Latest from The Spokesman-Review
Thanks to the folks at ASAP Sports, we have a full transcription of WSU's time at the podium today.
Q. Good morning, Coach, you've been vocal in your criticism over the new targeting rule. Can you give us the specifics on what exactly is chapping your hide? And to follow that up, if you were in charge of creating a rule that limits or deters head trauma, what would be the criteria for you in establishing the rule and what would the penalty be?
COACH LEACH: "I'm not the only one against this rule, rules in order to be effective have to be enforceable and you've got to be able to see it. If I get these guys across the room and I have them run full speed at each other and I ask you in a split second to tell me which one lowered their head first, I betcha you can't do it.
"So I think that is a huge problem. The other thing is, you know, in one of the plays that's getting criticized, is the Clowney hit. That is why they have football and it's why football was invented and it's one of the greatest American games there is. Everything that can be done to prevent head trauma and prevent student‑athletes, that needs to be done and it goes along with technology, along with teaching people to tackle properly, and things like that.
"If somebody is running at you and you're going to button up to take the hit and then it becomes a guessing game of who loader their head first, which, you know, we're back to the Halo Rule where you can't sort it out and you can't discern it. I think that's a gigantic issue."
As expected, the Pac-12 announced its new football contact policy at its media day this morning.
The full release is below, but the gist is this: teams are now allowed no more than two full-contact practices per week during the regular season, and if a team holds two-a-days during the preseason, only one practice per day can be full-contact. Also, in the spring, of the eight full-contact practices allowed, no more than two can occur in a given week.
Here's the release:
Here's a look at WSU's updated depth chart, as printed in the media guide being distributed here today …
QB — Connor Halliday / Austin Apodaca
RB — Teondray Caldwell / Marcus Mason
WRX — Dominique Williams / Kristoff Williams / Vince Mayle
WRY — Bobby Ratliff / Robert Lewis
LT — Gunnar Eklund / Eduardo Middleton
LG — Joe Dahl / John Fullington
C — Elliott Bosch / Zach Brevick
RG — Matt Goetz / John Fullington
RT — Rico Forbes / Jacob Seydel
WRH — Brett Bartolone / Rickey Galvin
WRZ — Gabe Marks / Isiah Myers / Vince Mayle
DT — Xavier Cooper / Robert Barber
NT — Ioane Gauta / Toni Pole / Moritz Christ
DE — Matthew Bock OR Logan Mayes OR Destiny Vaeao / Lyman Faoliu
BUCK — Kache Palacio OR Ivan McLennan / Max Hersey
SAM — Cyrus Coen / Eric Oertel / Feddie Davey
MIKE — Darryl Monroe / Jared Byers / Chester Su'a
WILL — Justin Sagote / Tana Pritchard / Jeremiah Allison
FCB — Damante Horton / Rahmel Dockery / Alex Jackson
FS — Deone Bucannon / Paris Taylor / Mitchell Peterson
SS — Casey Locker / Taylor Taliulu / David Bucannon
BCB — Nolan Washington / Anthony Carpenter / Tracy Clark
P — Mike Bowlin / Wes Concepcion
PK — Andrew Furney / Mike Bowlin OR Wes Concepcion
KO — Mike Bowlin OR Andrew Furney
LS — Alex Den Bleyker / Zach Brevick / Jerred Sonneborn
H — Mike Bowlin / Austin Apodaca OR Brett Bartolone
PR — Brett Bartolone OR Leon Brooks OR Rickey Galvin
KOR — Teondray Caldwell OR Rickey Galvin OR Kristoff Williams
This will serve as our open thread for the day, which begins at around 9 a.m. with an appearance from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. Expect an announcement at that time about the conference's new contact policy.
Mike Leach, Elliott Bosch and Deone Bucannon take the stage at 9:15 to answer questions from reporters, and we'll pass along news and notes from that session, as well as anything of interest from the representatives of the remaining teams. But keep in mind that we'll be in and out as we conduct one-on-one interviews elsewhere on the Sony Pictures Studio lot.
