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Grip on sports: By anyone’s count, 2013 a good year for region’s sports

Thursday: Will we look back on 2013 as the year everything turned around in Northwest sports? Maybe.

Honestly, it’s hard to argue this year hasn’t been successful, even with a few weeks to go. OK, not in a “we-won-the-title” type of year, but more along the lines of “we-built-the-foundations-for- future-success” kind.

That isn’t as sexy, but it may be more important in the long run. The Seahawks are the best team in the NFL and the Super Bowl favorite. The Mariners are finally showing signs of life,  spending money with abandon in an attempt to become relevant again.

The Sounders already spent a ferry full of money and they actually reached the top of the MLS standings, if only for a while.

Chris Hansen got awfully close to bringing the NBA back to the state of Washington – and he’s still trying to reach that goal as well as attracting the NHL.

The Cougars are back in the bowl business after 10 years wandering in the wilderness. The Huskies replaced a former savior with the guy everyone has tried to lure away from Boise State, Chris Petersen.

Gonzaga reached No. 1 in the college basketball polls this year and seems to have little trouble continuing to win despite three NBA players leaving the program in the past two years.

Eastern is challenging for another FCS title after going undefeated in Big Sky play this past football season.

Heck, the best Division II basketball team is in Seattle in Seattle Pacific, with local players dominating the roster.

Yep, even if you aren’t a glass-half-full type of guy, you have to admit things are looking up around here. The only people who aren’t happy are the pessimists among us, who feel vindicated when the world is falling apart.

But those folks don’t have to worry. The next big freefall is just around the corner. I promise. And you know how much that is worth.

Monday: Have my notes in front of me from the first (Washington State football) game of the season, a 31-24 loss to Auburn.

Yes, the same Auburn team that is playing in the BCS Championship game.

I see the Cougars’ penultimate drive, when they started at their 30 and got all the way down to the Auburn 8. A wheel route in the right side of the end zone was intercepted, killing an 11-play, 62-yard, 4-minute, 21-second drive.

The defense got the ball back, forcing a Tre Mason fumble that Deone Bucannon recovered. This time, despite a 13-yard run on a fourth-and-5, the Cougars stalled and turned it over on downs.

That was how close they were to defeating quite possibly the best team in the country at their place. Of course, if WSU had won, I’m guessing Auburn would have finished 6-6 and no one would think the win was a big deal.