A GRIP ON SPORTS • Yes, it is the 25th day of July. Which means we are in the heart of summer. But it might as well be the 25th of September for all the football news there is available. Read on.
• If the aim of college football media days – or “day” for the Pac-12 this year – is to garner attention for the game in the middle of the summer, then it works. But if the aim is to give us information in preparation for the upcoming season, then it fails. At least most of the time.
Though there is some news. Earth-shattering, actually. Washington has been picked by the media that covers the conference to win the title. Now that’s up there with the moon landing and anything Rosanne says.
(OK, we were having some fun. But the media poll was released early this morning and the Huskies were the near unanimous choice to win the North. Washington State? The Cougars finished fifth in the poll, some 10 points behind California in the North though quite a bit ahead of last-place Oregon State. The Huskies were immediately followed by Stanford and Oregon, though it wasn’t close.
In the South, USC was the choice in a close race with Utah. Arizona, under new coach Kevin Sumlin, was picked third, UCLA fourth, Colorado fifth and Arizona State, with Herm Edwards at the helm, sixth.)
There is some value to these media events, and I’m not just alluding to the ability of the assembled media to sample In-N-Out sometime later today.
Commissioner Larry Scott will speak and probably will have to address the conference’s financial status – and the possibility there never will be a DirecTV connection for the Pac-12 Networks.
Each coach speaks and though most of their comments are right out of the don’t-say-anything-newsworthy playbook, every once in a while a question will elicit a thoughtful or angry response that actually sheds light on significant events.
But those type of answers are fewer and farther between than 22-yard runs by WSU, so don’t expect to be bombarded with news.
• Gonzaga social media responded yesterday when the pairings for the Maui Classic were announced. Seems the Zags are on the opposite side of the bracket from Duke.
The immediate inference was the tournament organizers didn’t want the two to meet until the finals. Which may or may not be true. But I’m a bit cynical.
Why? Because the same response came out of Tucson. And probably Ames, Iowa, though the Western Union guy hasn’t arrived yet with the news.
(That’s a middle-of-nowhere joke from a guy who used to live in Pullman. And yes, I get the irony.)
Being the cynic I am, my thoughts immediately turned to money. Semifinals that feature GU playing Arizona and Duke playing Auburn would draw decent to great ratings, which translates into a better TV contract for the organizers. And is more geographically balanced, allowing for broader-based interest.
Of course, one of those four teams, all of which are expected to be highly ranked in November, will probably lose their opener. As Al Swearengen once said, “announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh.”
WSU: Theo Lawson is in Hollywood for a screen test. No, wait, that’s not right. He’s there for the football media day. Though maybe he will be discovered at a drugstore and become the next Ryan Gosling. Anyhow, before that happens he has a story on what you can expect today. And he will have coverage throughout the day here. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the future is all the rage today, even as far as the College Football Playoff. Washington is the conference’s best bet. Of course, that’s not a realistic goal for most schools. … If anyone ever asks you which school is tougher to gain entry to, Oregon or UCLA, just mention Bryan Addison. … Oregon State named a tight ends coach. … Colorado needs improvement on the offensive line. … Arizona may be better than people think. … Things seem to be getting worse for a former USC player. … In basketball, Washington will try to improve on a better-than-expected season.
Gonzaga: Jim Meehan has a story on the Maui Invitational draw with all the background you will ever need.
EWU and Idaho: The Big Sky Conference will play 20 league basketball games this season, something it hasn’t done in years. And some games will be played on Monday nights. No wonder the commissioner bailed.
Indians: Spokane may have finished last in the North during the first half, but the Indians start the second half in first place after a 12-6 win over Tri-City. Dave Nichols was at Avista last night and has the game coverage. … Around the Northwest League, Everett celebrated its first-half North title and then lost to Vancouver, 4-3. … Eugene lost to Salem-Keizer by the same score.
Mariners: James Paxton was unable to make his start last night due to his back issues. And then in the top of the ninth Dee Gordon was unable to make a play. The two incidents helped the Giants top the M’s 4-3. … The A’s kept the heat on in the wild-card race by scoring 11 unanswered runs in the late innings to defeat Texas, 13-10. … The Seattle Times has a story on some possible inappropriate conduct in the M’s front office almost a decade ago.
Sounders: The present still looks pretty bleak, but the future seems bright.
• If you want to watch the Pac-12 media day, there is a feed on the conference’s YouTube channel. Or you can fly to Los Angeles, drive to Hollywood and talk your way into the event. Your choice. 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.