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Give the defensive line a break

Destiny Vaeao, Toni Pole and Xavier Cooper probably won't play as much for Washington State this season, and that's a good thing. Why it's a good thing is the subject for our story in today's paper.

More links after the jump.

*We'll be holding our weekly live WSU football chat today at 11 a.m.

WSU linebackers a veteran bunch

How experienced is Washington State's linebacking corps? Even the backups have starts under their belt. The Cougars' deep linebacking corps is the subject of our story in today's paper.

More links after the jump.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

Good morning, everyone. I hope you were able to sleep in today or had an otherwise productive morning. If not you can make up for it by reading our Pac-12 links and catching up on all the conference happenings, after the jump.

WSU’s new specialists

The Washington State coaches value special teams pretty highly. All coaches do to some degree, of course, and all will say that it's a third of the game, etc. Still, many coaches see coverage teams as a place to stick second string players, and save their starters for use on offense or defense. Maybe they're worried about injuries, or maybe they think a player whose only chance to make a play is on special teams will find just a little something extra in themselves to really blow up the ballcarrier.

Not the Cougars. In the words of Mike Leach, “Best players play. If you can't start on offense and you can't start on defense then you better have a good reason for being able to start on special teams.”

The Cougars will have new starters on special teams this season, at least they will at kicker, punter and punt returner. Our first 2014 position preview takes a look at the replacements.

More links are after the jump.

Lunchtime Links: Meanwhile, in China …

While most of Pullman has been gearing up for fall sports season, DaVonte Lacy and the Pac-12 All-Stars have been barnstorming around China and beating up on professional teams. The All-Stars are 2-0, both blowout victories, and Lacy has been a solid contributor averaging 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and three assists per game.

The All-Stars will face their toughest test tomorrow in the Shanghai Sharks, former NBA All-Star Yao Ming's old team that he now owns. The Sharks have a couple former American college basketball stars in Quincy Douby and Darnell Jackson, so the All-Stars should get a good test. Unfortunately, it appears that the team will no longer face the Guandong Southern Tigers and former NBA lottery pick Yi Jianlian.

We have a couple links to pass along after the jump.

A needed break

After 12 straight days of covering football practice I know I'm starting to lose my legs, so I can only imagine how Washington State's players and coaches must feel. The kickers certainly looked a little wobbly yesterday, and maybe the defense could use a break, too (except the freshmen defensive linemen that is, those kids looked like they'd had a little too much sugar).

But we all made it through fall camp in Lewiston, Idaho no worse for wear. In fact, apart from one apparent head injury to Gabe Marks and some bumps and bruises along the offensive line and secondary, the Cougars Sacajawea Junior High with their health intact, which can't be said of a lot of schools.

Anyways, the links are after the jump.

WSU’s time in Lewiston comes to a close

Washington State's fall camp in Lewiston, Idaho wraps up today with a scrimmage at 3 p.m. at Sacajawea Junior High. The Cougars braved heat, smoke and lightning to practice for 12 consecutive days. Let's celebrate their accomplishment with some links.

(We'll be holding a live WSU football chat here on SportsLink at 11 a.m.)

The show must go on

Today's practice will be the second-to-last of Washington State's fall camp in Lewiston. It will be held at Sacajawea Junior High at 2:30 p.m. unless it isn't. The following links will explain why, and more.

Some big cleats to fill

Washington State fans watched a few of their favorites move on from college this offseason. No matter how the Cougars do this season, safety Deone Bucannon will be missed and so will kicker Andrew Furney. Our story in today's paper looks at Erik Powell, the guy tasked with following Furney. More links after the jump.

A big day for WSU football

I didn't get to this with yesterday's scrimmage, but lots of recruiting outlets are reporting that 6-foot-5, 300 pound offensive lineman Noah Myers out of Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek, California has verbally committed to play football for Washington State. Myers, whose highlight video is above, also claimed scholarship offers from Montana and Weber State.

Myers is the 12th player in the class of 2015 to pledge his services to WSU. He told Barry Bolton that he will probably play guard ($) for the Cougars. Scout.com rates Myers as a three star prospect and considers him to be the No. 91 guard in the class.

Links from WSU's scrimmage and from around the conference, after the jump.

WSU to hold first scrimmage of fall camp

The Cougars are going to hold their first scrimmage of spring at the conclusion of today's practice, probably around 3:15 p.m. The scrimmage will last around 50 plays and will probably be the first chance since the Spring Game to see the team go full contact.

The big news yesterday was the decision of U.S. District Court judge Claudia Wilkins against the NCAA in the Ed O'Bannon case. The decision says the NCAA cannot prevent student-athletes from profiting off a school's use of their likeness, and up to $5,000 per year can be put into a trust that will be turned over to the athlete when they graduate. Here is more information on the ruling and you can also read the 99-page decision.