Stay tuned …
UPDATE, 9:45 a.m. — The WSU contingent is off the podium, and we have a few notes to pass along …
— Leach was asked about his comments the other day in regards to the new targeting rules for defensive players. He said that "one of the plays that's getting criticized is the (Jadeveon) Clowney hit. The Clowney hit is why they have football. That's why football was invented."
To illustrate his point, Leach said that if two people lined up across the room and ran full-speed at each other, it's not likely that a human being could determine if one of them lowered their head immediately before contact. For that reason, he doesn't think it's effective to ask an official to try to make that decision on the fly.
— As he's said a few times before, Leach reiterated that if the season started today, Connor Halliday would start at quarterback. Makes sense, because he's listed atop the most updated depth chart.
— Leach said he just filed the first draft of the book he's authoring about Geronimo with WSU professor Buddy Levy. He added that the process of writing a book — deciding where to place certain sentences, etc. — is like marriage, except "there's no divorcing a book."
"Books are funny things. They’re very satisfying ultimately, but then there’s a point where it gets kind of tedious and you get tired of the same stuff over and over."
— Leach was asked whether he's cleared up the "zombie" and "empty corpse" problem he had last season. He said that if there remain any zombies on the team, it's his own fault because he's the head coach. But he also said he thought WSU had a strong offseason, referring to Bosch and Bucannon as "specimens."
— Bucannon was asked about the new targeting rules, and gave a pretty basic answer about simply making the proper adjustments in order to be in accordance with the contact guidelines.
UPDATE, 9:25 a.m. — Scott reiterated during his time at the podium that the Pac-12 Network is no closer to a deal with DirecTV than it was one year ago, and he doesn't expect a deal to get done during this school year. He also urged Pac-12 fans to drop DirecTV if they want to view what he described as "must-see programming" with "unprecedented access."
The commissioner also touched on a number of talking points in regards to the NCAA and its policies, saying he is pleased that president Mark Emmert has called a summit in January to discuss some possible changes. Among them: enforcement, governance and financing.
Here are the results of this year's preseason media poll. As expected, Oregon has been tabbed to win the conference title, with UCLA selected as the South division champion.
Washington State was picked to finish sixth in the North.
Here's the poll (first-place votes in parentheses):
1. Oregon (14) — 139
2. Stanford (11) — 134
3. Oregon State — 91
4. Washington — 81
5. California — 45
6. Washington State — 32
1. UCLA (12) — 130
2. Arizona State (9) — 124
3. USC (4) — 113
4. Arizona — 73
5. Utah — 58
6. Colorado — 27
Here's the schedule for Pac-12 media day on Friday. As you can see, Washington State's contingent will lead things off.
You can watch it all live here.
|9:00 a.m.||Welcome- Larry Scott, Pac-12 Commissioner|
|9:15 a.m.||Washington State - Coach Mike Leach, Elliott Bosch (OL), Deone Bucannon (DB)|
|9:30 a.m.||California - Coach Sonny Dykes, Bryce Treggs (WR), Nick Forbes (LB)|
|9:45 a.m.||Washington - Coach Steve Sarkisian, Keith Price (QB), Sean Parker (DB)|
|10:00 a.m.||Oregon State - Coach Mike Riley, Brandin Cooks (WR), Rashaad Reynolds (DB)|
|10:15 a.m.||Oregon - Coach Mark Helfrich, Marcus Mariota (QB), Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB)|
|10:30 a.m.||Stanford - Coach David Shaw, David Yankey (OL), Shayne Skov (LB)|
|11:00 a.m.||Lydia Murphy-Stephans, President, Pac-12 Networks|
|11:05 a.m.||Colorado - Coach Mike MacIntyre, Paul Richardson (WR), Chidera Uzo-Diribe (DE)|
|11:20 a.m.||Utah - Coach Kyle Whittingham, Jake Murphy (TE), Trevor Reilly (DE)|
|11:35 a.m.||Arizona - Coach Rich Rodriguez, Terrence Miller (WR), Jake Fischer (LB)|
|11:50 a.m.||USC - Coach Lane Kiffin, Marqise Lee (WR), Hayes Pullard (LB)|
|12:05 p.m.||Arizona State - Coach Todd Graham, Taylor Kelly (QB), Will Sutton (DT)|
|12:20 p.m.||UCLA - Coach Jim Mora, Xavier Su’a-Filo (OL), Anthony Barr (LB)|
Pac-12 media day begins Friday in Los Angeles, and we'll have our usual coverage once the festivites begin at Sony Studios.
