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A GRIP ON SPORTS

If we were down South, today would be a holiday of sorts. We're not so it isn't. Read on.

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• College football is important around here. It just isn't important. Yes, fans root for their Cougars or Eagles or Vandals or whatever, but they don't live, breath or die with them. As I said, this isn’t the South. Which makes today's first day of spring football in Pullman an occasion but not a holiday. In Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, places like that, the beginning of spring football moves all other news to the Style section. And spring games? Don't even try to comprehend 70 or 80,000 folks gathered in 80-degree weather to watch a scrimmage for goodness sakes. You can admire their devotion, sure, but not their sanity. After all, spring football may be important for fall's success – at least coaches will tell you it is ­– but it is just practice after all. And not even practice that leads up to a game. There are a lot of fundamentals. There are a lot of repetitions. And there are a lot of players trying new and sometimes odd positions. You might see a wide receiver spend a couple days at safety – and then move back to offense. You might see a defensive lineman snapping the ball for an hour or so – then never see it again. And you might see a walk-on punter whiff on an attempt – then never return to the field. I've seen all those things in the years I've observed spring football so nothing that happens on the fields in Pullman over the next few weeks would surprise me. Unless it was watching the quarterbacks practicing taking a knee. OK, that wasn't nice. Funny maybe, but not nice. We promise not to take any more gratuitous shots about it. It's spring, after all. It's time to turn the page.

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• WSU: Want to be ready for spring ball? Then check out Jacob Thorpe's blog post for yesterday. He transcribed everything Mike Leach had to say. I'll give this to Leach. He uses a lot of words to say very little. Almost politician-like. Jacob also has an advance of today's spring practice and a morning post with links. ... There was a pretty important labor ruling in Chicago yesterday concerning college football players and John Blanchette has his take on the decision in this column. ... Other columnists chimed in as well. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has an interview with WSU quarterback Connor Halliday (pictured). ... California bowed out of the NIT last night courtesy of a late 3-pointer. ... Former WSU star Klay Thompson is relaxed and confident these days.

• Gonzaga: Jacob also has his college baseball notebook this morning ad he focuses on the Bulldogs' turnaround since league began. ... BYU's women are in the Sweet 16. They also face No. 1 Connecticut. ... USD lost to WCC foe Pacific in the CIT.

• EWU: The Eagles needed a new wide receivers coach. They hired former Eastern receiver Nick Edwards. Jim Allen has the story.

• Chiefs: It's been an interesting season for Spokane. But it may be about to end as the Chiefs were routed 6-1 by Victoria in the Arena last night and is an 0-3 hole in the WHL playoff series. Chris Derrick has more in this story and blog post. ... Portland swept Vancouver out of the playoffs while Kelowna picked up a key win at Tri-City.

• Preps: Being it is Thursday, that means it is Prep Page day. Greg Lee uses the space to present the season previews for track and field in the Greater Spokane League, North Idaho and the rest of the area leagues. ... GSL soccer is underway and Jim Allen covered the battle between Lewis and Clark and Central Valley won by the Tigers.

• Seahawks: If the Hawks had signed Jared Allen, the arguments might have been different but a couple of Puget Sound columnists explain why missing out on the star defensive end isn't all that bad for Seattle. It's all part of an offseason that is either good or bad. Who knows? ... The defensive line is in a state of flux, that's for sure. ... Pete Carroll did say recently there is a plan in place, though repeating is tough. ... You clamoring for more teams in the playoffs? Me neither.

• Mariners: Want to know why the folks at the top of the M's management pyramid aren't going anywhere despite years and years of losing? This is why. Yep, the M's value just continues to rise. Winning isn't everything, money is. ... With all the injuries, Erasmo Ramirez (pictured) has ascended to the No. 2 spot in the rotation. Hey, just showing up can mean a lot. ... Nick Franklin has been working in the outfield recently, which seems to indicate Brad Miller has won the shortstop battle. ... The M's lost yesterday if you care. ... Their payroll is less than $100 million right now and almost half of that is wrapped up in two players.

• Sounders: The Sounders have some stars, which is good for winning games and drawing fans. But it is also bad when the US National Team comes calling. This time though, it shouldn't affect games. ... Sigi Schmid has some thoughts on the call-ups and other things. ... Columbus' goalkeeper could have been Seattle's goalkeeper. Actually was for a few minutes. ... The Timbers goalkeeper will have to miss the game with Seattle. ... There are certain things older players shouldn't try. Or maybe they should.

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• And that's our Thursday report. Whoever is in charge of the warmth around here, please keep it going. I've enjoyed it. Until later ... 




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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