Here at the S-R we have a story today about a versatile freshman the Cougars are trying out all over the field … The Cougars had a short day of practice yesterday to rest up for today's scrimmage … After practice Mike Leach reacted to the NCAA's recent step toward Big Five autonomy … There are still tickets available for the season-opener in Seattle … The Huskies will play plenty of first-year defensive backs this season … Arizona State says there is one foodstuff that won't be welcome on game day … UCLA has more talent at linebacker than it knows what to do with … Oregon State's freshmen are getting acclimated … Jon Wilner previews Stanford's training camp.

Camp is half over

If you're planning to make the trip out to Lewiston, you should probably think about coming out this weekend. Today starts the second half of WSU's Idaho excursion, and after the 13th there won't be any more open practices until Spring.

We've got WSU links and more, after the jump.

Oh, what a catch

Let's get this link out of the way early. The catch by senior receiver Isiah Myers was the most impressive play by any individual so far in Washington State's camp, which wrapped up its fifth day yesterday. We had a full day here on the blog with a live chat, Drill of the Day and our daily practice report. We've also got some more WSU and Pac-12 links for you, after the jump.

The pads come on today

We're a third of the way through Washington State's fall camp in Lewiston and the expectation is that the Cougars will be fully suited up for the first time today. Let's take a look at yesterday's WSU news, as well as what's going on around the conference.

Yesterday was probably the hottest day of camp so far with temperatures just a line of sweat under triple digits. That heat plus the daily grind of camp may have started to wear on the Cougars … That being said, Gerard Wicks certainly hasn't seemed too fatigued … CougCenter gives examples of how Mike Leach could spend his new dough in Pullman … Last year injuries took a toll and now California is already losing players … It didn't take Oregon long to find its next star running back … UCLA's Marcus Rios has returned after two years away from football … Washington's Kasen Williams is ready to go … Oregon State is envisioning life without Scott Chrichton … A pair of Utah speedsters want to finish their career in style … Here's a shock: Ty Montgomery is doing well in camp. 

Morning links before Lewiston

The Cougars resume practicing today at 2:30 p.m. in at Sacajawea Junior High, the last one before they can put their pads on.

The big news from yesterday had nothing to do with practice, of course. Bill Moos has invested in Cougars football once again, giving large raises to Mike Leach and his assistants. We have a story and a blog post on the topic. … But some stuff happened at practice as well and for that we have our daily report … Former WSU hooper Klay Thompson is trying out for Team USA and survived yesterday's cuts … On the other side of the state the Huskies had their first fall practice under Chris Petersen … Oregon State is searching for its next tiny, great wide receiver … Oregon is trying to be the first Pac-12 team to play in the college football playoffs … USC fans are returning to Troy … It looks like Tra'Mayne Bondurant isn't leaving Arizona after all.

The sounds of football

On day two of fall camp the Cougars found their voices. Coaches, players, the smattering of fans that made the trip to Lewiston, all could be heard on the muggy Sunday afternoon. Quarterback Connor Halliday had some fun at the expense of cornerback Patrick Porter, who gave up a couple plays just like Deion Sanders did his first time covering college receivers. 

Today's story focus on a mouthy Cougar and his verbal sparring partner … Our practice report details yesterday's close team session … Andrew Crookston is in Lewiston and he has a Q&A with safety Beau Glover … Here's a practice report from ASU's practice … Washington's season starts tomorrow, here are five questions heading into fall camp … What can Utah do to break through its Pac-12 bowl drought … The LA Times takes a look at USC's schedule … Will the football rivalry in LA be revived?

Shaking the rust off

Well, the first practice is in the books. The awkward questions about the players' weights and builds have been asked and we can get back into our daily routine. Part of my routine includes oatmeal, blueberries, brown sugar and about a gallon of coffee. And what could go better with coffee and oatmeal than links? Just about anything, I'd imagine. But you get links.

The Cougars showed newfound confidence in yesterday's interviews … Bud Withers says to expect big things from Connor Halliday … On the blog we have a practice report with additional notes and quotes from day one … Don't miss our new Drill of the Day feature.

Arizona State practiced as well on Saturday … Arizona lost a senior safety this weekend … The Buffaloes are a little more comfortable in year two … It's going to be hard to miss Brett Hundley this year … Sad tidings out of Montlake, where a very kind man who I was fortunate to have met  passed away.

 

 

Bonus Link: This story has nothing to do with the WSU FOOTBALL team. But wouldn't it be funny if it did?

Pac-12 announces reforms following summer meetings

The presidents and chancellors from Pac-12 schools have concluded their summer meetings and released a statement today emphasizing their push for NCAA reforms, which they outlined in this earlier letter, expanded the Student-Athlete Health Initiative and announced an 11 a.m. television window for the Pac-12 Networks.

