A GRIP ON SPORTS • The seasons are changing, slowly, inexorably. The falling leaves that dot college football fields around the nation are still in control, but basketball is beginning to snow us under with news. Read on.
• The metaphor is in full swing in the Inland Northwest. There are leaves everywhere still, but they are frozen to the ground this morning. The snow that fell recently has cemented them to the deck, the driveway, the grass. It’s ugly and has the potential to get uglier.
Sort of like the college football playoff rankings.
The West Coast probably should begin thinking about hoops anyway. When the second CFP standings were released last evening, it was obvious this side of the country wouldn’t be participating.
The top Western school? Washington, at No. 9. A jump from there to the top four is going to take some real contortions, not only by the Huskies, who must win out, but by other schools as well. It’s gotten so bad, Washington fans actually must hope the Cougars win this weekend. What's next, North and South Korean leaders meet at the DMZ and sing Kumbaya?
What’s really sad is the Rose Bowl, the most tradition-filled bowl game of them all, will be part of the playoffs, hosting a semifinal. But there is little chance a Pac-12 school will be playing in it. It could be Georgia vs. TCU. Now that would get the nostalgic juices flowing, huh?
No matter. The leaves are going to get raked up sometime. And the college football season will also be put out with the recycling.
Snow, and hoops, will take over.
It starts Friday (hoops, I mean; the snow already has made an appearance). Gonzaga, coming off its best season ever, hosts Texas Southern at 6. Eastern hosts Walla Walla in a day game, starting at 1. Idaho travels to Nevada for a night game. The Cougars get started later, hosting Texas Southern on Sunday.
Yes, college football is floating to the finish. When it lands, college basketball and the cold winter that accompanies it, stands ready to take over.
WSU: For those of us who believed the Cougar defense would melt away following a plethora of injuries at inside linebacker, there are multiple reasons why we were wrong. Theo Lawson explains one major one in today’s paper. … Theo has his conference power rankings, news on where the Cougars landed in the official national power rankings, Luke Falk earning another honor and Utah’s coach being somewhat non-committal concerning his best receiver’s health. … Theo also has interviews with players on our WSU football page. … The Washington State volleyball team still harbors hopes of playing in the NCAA tournament again. Jim Meehan has more in his volleyball notebook. … Three WSU soccer players were honored by the conference. … Utah is one win away from its annual bowl berth. … The Utes’ usual pass rush hasn’t materialized lately. … Both WSU and Utah had their broadcasts last week moved around by Fox.
Elsewhere in Pac-12, it’s Wednesday so there are notebooks from around the conference to pass along. One subject that every coach seemed to address is the targeting calls. … There are two levels of news around the conference today. There is the on-field news, games and such. And the off-field news from USC and Arizona, where assistant basketball coaches were indicted by a federal grand jury, and UCLA, which had three basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China. … As we noted above, a lot has to happen for the Huskies to make the college football playoffs. The most important one, this week, is to win at Stanford on Friday night. The offense has to hold up its end of the bargain. Even David Shaw knows how good the defense is. … Though Oregon has a bye this weekend, the Ducks did suffer a loss. … UCLA should have quarterback Josh Rosen back on the field to face Arizona State. … Colorado’s passing game will be tested by USC, which still feels it has an outside shot at a playoff berth. … It will be Senior Night in Tucson as the Wildcats host Oregon State, which is in the market for a head coach.
Gonzaga: Around the WCC, the NCAA investigation of Nick Emery means the guard will sit this week as BYU opens its season. … Saint Mary’s women should be Gonzaga’s toughest competitor for the conference title.
EWU: Due to some alleged inappropriate actions by quarterback Gage Gubrud over the weekend – Jim Allen has more based on the Cheney police report of the incident, which included linebacker Kurt Calhoun – redshirt freshman Eric Barriere will lead the Eagle offense in North Dakota. That’s gotten the Fighting Hawks’ attention. … Jim also checks in with a former Eastern quarterback who has led Central Washington to an undefeated season. … Around the Big Sky in football, this may be the best Southern Utah team ever. … The targeting call on Northern Arizona quarterback Case Cookus is still in the news. … UC Davis is happy with the direction of the program. … Portland State is still winless but may have discovered a way to move the ball. … Montana is still alive in the postseason hunt. … Idaho State isn’t, but it has an extra week to get ready for Weber State, who is. … Once again, there is a new basketball coaching staff at Portland State.
Chiefs: Kailer Yamamoto has been living the dream the past few months. He’s played in NHL games and practiced with some of the world’s best hockey players. Now he’s back in Spokane, ready to help the Chiefs in their pursuit of a Memorial Cup. Dave Nichols has the story.
Boxing: There’s a Spokane-area fighter who has a championship belt to hold over his head. John Blanchette introduces us to Patrick Ferguson.
Seahawks: It’s a short week – the game at Arizona is tomorrow night – leading into a must-win game for the Hawks. To do that, they will have to deal with a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson. And the challenge of the rebounding from a tough loss. … What does Pete Carroll want from Russell Wilson now?
• It is supposed to warm into the 40s today. Hurrah. Then rain profusely the next couple days. Boo. Those should combine, however, to erase any traces of snow. It can stay way until December, right, and the Christmas push? Maybe by then the leaves will be gone. Until later …