Until then, here's the Pac-12 preseason ballot I filed last week …
As noted here last night, Pac-12 coaches are in Bristol this week for an ESPN media tour before the conference media day in Los Angeles on Friday.
One of the stops for WSU coach Mike Leach was ESPN's First Take, where he was asked about the new targeting rules that could lead to ejections for hits that were previously deemed legal.
The hit that comes to mind, of course, is South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney's massive takedown of Michigan running back Vincent Smith during last season's Outback Bowl.
Folks are upset because some higher-ups in the football officiating community have said that Clowney's hit likely would lead to an ejection if it occurred in 2013.
Count Leach among those protesting the new rules.
"I'm getting tired of everyone apologizing for playing football," Leach said, also calling the ejection rule "ridiculous."
Mike Leach: “They should teach a clinic on the Clowney hit, not the other way around.”— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) July 24, 2013
I'm sure this will be discussed at more length on Friday. It should also be interesting to hear senior safety Deone Bucannon's take on the matter.
Also, if you're interested in Leach's portion of a live chat conducted by ESPN, go ahead and click this link.
Washington State will spend the first portion of its preseason training camp in nearby Lewiston, a source close to the program confirmed Wednesday. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News was the first to report the move.
Exact dates haven't been established yet for WSU's trip to Lewiston, though an official announcement is expected after coach Mike Leach returns from media-day obligations on the east coast and in Los Angeles this week.
Construction at Martin Stadium is likely the primary factor in moving practices from Pullman. Only half of Rogers Field is available for use, and WSU split its team between Rogers and Martin Stadium during spring practices.
That's not quite as feasible during camp with more newcomers on hand, a time when coaches would likely prefer to keep the whole team within one, visible range.
Camp opens Aug. 2. A full schedule will likely be available next week.
The official, for-real Pac-12 Media Day, in all of its capitalized glory, doesn't commence until Friday in Los Angeles (or Culver City, if you're into specificity).
We'll be in attendance and will pass along the usual fare, but also wanted to point your attention in the direction of ESPN's so-called "car wash" of Pac-12 coaches on Wednesday.
Essentially, the conference's football coaches are all in Bristol on Wednesday and Thursday for a fairly expansive tour of ESPN's many outlets.
Mike Leach, along with five other coaches, is scheduled to go through said car wash on Wednesday. The other half will buzz through on Thursday before heading back to the west coast.
Here's Leach's itinerary (and a link to the whole thing), which you will miss if for some reason you prefer to sleep until noon on Wednesdays:
10:00 a.m. ET/7:00 a.m. PT – SportsCenter Tonight radio show
10:15 a.m. ET/7:15 a.m. PT – GameDay Radio
10:30 a.m. ET/7:30 a.m. PT – ESPN.com Chat
11:20 a.m. ET/8:20 a.m. PT – First Take
12:40 p.m. ET/9:40 a.m. PT – Highly Questionable
1:20 p.m. ET/10:20 a.m. PT – SportsCenter
2:20 p.m. ET/11:20 a.m. PT – College Football Live
2:40 p.m. ET/11:40 a.m. PT - ESPN social media shoot
(As this story notes, Leach's segment with Skip Bayless on First Take likely qualifies as the day's primary entertainment.)
Those making the trip to Auburn, Ala., for Washington State's football opener can finalize their tailgating plans.
WSU and Auburn will kick off at 4 p.m. PT, or 6 p.m. CT., and the game will air on ESPNU. The SEC made its early-season TV schedule announcement earlier today.