The press release from the Pac-12 is after the jump.

Monday morning links

From Pullman — Hey there, it's been awhile. Spring sports are coming to a close and we spent this week wrapping up track and field with the Pac-12 championships, which were held in Pullman at Mooberry Track and Field Complex this year. Runners, jumpers, throwers and spectators braved the Sunday weather that was predicted by weather persons to be a storm of some rain and much lightning. There was a storm on Sunday, alright, a pollen storm, and the generic antihistamine I popped prior to the meet might as well have been jujubes. 

In between sneezes I saw enough to write this recap. I also wrote a story from Saturday on WSU's high jump champion, Charlotte Muschamp, who hails from a tiny town in New Zealand that is close enough to Antarctica that she claims to have seen icebergs (“Ice cubes? The things from Titanic) float past. Muschamp's victory was one of few notable performances for the Cougars, and John Blanchette examines how WSU can get back to track and field dominance. Photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland has a gallery from the meet.

In men's basketball news, the Pac-12 got a little weaker and Gonzaga got a little stronger with the news that Byron Wesley is headed to Spokane. Today Oregon State may announce that it has finally found a basketball coach. Death, taxes and Washington crew winning.

 

Pac-12 announces a new championship game site, also links

For the next three years the Pac-12 football championship game will be held at an ostensibly neutral site: Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. While fans are sure to point out that the location is a lot less neutral for some schools than others, it's a change from the prior practice of having one of the participants host.

The change was doubtlessly spurred by the desire to guarantee that the game will take place in a large, modern stadium. If UCLA hosts in the Rose Bowl that's fine, but when Oregon State or Washington State win the North, the conference could have had real logistical problems (read: not enough money) staging the event.

It should be quite a venue. Levi's is the new home of the San Francisco 49ers and is scheduled to host the 2016 Super Bowl, and the Fight Hunger Bowl starting this season. It seats 68,500 including luxury suites and club seats.

The conference issues a press release that said things like:

“Pac-12 football is among the deepest and best football conferences in the country,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. “Our Football Championship Game is important for selecting a team for the Rose Bowl and possibly the College Football Playoff, and we are thrilled to offer student-athletes and their fans the ultimate venue to culminate a successful season.”
And:
“This is a positive move for our institutions and fan bases,” said Scott. The neutral site location will allow us to showcase the Conference, our member institutions and important initiatives on a big stage, as well as treat fans to multiple events during championship week, concluded Scott.”

The Cougars have been in the news again lately so follow the jump for some links.

Tuesday lunchtime Pac-12 links

It is an unfortunate reality that athletes are not always ideal role models. Every school racks up some Fulmer Cup points now and again and sometimes someone truly vile is good enough at sports to play for a major college. The Pac-12 certainly isn't immune to this and there have been some disgusting acts allegedly perpetrated by athletes in the last few years at schools like Oregon State, Washington, and yes, even WSU.

In these incidents the coaches and schools are rarely to blame. Many coaches see a young, gifted but somewhat troubled athlete who was not given the opportunities that many of us took for granted growing up and believe they can help turn their lives around. They give them structure, accountability and provide a whole host of incentives to toe the line and reclaim their lives through a college education. For every athlete who turns up in the police blogs for shoplifting, how many more avoided a far more serious life of crime by becoming part of a team and going to college?

So what makes the news out of Oregon yesterday even more troubling is the seeming lack of vetting or discretion taken when deciding to place these athletes in a population of students. One of the players had previously been investigated for sexual assault at another university. The other two also had previous, although nonviolent, rule-breaking episodes. The Ducks have had great success under Dana Altman bringing in transfers. But at some point does a team of mercenaries beget a mercenary culture?

On a lighter note, check out some WSU links after the jump.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Well, the 2013-14 Washington State football season is in the books. Or maybe we've just finished the first chapter of the 2014-15 one. The “chicken or the egg” of college football.

The Cougars had practice No. 15 yesterday, kicking off the offseason. Here is our practice report and our story on Graham Harrell, the newest member of the coaching staff. We've also got a baseball notebook.

A look at some Oregon State salaries … Which Pac-12 players might go in the NFL Draft's first round … Former Cal quarterback Zach Kline won't be heading to Oregon State after all … Next year the Pac-12 Networks show The Drive will feature UCLA.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — It was a return to the spotlight for the Washington State football team, which played its spring game yesterday in Spokane in front of a few thousand fans and anyone who wanted to watch it on TV (except you poor DirecTV subscribers). As far as spring games go, it was another one. The Crimson appeared to be the better squad but the game made a game of it once it stopped turning the ball over. I wrote a game story and put up a blog post with some additional thoughts from the game. John Blanchette says that WSU's secondary proved its mettle during the game. Hard to argue with four picks.

We also passed along some statistics from the game as well as a photo gallery from Dan Pelle. Ernie Kent appears to have landed another recruit.

