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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


The number of folks in the stands aren’t as important as the number watching the Sun Bowl on TV

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Is it any surprise the ticket sales for the Sun Bowl aren’t going all that well? And, honestly, does anyone in El Paso care all that much? Read on.


• The Sun Bowl is the day after Christmas in Texas. Not Dallas or Houston or even San Antonio, Texas cities with lots of airline connections. Nope, it is in El Paso, hard by the New Mexico state line and not all that close to anywhere – except some rough parts of Mexico. And Dec. 26? Tough day for people to be away from home. So is it any wonder the Cougar fans aren’t buying tickets all that quickly? But if a ticket falls to the steps in an empty stadium, does anyone hear it? And does it matter? In a sense, yes. Washington State has 6,000 tickets to sell and the ones the school can’t move costs them part of their bowl money. For an athletic department dealing with a deficit, every little bit helps. But I’m not sure the people who run the Sun Bowl care all that much. They have their television contract and that’s what really matters. The Sun Bowl is one of only two bowls, as far as I can tell, that doesn’t have a contract with the ESPN/ABC death star. (The new Arizona Bowl, pitting two Mountain West schools in a traditional bowl game setup, is on the American Sports Network, whatever that is.) CBS televises the El Paso game and has as long as I can remember. It seems obvious the bowl and the network has some sort of relationship that transcends the gravitational pull of the giant planet that is ESPN, and the foundation must be financial. Isn’t it always? The bowl is probably doing just find, whether or not the stands are full. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t have stuck around for 80-plus years. So don’t cry for the organizers if Miami sells just a handful of tickets and the Cougars don’t bring in 5,000 folks. The game will be fine. And entertaining. Which is what CBS wants. ESPN will be broadcasting the Washington game at about the same time – splitting numbers in Seattle and causing more than a few bar disagreements in the Puget Sound area – while there is another bowl on ABC, starting about the Sun Bowl’s halftime, to further dilute interest. It is what it is. Somewhere an accountant has figured out how much each eyeball is worth, the ratings have been calculated through 17 computer programs and an amount of financial recompense has been agreed upon. The bowl – and the other 342 of this season – will go on and everyone will smile. While sitting comfortably on their couch.


• WSU: Though Mike Leach was in El Paso yesterday for his favorite activity – PR – there was still football going on in Pullman. Just not on the practice field. Jacob Thorpe covers the ground covered by a couple of young defensive backs that have really helped WSU’s defense. And then Jacob covered the commitment switch of a highly rated high school receiver, in this morning’s post. ... The Pac-12 is involved in 10 bowl games.’s Pac-12 blog rates them by importance and entertainment value. ... Guess which team I will be rooting for in this basketball game tonight.

• Gonzaga: The Zags’ cleansed their palate of the taste of the UCLA defeat with a an easy 86-50 win over Division II St. Martin’s last night at McCarthey. Jim Meehan was in attendance and has the game story. Dan Pelle was also there and has a photo report. And, no, Przemek Karnowski did not play. The timetable for his return is unknown. ... St. Mary’s set a team record for most made 3-pointers in a 93-63 rout of Cal Poly. ... A bench player is leaving BYU.

• EWU: Eastern’s three-game road swing back East ended with a third consecutive loss, this one 97-80 to Western Carolina. The Eagles will be back on Reese Court on Thursday, hosting Morehead State.

• Idaho: The Big Sky basketball player of the week resides in Moscow.

• Chiefs: Both Portland and Tri-City will be without key players for a while, though for different reasons.

• Seahawks: Counting this week’s win already, aren’t you? Sure you are. It’s Cleveland in Seattle. That’s a win. Now, let’s hope everyone can stay healthy. No one knows if Kam Chancellor will play and, with Thomas Rawls gone for the season, who the running back will be. ... Honestly, the Hawks were pretty good when they were losing. And now they look every bit the part of a playoff team. ... No one is moaning about the offensive line anymore.

• Mariners: Seattle dipped into the free agent pool to sign an experienced closer. That’s not always a recipe for success.

• Sounders: The MLS’s salary cap is a complicated thing.


• Hey, I’m back on the radio for one more day this year. I’ll be on between 3 and 5 today, joining Rick Lukens and Keith Osso on 700 ESPN. You can listen here if you like. I’ll try to explain to Keith why I stupidly picked the Ravens and took the 10 points last Thursday. Until later ...

Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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