A GRIP ON SPORTS • Every once in while people need to vent. Sort of like a volcano. Today’s that day for me. Read on.
• We start with college football. And the bowl season.
West Virginia starting quarterback Will Grier, who finished fourth in the Heisman voting last night, announced this weekend he would not play in the Mountaineers’ bowl game.
He is going to step aside and prepare for the NFL draft.
It’s not just the action that bothers me, but the reaction as well.
There is the “it’s-a-meaningless-game” crowd. And the “he-has-to-worry-about-himself” group.
The Camping World Bowl is probably meaningless. Sure. That’s a view you can hold. But if it is, then just about every game West Virginia played is. Once Grier, who began his college career at Florida, got enough plays on tape for NFL scouts, then anything after was meaningless in the professional-prospects sense.
And once his team lost at Iowa State, the last five games were meaningless in the national-title sense.
Which brings us to the second group of apologists, the self-over-all throng.
Sports is supposed to, at its best, be a training ground for life. And life is about others. I know, this is a Pollyanna view. It is also the right one. We’ve lost that perspective somehow. Money isn’t the root of all evil, egocentric behavior is. Look around. The ills of the world – from the top down – are fueled by me-first-ism. Others don’t matter.
So it’s understandable that, without role models who demonstrate the correct behavior, it seems right to put self over all.
The guys who sacrificed enough sweat to fill a swimming pool just to protect your butt don’t matter. Neither does anyone else your actions impact. Only you. Forget everyone else. The rest of the world is not your concern.
Remember one of the first questions in the bible? The one about being your brother’s keeper? The answer is supposed to be yes.
• Speaking of meaningless games, what is a national championship worth? Is it worth risking a multi-million dollar professional contract? Using the criteria set forth by most players who skip games, no it isn’t. The tape is already in the can. The skills already documented. The risk outweighs the gain. Why play?
• When Gage Gubrud went down with a season-ending injury, the Eastern Washington Eagles looked to be in trouble. After all, losing one of, if not the, best player in the FCS, would have been a season-killer for most programs. Not the Eagles.
Eric Barriere has been a revelation at quarterback. The defense has, despite also losing key players, picked up its game. The rushing attack has improved thanks to the offensive line. A team effort has resulted in a special stretch run. It’s resulted in a semifinal berth against Maine, with only the Black Bears standing in Eastern’s way of another trip to Frisco, Texas.
• Finally, we are beginning to wonder if ESPN has something against schools in this area.
First, the self-proclaimed worldwide leader listed WSU’s Gardner Minshew as playing for the Washington State Huskies on its national awards show. Well done.
Then yesterday, when viewers went online to order the Eagle game from ESPN3, the network had the wrong logo for EWU. It was big green “E.” Eastern Michigan? Elon? Exeter? Einstein U? All I know is it wasn’t Eastern’s logo. Every other school’s logo was right. Not Eastern’s.
One mistake with the area schools could be expected. But twice in one week? Someone in Bristol must have picked up a speeding ticket in Colfax recently. Or been cited for going 27 down Washington Street.
Gonzaga: There is little rest for the Zags this month, what with a couple of tough contests in the rear-view mirror and a made-for-TV battle with Tennessee on tap today. Rick Barnes’ team (fixed from earlier thanks to help from a reader) is ranked seventh and is as athletic and physical as anyone this side of Durham, N.C. Jim Meehan’s preview highlights that aspect of the matchup in Phoenix that begins at noon. … Jim also has the keys to the game. … We have a bit of a bone to pick with Gonzaga. The men play at noon. That time was locked in by ESPN, which helped promote this nonconference meeting. And still the women are playing at 2 p.m. at home against Washington State. (Kendra Andrews has a preview.) Why 2? That makes it impossible to watch the entire men’s game and then get to the Kennel to watch the entire women’s game. Why not 3 or 4? Heck, even a 2:30 start would have given some of us a sliver of hope of making the tip. It’s almost as if they don’t want you to double dip in person. … Around the WCC, BYU routed Utah in an in-state battle that included a monster dunk (and 31 points) from Yoeli Childs.
WSU: When Gardner Minshew wasn’t invited to the Heisman ceremony, you knew he wasn’t in the top three. How high would he finish, though? It turns out it was fifth, second-best in school history. Theo Lawson has that story. … In the 2,394,004th example of someone not realizing John Blanchette was writing tongue-in-cheek, here is this. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, there was a lot happening around the conference this week. … In football news, Washington’s Myles Bryant is ready to head home for one last game. … Arizona is losing an offensive lineman. … In basketball yesterday, UCLA blew a lead but earned a win over visiting Notre Dame with a late 3-pointer. … Oregon had no trouble with Nebraska-Omaha. … Colorado defeated Illinois-Chicago in Boulder. … California picked up a big home win, rallying past San Diego State.
EWU: No one expected another rout. There wasn’t one. Eastern edged UC Davis 34-29 yesterday to advance to the FCS semifinals again. But it wasn’t easy. Ryan Collingwood has the game story and a notebook. Dan Thompson chips in with some commentary. And Libby Kamrowski has the photo report. … We have a story from Davis to pass along. … Elsewhere in the FCS playoffs, top-seed North Dakota State had little trouble with Colgate, winning 35-0. … Eastern’s basketball team lost at North Dakota State. … Around the Big Sky in basketball, Weber State lost to in-state rival Utah State. … Southern Utah and Northern Arizona also lost.
Idaho: The Vandals fell to visiting Cal State Bakersfield, 73-67 in Memorial Gym. Peter Harriman was there and has this story. … A freshman defensive back was jailed this weekend on a rape charge. Kyree Curington has been suspended from the football team.
Preps: Gonzaga Prep’s long basketball winning streak ended by Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman at a holiday tournament in Phoenix. That’s part of the GSL roundup. We also have roundups of other boys and girls games. … North Central’s Allie Janke finished 22nd in the Foot Locker finals.
Mariners: What could happen this week at the Winter Meetings?
Sounders: Atlanta took home the MLS title last night by blanking Portland 2-0 before the largest championship crowd in league history. And, no, the Georgia faithful didn’t think they were attending a Bulldog football game.
• Sorry, I don’t buy the risk-of-injury argument. Yes, it’s there. But it’s also possible in other aspects of preparing for a professional athletic career. Just because someone tore a bicep or hamstring muscle doesn’t mean you should quit lifting or running. Until later …
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.