Cal also had its spring game and so did UCLA. However, the Bruins basketball team will lose Jordan Adams after all.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Yesterday Washington State had a good, old-fashioned Friday news dump. Funny thing was, none of the news were bad. Ernie Kent got his first two recruits as WSU basketball coach. The first was a forward, Aaron Cheatum, who signed his NLI yesterday. The second was a coach, Curtis Allen, who will remain at WSU as Kent's third and final assistant. Yesterday we had another live chat and put up our Five Questions segment with River Cracraft.

Today WSU will hold its Crimson and Gray game in Spokane. We have the rosters and other details here. We've also got our advance of tomorrow's game, focusing on Mike Leach's affinity for film.

CougCenter took a look at the state of the baseball program. It's doing a little better after a win over No. 5 Washington.

 

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The Cougars won't be in pads when they take the field today for their final tune-up before Saturday's spring game at 1 p.m. in Spokane's Joe Albi Stadium. The Tuesday practice following that scrimmage will officially mark the end of spring football and will mean our Cougars coverage is going to really start winding down, sans the occasional baseball story.

But the Washington State football team is still making news, such as yesterday's announcement of a 2018 game against Eastern Washington. In case you missed it we have a profile of Mitch Peterson, a former walk-on safety turned scholarship linebacker. When I was in Spokane for the NCAA tournament I met ESPN's newest contributor to the Pac-12 blog, Chantel Jennings and she has her first WSU story up, a look at Vince Mayle.

That old so-and-so Christian Caple takes a look at where Washington is with spring practice in the books … The Pac-12's new coaches have been the story of spring … In its spring game Oregon will finally have to try and stop itself … The Beavers are seeing some movement in the running back depth.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — It's Spokane Week for the Washington State athletic department and here in Pullman the Cougars have just one week left of spring football. We began the week yesterday with a lunchtime chat. We also had a blog post on Gabe Marks' successful surgery as well as an off day Five Questions segment with Toni Pole. Cougar fans seemed pretty happy yesterday with the news that Bill Moos is no longer looking to make games in Seattle a priority. Last night the news came out that men's basketball coach Ernie Kent landed his first recruit at WSU.

Oregon still doesn't know who its backup quarterback will be … Arizona recruit Stanley Johnson was named California's Mr. Basketball … It was a Bruin who won the Boston Marathon … Cal's new coach has named two assistants.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Some good news for the Washington State football team came down last night when Austin Joyner announced his intentions to play for the Cougars. Joyner is listed as a four-star running back but it appears he'll play cornerback at WSU. Yesterday we also posted some notes following an interview with athletic director Bill Moos.

In other Pac-12 news Washington unveiled its new football uniforms and they sure are uniforms … An Arizona basketball recruit's prep career is ending with a bang  … A departing Oregon assistant is going to get a quarter million dollars every year from the public employee pension fund … Gonzaga added a head-to-head series against UCLA.

UPDATE: Somehow I missed John Blanchette's column on the Gonzaga series. Forgive me.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — One of the true position battles this spring has taken place at center, where Riley Sorenson and Sam Flor are seeing equal time with the first string. Our story from yesterday's practice takes a look at that particular competition and we've got a recap of the team's 10th practice. We also reported the news yesterday that Washington State will play Gonzaga in Spokane again next season.

A Washington running back has overcome three ACL tears to get back on the football field … Here is a Q&A with Utah's defensive coordinator … Jordan Adams will put off the NBA draft another year … USC could start a true freshman on the offensive line.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — There weren't any signing day surprises for Washington State basketball fans on Wednesday, but new coach Ernie Kent still has more than a month left to fill out his four remaining roster spots. It was a somewhat slow day for WSU news but we held another live chat and put up our Five Questions blog post with defensive lineman Xavier Cooper. CougCenter has a good look at WSU scholarship situation. We're getting closer to the NFL Draft and Deone Bucannon is visiting teams

Sports Illustrated's Zac Ellis gives his take on Cal's coaching hire … A pair of Bruins make their decision to go pro official … As did Arizona State's Jahii Carson … Washington receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow received his sentence yesterday.

Bonus Link: This story on Yasiel Puig's defection from Cuba is great.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — If you can make it out to Martin Stadium today you'll have a chance to watch Washington State's first football scrimmage of the spring. More on that here. The team got a new addition yesterday when former Boise State running back Aaron Baltazar announced he was transferring to WSU.

Washington's freshman point guard is seriously considering whether or not to turn pro … Arizona State is trying to put a positive spin on a new fee for students … UCLA's record number of basketball championships could be in jeopardy.

Also, Todd, the winner of our tournament challenge, has made his email on Yahoo! private. Please contact me Todd so we can get you your prize or we'll have to move to the next highest scorer.