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

A Grip on Sports: A big hearing in Colfax, some big emotions at press conferences and a big mismatch in the Kennel

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s a big day for the Pac-2. And the other 10. We hope it is all the last day they’ll be in court, squabbling, but we’re sure it won’t be. But that’s not the only thing we see going on around these parts today. Even if it’s so foggy outside we can’t see the neighbor’s home.


• At 2 this afternoon, a hearing will begin in Whitman County Superior Court judge Gary Libey’s courtroom. He’ll be asked to determine who is in control of the Pac-12 Conference for the foreseeable future. It could be the end of the squabble or just another step. Heck, it might not even happen. The two sides, Oregon State and Washington State against the rest of the conference members and commissioner George Kliavkoff, might reach some sort of agreement before it starts. It’s possible.

Unless an agreement happens – we’ll call it a 17-point underdog – the two sides will once again get to lay out why they feel they should leave Colfax with a win – something we believe always includes the phrase, ‘hey, at least we didn’t get a ticket.” And then Libey will either rule or say he wants a few days to think about it.

Time is of the essence. Football season is almost over. Recruiting season, within the transfer portal, is about to begin. All of the schools, even those leaving, would like to have some sort of idea of where the conference’s financial assets and liabilities are headed.

We’ll be paying attention to the proceedings just like all of you. And hoping for some clarity. Some move toward the finish line. Hoping, yes. Expecting? Not really.

• Eastern Oregon is headed back inside McCarthey Athletic Center again tonight to face off with a top-15-ranked Gonzaga men’s basketball team. Last year it didn’t go that well as the 120-42 rout. Two years ago, Gonzaga won 115-62.

In other words, the outcome is not in doubt tonight, even though the Mountaineers were picked to finish second in their conference – just like GU.

The distance between La Grande and Spokane is not nearly as wide as the divide between the best teams in the NAIA and the NCAA. The Mountaineers also won’t have one of their better players, Genesis Prep graduate Jonny Hillman will be sitting with a knee injury.

So, what does 11th-ranked Gonzaga get out of tonight? The Bulldogs have a chance to work out some kinks before they head to Hawaii and a date with second-ranked Purdue. To put some stuff on video from which to teach. Backups will get a chance to show what they can do. And maybe a few folks who don’t have an opportunity to get into home games often were able to wrangle a ticket.

• We had a chance to see a couple of major college football coaches display their emotions yesterday at press conferences. In different ways.

Washington State’s Jake Dickert choked up a bit in his presser in preparation for Friday night’s home game against Colorado. It wasn’t the opponent that hit Dickert in the feels. It was the venue, Pullman, and the place on the schedule, the last time at Gesa Field this season.

Senior Night. Most of the 17 seniors (or, in modern athletics, 17 players who have completed four years on the field) have been with Dickert the entire time he’s been in Pullman. That means something. Especially to a first-time head coach like Dickert.

The emotion in Eugene was a bit different. Dan Lanning was asked about the open position at Texas A&M, a place with money to throw around and a desire, according to some sources, to throw it Lanning’s way.

Anger may not be the right emotion, but Lanning was pretty close. He displayed indignation at the very least. And was adamant he wasn’t going anywhere.

“I think I’ve been really, really clear here since Day 1, everything I want exists right here,” he told the assembled media, his face as focused as it is during crunch time of a game. “I’m not going anywhere. There’s zero chance that I would be coaching somewhere else.”

Different emotions. But the same conviction.


WSU: A Friday night home game. Temperature somewhere in the low 40s at game time. Colorado in town. Greg Woods has this first look at the game. … He also has a story on two offensive linemen with eligibility left deciding to go through the Senior Night festivities. … The final Pac-12 Apple Cup has a kickoff time. It will begin at 1 p.m. next Saturday on Fox. Greg has more. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has his power rankings for the Pac-12 and Mountain West in the Mercury News. … John Canzano has a really good look at today’s Colfax hearing (we linked it above too) as well as a mailbag from yesterday. … Washington isn’t waiting. With a head coach with a Knute Rockne-like record, the Huskies are trying to get ahead of the poachers. They and Kalen DeBoer are in contract extension talks. … The best game of the weekend is in Corvallis. No. 10 Oregon State hosting No. 5 Washington. The Beavers favored over the undefeated Huskies. It will be bouncing in Reser Stadium. Loud too. … Utah’s offense seemed to slow down and disappear in the second half at UW. Why? Kyle Whittingham can’t answer that. … Oregon’s win over USC was more dominant than you might have thought. … Remember when Colorado had its jewelry stolen at the Rose Bowl? Police have suspects. High school students. … Chip Kelly isn’t losing sleep over his UCLA job status. Having millions in the bank probably helps. … Arizona State is looking for a new athletic director. Ray Anderson didn’t feel he had the strength for the job anymore. … Arizona’s best receiver is also one of the nation’s best. … In basketball news, Arizona had a little trouble with visiting Southern. … Oregon State treats each end-of-the-game scenario on its merits. … Colorado has both its men and women ranked. … California is just happy that both are improved. … Stanford’s women rose quickly in the polls.

Gonzaga: We mentioned tonight’s game above. Theo Lawson has a preview and a look at the key matchup. … Jim Meehan and Richard Fox got together for their podcast, which you can listen to here. … Jim also has this story on Graham Ike being named to the Sporting News’ All-American first team. … The new ratings still have Gonzaga at No. 11. Saint Mary’s dropped out, though, as did San Diego State. Jim has that story as well. … From the no-surprise file, soccer coach Chris Watkins was honored by the WCC after the Zags won the women’s title. That news leads off the S-R’s latest local briefs column.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, GameDay will be elsewhere but Saturday’s Brawl in the Wild in Missoula will decide the Big Sky title. Mainly because Weber State upset Idaho last week. However, both Montana and Montana State will head into the FCS playoffs. Their seeds, however, will be impacted. … Sam Huard set a Cal Poly passing record in last weekend’s loss. … It was not a good weekend for Idaho State basketball. … The Weber State women were routed by host Boise State last night.

Preps: The State swimming and diving championships were held over the weekend and Dave Nichols has this on the top local finishers.

Seahawks: As the game went on Sunday, the Hawks improved. … So did Geno Smith. … The running game helps Smith and the passing game. … Tyler Lockett has always done some amazing things with his feet. … It sort of seems this ranking is a bit low for Seattle.

Kraken: If there was really any early momentum, it disappeared quickly. And completely. Colorado rolled to a 5-1 win in over a less-aggressive-then-it-needed-to-be Seattle squad.

Mariners: There were two unanimous choices for Rookie of the Year.

Golf: The year is almost over and still no final agreement between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. Now other money is on the table. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.


• Our alma mater is a baseball school, first and foremost. But this time of year, it’s a soccer school. And the upset king in the sport. Until later …