A GRIP ON SPORTS
How big has football become in this country? So big it dominates the sports news in early May, when the NBA is having its playoffs, baseball is up and running and the Kentucky Derby is just around the corner. Read on.
• College football is huge. The NFL is gigantic. And everything else sports-related just bends a knee. Even in May. The Pac-12 wrapped up spring practices yesterday by holding a conference call with its coaches and there was an 800-pound gorilla in every room. The Southeastern Conference's decision last week to stay with an eight-game conference schedule – there had been a gentleman's agreement among the five major conferences to move toward a nine-game league schedule – was the main topic of discussion. The main thrust of the complaints: The playing field won't be level. When it comes time to pick the four teams that will play in the playoffs, the new committee might as well be comparing apples with barges. Underlying all of the coaches' comments was a sense the SEC was thumbing its nose at the rest of college football. So what else is new? The story line right now is simple: The SEC is the best conference in college football – true at the top but not throughout the league – so everyone else has to adjust. Until the other conferences start knocking off SEC teams regularly, that narrative won't change. Deal with it.
• And the NFL? Someone in the league coughs and it is national news. The extravaganza that is the draft – a bunch of guys you've never heard of being picked by teams you don't care about – is just around the corner. Think these days are packed with NFL news, wait until the week leading up to and following the draft.
• WSU: There is a lot of Washington State news as well, as Mike Leach finished off spring with a teleconference with the local media yesterday as well. Jacob Thorpe covered all of what Leach had to say with this blog post, a story and a short sidebar. … Bud Withers had some thoughts on Leach's comments as well. … ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog wrapped up the Cougars' spring this morning.
• Gonzaga: The Bulldogs couldn't keep BYU's bats quiet and lost the opener of its WCC baseball series.
• EWU: The Eagles had a lot of questions to answer during spring and Jim Allen's story today will tell you whether they answered them or not.
• Chiefs: Spokane focused on forwards in the WHL's bantam draft.
• Soccer: The Spokane Shadow, seemingly gone forever, has been resurrected this season. Jim Allen has the story.
• Preps: There are few sporting events more fun to watch than a good high school track meet. There was one at Mead yesterday and Mt. Spokane was able to snap the Panthers long dual-meet win streak with a win in the last event, the 1,600 relay. Greg Lee has the story. … This weekend's Inland Empire High School Tennis Tournament will be the largest ever. … Greg also caught up with former Mead wrestler Chandler Rogers.
• Seahawks: It would be ironic if I didn't have any Hawk links to pass along, wouldn't it, considering what I wrote above. But of course I do. We have Earl Thomas' contract numbers to chew over and some thoughts about the Super Bowl from a Denver Bronco.
• Mariners: A series sweep, even if rain caused it to be just a two-game series, is a big deal for the M's. Especially in New York. And especially when Thursday's 4-2 win came, in large part, due to dominating pitching by the M's rookie, Roenis Elias (pictured). Funny, he wasn't part of the Big Three, was he? Sometimes you just never know which young player will blossom. … Hisashi Iwakuma is ready to return to the starting rotation. … Abraham Almonte hasn't fulfilled the promise he showed in spring training. … The M's are off to Houston to face the Astros tonight.
• Sounders: Clint Dempsey had a heck of an April. He was rewarded for his exceptional play with the MLS' player of the month award. … Brad Evans has been nursing a bad calf, but he says he's ready to go all out now. Of course, when the USMNT opens its World Cup camp, he and Dempsey and maybe DeAndre Yedlin will be gone for a while. … Marcos Pappa hasn't allowed one mistake to color his entire year.
• And that's it for this Friday. I have to go check my fantasy football roster once more. I'm a little thin at running back. Just kidding. I've got plenty of running backs. Until later …