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


Consensus: Cougars competitors in 2016

Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks caught 12 passes last Saturday against UCLA to become the all-time leading receiver at WSU.
Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks caught 12 passes last Saturday against UCLA to become the all-time leading receiver at WSU.

So, here is how things work at Pac-12 Media Days, which this summer are scheduled for July 14 and 15. Reporters from across the west coast, plus a few from Utah and Colorado, descend on Los Angeles to eat, drink, network, socialize and justify it with a bit of work, too.

For us beat grunts, that usually means a story about the team we cover and have access to already, and then a few items about the conference and the interesting storylines for the upcoming season.

During the two days of Media Days, a coach, an offensive player and a defensive player, are sat at opposite ends of a big movie studio and are available for 30 minutes during which reporters make their way around the room and ask questions that have already been asked, and answered, just seconds before.

Washington State is always one of the last schools to get its turn before the mob, and lunch (really good catering!) is served promptly at 12:30, so the horde on hand earlier in the day for Arizona and USC has usually whittled down to a myself, the Seattle reporters and a handful of Mike Leach acolytes who want nothing more than to hear him tell the same story they read in his book.

But this year I might have to throw a few elbows to get my questions answered.

WSU will go at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 14 and should draw an unprecedented media crowd. Part of that will undoubtedly be due to the attendance of Person Who Says Interesting Things Gabe Marks, who shall represent the offense while his roommate, Parker Henry, serves as spokesperson for the defense.

But mostly, the WSU trio should expect a throng because for once the Cougars are going to be the subject of a lot of those general Pac-12 interest stories.

Here is how the Cougars placed in the last five preseason media polls, starting with 2015: 10th, 9th, 11th, 10th, 11th.

Thank Butch for Colorado, am I right?

As a frequent writer of notebooks, I can tell you that nobody who lives west of Colfax or south of Lewiston is giving up a seat at Larry Scott's lunch table to score a quote or two about the team they placed at the bottom of their ballot. It would be like giving up Hamilton tickets to attend a Jill Stein fundraiser.

I expect the Cougars to fare much better in this year's media poll, however, and the Media Days coverage should reflect that. Jon Wilner gets a vote in the preseason poll and he's got WSU finishing higher in the north than in any of those aforementioned polls. And he's on the low end of the WSU prognosticators. The folks at Athlon see WSU fighting for a Pac-12 north title. Travis Mewhirter is a person who thinks WSU can win a conference championship.

Now, WSU isn't going to be the top-ranked team or anything. Stanford and Washington (put the tomato down) will likely be picked ahead of the Cougars in the Pac-12 North, and they play football in the Pac-12 South, too, allegedly. But WSU will be a fringe Top-25 team to start the season, and with those increased expectations will come increased scrutiny. In a good way.

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

Follow Jacob online:

Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.