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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: Speaking of things we’ve seen before, a Mike Leach team throws the ball all over the field and Russell Wilson looks to cement his great start to the season

Mississippi State Pom Squad members, left, listen as new NCAA college football coach Mike Leach, speaks before reporters and school supporters  (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s an NFL Sunday, so let’s get right at it. There is a lot to cover.


• With no Washington State football yesterday, one has to assume Cougar fans were interested in Mississippi State’s opener at LSU. After all, there was Mike Leach and a bunch of former Cougar assistants on the Bulldogs’ sideline.

Leach, who want without his mask for much of the game, was Leach. As was his team. Graduate transfer quarterback K.J. Costello threw for an SEC record 623 yards, was responsible for five touchdowns and MSU upset the sixth-ranked Tigers 44-34.

Ho hum. People in Pullman have seen it before. Heck, if you happened to be in Martin Stadium that one night in 2014, you saw Connor Halliday throw for more than 100 yards more than that.

But college football being what it is, what happens in the upper-left corner of the country is like what’s behind you for Italian drivers. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is Death Valley. And what happens there, no matter how much defending champion LSU has lost from last season.

Maybe that explains why Leach has been trying to get an SEC job ever since athletic director Bill Moos flew the coop to Nebraska (Remember, Leach’s attorney said the coach had agreed to take over at Tennessee in 2017, a deal nullified when the school fired the athletic director who offered it to him).

In his 60s, isn’t it time Leach and his offense earn the respect it deserves? And what better place to cement that respect than in the SEC? A few more performances like Saturday’s and the deal is done.

Until then, bask in the wonder as college football fans south of the Mason/Dixon and east of Texas “discover” the marvels of the Air-Raid.

• Speaking of respect, there is no better way to earn it in the NFL than to defeat the modern dynasty, New England, and the all-time one, Dallas, in back-to-back weeks.

The opponents don’t matter all that much to the Seahawks, as they just need to win games. But for Russell Wilson, still searching for his first Most Valuable Player Award vote, let alone the hardware, it matters a great deal. Maybe.

A win today with another New England-like performance would certainly cement the award, three-weeks-in edition, for Wilson. But that doesn’t matter, does it? It takes 17 weeks to finish an NFL season and 16 good games to win the award. Heck, in Wilson’s case, it probably will take 16 great games. So he can’t afford a letdown today.

• Yesterday we took the Pac-12 to the woodshed – how many people still have woodsheds these days? – over the conference not using the time between coming up with a testing plan and last week to lay a foundation for football.

The feet dragging cost the Pac-12 a week at least on the upcoming schedule.

Jon Wilner attacked the same territory last night in his usual Saturday night column on the San Jose Mercury-New site, and he attacked with a lot more weapons.

When you are done reading it, maybe you will agree with me. The lack of urgency might be enough, in a vacuum, to make a change at the top. Add in everything else Larry Scott’s administration has bungled in the past few years and it’s past time for a change.


WSU: No, there wasn’t a football game in Martin Stadium yesterday. But the broadcast crew treated the day as if there were. In a pregame show for a phantom game, there were interviews and commentary almost like a normal Saturday. Theo Lawson followed along and has this story. … Around the Pac-12 and college sports, no school has been hurt more by defections than Oregon. Most of the Ducks’ defensive backfield has decided to prep for the NFL draft. … Arizona has been hit hard as well, but the schools had differing expectations. … Oregon State didn’t expect much in 2000, but achieved a lot, especially in conference play. … The immediate football future at Colorado is dependent on the Boulder area health district. … Utah wants its fans to help get its football team back on the field safely.

EWU: Looking back 10 years is fun. Ryan Collingwood does just that this morning, looking back at the Eagles’ win over Weber State en route to their national title. … Looking ahead is fun too, especially when it pertains to the upcoming spring football season.

Chiefs: Speaking of looking back, Dan Thompson examines the most important trade in the franchise’s history. It’s the one that brought Trevor Kidd to Spokane and keyed the 1991 Memorial Cup run.

Mariners: If not for one case of COVID-19 and a few million acres of burnt forest, the M’s could very well be preparing for the postseason today. That’s the premise of Gene Warnick’s Out of Right Field column this morning. … It’s a good time to take a long look at the roster. … The M’s swept a doubleheader from the A’s yesterday.

Seahawks: The experts are envisioning an offensive explosion today. When that happens, the final score is usually something like 14-10. … The Dallas offense will be bottled up if Bobby Wagner has anything to say about it. … Shaquem Griffin is back on the active roster.

Sounders: The rising coronavirus numbers nationally may impact Raul Ruidiaz’s international future. … Vancouver is going to play a half-dozen matches in Portland.

Storm: Seattle has the best depth in the WNBA. It’s a big reason the Storm are poised to win another title.


• Today’s meal during the game against the Cowboys? How about some Texas brisket, slathered in sauce and accompanied by side dishes like baked beans, mac-and-cheese, potato salad and onion rings? Throw in some smoked sausage and you have a feast to die for. Possibly in reality. The amount of cholesterol my family may ingest today could kill a herd of cattle. Until later …