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Wednesday, September 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: The calendar has been stretching the truth about a lot lately, including today’s importance

In the Washington State Cougar equipment room, uniforms are displayed on mannequins, the more to impress football recruits, shown Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
In the Washington State Cougar equipment room, uniforms are displayed on mannequins, the more to impress football recruits, shown Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It seems just about every day of the sporting calendar has to have a name, like Super Sunday or Moving Day or whatever. Today is known as Signing Day in college football circles, but we think we have a better moniker for it, thanks to the NCAA. It’s Anticlimactic Day. Now doesn’t that just roll of the tongue? Read on.

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• When the NCAA decided to institute an earlier football signing period for this offseason – we had it back in December – there were, like always, unintended consequences.

The major ones had to do with coaching changes and the like, as no one wanted to wait until after the letter of intents were signed to make a head coaching decision. Most schools had their new coach in place before the period began.

But there was a minor one as well. With most schools filling their quota of about 25 incoming players in December, it took away much of today’s drama – and importance. After years and years of building the hype machine – and burnishing the reputation of the outmoded fax machine – somehow the NCAA made today anticlimactic.

Haven’t we already celebrated the class of 2018?

Yes, we have. Before Christmas. And now, after Groundhog Day and just before Presidents’ Day, we’re supposed to get excited all over again?

It’s not going to happen, at least not to the extent it happened last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the … OK, you get the picture.

Yes, today is an important day in the life of high school seniors who reach their dream. It’s a day they get to bathe in the spotlight. It’s just that, thanks to the NCAA, the spotlight has been diffused a bit.

• Speaking of anticlimactic, Whitworth’s 100-99 loss to No. 1-ranked Whitman in the Fieldhouse last night had that feel. In what was a back-and-forth game between two of the best Division III teams in the country (the Pirates are ranked fourth), the Blues won by hitting two foul shots in the final second.

I wasn’t there, but I did get a chance to watch SWX’s broadcast some and to re-watch the last sequence more than once on social media. It looked like the blocking call at the end was the right decision, as the Whitworth defender was still moving when contact was made.

But it’s still a tough way to end a hard-fought battle between two excellent teams.

• You know what, hopefully, won’t be anticlimactic? Saturday’s showdown between Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in Moraga. It won’t be as long as the Zags get their business done Thursday night in Stockton.

The game with the University of the Pacific, Pete Carroll’s alma mater, has all the makings of the classic Admiral Ackbar game. Yes, it’s a trap. The Tigers are better than the Tigers that played in Spokane earlier this year. Their overall record (12-13) may be under .500 but they’ve played a lot better in conference (7-5 and winners of two consecutive games). And it would be understandable if the Bulldogs were looking ahead just a bit due to the 53-point margin in the first meeting.

Understandable, but not desirable.

•••

WSU: Our Theo Lawson will be covering the letter of intent signings throughout the day, but going in to this Wednesday, he’s looking forward to late April. That’s when the NFL holds its draft. Theo has a story on the Washington State players invited to the combine and on the two offensive linemen the Cougars feel will get drafted. … Theo also has a story on late commit from a California linebacker. … Besides writing, Theo also shows off his video skills with interviews of Ernie Kent and three basketball players after practice as well as baseball coach Marty Lees. Yes, baseball is underway.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, we start with looking around the conference as a whole from football recruiting to basketball possibilities, including expanding the conference schedule. … With Washington in the NCAA discussion, Husky fans are starting to ask questions. … There is a lot of mediocrity in the Pac-12, with Utah still thinking it can get in the crucial top four and ColoradoOregon State and California trying to turn around awful seasons. … USC has already done that, though the season was never awful. … The Bears are also looking for an athletic director. … UCLA heads to Arizona this week. … We will hone in on the signings tomorrow, but there was one big announcement concerning Washington yesterday. Jacob Eason is transferring in. … USC gave coach Clay Helton an extension.

Gonzaga: If you have to make a trip to Japan in the next few weeks, you may not have to worry about missing the Zag game. As Jim Meehan reports, Gonzaga has reached agreement to broadcast some games in Rui Hachimura’s home country.

EWU: The Eagles are trying to haul in a recruiting class that will help them fill some holes that showed up during last year’s down season. Jim Allen has a preview of what to expect. … There is also a story on Eastern’s West Side recruiting in the Times today.

Whitworth: Jim was also in the Fieldhouse last night and has this game story.

Preps: Playoff time is always a bit dramatic and last night was no exception. There were halfcourt shots and upsets as the postseason really got going. We can pass along roundups in girls and boys basketball action.

Seahawks: Doug Pederson is the pride of Ferndale these days. … How will Richard Sherman bounce back? That is a key question for the offseason.

Mariners: As spring training beckons – it is a week away – our friend Ryan Divish looks at the M’s roster. He starts with the lineup, which is solid.

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• The sporting calendar is one thing, but what’s the real calendar say? It’s Feb. 7, right? It sure doesn’t look like it outside. It’s more like St. Patty’s Day or May Day.  Until later …

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