A GRIP ON SPORTS
It is customary in our country to give thanks on the last Thursday in November. The tradition dates back to the Civil War and, no, we're not talking about the football game in Oregon. But in the past 50 years or so, football has become an integral part of our Thanksgiving celebrations, whether it be the traditional NFL games from Detroit and Dallas or college games that mean just about everything to the fans involved. Read on.
• This weekend the Apple Cup is the dominate game around these parts, but the one contest that really affects the national picture will be played down south, in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In that storied stadium that USC will once again try to ruin a perfect Notre Dame season and, in 2012, throw the BCS into chaos. We support that latter goal with all our heart, just as we supported Notre Dame some 48 years ago. Forty-eight years. A lifetime ago. The Irish were going through a magical year in 1964, a year that seemed destined to end in a national title after years of mediocrity in South Bend. Like most every Catholic grade school male in America, I was a Notre Dame fan. That's easy in Chicago or South Bend, but it wasn't all that popular in the Los Angeles Basin, home to smog, traffic jams and the USC Trojans. And, in late November 1964, it was those Trojans who stood in the way of the Irish and their national title hopes. Big deal. This was the Era of Ara, the beginning of a new day in college football. The Irish would roll and little Vinnie Grippi would celebrate. Except the Irish didn't roll. Rod Sherman (pictured), a slightly built wide receiver, got lose in the back of the end zone late in the game, gathered in a pass from Craig Fertig and the Trojans upset Notre Dame 20-17. I don’t remember much from the game but I do remember standing in the back room of our house and crying my eyes out. I was devastated. Notre Dame had let me down. Heck, being Catholic, it seemed as if God had let me down. How could He let this happen? I vowed one thing that day: I would never root for Notre Dame again. And 48 years later, I have kept that vow. Now fast forward a little more than a decade. I am a student at UC Irvine. I attend a Fellowship of Christian Athletes bible study. The moderator? A UCI assistant athletic director named Rod Sherman. And yes, I told him afterward how much I hated him that day in 1964. How he made me cry. He laughed and related one note: I wasn't the only person that his catch made cry. He had heard the same sad story from people age 10 to 90. It's all part of our traditions.
• Washington State: The Apple Cup is almost here (and the subject of our poll today). Christian Caple is back from his basketball foray and attended football practice last night. That led to this blog post and story in this morning's newspaper. There is more in the newspaper, headlined by John Blanchette's column on some Apple Cup history and Christian's Pac-12 picks. Christian also held a live chat about football yesterday and there is this short on Drew Bledsoe's big weekend. Finally, Christian has his usual morning post. It may be hard to believe, but WSU's football season will be over in less than 48 hours. … It is Thanksgiving weekend and there is a lot to watch around the Pac-12.
• Gonzaga: The GU women kept it close until the end, but seventh-ranked Louisville pulled away late for the win in Mexico. … The GU men are ready for their holiday tournament and to welcome back Kelly Olynyk. Jim Meehan has the particulars in this story and blog post. … St. Mary's is in a holiday tournament in Anaheim, on the opposite side of the bracket from Bay Area neighbor, Cal. … BYU got back on the winning track with an easy victory over UTSA. … Santa Clara and San Diego both posted wins last night. … So did Portland, who easily defeated crosstown rival Portland State.
• EWU: The Eastern basketball team posted its first win of the season, holding off South Carolina Upstate at a tournament in the Bay Area. … Beau Baldwin (pictured) was named co-Big Sky Coach of the Year. Jim Allen has the story.
• Preps: Greg Lee has a column that looks at all the success North Idaho schools had this fall.
• Seahawks: Though Miami and Seattle are as far apart, geographically, as any two NFL franchises could be, there is a lot of connections between their players. More than could be imagined, actually. … The Hawks are getting healthier bit-by-bit. … Once again this NFL season, two rookie quarterbacks face off.
• I will be back in this spot tomorrow and will have my thoughts on the Apple Cup. And yes, I do believe the Cougars will put it all together on Friday. But, as of now, I'm not sure even that will be enough. Until then, have a great day and I hope it can be spent with family …