So, that's back-to-back games that will end in the dark to start the season. WSU travels to USC in Week 2 for a 7:30 p.m. game. The only other known game times are 7:30p.m. on Oct. 31 against Arizona State, and 12:30 p.m. at Washington on Nov. 29.
Also, as Vince noted this morning, WSU's basketball team learned that its Thanksgiving Day opponent will be Butler in the first round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
With Washington State set to lose both of its scholarship kickers after the 2013 season — Andrew Furney and Mike Bowlin are both seniors — it stands to reason that coach Mike Leach might want to offer a kicker a spot in his 2014 recruiting class.
And as recruiting maven Braulio Perez reported yesterday, Tristan Vizcaino, a kicker from La Verne, Calif., has given a verbal commitment to sign with WSU. That's now eight known commitments in WSU's 2014 class, according to Scout.com.
Reports yesterday indicate that Washington State picked up its seventh oral commitment for the class of 2014, as cornerback Kevin Griffin of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., told Braulio Perez that he's committed to WSU.
And here's a video of Griffin's highlights:
Here's a full list of WSU's known 2014 commitments from Scout.com.
Hoping to catch Wisconsin at Martin Stadium in 2014?
Well, that's not going to happen.
But you can see the Cougars play a "home game" against Rutgers in 2014 at CenturyLink Field on Friday, August 29. WSU returns the favor with a game at Rutgers on Sept. 12, 2015.
In turn, WSU's home-and-home series against Wisconsin, originally scheduled for 2014 (in Pullman) and 2015 (in Madison), has been pushed back to 2022 (in Madison) and 2023 (in Pullman) by way of a "mutual agreement."
"Adding two BCS opponents to those already on future nonconference schedules benefits our program and is sure to be appealing to our fans," said athletic director Bill Moos in a statement. "Our 2014 schedule also allows us to bring five quality Pac-12 games (Arizona, USC, Cal, Oregon and Washington) to Pullman to showcase our newly completed facilities."
The latter part of that quote seems to imply that WSU doesn't plan to move any of its Pac-12 games to CenturyLink Field in 2014, as they have for the past two seasons (and will again this year, with Stanford visiting the CLink).
You'll likely see these lines in a few other outlets today, since the Golden Nugget sports book just released betting lines for 250 college football games earlier this afternoon. DonBest.com was kind enough to list all of them, so we've sorted through that listing (which you can view here) to pull out the eight WSU games with lines posted.
None of them favor the Cougars. Actually, none of them suggest the Cougars will lose by less than double-digits. But, as always, it's worth noting that Vegas lines simply intend to force as much betting action as possible, and don't necessarily intend to predict a margin of victory.
With that in mind, here's what WSU is looking at, via the Golden Nugget:
Washington State at Auburn (-11.5)
Washington State at USC (-21)
Stanford (-18.5) at Washington State
Oregon State (-13) at Washington State
Washington State at Oregon (-35.5)
Arizona State (-15) at Washington State
Washington State at Arizona (-19)
Washington State at Washington (-14)
Washington State's list of known committed players for the class of 2014 is up to six after the news broke yesterday that Sacramento receiver Calvin Green has committed to the Cougars.
Green, who is listed by Scout.com as 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds and attends Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, is another player who lines up primarily at running back for his high school team but reportedly projects as an inside receiver at WSU.
Here's a story about his commitment from Braulio Perez, who reports that Green has been offered scholarships by more than 10 schools.
CougCenter's Kyle Rancourt breaks down the commitment here.
Here's a list of WSU's known committed players, according to Scout.com.
And here are some highlights:
Make it five known commitments for Washington State in the class of 2014, as multiple outlets reported Thursday that Keith Harrington, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound prospect from St. Petersburg. Fla., has committed to play football at WSU.
Here are some highlights. You can watch a higher-quality clip here.
Washington State picked up its fourth known verbal commitment of the 2014 recruiting class, as multiple outlets reported that receiver Zaire Andre of Inglewood, Calif., has said he will play for the Cougars.
