality is you just lost to Stanford by 32 points and now you have to turn around and play a California team that is 4-0 in conference play and nine games over .500 overall. Life is always tough in the Pac-12 and no one feels sorry for you. Even if the clock is ticking.
• WSU: Jacob Thorpe was at Maples Pavilion – do they still call it that or does some big Silicon Valley firm own the rights now? – last night and witnessed Stanford's 80-48 victory – in a game WSU once led 24-20. He has the game story from the blowout along with video interviews with Bone, Que Johnson and Royce Woolridge. He also posted the box score and then returned this morning with a links-filled post. ... It's Thursday morning, so we have our weekly Four Corners features, which includes a short preview of this weekend's game. ... We found a couple stories that cover the home team's angle on the game. ... John Canzano says it's time for Craig Robinson to start winning games at OSU. ... On the football side of things, we can present the final ESPN.com Pac-12 power rankings along with an examination of the conference's NFL early entries by San Jose's Jon Wilner. ... One last link. A running back whose WSU recruitment I remember, has left ASU. His brother has the Cougars on his radar though.
• Gonzaga: The Zags will be in Malibu tonight to face a suddenly resurgent Pepperdine team. Jim Meehan covers the weekend road trip with this preview and he takes you behind the scenes with this feature and blog post on newest assistant coach Brian Michaelson. ... Though USD had a successful non-conference run, the seeds of a slow WCC start were sown then – and even earlier. ... BYU is ready to hit the road with a healing roster. ... The Zags have come up with another partner in their marketing blitz.
• EWU: Last season, Tyler Harvey's coming out party last year occurred in Flagstaff, Arizona. He and the Eagles return to NAU's dome tonight in a key Big Sky Conference game. Jim Allen has more in this notebook and a preview of the weekend.
• Idaho: Josh Wright checks in with the weekend's preview.
• Shock: Brady Nelson said goodbye to his creation, the Spokane Shock, on Wednesday as the owner sold his interest to a consortium that isn't all that Spokane oriented. John Blanchette takes a look at what that means for the Orange-clad Shock fans (pictured) among us in this column.
• Preps: Wednesday night is a wrestling night in Spokane and Mike Vlahovich was at the key match. ... Thursday morning brings us the Prep Page which includes Greg Lee's column. Greg also has a feature on Coeur d'Alene standout Sydney Williams and a notebook. ... Kenny Eilmes, who coached a lot of great high school baseball players in town, including Ryne Sandberg, died Wednesday. He was 76. Thomas Clouse has the story of his life.
• Seahawks: Really, can the clock just stop now and get us to the game? I really don't know what to write that will be different. The links are beginning to look like Monday's and Tuesday's and, heck, you get it. ... Pete Carroll met with the media and talked football and assorted other stuff. Jim Harbaugh (pictured) met with the media and talked about his pants. ... Russell Wilson met with the media and talked about the Hawks' low-flying passing game. Colin Kaepernick, who hasn't really shined against the Hawks, talked about quarterback play. ... Richard Sherman talked and talked. So did Earl Thomas, who is quite confident these two teams are similar. ... Marshawn Lynch may have talked, I don't know, but it doesn't matter. You won't get to know him through his words. ... There were injury reports Wednesday from the Hawks and 49ers and, yes, Percy Harvin was on Seattle's. He did not practice. ... Steven Hauschka seems to have it all figured out. ... As the NFL coaching vacancies fill, it doesn't look as if one of the Hawks' coordinators will be moving up.
• Mariners: The M's have settled on a manager for the Tacoma Rainiers. ... Missed this yesterday but they also agreed to a deal with a backup catcher. ... And you thought the Robinson Cano deal was huge.
• Sounders: The off-season makeover of the Sounders' roster continues as they sent two defensemen to Chicago for one defenseman and a couple draft choices in today's MLS SuperDraft. The number of Seattle veterans continues to dwindle.
• That's it. I'm burnt out. I discovered last night, around the time the Eagles were singing "The Long Run," my ability to stay up past 10 p.m. was (ya, you could see this was coming) already gone. Still, getting to bed at 1 in the morning makes you feel young (as did the women in front of us who yelled every song was her "favorite" and all she wanted to do was dance, dance, dance). That youngish feeling lasted until this morning at 6 when the column beckoned. Now I understand the deeper meaning behind Ol' 55. Until later ...