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Friday, March 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: Decisions elsewhere have a tendency to rile up fans in other spots - and make them appreciate what they have

University of Southern California athletic director Lynn Swann watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Fresno State Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
University of Southern California athletic director Lynn Swann watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Fresno State Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • This is supposed to be the quiet time of college football’s workweek. It isn’t. All thanks to a couple of major decisions.


• Mondays are, traditionally, the day you ease into the workweek. Slow and steady was always my motto. Take some time, prepare for what’s ahead and then get on with it.

Yesterday blew that model to football hell.

First off, now USC is looking for an athletic director. Lynn Swann unexpectedly resigned Monday. That might not seem all that important, what with who has served in that position the past decade or so, but it just possibly could have a domino effect up and down the coast.

Oh, I don’t believe Jon Wilner’s suggestion on whom the Trojans should hire will ever come to pass – when I passed it along yesterday on Twitter, I was greeted with a lot of unexpected vitriol from Cougar fans; they love Pat Chun, which I understand.

It doesn’t seem to be in USC’s DNA to hire a guy who worked in, god forbid, Pullman. Aren’t their, like, wheat fields around that place? In this case, the Trojans definitely have an aversion to anything connected to gluten.

But don’t expect new USC president Carol Folt to hire another former Trojan football player – the last three ADs: Mike Garrett, Pat Haden, Swann – to hold down that spot. She seems too professional for that. More than likely the next Trojan athletic director will come from another school’s administration, whether it is a sitting AD somewhere or an up-and-coming assistant.

If it is the former, watch out. Pull a thread somewhere, and other threads start to unravel.

That’s always the quandary Washington State finds itself in. The Cougars want excellence, but in the past such excellence just opened the door to an exit.

There are so many examples I don’t even have to write one here, except to wonder if Tennessee fans wish now John Currie had been allowed to seal the deal with Mike Leach a couple summers ago instead of being fired over the agreement.

Chun has done an admirable job since taking over for Bill Moos in 2018. For someone with no previous connection to the Palouse, he’s made thousands of them in a short time. And he’s using those connections to ramp up the Cougars’ fundraising, the No. 1 task he was handed when he was hired.

But success breeds attention. Other schools with deeper pockets are not ignorant of what Chun has done under tough circumstances. How long his tenure will last in Pullman is up to him. That doesn’t mean he won’t be asked. It’s a compliment – and a Washington State tradition.

It may not be USC that comes a calling, but it may be the school USC raids for its new athletic director. If Chun wants to stay, he will. If he doesn’t, he won’t. It’s that simple. And it’s that simple for everyone.

• When Antonio Brown orchestrated his exit from Oakland, there were few if any NFL fans that didn’t utter a version of this phrase: “How long before he signs with New England?”

It took just a few hours.

He could be another piece in the Patriots’ 459th Super Bowl run. Or the volatile wide receiver could be a malignancy that eats away at their core from within. Who knows? But his talent is such NFL teams were willing to risk it.

Including the Seahawks.

Pete Carroll admitted yesterday they kicked the tires a bit in Brown’s post-Raider hours but he was already destined for the cold of Foxboro.

This could be one of those lucky happenstances of addition because of no addition. There is no denying his talent. But would have Brown fit in? Would he have been another Percy Harvin, on and off the field? A Jimmy Graham? Or, on the more positive side, another Michael Bennett?

We will never find out. And that may just be a good thing.


WSU: With this week’s game scheduled for Friday night, Theo Lawson has to move up his schedule. The first look at Houston is already done as is the conversations with players, who just happened to watch Gardner Minshew play Sunday. … Theo also has a story on the inside receiver who is leading Washington State in catches and the announcement of when the UCLA game will be played. (Spoiler alert: If you don’t like driving home from Pullman at midnight, you are out of luck.) … A Florida defensive end announced he's headed to Pullman. Theo has that news as well. … Dan Thompson, who has been helping out Theo on home games, spoke with Larry Weir yesterday for the latest Press Box pod. … The Times has a story on Mike Leach's weekly press conference. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, just about everyone thinks Utah is currently the class of the conference. And that won’t change this week, with the Utes hosting Idaho State. … Washington was a contender for that spot until last week and the home loss to California. A lot of little things contributed to the defeat. … Oregon also faces an FCS school this week, our friends from Missoula. … Oregon State’s only worries against Cal Poly are its health and some discipline problems. … No FCS school this week for Colorado. It’s Air Force. … We touched on Swann’s departure at the beginning of today’s column, but that’s not the only news from Los Angeles. UCLA is also in a bit of disarray. A win or two would help, but Oklahoma visits Saturday and the Bruins head to Pullman the week after. … The second half was painful for Arizona last week. … In non-football news, a big name in Oregon track is relocating across the country.

Gonzaga: Kyle Wiltjer ended his World Cup on a high note, even though Canada went down to defeat. Jim Meehan has more on the former Zags playing in this story.

Indians: Hillsboro is one game away from the Northwest League championship after a win last night at Tri-City.

Golf: There are many ways to make a living in golf these days. Jim caught up with a nationally prominent teacher with local ties for this column.

Preps: Dave Nichols has a prep notebook, looking back and ahead. … Hoopfest is making some change to the local AAU basketball league. Justin Reed has more in this story.

Seahawks: We can’t leave the one-point home win over the Bengals just yet. Not until Carroll has the final word. … Russell Wilson wasn’t overpowering, just efficient. … The Hawks need to improve in a lot of spots.

Mariners: The M’s are bringing up a few prospects for the rest of the season. Is Moonlight Graham among them? And will he get an at-bat?


• My sister, a proud graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, is flying up to watch the Cougars host the Bruins. She’s nine years older than me. I’m guessing when I tell her the time ESPN decided it should start, she going to say a few choice words about Larry Scott, the Pac-12 hierarchy and, possibly, me. After all, everyone blames the media, right? Even relatives. Until later …

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