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Grip on Sports: A hello to the weekend and a goodbye to an old friend

Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ORG XMIT: LAC102 (Mark J. Terrill / AP)
Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ORG XMIT: LAC102 (Mark J. Terrill / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • What day is it? Right, Thursday. Friday can’t here quick enough. So let’s get out of its way as fast as possible. Read on.

••••••••••

• You looking forward to Friday getting here this week? Don’t just answer “always.” That’s a cop out. This Friday is special in one way. There is a football game in the Palouse that the nation’s eyes should be on. That’s a bit different than the usual, Friday, right?

The other thing that’s different, at least in my household, is my sister is coming to visit. That’s always a moment of joy around here, as we see each other way too often.

As a UCLA alum, she’s headed to Pullman tomorrow night to root for the Cougars. I’m pretty sure most WSU alums understand her motivation.

• There is some sadness today as well.

Greg Lee is leaving the S-R after some 32 years.

Yes, it is always sad when a veteran sportswriter leaves a newspaper. It happens way too often these days. But Greg filled probably the most important sports role there is at a newspaper the size of The Spokesman-Review: prep writer.

It’s important because it’s the first connection most people have with the newspaper. High school sports are a window into our communities, and Greg has kept that window open for three decades. His stories, not just of games and competitions, but of those who are involved, have introduced us so often to kids we would have never known.

And have introduced them to the spotlight, if only for a little while.

For every Bishop Sankey or Colson Yankoff, there is a Whitney Heleker (No. 31 in the picture), who had her one shining moment documented by Greg. She was not alone. He did it often. And well.

It’s those moments that matter. A long, long time ago, an old high school writer told me when I wasn’t even 23, write every prep story as if it would be read at a 50-year reunion. There was a chance it would be. And your name would be on it.

Greg wrote his stories that way as well. Every time.

So long man.

• The other side of the coin? The crud that is going on in college basketball today. One thing is certain. It isn’t ending anytime soon.

One prediction: There will be quite a few openings for coaches around the nation before the season begins, which isn’t that far away. Have your resume ready.

• Just so you know, I’m two Twitter followers away from 3,000. Want to be that person? I’m @vinceg55. The 3,000 follower wins a set of steak knives (but only if you know what movie that’s from).

•••

WSU: It’s quarterback day in the Palouse. At least it seems that way as Theo Lawson focuses in on the Cougars’ Luke Falk and USC’s Sam Darnold. Theo didn’t just rate them himself. He asked one of the Pac-12’s experts. … Theo did, however, make his own picks and he held a one-person live chat yesterday, though lots of folks asked questions. … The women’s golf team finished up a tournament Wednesday. … Mike Leach isn’t one to raise expectations or to avoid the national spotlight. And his comments on the NFL protests offer a fresh viewpoint I’m not sure everyone has thought about. … The Times’ Stefanie Loh also has a story on the offensive line. … There are always suggestions available. Here are 10 for USC to work on. Oops, I found an 11th one. … The folks at Heritage Hall don’t have all their focus on Pullman this week. The scandal with assistant basketball coach Tony Bland has thrust the spotlight on that program. That’s not good.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, it’s time to make picks for just about everyone. And there are other things to talk about. … It’s funny. Washington’s sack leader this season is not on scholarship. And he plays next to his brother at times. … Speaking of scholarships, Jake Browning’s dad had one back in the day at this week’s opponent, Oregon State. … The game between Oregon and California is important to former Duck assistant Steve Greatwood (pictured), who spent decades in Eugene, and to Cal coach Justin Wilcox, who played and coached there. … UCLA’s defense has to improve this week against Colorado. The Buffs want to improve there as well. … It’s rare when a freshman kicker lives up to his preseason hype. But it’s happening at Arizona State. Will he matter against Stanford? … The news just keeps getting worse for the Arizona Wildcats. Book Richardson is in the process of being fired, it’s is possible the FBI has discovered the school paid for a player and now starting wing Rawle Alkins will miss up to 12 weeks with a broken foot. … Utah has a bye this week but it is already thinking about its next opponent.

EWU: Sacramento State heads up to Cheney on Saturday, with Wulff and Jody Sears hoping to get a win. Jim has the story on Wulff’s return to Cheney. … No, Eastern isn’t as desperate for offensive linemen as WSU was for quarterback that one year in Wulff’s tenure. But Jim tells us the Eagles will hold tryouts. … Around the Big Sky, Portland State would love to open its Big Sky schedule with a home win over Montana on Saturday. … Weber State is a benchmark for Montana State this season. … Southern Utah’s basketball arena has a new name.

Chiefs: A day after signing a contract with the L.A. Kings, Jared Anderson-Dolan was sent back to Spokane, as expected. … Portland has its full roster together and will practice often the next couple weeks.

Preps: It is Thursday morning, so we have a lot to offer today, as usual. But we have to begin with Greg’s column saying goodbye. And then get into his picks for the week with Sam Adams. … Greg also has a feature on another longtime prep personality retiring, Colfax’s Sue Doering. … He also has a story on a local football coach hospitalized after a heart attack. … Also as usual, there were competitions yesterday. We have roundups from girls’ soccer and cross country. … Things are getting ugly in Utah when it comes to high school sports.

Mariners: The M’s rallied twice yesterday, one of which included Nelson Cruz’s hardest hit ball of the year, but fell 6-5 to the A’s on a walk-off home run. They are off today and then begin a season-ending three game series in Anaheim tomorrow. They will have a losing record.

Seahawks: One Hawk player wanted to be different. But it is football after all. … The President isn’t going to get his way with the Seahawks. … Their protest has changed emphasis a bit. … The Hawks’ local TV ratings are actually up. … The Colts’ current quarterback is an employee of Russell Wilson. Sort of. … When will the running game get going? It will have to get by this week without C.J. Prosise. … Of all the NFL stories from yesterday, this one from Houston made me feel the best.

Sounders: Seattle needed a win. MLS-leading Vancouver was in town. The Sounders scored three times and routed the Whitecaps. … The L.A. Galaxy won’t be in the playoffs.

•••       

• Once again I’ll be joining Dennis Patchin on the radio show today, this one from Northern Quest casino. We go from 3 to 6 p.m. on 700 ESPN. You can listen here if you want. Until then … 

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