A GRIP ON SPORTS
If you are a Pac-12 sports fan (and it doesn't matter what sport we are talking about here), today is a big day for you. Read on.
• At 6 p.m tonight, the Pac-12 Network will debut. Yep, after years of not being able to see a multitude of Pac-12 events on television, the conference's fans now will be able to see just about everything – if you have a fast Internet connection (more on that soon). While talking with Gary Stevenson (right) yesterday on the radio, the president of Pac-12 Enterprises said something about many Pac-12 fans may not be aware of it, but there were five football games and a number of basketball games that were not even televised last year. I interrupted to say we are in Washington State country, so we know all about that. But that shouldn't be the case anymore. The conference should have a national channel and a regional one (in Washington, that regional channel covers WSU and UW games, in Oregon it covers OSU and Duck games, etc.) on your local cable system. As Christian Caple reported yesterday, around here that means "if you live in Pullman and are a Time Warner customer, you'll get Pac-12 Washington on channel 242 (and in HD on 642). You'll have to subscribe to the added Sports Pass to get Pac-12 National, which will air on channel 240 and in HD on 640. For Comcast customers in the Spokane area, you'll receive Pac-12 Washington as part of your Digital Starter package (standard programming, basically) on channel 430, and in HD on channel 628. You have to pay for the Sports and Entertainment tier to receive Pac-12 National, which will air on channel 431."
• That is certainly an upgrade from the past, when Washington State seemed to be an afterthought for the Pac-12's television partners. The conference is still in cahoots with ESPN and Fox, but those two and the Network will now cover every football and basketball game somewhere. Though not yet on DirectTV or Dish. The Network and those two satellite providers are still negotiating. A deal could happen tomorrow. It may not happen until sometime in the fall. Who knows? But it should happen sometime, especially if the Network is a hit. And there is one other thing. If you are a, say, USC fan living on the South Hill and want to watch the Trojans, you better have a good Internet connection. The only way you will find the other regional networks (like the one for USC and UCLA) outside that regional network's footprint, will be on your computer (and soon your iPad or smart phone). No cable system is carrying the national network and all of the regional ones. So watching an out-of-area game becomes a digital exercise.
• Being today is launch day, there are a few stories to pass along from up and down the West Coast, ranging from informative news stories to columns hoping the conference will do well with the Networks. If you are a WSU fan, the latter is important. If it looks like the Pac-12 Networks will add another $10-$15 million a year to the Cougar athletics department coffers down the road (and that is the current thought), then it makes it that much easier for the Regents to greenlight the next phase of Martin Stadium construction, the football operations building. With another large sum of income coming in, repaying the bonds needed to build the ops building is that much easier.
• Washington State: There is a lot happening on the football field as well, with the Cougars holding their only morning practice of training camp today. Christian had his usual coverage yesterday, with a blog post following practice – Mike Leach had something to say about "Shark Week," which should come as no surprise to anyone – and then a story on the receiving corps in today's paper. Christian also has his usual morning blog post today, which has all the links you'll need to stay up on the Cougars and the conference. ... Christian also reported the news guard Brett Kingma, who played last season for Oregon as a freshman, announced on Twitter he would be attending Washington State. As no one from the WSU basketball team is available – they were snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef yesterday as they finished up their preseason trip to Australia – there was no way to confirm the news. In any event, WSU can't speak about a transfer until he is enrolled in school, which starts next week. ... We can pass along this fairly obvious CBSSports piece on three Cougars who need to excel, though listing a punter/kickoff specialist as a crucial member of the team is a bit of a reach. How about an offensive lineman or another of the defensive front seven? They should have a bit more of an impact. ... One last note. Christian will have a live chat today at 1 p.m., so you can chat with him here on SportsLink while listening to the Mariners game on your radio.
• Gonzaga: The Zags lost a local recruit yesterday when former Gonzaga Prep guard Chris Sarbaugh decided to transfer from GU to North Idaho College. Jim Meehan has the news on the walk-on heading east along with more in this blog post.
• Eastern Washington: The Eagles are well into training camp now and Jim Allen is well into the day-to-day drudgery of covering preseason college football workouts. He had a blog post yesterday, one this morning and a story on the Eagles' cornerbacks coach in today's S-R.
• Preps: One of the area's better girls basketball players is transferring. Greg Lee has the news.
• Indians: Spokane has yet to win an extra-inning game this season (0-8), so having Saquan Johnson hit by a pitch in the bottom of the ninth, forcing in the game winner, might have been crucial. The big hit, so to speak, gave the Indians a 6-5 win over Everett. Jess Brown has the story.
• Mariners: Speaking of bottom-of-the-ninth wins, the Mariners came up with one last night, scoring twice in their final at bat to snap Tampa Bay's seven-game winning streak, 3-2. The big two-out hit came from Eric Thames (covered in shaving cream at left), but Carlos Pena had a big error for the Rays, Justin Smoak shortened his swing and came up fairly big in his first game since returning from the minors and Kevin Millwood battled despite not having his best stuff.
• Seahawks: Though no one is saying it right now, the fact Matt Flynn is starting his second consecutive preseason game (and will play the first half again), coupled with Tavarais Jackson probably sitting out again, is leading most Seattle-based observers to feel Flynn is going to be the Hawks' No. 1 quarterback. There are about 37 smarmy things I could say but I will refrain.
• Sounders: The Sounders are back at it and so is the Times' Joshua Mayers, who has his MLS power rankings and a couple of blog posts leading up to Saturday's home game with Vancouver. There will be a big crowd in CenturyLink I can assure you. ... Steve Zakuani is itching to get into the starting lineup. ... Newly acquired midfielder Mario Martinez is expected to join the team later this week. ... There is a new tiebreaker formula in the MLS.
• Another day, another radio show. We're on after the M's today and you can listen here. Until later ...