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Saturday, July 11, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: As we bid adieu to June, we look forward to July and beyond including, hopefully, the return of college sports

Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Corey Kispert (24) and guard Joel Ayayi (11) embrace after defeating the St. Mary's Gaels during the second half of a West Coast Conference championship basketball game on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at The Orleans in Las Vegas, Nev. Gonzaga won the game 84-66. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Corey Kispert (24) and guard Joel Ayayi (11) embrace after defeating the St. Mary's Gaels during the second half of a West Coast Conference championship basketball game on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at The Orleans in Las Vegas, Nev. Gonzaga won the game 84-66. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Goodbye June. Or is it good riddance? Whatever. The month is in its last day today. We can only hope July is better.


• We’re not here to give everyone false hope. That’s not our job. But we have an idea things may look a bit brighter July 31 than they do June 30. Why’s that, you might rightly ask. Mainly because of two things: People will wise up; and, if they don’t, at least there are more and more draconian rules in place to make them. After all, everyone wants to see sports return, right?

Just kidding. Sports are screwed. Just like those of us who would enjoy a little more outside-the-house time.

The numbers are all out there for everyone to see, locally and from around the nation and the world. The trends are not good. No need to rehash them. And the fans’ attitudes are also available to be perused. Sports or not, getting folks into the stadiums to watch them live won’t be easy.

But it’s the ancillary evidence that might be the hardest to overcome, especially for colleges. When Stanford University – one of the nation’s more expensive institutions – announces a plan for the upcoming school year that is light on on-campus students, it makes one wonder if any major college or university will be able to get through the 2020-21 academic year without a major outbreak and closure. Without a vaccine, of course.

And don’t forget, no students, no sports. It’s that simple.

If you’re life goal is to watch in person whomever is going to play quarterback for the Cougars throw the game-winning touchdown strike against Oregon this November, it might help that aim – dream? – if you wear a mask everywhere. After all, those of us who really just want to see November are doing it. We would love a little help.

• I have a good buddy who is a USC basketball season-ticket holder. Yes, he’s that one guy Southern California suckered into buying basketball season tickets. Anyhow, he texted me earlier this year when it was revealed Eastern Washington would play the Trojans in hoops. He feels a connection to our area through his lifelong friend.

Now comes the news Gonzaga and USC are going to meet in Portland, part of the Phil Knight Invitational. If this were normal times, the two of us probably would have already made plans to meet in the Rose City for the contest – and invite Dick Vitale to join us.

Alas, that doesn’t seem possible. But I’m sure my friend Kent will be sitting at home rooting for his Trojans while I’m sitting in my living room, rooting for an interesting broadcast so my TV column is well-read. Maybe even Vitale will be doing the analysis.


Gonzaga: Of course, Jim Meehan has a story on the Zags filling up their nonconference schedule. That’s his job and he does it well. … Larry Weir talks about lots of sports and schools. That’s his job and he does it well. Yesterday he spoke with Justin Reed about Gonzaga hoops. It’s part of the latest Press Box podcast. … Elsewhere in the WCC, once again we can look at how BYU has rebuilt its roster through the magic of transfers. It seems to be the path many schools are following these days.

WSU: A new coach means, in some cases, new chances. Like Daniel Isom’s. Mike Leach dismissed the former starter from the team last year. But Leach is in Starkville, Nick Rolovich is the head coach and Theo Lawson confirms that Isom is back on the roster. Isom will be challenging for a starting defensive back spot whenever practice begins. … Around the Pac-12 and college sports, Washington’s recruiting is in the news, what with the Huskies receiving a commitment yesterday from a surprise source. … Oregon State is announcing its overall number of COVID cases among athletes, unlike Oregon or, as we understand it, Washington State. … California and UCLA may be in a financial pickle if Under Armour's money disappears. … In basketball news, Utah is rebuilding its roster, grabbing a junior college player this week. … Arizona is still recruiting for this year, though its roster seems full. … We may see more of this, but a fifth-year senior on the Oregon women’s basketball team isn’t returning. … Finally, we mentioned this series of stories out of Tucson recently. The summary of Arizona’s 1980 national title team hit close to home. The 1980 Cal State Fullerton baseball team was still the most talented I ever saw, but the Titans never made the World Series. Gonzaga defeated them twice in Tucson, knocking them from the regionals. Arizona never had to face the No. 1 team in the nation, and defeated the giant-killing Zags twice before heading to Omaha where it won another championship.

EWU: We mentioned this before, but USC is on the Eagles’ basketball schedule. So are a bunch of other really talented teams. Ryan Collingwood has a look at Eastern’s nonconference slate, one of the toughest in the nation, not just the Big Sky.

Golf: Though some states are still allowing pretty much of a free-for-all – we see you Idaho – the Pacific Northwest Golf Association has decided to cancel all its remaining tournaments for the season. Jim has this story that explains why. Honestly, if the PGA Tour, with all its resources, is trying to maintain a bubble-like atmosphere, and failing to keep the virus out, how could the PNGA expect to succeed?

Seahawks: What does the signing of Cam Newton tell us about the New England Patriots? Not sure, but maybe it tells us more about the rest of the NFL.

Mariners: If you were wondering what the rules of engagement would be in 2020, you can find out now that baseball has released them all. … The M’s signed their final pick from the draft.


• It didn’t surprise us yesterday to hear of three major league players who decided not to play this year, including former Mariner Mike Leake. What with the salary cuts and baseball’s plans to move the players around the country during the shortened season, increasing the risk of transmission, it won’t surprise me if more players don’t just sit out the season. And more coaches don’t make the same decision Dan Hughes of the Storm made. Until later …

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