Interestingly, this Scout.com story notes that Andre committed without taking a visit to Pullman. His highlights are posted below.
CougCenter expands a bit on Andre's commitment.
The feeling started last season, Jake Rodgers said, and only got worse as the offseason progressed.
The former Washington State offensive lineman just wasn’t having fun anymore.
“It wasn’t working out for me,” Rodgers said in a telephone interview Thursday. “I wasn’t enjoying myself anymore. I guess my heart wasn’t in it, so it didn’t make sense for me to stay here.”
That’s why Rodgers, a Shadle Park High School alumnus, chose to leave the Cougars, and why he’s now “strongly considering” a transfer to Eastern Washington. But WSU hasn’t yet granted his formal release, so he’s yet to have any contact with EWU coaches.
Rodgers started all 12 games last season for WSU as a third-year sophomore, and played every offensive line position except for center.
A nagging shoulder injury plagued him “pretty much the whole season,” and his recovery from that ailment kept him out for the duration of WSU’s spring practices this year.
“I’m sure that didn’t help at all,” Rodgers said of having to sit out the spring. “That was rough for me.”
WSU coaches were disappointed when Rodgers informed them of his decision to transfer, he said, and tried to convince him to stay. As a fourth-year player with legitimate starting experience, he would have either competed for a starting spot or provided needed depth on the offensive line.
But his decision was final.
“They didn’t want me to go, basically,” he said.
With two years of eligibility remaining, Rodgers would be able to play right away at Eastern, an ideal landing spot near his hometown of Spokane, though nothing will be official until after he is released from his scholarship at WSU.
“Getting to see more of my family and being able to play in front of them and everything … having their support means a lot to me,” Rodgers said. “I think (EWU) is a good program.”
Pullman Police announced in a press release Wednesday that charges will be recommended against Idaho receiver Roman Runner and former Washington State receiver Mansel Simmons for their involvement in an altercation in the early hours of March 24.
PPD recommends a second-degree felony assault charge for Runner, 21, and a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge for Simmons, 20. The Whitman County Prosecuting Attorney will decide whether charges will be filed.
Simmons announced in April that he is retiring from football due to head injuries sustained in the fight. He suffered a severe concussion and multiple facial fractures.
Here's the full release from Pullman Police:
PULLMAN – Pullman Police Detectives have concluded their investigation of an assault that occurred on March 24, 2013 at about 12:50 am at NE Ash St. and NE Maple St. in Pullman. Pullman officers had been dispatched to that location and found Mansel Simmons unconscious, the apparent victim of an assault. Simmons was initially transported to Pullman Regional Hospital and later to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane where he was treated for facial fractures and a concussion.
After speaking with more than a dozen witnesses, investigators concluded that a verbal argument between two groups of men attending a party in the 300 block of NE Ash St. escalated into a brief physical confrontation between Simmons and Roman Runner. Runner was with three other men visiting from Moscow and the group was told to leave the party. As the group complied and attempted to get back to their vehicle parked nearby, they were chased off by a group of about ten to twenty men attending the party. The visiting group later made their way back to their vehicle and was confronted by the local group. At that point Runner displayed a knife in what he described as an effort to protect him from the larger group, and then he put the knife away. Witnesses say both Runner and Simmons were being held back by friends until Simmons broke free and charged Runner. As Simmons charged him, Runner hit Simmons in the face, knocking him to the ground unconscious. Runner fell on top of Simmons and at some point was punched in the face by an unknown person. Runner and part of his group ran away from the scene while one of them remained and called 911. Runner suffered an abrasion on his forehead. Both Runner and Simmons admitted to drinking alcohol that evening prior to the assault.
Investigators will be forwarding the investigation and the following recommended charges to the Whitman County Prosecuting Attorney who will ultimately determine what criminal charges, if any, will be filed:
• Mansel A. Simmons (10/22/92, Pullman resident): Disorderly Conduct (misdemeanor)
• Roman J. Runner (07/08/91, Moscow resident): Assault 2nd Degree (felony)
Two potentially related incidents were also investigated by Pullman Detectives. A pistol was found near the scene, but investigators could not confirm if it was involved in the altercation or who may have been carrying it. Also, the vehicle that the Moscow group arrived in was damaged at some point after the assault, but no evidence has been uncovered to positively identify any specific suspect.
