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Saturday, February 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: While we wait for WSU to find a new football coach, there is always basketball and the Seahawks to entertain us

New Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach speaks at a news conference Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, at the Starkville, Miss., university, after being officially introduced. (Photos by Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)
New Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach speaks at a news conference Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, at the Starkville, Miss., university, after being officially introduced. (Photos by Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Mike Leach is gone. He’s not coming back. WSU athletic director Pat Chun is out looking for his replacement. It may take a while. Or not. But no matter what, while we wait we have other items to distract us. Like college basketball. And the Seahawks.

•••••••

• When Leach was introduced as Washington State’s new coach almost a decade ago, his disdain for his last employer was palatable. If I remember right, he didn’t even like to use the two words, Texas and Tech. Understandable, I guess, considering how his tenure ended in recrimination, charges and counter-charges.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Leach was introduced as Mississippi State’s new football coach. His respect, heck maybe even love, for Washington State came through, not only in what he said but how he said it.

It’s not hard to understand, even if you aren’t a Cougar fan.

Washington State was a lifeline for Mike Leach. When Bill Moos plucked him out of football purgatory, Leach’s life changed for the better. No more analyzing regional college football games. No more having to explain every day why he wasn’t doing what he does best, coach football. No more boring fall days doing nothing.

Over his eight years on the Palouse, Leach rebuilt his reputation and burnished his image. He not only won games, took the Cougars to bowls and developed passers who set a bunch of Pac-12 records, he was able to experience, first-hand, the Gardner Minshew Experience. That alone is worth having to deal with ice and snow for eight winters.

Now he’s coaching in the best football conference in the nation. He’s nearer family. He’s nearer his Key West base. He’s making almost as much in salary as Mark Zuckerberg. All thanks to his time at Washington State.

No wonder he was so emotional yesterday.

• Gonzaga is in Los Angeles today, facing Loyola Marymount in what could be a physical West Coast Conference game.

It also could be another blowout, like Thursday’s win at San Diego. Though no one, not even Mark Few, can be sure of what he will get from this year’s team. The Zags have been up (most of the time) and down (the opening WCC week) – sometimes both in the course of the same game.

• The Seahawks better be up for the entire game Sunday in Green Bay. Or the season will be over.

The Packers have a couple huge advantages. They are at home. They didn’t play last week, so they are rested. And they are used to the weather, which should be about as cold as Spokane.

But the Hawks have an advantage too. His name is Russell Wilson and when he’s good, he’s really good. They will need him to be really good Sunday evening if they want to advance to the NFC title game.

Hey, maybe the Vikings will win in San Francisco. If that happens, the Hawks will be playing for home-field advantage as well. That would be cool. Not as cool as it will be in Wisconsin on Sunday, but cool nonetheless.

•••

Gonzaga: Jim Meehan’s preview of today’s game stresses Loyola’s preferred method of playing. That would be tough and physical. … Jim also has the key matchup. … We have a head’s up. There will not be a TV Take today, as we have other responsibilities during the Zags’ 1 p.m. game. … Jim Allen previews the women’s showdown with Pacific at McCarthey this afternoon. … Elsewhere in the WCC, his finger injury might keep BYU's Yoeli Childs out for a couple weeks.

WSU: Though Theo Lawson is in California, preparing to cover the Cougars’ basketball game at Stanford, he did monitor Leach’s introductory press conference in Starkville and has this story. … Larry Weir spoke with former Cougar star Paul Sorensen about Leach’s departure. That’s part of the latest Press Box pod. … Around the Pac-12, the number of players from the conference in the transfer portal is impressive. … Washington has hired a new offensive coordinator. … Utah has a lot returning next season. … Arizona State has revamped its football coaching staff. … On the basketball front, can Washington win without its point guard? … The Oregon women fell to Arizona State. That opens the No. 1 spot for Oregon State, which defeated Arizona. … Though Oregon won over Arizona, the Ducks still want to improve. … Colorado struggled against Oregon State's defense. … USC and UCLA are ready to meet for the first time this season.

Whitworth: The Pirates had little trouble with Willamette last night in the Fieldhouse. Dan Thompson was there and has this game story.

Preps: It’s rivalry season in high school hoops. Dave Nichols kicked it off by covering the Fight for the Fish game in Coeur d’Alene. The Lake City girls won the game Dave attended. … The winter weather forced cancellation of the GSL games scheduled last night. … We do have a roundup of the games that were played.

Chiefs: Spokane took the physical road to a 3-1 home win over Vancouver. Kevin Dudley was in the Arena and has this game story. … Colin Mulvany was also there and has a photo gallery.

Seahawks: Despite having Russell Wilson, the Hawks have struggled in frigid Green Bay recently. … Pete Carroll and John Schneider have done some impressive feats together. … Jadeveon Clowney, who is feeling better, was not fined for last week's hit. … The offensive line is up in the air.

•••       

• We were up early today taking the younger son and his wife to the airport. They are going to Texas to visit her family. The temperature is expected to be in the 70s. I’m completely jealous. Until later …

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