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Break up the July heat by thinking – and talking – about Pac-12 football

Washington State coach Mike Leach speaks at the Pac-12 NCAA college football media day in Los Angeles on July 14. On Tuesday, Leach accused the media and the local police of unfairly targeting WSU football players. (Reed Saxon / Associated Press)
Washington State coach Mike Leach speaks at the Pac-12 NCAA college football media day in Los Angeles on July 14. On Tuesday, Leach accused the media and the local police of unfairly targeting WSU football players. (Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It's the middle of July and most of the civilized sports world is taking football. That's if you translate "civilized" into "Pac-12 territory." Other places are talking about other things. Read on.

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• Phil Mickelson isn't a young man. But he's playing golf like one, having just missed a long putt that would have given him a major-record 62 yesterday in the British Open. Instead he "settled" for a record-tying 63. Today he followed that up with a 68 and is at 10 under. Which means he leads the Open, sure, but is only halfway done. That's still a lot closer to the finish line than Pac-12 football this year, but thanks to the manufactured interest of the conference's media days, here we are. Wherever that is. Well, there is the media poll, which for the first time ever – and by "ever" I mean since Pop Warner was not the name of a youth football league but the actual Stanford football coach – has the Cardinal as the projected conference champion. Now if Stanford professor Condoleeza Rice, a former Secretary of State, could just step in and get a deal worked out with DirecTV, then the Cardinal could take over the darn conference, Larry Scott included. USC used to, of course, but the Trojans are still trying to recover from the wrath of the NCAA and the coaching og Lane Kiffin, so they are still a ways away. Which is the biggest problem the Pac-12 faces. There is talk that no matter who wins, they won't finish their season in the four-team football playoffs. That would make it two consecutive years the so-called Conference of Champions' champion isn't playing for a championship. Not good. But, as we pointed out at the beginning, and Gabe Marks pointed out yesterday, the games have yet to be played. Heck, preseason camp has yet to start. To paraphrase a Game of Thrones character, we know nothing. Heck, yesterday I thought California would play better than people thought. Then the news came out the Bears were going to be without two of their safeties, weakening an already suspect defense. It's the middle of July. We know nothing.

• OK, we do know Mike Leach has a way of entertaining writers without every really talking about football. Yesterday it was his interesting views on the Heisman, his lack of understanding of the Pokemon go craze and his eye-rolling – and more – after a question about milestones. His ability to work the room has made the Pac-12 media days more interesting and keeps Washington State in the spotlight, both of which have to be considered good things. 

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• WSU: Jacob Thorpe was in Los Angeles and witnessed first-hand Leach, Marks and Parker Henry as they answered questions. It led to a series of blog posts, some of which I linked above. It also led to two stories, one on the Cougars being picked fourth in the Pac-12 North and the other on Leach's summer trip to Italy.

• Indians: Salem-Keiser pulled away late and handed Spokane a 12-4 loss at Avista last night. Josh Horton has the story. ... Eugene won but Everett lost again.

• Chiefs: Portland made a front-office hire.

• Empire: Despite a season-ending injury, the Empire's Trevor Kennedy won the IFL offensive rookie of the year award.

• Preps: Greg Lee has a feature story on Bria Bowton, a three-sport athlete from Ferris.

• Mariners: As the All-Star break recedes slowly, the trade deadline begins to loom on the horizon. What will the Mariners do? Will they look to improve their pitching by trading some of their somewhat-surprising hitting? Or will they decide this isn't their year and build for the future?

• Seahawks: The Hawks are hoping their young receiving corps continues to improve in 2016.

• Sounders: Next up for Seattle is Cascadia rival Portland. ... The Timbers, who won the MLS playoffs last year, added a player this week. ... Cristian Roldan scored his first MLS goal the other day. ... San Jose may have lost a defender for the rest of the year.

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• The worst thing about being on the road? Being in a hotel without access to the Golf Channel this weekend. It makes watching the British Open darn near impossible. Especially with my computer tied up doing these posts. 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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