An offensive lineman has left Washington State’s football team.
The school confirmed that Jake Rodgers, a fourth-year junior who attended Shadle Park High School in Spokane, has chosen not to play for the Cougars next season.
His transfer destination has yet to be confirmed.
Rodgers started all 12 of WSU’s games as a redshirt sophomore in 2012 and played every position on the offensive line except center. He missed all of spring practice this year while recovering from an undisclosed injury, but figured to compete for playing time if he returned healthy in the fall.
WSU coach Mike Leach touted the team’s bolstered offensive line depth throughout the spring, noting that the Cougars were able to field two full five-man units, something they couldn’t do last year when injuries and defections hurt their numbers.
Rodgers’ departure leaves WSU’s roster with five Spokane natives: offensive linemen Elliott Bosch and Joe Dahl, quarterback Connor Halliday, receiver Conner Johnson, and safety Mitchell Peterson.
Washington State linebacker/defensive end Logan Mayes was cited Thursday for hit and run, though Pullman Police Cmdr. Chris Tennant described the alleged traffic accident as "relatively minor."
Tennant said an eyewitness called the police after seeing Mayes back his vehicle into another car in a parking lot. Mayes allegedly drove away without stopping to examine the damage or leave his information.
After police ran the car's plate number and contacted Mayes, Tennant said, the player admitted that he had bumped into another car and drove away. He was given a misdemeanor citation for hit and run and was released, meaning he wasn't handcuffed or taken to the station.
Tennant said the other car had a cracked taillight lens, but that the damage cost estimate was below the $750 minimum that would require police to file a traffic collision report.
Mayes has a scheduled court appearance the morning of June 4, according to Whitman County District Court records.
News of another oral commitment broke yesterday — though this one is from a player who plans to arrive this season — but some more bad news also broke for the WSU football team. Keep reading for accounts of both.
There are a few news items to pass along this morning from WSU, so click the jump to read the links.
WSU announced Thursday that it will cancel all afternoon classes on the Pullman campus on Oct. 31, which is when the Cougars host Arizona State. It's also a Thursday night. It's also Halloween. Here's the release from the office of president Elson Floyd:
In an effort to increase the number of conference football games given national television exposure each season, the PAC-12 has significantly increased the number of regular-season conference football games scheduled to be played on Thursday and Friday nights.
As a result, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31, Washington State University will host Arizona State University in a conference football game at Martin Stadium, affording us the opportunity to share the beauty of our unique Pullman campus before a national television audience in a broadcast carried by one of the ESPN family of networks. This is a rare opportunity for our university. It is also the first time since 2005 that WSU has played a Thursday home football game, so it presents some special challenges.
In an effort to address those challenges, I solicited input from our athletic director as to best industry practices from around the country. I also have reached out to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee as well as the Deans Council for their input on this important issue. After taking all recommendations into account, I have authorized that attendance to all classes the morning of Oct. 31 be made optional at the discretion of faculty and that all afternoon classes that day be canceled as part of our efforts to ensure the safety and ease of travel throughout campus for faculty, staff, students and fans. This closure solely affects the Pullman campus.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and support.
Most college football news that originates in the month of May is centered around recruiting, and that's the topic of today's morning post. Keep reading.
Sometimes, a warm spring day produces some football news. Yesterday was one of those days. Keep reading.
FROM PULLMAN — Not a lot going on out here, other than the whole graduation thing. But we do have a few WSU links to pass along on a slow Sunday morning.
FROM PULLMAN — Depending on which time you looked out the window yesterday, it was either snowing or it looked like a perfect spring day on the Palouse. Which, of course, means it's finally May. I think. Keep reading for a few links.
FROM PULLMAN — With spring practice over, it's time to take a look back. So we continue to have links for you. Fancy that. Keep reading.