A GRIP ON SPORTS
College coaching searches don't follow a straight-line path. Usually. There are exceptions, of course, with Mike Leach's hiring at Washington State one of those. Cougar athletic director Bill Moos had his coach in mind early, had made contact and had hammered out the basic outline of an agreement before he let Paul Wulff go. But that's rare. The usual process is a lot longer and messier. As we are seeing right now. Read on.
• It's been more than 10 days since Ken Bone was fired by WSU. In that time there has been speculation, rumor and conjecture about who the replacement will be. But with a one-person search committee in place – Moos – there really hasn't been much leaked. Until yesterday. WSU president Elson Floyd told the WSU regents in the morning the job had been offered to someone, but an agreement hadn't been reached. Floyd, though, didn't spill the beans – or the name. But it didn't take the rumor mill long to make a connection when, later in the afternoon, our Jacob Thorpe reported Boise State's Leon Rice (pictured) had interviewed with the Cougars earlier in the week. But I'm not so sure Rice is the guy to which the job was offered. Here's why. Moos had his guy in his sights last weekend. I'm sure of that. They had already been talking. That doesn't seem to fit a timeline of an interview with Rice during the week, especially not Wednesday, the day multiple reports confirmed Rice was out of Boise. But it really may not matter. ESPN's Andy Katz reported late last night Rice had decided to stay in Boise and would get a raise out of the deal. Didn't I say it was a messy process? See, Rice might not even have been offered the WSU job – it is all conjecture – and yet he will earn more money in the future just because his name was attached publicly. One well-placed link can be worth a lot of cash. Remember, there are multiple reasons a guy takes his name out of the running for a new job but one of them is he just wasn't offered it. Here's how it works: A coach or his representatives are contacted about a certain position. The coach is interested. The process starts. The school and the coach talk. The school goes in another direction. The coach is told before a public announcement about the school's choice. The coach immediately announces he's decided to stay at his current school, oftentimes citing a raise or contract extension that allows the AD to look like he fought off a raiding party. It's a game within the game. Now there is no evidence this is what happened with Rice and WSU but I know it has happened in the past. If it isn't yesterday's scenario and Rice really was the guy, then Moos and the Cougars are starting over today. And the process just got a bit longer.
• WSU: The first part of the day yesterday Jacob gave over to spring football, mainly with a live chat. But he also had a blog post that included a video from after practice. ... Then Jacob turned his attention to the basketball coach with a blog post on Rice's interview (which complimented an earlier post on an offer being made) and a late-night update on Katz's tweet about Rice and Boise. ... Jacob also had a story in this morning's paper on the Rice news and his usual morning post. ... The Pac-12 didn't have a team in the NCAA tournament games last night, but the conference's officials were all over the place. I counted six working in the four games – that's half of the total yesterday with all three in the Connecticut win over Iowa State guys who primarily work Pac-12 games – and two of them were involved in the three key calls that helped decide games. The most talked about one was David Hall's charge call (pictured) in the Michigan win over Tennessee but there was also a late Chris Rastatter foul call in Kentucky's win over Louisville that could have been huge but turned out to be non-consequential due to a missed free throw. And, no, the guys who missed the late foul in the Virginia loss to Michigan State – a non-call that dictated the final seconds – were not from the Pac-12. ... It's Saturday so we can pass along the mailbag from ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog. ... There are also some thoughts on the NCAAs to pass along.
• Gonzaga: The only WCC team still alive in the NCAA tournaments is the BYU women, who play top-seeded Connecticut today.
• Preps: The WIAA said yesterday it considers all the games played by the final 16 teams in the basketball playoffs to be State tournament games, with a capital "S." It's a clarification of a question many people had this season and fits with the organizations record keeping, which listed all of those games as State competitions on its website.
• Seahawks: As soon as the Eagles announced they had cut DeSean Jackson, a former California player, speculation began about his possible signing with the Hawks. There seems to be better fits for the talented wide receiver elsewhere in the league. And, anyway, do the Hawks want to assume all of Jackson's baggage? ... The Hawks had a former Steeler in town.
• Mariners: The 25-man roster is set for the season opener and it doesn't include Nick Franklin (pictured). The shortstop lost his battle with Brad Miller and was optioned to Tacoma. And the Mariners will open the 2014 season with the same holes in the lineup they began spring training with. That's progress, M's style. ... At least we can consider the Robinson Cano signing a good thing from the offseason. After all he should fill a spot in the lineup the M's have had trouble with. And, with the signings announced yesterday, we might even be able to consider it a bit of a bargain. ... A late rally gave Seattle a win yesterday.
• Sounders: It's time for the Sounders to hit the pitch again today, with Columbus in Seattle for a night match. There are a lot of connections between the teams. ... The Sounders signed a striker yesterday, one that's been working out with them. ... Sigi Schmid is ready for tonight's match.
• The weekend is here. Enjoy it. Or work your fingers to the bone in the yard. Your choice. Until later ...