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Grip on Sports: The past and the future collided a bit yesterday at Idaho and around the area

Idaho athletic director Rob Spear, left,  was placed on administrative leave on Tuesday, announced by president Chuck Staben, right. (University of Idaho / Courtesy)
Idaho athletic director Rob Spear, left, was placed on administrative leave on Tuesday, announced by president Chuck Staben, right. (University of Idaho / Courtesy)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • If you like news instead of games, then yesterday was your day in the Inland Northwest sports world. But don’t despair if that is not what makes you happy. There are also games to talk about. Read on.


• Some five years ago, Idaho athletic director Rob Spear made mistakes he freely acknowledges. He handled a sexual harassment and assault case poorly, invoking already-outdated rules and failing to keep the complainant or the Dean of Students updated on the allegations and their outcome.

Yesterday, those mistakes resulted in Spear being pushed aside, at least for 60 days, as the school investigates the incident and decides on a course of action.

Spear was placed on administrative leave by UI President Chuck Staben the day before the student governing body was to vote on a resolution calling for Spear’s firing.

Whether that resolution will be acted upon now is unknown, as is Spear’s ultimate fate. But what is known is 60 days from now the school term will be over, summer will have started and the heat on Spear and Staben, which is at least boiling right now, may have dissipated a bit.

• Our Jim Meehan broke the news Monday that Gonzaga would stay in the West Coast Conference, at least for now. The discussions about joining the Mountain West were over and the school was looking forward to continuing as the WCC’s premier basketball program.

Which leads to the next phase of the news cycle: dissecting what just happened. Luckily, we are talking about the status quo, not a major change, so such an exercise is muted a bit. But there is some response, not only around here (see the Gonzaga section below for John Blanchette’s views) but also in Utah, where the possible move seemed to have some interest to BYU.

• The most fun story of the day? That just might be Doug Ferguson’s piece for the Associated Press on the Masters’ champions’ dinner

The idea of grown men, all titans in their field, trying to figure out where to sit and how to deal with their peers just makes me laugh.

• All three Division I football teams in our area are now dealing with spring football. Only one, Eastern Washington, knows who its quarterback will be. And only one, Eastern again, seems assured of having a successful season.

Yes, there is a correlation. There always is.

No position in any other sport, not even goalie in hockey, is as important as the quarterback position in football. And it’s become even more important in the current iteration of the game, with the rules written in such a way that a solid passing offense is a must for victory.

Keep on eye on Idaho and Washington State now and in the fall. Whoever ends up running the offense will be crucial – and the key to their team’s success.


Gonzaga: We mentioned John’s thoughts on the Zags remaining in the WCC, so here they are. And there is also Larry Weir’s Press Box pod on the matter. … The Zags finished 10th in the final Associated Press poll. Jim has more in this story. … It’s sort of cold to be golfing around here right now, but it’s not in Arizona. 

WSU: The Cougars hosted Gonzaga in a midweek baseball game last night. Washington State used a late home run to prevail, 4-3. Theo Lawson was there and has the game story. … Tyler Hilinski’s suicide has served as a call to action for many schools, including Washington. … Oregon may lose two basketball players to the NBA draft, with one gone for sure. … Another UCLA player will test the waters. … Arizona’s contract with Sean Miller has some interesting clauses. … As spring football rolls on at USC, UCLA, Oregon and Utah, the most interesting story comes from Tempe, with Arizona State and its NFL-centric coach. … California is looking forward to the return of its fastest receiver. 

EWU: Jim Allen was in Cheney yesterday for the first day of spring football, where coach Aaron Best might be taking a page from the Pete Carroll handbook. Best is emphasizing the positives, as Jim’s story reflects.

Idaho: Yes, the Spear news was the most impactful from yesterday, but the Vandal football team’s search for a starting quarterback also began. Pete Harriman has both stories.

Chiefs: Spokane’s season is over, ended by the Portland Winterhawks with a 3-1, Game Seven victory in Portland.

Preps: Despite it being spring break in Washington, there was a lot going on yesterday. We can pass along roundups from softball, soccer and baseball.

Mariners: It was pretty fun to sit down yesterday afternoon and watch the M’s play in San Francisco. Fun because Marco Gonzales pitched well, the Mariners won their third game in four starts and the Giants lost. That latter event always makes me happy. The final score: 6-4, M’s. … Nelson Cruz has a high ankle sprain. He’s on the 10-day disabled list. My guess is the 37-year-old designated hitter will be out longer than that. … No, the M’s are not cursed. Mismanaged, maybe, but not cursed. … The Giants and M’s face off in the early afternoon today. The starting pitchers are the subject of Gene Warnick’s Out of Right Field post.

Seahawks: Don’t think in terms of “who” the Hawks will take with their first pick, think about “what.” As in what position they will target.

Sounders: A stupid red card is always regrettable. 


• Consider today the last day BTM. That stands for Before The Masters. Of course you knew that. Until later … 

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