A GRIP ON SPORTS
Do you remember Martin Stadium from 30 years ago? Twenty? If you are a Cougar fan, I'm sure you do. Then you know the Martin Stadium of today is a different place – and will be different still next fall with the completion of the football operations building that will loom over the west endzone. The changes in the football complex at WSU are things that will be with us for the next 30, 40, 50 years. It's all part of a vision of one man. Read on.
• Jacob Thorpe dominates today's S-R with a look at Bill Moos' short – but packed – tenure as WSU's athletic director. It's interesting to realize how much has changed in Pullman in such a short time, since Moos came out of retirement to replace Jim Sterk, who is now at San Diego State. Moos' tenure has been marked by the change, not only to coaches – a common occurrence when new athletic directors come to town – but to the athletic infrastructure. And that's where Moos' legacy will lie. OK, we have to temper that statement a bit. If Mike Leach goes on to win 100 games in Pullman over the next 10-to-15 years, then Moos' legacy will be that of the AD who had the guts to hire the guy who revitalized Washington State football. But baring that occurrence, Moos will be remembered as the person who kept the Cougars in the Pac-12. That's the bottom line, the heart of all the new facilities in Pullman. It's about WSU keeping up with the Joneses of the conference. At the very least staying within shouting distance. See, Washington State is never going to have the best facilities in the conference, not with Oregon and USC and Stanford and everyone else ready to spend whatever it takes to stay on top. But the Cougars were in danger of falling so far behind as to be left behind. And don't think that might not have happened. With all the changes college athletics has seen the past few years, there had to have been discussions of dropping the conference's most remote outpost. But not anymore. Washington State, under Moos, has anted up. You can argue whether that's a good thing – and maybe we will sometime – but you can't argue that is hasn't worked. The Cougars can match their football facilities with anyone on the West Coast not in the Pac-12. And that's crucial. It's always going to be a challenge for Leach and his assistants to pry someone away from Oregon, USC, Washington or even Arizona State. But they have to win more battles than they lose against the Mountain West schools and others of that level. And Moos is right in that high school seniors can be swayed by facilities. Others things factor in, sure, but facilities help – or hurt, if they are not up to snuff. So the Cougars needed to take the largesse of the Pac-12 media money – and other funds – and pour it into brick and mortar that will last a few years. Money spent on coaches is important, but it's money that has no shelf life. Money spent on new turf, new seating, new weight rooms, new nutrition centers, all that lasts. It doesn't just effect this generation, but the next as well. And maybe a few more down the road. Moos has gone into debt to finance the building spree, banking on increased revenues in the future to balance the books. The plan seems to be working thus far. The debt is in place. As are the buildings, with more to come. In five years you may walk around the athletic complex at WSU and not even recognize the place. And, if you are a Cougar that takes pride in its Pac-12 affiliation, that's a good thing.
• WSU: We linked Jacob's main story above, but he also has a story on the changes among the coaches at Washington State since Moos came aboard. … Make it two-for-two over USC for the WSU baseball team.
• Chiefs: Portland opened the WHL championship series with an easy 5-2 win over Edmonton.
• Shock: Now this is something the Spokane Shock have never experienced before. We're not just talking about a trip to Los Angeles for an AFL game. We're talking about the whole L.A. Kiss experience. Jim Meehan explains it all in this advance of today's game. … Portland earned a win last night.
• Shadow: The new Shadow opened up with a 2-1 loss. Jim Allen was at Spokane Falls Community College for the match with Bellingham and has the story.
• Preps: There were two big events in the area yesterday, one in track at Central Valley – Greg Lee has the coverage of the Strandberg Invitational – and in tennis – correspondent Steve Christilaw has the story of the Inland Empire Classic.
• Seahawks: OK, draft week is here. The Hawks know how important it is. And they also know they've been pretty good at it lately. … Who is going where? Here's one person's guess. … The Hawks have no holes to fill at linebacker in this draft. The NFC West has a lot of holes to fill.
• Mariners: I watched much of the M's game yesterday, mainly because I love to watch Hisashi Iwakuma pitch. Yes, Felix Hernandez is better, he has so many overpowering pitches. But Iwakuma pitches like the heroes of my youth, the guys who changed speeds, hit spots, made hitters get themselves out. I love watching that. … But I don't love watching the M's bullpen come this close to self-destructing against a fairly impotent Astros lineup. It took a four-out save from Fernando Rodney for the M's to gain the 9-8 win. … Abraham Almonte is not playing right now. But he's staying with the big club. … It's Sunday, so Ryan Divish has his power rankings. … This is an interesting story from the Washington Post concerning all the arm injuries to pitchers.
• Sounders: It seems the Sounders are so desperate to fall behind – thus ensuring another come-from-behind victory – they will go so far as to score an own goal (pictured) to make sure. That's what happened last night against overmatched Philadelphia, as Seattle posted a 2-1 victory. And, no, Clint Dempsey didn't score. But Chad Marshall did. The game winner. You didn't see that coming, did you? … The Union's coach believes the Sounders are the MLS' best team and the standings bear out his opinion. … Osvaldo Alonso took the Sounders' penalty kick yesterday – not Dempsey – but there was a reason behind that. I'm not sure it was a good one in a professional sporting event.
• Horse racing: You didn't think I was going to skip over the Kentucky Derby, did you? No way. Not after California Chrome completed it's rags-to-riches story – as much of a rags-to-riches story as you can have in horse racing anyway. A beautiful horse running a near-perfect race for a couple of average Joes who train and own it.
• Thanks to a mild cold and some insomnia, I finished this post really early this morning. That's why it was up on the blog when you awoke this morning. Don't expect it this early tomorrow. Until then …