A GRIP ON SPORTS
There were a handful of pictures making the rounds yesterday of Cougars past and present saying goodbye to track and field coach Rick Sloan. There were also a few pictures to be had of the Seahawks rookie mini-camp. A balance of sorts? Read on.
• For every ending there is a beginning. I guess that's the message here. Rick Sloan (pictured) has been involved with Cougar track and field for 41 years, the first half as an assistant coach, the second as the man in charge. Both stretches are officially over. Yesterday was Sloan's last day as WSU's coach. Where the Cougars go from here will be determined by far smarter folks than me, and one of them, John Blanchette, took a swing at figuring that out this morning with this column. There was a time when WSU the premier Northwest program in track and baseball, the spring sports that mattered at least a little bit. But that time is long gone. It left Pullman when John Chaplin and Bobo Brayton took their leave. It wasn't just the departure of the two coaching legends that changed Washington State's fortunes. It's just the end of their tenures also coincided with changes in how the secondary sports are perceived, marketed and funded at the college level these days. Schools like Oregon have a huge advantage in revenue streams and it shows. It's easy to look back, but it's not productive. There is a new normal out there in college sports – and there might be a new, new normal soon, as the NCAA's power is chipped away – that has to be dealt with. The future isn't written yet, so there is always hope in a change in fortune.
• Speaking of writing their future, the guys who participated in the Hawks mini-camp over the weekend sure were trying. Their college past is just that, past. They are trying to follow in the footsteps of the Richard Shermans, the Russell Wilsons and the Bobby Wagners. Will anyone of them reach that level? Again, that's not for me to determine. In fact, it's not for anyone to determine right now. The only people that hold the key are the players themselves. They are the ones who will set their limits. The best will come to the forefront, the others will be left behind. Sports is a meritocracy. Those who can do, do. Those who can't, don't. Picking out the difference in a three day rookie mini-camp is not easy. No wonder coach Pete Carroll said afterward “we have some tough decisions.”
• WSU: Besides John's column, we can also offer Jacob Thorpe's coverage of the Pac-12 meet and Tyler Tjomsland's photographs from Pullman. Jacob also has a post this morning with some links. … The Oregonian and the Register-Guard also covered the meet as the Ducks won the men's and women's crowns. … In case you missed it, AT&T is buying DirecTV. (Maybe now DirecTV can afford another “T.”) How will that affect negotiations with the Pac-12 Networks? Jon Wilner tells you. … So Wayne Tinkle, who I used to watch play for Ferris High, is going to be the next Oregon State basketball coach. Interesting.
• Gonzaga: Talk about great timing. My piece from last week on Byron Wesley possibly transferring from USC to Gonzaga ran in the S-R yesterday morning. A few hours after it hit the doorstep, Wesley made it official. He's transferring to GU. Jim Meehan has more in this blog post and story. … The Zags' qualified for the four-team WCC baseball championship with a win over Pepperdine yesterday. The winner of the post-season tournament is headed to the NCAAs. Santa Clara, Loyola and Pepperdine qualified as well.
• Shock: You can't win in the AFL without a good quarterback. Case in point: Yesterday's 70-38 rout of the Shock by Arizona. Without Erik Meyer, Spokane is not a good football team. Jim has more in this blog post and story.
• Seahawks: As the rookie mini-camp comes to a close, there are a few stories to pass along. Some are about the players, guys like Kiero Small, whose height may fit his last name but the rest of him doesn't. There are also the stories about what happened over the past three days.
• Mariners: The losing streak is over, thanks to Felix Hernandez's strong outing and some timely hitting in a 6-2 decision over the Twins. The latter is something the M's need more of. … It looks as if Nick Franklin is headed back to Seattle and Corey Hart might be headed to the disabled list. … Lloyd McClendon doesn't pull any punches. Thankfully.
• Sounders: Saturday's shutout was a big deal for the new-look Sounder defense, coming on the heels of the five goals Seattle yielded in its previous game - and in front of a huge crowd. … Clint Dempsey has an important role to play with the U.S. National Team.
• There is a crud going around. Guess who caught it a few weeks ago. Yep, this guy. And it is hanging on like a cat in a YouTube video. Stubborn little virus. One of these days I might have to take a day off and try to get rid of it. A trip to a spa might help. Or the doc. But I'll tell you, existing on three or four hours of sleep each night is not making me a smarter person. Or a better writer. Or even a nicer guy. Until later …