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Grip on Sports: Every signing day is just like the one before except for the players who achieve their dream

Oxford (Alabama) High School student Kwon Alexander dons an LSU cap during a news conference on national signing day in 2012. (Tamika Moore / Associated Press)
Oxford (Alabama) High School student Kwon Alexander dons an LSU cap during a news conference on national signing day in 2012. (Tamika Moore / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • One Pac-12 coach was quoted as saying he got every kid he wanted. Another talked about the players that signed are his schools’ “guys.” One school had a “perfect” day. Would you expect anything else out of signing day? Read on.

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• We’ve written it before and we’ll write again. Someday a coach will be honest on signing day and admit the class they signed wasn’t up to par. That the group they were bringing in didn’t meet expectations.

Someday.

How about yesterday in Austin, Texas? That’s where new Texas coach Tom Herman spoke more about 2018 than he did 2017. Now he didn’t come right out and say the short period he had to recruit had left the Longhorns devoid of talent – especially considering their lofty standards.

But he did admit the period had been tough. And he promised next year would be better. So, in a sense, he confessed this year’s class wasn’t the greatest the school had ever signed.

And even that is a no-no according to college-coach etiquette 101.

Don’t despair, however. On the Left Coast it was all peaches and cream. Every player everyone wanted came to every school. Even if kids switched late, that must have been by design. That kid wasn’t a true believer anyway, so who wants him? Even if he is 320 pounds, runs a 4.4 40 and bench-presses a Ford Transit van. With the basketball team inside.

He wasn’t OKG. Or whatever acronym you want to make up.

• I kid because I care. Or something like that. As I’ve said before, signing day is cool for the high school seniors affixing their name to a contract. Probably the first contract they’ve ever signed.

A kid I spent a summer coaching held a press conference and signed a letter of intent yesterday. Good for him. He wanted to go through the recruiting process. His goal was to earn a college athletic scholarship. He did it. He deserved a day to celebrate.

Heck, he was so joyful he revealed the school he had chosen before he put on their cap.

And that’s what yesterday should be about, not some nebulous ranking system. 

•••

Gonzaga: Forget football. It’s back to the grind of an undefeated, top-ranked season. At least at GU. The Bulldogs face another hostile environment today, not only because of the nearly 20,000 folks in the stands, but because of the team BYU will put on the Marriott Center floor. Jim Meehan has an advance of tonight’s ESPN2-televised game (it starts at 8). … Jim also has a look at the best matchup – the Cougars have a center that matches up well with Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski – and there is this piece on the history of the series. … The women host BYU at 6. Jim Allen has an advance. … Back to the men, BYU may be without a starter due to illness, and that really hurts the Cougars. They don’t have a lot of depth. To pull an upset, their bench will have to play better than it has. … We’ll be back tonight with our look at the broadcast from Provo.

WSU: As we perused newspapers from all over the West Coast this morning, I couldn’t help but think how big yesterday’s announcements had become. In my more than 35 years in this business, it – and the influence of social media – is one of the biggest changes I’ve seen. … Jacob Thorpe has all the 411 (isn’t that what the kids say … in 2007?) on the Cougars’ signing class in this story. He also has this story on Ben Moos, the WSU athletic director’s son who signed with California (and is the subject of my words above). Moos is, and wants to stay, a tight end, a position that isn’t part of Mike Leach’s offense. … The Cougars also restructured volleyball coach Jen Grenny’s contract. … He also was at Friel Court last night to watch No. 11 UCLA shoot down WSU, 95-79. … Washington also played last night, led USC into the second half and then faded down the stretch again. … Oregon State wants to pull a huge upset tonight against Arizona while, down the road, Oregon just wants to get back on the winning track against a tired Arizona State team. … Utah faces California and Ivan Rabb, while Colorado tries to limit Stanford’s ability to score.

Around the Pac-12 in football signings, we have stories from every school. There is coverage of Arizona’s class and Arizona State’s group. … From the Los Angeles area, USC had its usual impressive haul of highly rated players as did UCLA, though the Bruins have struggled with the on-field stuff lately. … In the Bay Area, California is starting slowly with its late coaching change but Stanford signed the type of guys it always does. … The mountain schools have followed a different recipe, especially at Colorado. Utah’s class wasn’t as strong as it was supposed to be and doesn’t include a lot of in-state talent. … In Oregon, the Ducks seemed to have done well despite a bad start and Oregon State may have laid the foundation for a return to, well, the middle of the conference. … Washington signed a small class due to a dearth of openings on the roster, but it included a bunch of guys with lots of stars. … Back to WSU, we can pass along the Times’ coverage of the class from Stefanie Loh. … And we also can pass along some thoughts on quarterback recruiting and the day for each Pac-12 school.

EWU: The Eagles’ recruiting class stayed together despite the loss of head coach Beau Baldwin. Jim Allen was at their signing day event yesterday and has this story on the 19 signees. … Jim also has an advance on Eastern’s home basketball weekend. … Back to football, Jim has a story on an addition – an assistant coach – and a subtraction – a reserve quarterback.

Idaho: The Vandals’ transitional class includes a lot of kids with solid football DNA, as has been the track record for Paul Petrino. Josh Wright has all the ins and outs on this year’s signing class.

CCS: The Sasquatch stayed hot by getting past Walla Walla.

Preps: Greg Lee’s Thursday feature highlights the career of Northwest Christian’s Ryan Ricks (pictured), one of the school’s all-time best players. … Greg also previews a big week in wrestling and passes along the news of a change in football coaching. … The postseason beckons for the GSL’s basketball teams. Greg lays out what’s ahead in this piece. … We can also pass along boys and girls basketball roundups from around the area.

Seahawks: The Hawks won’t be going overseas next year – when there is a game in Toyko, they’ll be in it; at least that’s my guess. … Russell Wilson is joining a growing fraternity.

Mariners: A couple of reserves cleared waivers and were sent to the minors.

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• If Gonzaga is going to lose during the rest of the regular season, it will happen either tonight or next week at Saint Mary’s. At least, that’s how the numbers guys see it. Until later …

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