A GRIP ON SPORTS • Sometimes anger is better fuel in the morning than coffee. But, like the effects of caffeine, it’s better to let the anger dissipate and concentrate on the positive. Hey, we found something positive. Washington State’s spring football practices are going strong. Read on.
• Some positive news today:
– Russell Wilson tells the Seahawks he wants to get something done, contract-wise, by tax day. Good for him. Don’t let this drag on. Figure out a contract that keeps him in Seattle for the next half-decade or so. Then the Hawks can build around him with some budget certainty.
– The Cougars ran around and hit each other a bit yesterday. Mainly, though, they worked on skills. But the real positive news? Gage Gubrud is not longer in a boot and he was throwing passes. The Eastern Washington transfer should be the frontrunner to start the first game against New Mexico State the last day of August – if he’s healthy. Yesterday’s appearance at spring practice, unexpected as it was, is a good first step.
– Two Zags were named Associated Press All-America yesterday, with Rui Hachimura earning second-team honors and Brandon Clarke third-team. That’s great, but Clarke may have been a bit undervalued. His contributions to Gonzaga’s success – 33-4, No. 1 ranking, an NCAA No. 1 seed, Elite Eight appearance – can’t be overstated. As potent a scorer Hachimura was at times, the two probably should have been flipped.
– The Mariners are off to their best start in franchise history. Huh. Just when it seems the team has committed to being poor enough to earn a top draft pick, the cornerstone of a franchise rebuild, it decides to play well. Wins in April count just as much as wins in September – especially when baseball figures out the draft order in 2020.
• Today is Washington State’s Pro Day. When NFL scouts make the trek to Pullman to watch those Cougars eligible for the draft go through workouts.
It reminds me of a story from back when I was covering WSU – in the dark ages.
An NFL scout flew into Spokane and drove down to Pullman on the day of the workout. He was pulled over and given a speeding ticket in Colfax. Nothing unusual about that.
But he admitted to me that fall it colored his perceptions at the workouts. He was a bit ticked off. And he was still stewing about the ticket as he left. And when he went through Colfax en route to Spokane.
He put all that behind him, however, as he began thinking about a WSU player he saw workout (sorry, but the name escapes me this morning).
Those thoughts made his mind wander a bit, he said, and he lost track of his speed. Yep, on the way out of town, he got pulled over again. And was handed another ticket. He swore he was never going back to Washington State.
But there he was, that fall, at a Cougar game. He spent the night in Coeur d’Alene and came down U.S. 95. He was going back the same way.
I told him to make sure he slowed down going through Plummer.
• OK, the subject of this column is what made me angry this morning. It shouldn’t have, really. But any type of ignorance, no matter the source, no matter the subject, angers me. And it’s this type of attitude that tears at the core of society.
Sports should be the purest of meritocracies. Do the job, be the best at the job, and you are rewarded. Don’t and you’re not. Race, gender, height, weight, religion, political affiliation, none of that should matter. Pick the best person for the job. Simple as that.
WSU: There is a new inside linebackers’ coach in Pullman and his first name is about as good a moniker as a football coach can have. Theo Lawson introduces you to Roc Bellantoni in his notebook that covers Tuesday’s workout. … Theo also posted interviews with Bellantoni, Justus Rogers and Abe Lucas. … The Cougar baseball team held off visiting Gonzaga in a nonconference game. … The Press Box pod? Larry Weir talks with Theo for that as well. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, recruiting is the lifeblood of college football. Why isn’t everyone like this? … There is football news from up and down the coast, from Washington to Utah, from Colorado to Oregon. And lots from Los Angeles. Yep, there are two stories each to pass along from USC and UCLA. … In basketball news, it may never be better for Arizona than Sean Miller's last decade.
Gonzaga: Jim Meehan has the All-American news. … Jim Allen takes a look at the Bulldogs’ season and where the women’s program should be next year. … Around the WCC, the BYU coaching vacancy is all the talk in Utah.
EWU: The Eagles began spring practice yesterday and it was a pretty nice day for it. Even if they were coming off a shorter-than-normal offseason. Ryan Collingwood has the story.
Idaho: Augusta National is the Sistine Chapel of golf. And an Idaho golfer will get the opportunity to play a competitive round on it this weekend. Jim Meehan has the story of Sophie Hausmann’s quest to play in the first women’s event at the storied course.
Preps: Former University High (and Gonzaga) standout Tyler Olson is still pitching in the major leagues. And enjoying every aspect of it.
Seahawks: Wilson’s contract deadline is the subject of Larry Stone’s column today. … The Hawks are looking at a lot of second- and third-level free agents this week. … Seattle is selective for a reason.
• As I sit here, I can hear the rain coming down outside. I mowed the lawn yesterday just for this possibility. It’s time for everything to green up. Until later …
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