A GRIP ON SPORTS
A few years ago I remember heading out to Albi Stadium one fall Thursday to take in a prep football game. There wasn't a familial reason to go, as my kids were not yet in high school. Nope, mainly I went because there was nothing on TV worth watching except a couple of NBC comedies. Sports? That was a weekend thing. My, how things have changed. Read on.
• The tradition of Thursday night football at Albi hasn't changed, though the schedule is not nearly as crowded these days since Gonzaga Prep opened its revamped on-campus field. There is never a need for a Thursday doubleheader or a Friday tripleheader anymore. But there is usually one Thursday night game. Tonight Central Valley takes on Brett Rypien and Shadle Park in a game that may feature more touchdowns than your usual EWU shootout with one of the Montana schools. But don't expect many folks in the stands who don't have a connection to either school. The idea of driving to Albi on a Thursday night just to be a spectator seems to be one of those quaint traditions that are on life support, like delivering an afternoon newspaper or repairing watches. If you're wondering why, just check the TV listings on page B6 of today's S-R. Under college football there are three games listed, including a Pac-12 showdown that may just decide who wins the conference's South Division, UCLA at Arizona State. Heck, you can watch college football from 4:30 p.m. until the local news comes on tonight if that's your desire. Or, if you are a die-hard NFL fan (and, with the matchup between the New York Giants and the Washington No-Names, you would have to be one such fan – or a Tony Kornheiser little – to be excited), there is always the now weekly game from that league to use as an excuse. The constant encroachment of televised college and professional football has broken the bond that once existed between the football fan and his or her local high school. The Albi Thursday night games are pretty much crowd-less, though it doesn't help the gate when even that is available in the comfort of your own home. Tonight's game is on SWX and even though the production values may not reach NFL Network standards, it's still football on television. And another reason not to leave home. You can flip between the Pac-12 game, the NFL game, the GSL game and re-runs of Friends, all without any wear-and-tear on the Honda. It's modern life at its best. And worst.
• WSU: The quarterback the Cougars will face Saturday night – every WSU game seems to be at night this season – is one who, nine months ago, no one expected to be playing this season. Travis Wilson was done with football, knocked out by a head injury. But he healed and he's back, actually better than ever. Jacob Thorpe has the story on the Utes' top offensive weapon. By the way, Utah's leading rusher, Devontae Booker (pictured), was headed to Washington State a few years ago until grades became an issue. ... Jacob also has blog posts on yesterday's practice, today's links and a live chat he held on Wednesday. ... The Cougars were no match for UW in last night's conference volleyball opener. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has a mailbag, which deals with the non-call late in the Oregon game – the subject of this Bud Withers blog post as well – and this week's picks. You want power rankings instead? We have them. ... Utah hasn't done very well in conference games since joining the Pac-12.
• EWU: UC Davis is expected to run the ball a lot in their matchup with second-ranked Eastern this Saturday. And they have another weapon to use, according to Jim Allen's weekly Big Sky notebook. ... Jim also has a morning post today with links to other conference stories.
• Idaho: The Vandals are still looking for their first win this season. John Blanchette's blog post delves into what they expect to happen this week vs. South Alabama.
• Shock: Spokane locked up 14 rookies as Arena teams began to work next year's roster.
• Preps: Greg Lee took a drive across the country and a walk down memory lane this week, the latter featured on today's Prep Page. ... Greg also has a feature on Mt. Spokane's Roy Hyatt. ... Greg and Sam Adams make their weekly picks. ... Bill Pierce also takes a walk down memory lane, though his stroll takes us a lot farther into the past. ... Jim Allen was out at a GSL soccer opener yesterday while Mike Vlahovich covered a cross country race.
• Seahawks: With the Hawks off this week – I saw a picture of Marshawn Lynch at Cal's football practice – the emphasis is on the players. There are stories focused on Russell Wilson, Percy Harvin and Ricardo Lockette. ... There are also thoughts on the bye week.
• Mariners: We buried the M's yesterday – with your help – so it should come as no surprise when John Blanchette and Larry Stone join the burial detail today. After all, the M's finally got a well-pitched game – from Taijuan Walker – and still lost, 1-0. Another shutout. And a fifth consecutive loss. ... Tom Wilhelmsen is starting today as Chris Young has made his final start in a Mariners' uniform.
• Sounders: The Sounders had a golden opportunity yesterday to put some space between themselves and the L.A. Galaxy, even if the opportunity came on the road. But they spit the bit in the second half and lost, 3-1, to Dallas FC. Now Seattle and L.A. are tied and they've played the same number of matches. ... The post-match comments were pretty much what you would expect. ... So is the post-match analysis.
• And that's our Thursday report. Enjoy all the football on the tube tonight. New York and Washington. Now that's what the guy was referring to when he described TV as a wasteland. Until later ...