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Wednesday, December 12, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: Washington State needs all the help it can get to ascend high enough in the College Football Playoff rankings and make a top-tier bowl

Washington State head coach Mike Leach watches from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Pullman, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
Washington State head coach Mike Leach watches from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Pullman, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There are many subjects we can delve into this morning, so let’s get right to it. After all, you’re busy. If you aren’t, lucky you. Read on.

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• Let’s start in Pullman, where head football coach Mike Leach and athletic director Pat Chun hit the national airwaves yesterday campaigning for the Cougars to move up at least one spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. That would allow them to be chosen for one of the New Year’s Six bowls, the big-boys of the bowl games.

John Blanchette took up the cause today, examining why the Cougars fell out of the rarified air and what they can do about it.

Funny though, though Washington State’s inclusion is in the top dozen is crucial for the Pac-12 as a whole, the conference’s commissioner has been silent on the matter. I can’t find any public acknowledgement of the Cougars’ worthiness of being selected for one of the top bowls. You would think Larry Scott would be out front, touting the Pac-12’s accomplishments, the nine-game schedule, the Cougars’ resume and attractiveness. After all, he’s supposed to be the biggest cheerleader.

Maybe it’s because he’s under a lot of fire these days. The Oregonian just ran the third piece of a four-part series on his oversight and it’s once again a scathing look at his tenure. So maybe he’s decided to keep a low profile right now, letting things blow over. He did do an interview yesterday with a Utah radio station but that was focused mainly on the Pac-12 title game, though the Oregonian series and the conference's problems did come up. But he wasn't banging the drum yesterday around the nation.

Just when the conference, and the Cougars, needs him the most.

• As high school basketball begins, we are reminded of all the stories out there. Personal ones.

One of the best parts of basketball is how the players are so recognizable. No helmets, no hats. Just 10 people on the court, easy to see, easy to identify.

Steve Christilaw has a story today on Gonzaga Prep’s Jake Parola, one of the many faces of the Bulldog’s basketball program.

It’s just the first of many such stories you will see this season.

• Speaking of the prep ranks, the football season isn’t over yet, though the local bigger schools did not make it to the finals. The smaller ones, however, dominate, with the 1A finals a matchup of Northeast A squads and the 1B ranks a league rematch as well.

• And one more football note. We pass the fall all-league teams today, including those for football around the area, and if you think the Greater Spokane League’s list is longer than it used to be, you would be right.

It wasn’t all that long ago the GSL, though made up of 3A and 4A schools, had just one first-team all-league squad. Not anymore. There are separate ones for the two classifications, which is fine as there are now separate champions.

But there must be some idea that 15 players are on the field at one time. The league picked five linemen, linebackers and defensive backs for the defensive first team – plus a most valuable player. That’s a lot of guys. At least there were only 11 offensive positions filled, though there was also an all-purpose selection and a MVP.

There can be a case made honoring so many players devalues the special nature of the recognition, which is its sole purpose in the first place.

• Gardner Minshew picked up more national recognition yesterday, being named as a finalist for the Walter Camp Award. And he also returned to Twitter, which is a good thing for those of us who like to laugh.

Minshew tweeted out a picture of former Oregon quarterback – and Heisman winner – Marcus Mariota. It seems Mariota has grown a mustache, a fact not lost on Minshew. You never know who is watching, Minshew wrote. Well, it made me chuckle.

•••

Gonzaga: The Zags’ ascension to No. 1 in the polls is not a first-time thing. It’s actually a third-time thing. Jim Meehan, who was around for both of the previous incarnations, look back at their stays at the top spot and how it affected their season. … The women played last night, hosting Colorado State. Kendra Andrews covered the game for the S-R and Dan Pelle supplied the photo report. … Around the WCC, despite having a large advantage in free throw attempts, BYU couldn’t make enough to get past Illinois State on the road, falling 92-89. … Portland also fell on the road, losing to Colorado. … Hey, I almost forgot this. Too much celebrating last night. UC Irvine went into Moraga and defeated Saint Mary's, 80-75. Don't call it an upset.

WSU: Minshew’s inclusion as a Camp finalist is the one story Theo Lawson has today. But, as we mentioned, John’s column has a Cougar subject. … This column on Leach's brother, a Utah resident, taught me some things I didn't know. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, money is a problem with the conference, that's obvious. … The title game tomorrow night feature two teams that play a physical brand of football. That's been the way at Washington and Utah for a long time. … California is trying to complete a remarkable turnaround with a Big Game win. … Arizona had its remarkable turnaround come against ASU, and it was in the wrong direction. … In basketball, Oregon isn't playing physical enough right now. … Stanford picked up a win, a revenge win over Portland State. … Arizona State continues to win. … USC was able to hold off Long Beach State. … Finally, UCLA defeated Hawaii behind Prince Ali's career-high 23 points.

EWU: Terence Grady may not be the mayor of Cheney, it only seems that way. Or it might to you after reading Ryan Collingwood’s profile of the wide receiver. …The Eagle women’s basketball team lost on the road last night. … Around the Big Sky, Creighton, which hosts Gonzaga on Saturday, tuned up by rolling past visiting Montana, 98-72. … Northern Colorado won its fifth game, defeating Denver. … In football, Saturday is going to be a big day at Weber State. … Montana State will have its hands full at top-ranked North Dakota State.

Chiefs: Spokane hosted Prince George last night in the Arena and came away with a 4-0 win. Kevin Dudley has the game story. … Around the WCC, Everett handled Portland.

Preps: We mentioned Steve’s feature on Parola and the fall all-league teams. There is also a GSL basketball roundup and Dave Nichols was Larry Weir’s guest on the latest Press Box pod.

Seahawks: Richard Sherman returns to Seattle on Sunday. The Hawks will always be Sherman fans. Well, not when he's on the field. … Chris Carson, hurdler. … Pete Carroll is not positive about everything. … The Hawks' kicking game has improved.

Mariners: Can the M's really trade Robinson Cano?

•••       

• Another day without having to drive to the courthouse. It’s like being given the gift of time. Until later …


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