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

A Grip on Sports: The ongoing sage of the Pac-12’s demise is almost like a ‘Fansville’ commercial and now we’re headed to instant replay

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Instant replay is a really big deal in sports these days. “After further review …” has become pervasive at each game. So, it only stands to reason, the decision in Colfax on Tuesday, would also include a whole bunch of people peaking under a hood and taking another look. Welcome to the legal system, sports fans.


• Remember the last time you were sitting at a big game and something good happened to the team you were rooting for? Remember how you jumped from your seat, voice rising along with your body as you celebrated a key play. Back in the day, that was that. The game moved on.

Not anymore. Anywhere. Your emotions, happy or sad, have to be put on hold until the next play. There is a chance, a good chance, the eye in the sky, the god-like figure in the booth or at the table or somewhere in an office miles away, will chime and say “review it.”

Joy put on hold. Pain delayed. Until the review ends. Eyes closed, fingers crossed, you listen. And then there is either a sigh of relief or the anger of review.

Yesterday, Whitman County Superior Court judge Gary Libey, who graduated from WSU in the early 1970s, watched live as a crucial play between plaintiffs Washington State and Oregon State and defendants (the rest of the Pac-12, though not actually listed that way) unfolded. He took his time. Listened. Asked questions. And ruled it really was a turnover. The conference’s ball belonged with the left-behind schools.

Every bit of video evidence we were privy to seemed to back Libey’s decision. Heck, every bit of video evidence dating back to the summer of 2022 backed it.

The University of Washington is throwing a challenge flag anyway. There will be a review. Probably. By the Washington State’s Supreme Court.

Libey’s ruling, giving the two Northwest schools who have not left the conference control of the board, will be appealed this week. More than likely the State’s highest court will hear it. And then nine justices – at least three of whom graduated from UW at some time – will take another look and make a ruling.

Will Libey’s hand be out-of-bounds? Or will the play stand?

If you have skin in the game, you probably see all the evidence through a prism of your own making. That’s understandable. But most folks out there with little to gain or lose seem to side with the Pac-2 members. The precedent – as members left the conference, they were excluded from the board immediately – of the past year-and-a-half sways them. Will the same apply to the Supreme Court?

One thing about sports. We aren’t privy to the discussions during replay. The words the referee is hearing in the earpiece could be anything from “I’m not sure” to “Have you tried the new restaurant on Grand?” Who knows. And we won’t know what will be said behind closed doors in Olympia. We never do.

Just like when a whistle blows and a guy in a white hat announces “the ruling on the field of a fumble is being reviewed.”

• Every year we ask the same question. What the heck is the College Football Playoff selection committee looking at? And every year the answer is the same – the wine list. Or something. Can’t be the games. Or the results.

This year the blathering concerns the fourth spot in the newest rankings announced Tuesday night. The committee once again has Florida State there. Washington is fifth. A decision that seems to fly in the face of sanity.

Both are 10-0. One leads, arguably, the deepest conference in the nation this season. The other is atop the ACC. One has defeated three CFP ranked teams, including the team ranked sixth. The other has defeated one. And yet the one with the stronger resume, Washington, is fifth.

But the Huskies barely got past Arizona State and Stanford, the argument goes. OK. Florida State barely got past Boston College and Miami. Conference games can be nailbiters.

The deciding factor? We presume it is location. One is located just off the I-95 corridor, the center of the nation’s universe and home to about half the population – and the key to strong game ratings. The other is just east of I-5, a world away. And, once again, passed over.


WSU: The courtroom win, as short-lived as it might be, is covered in depth in the S-R today. Greg Woods has his thoughts on the decision while James Hanlon covers the nuts and bolts. … Back to the on-court action, the WSU women invaded Missoula last night and cruised in the second half to win 61-49. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has his thoughts on the Colfax ruling in the Mercury News and his conference power ranking in the S-R. … He also looks at the bowl pairings, with WSU outside, looking in. … John Canzano was in the courtroom and has these thoughts. …There is coverage of the ruling in other areas too, not only from Oregon but around the country. … Christian Caple has his thoughts on our other main point today. … The rankings did have a change. Georgia is back on top. … If the playoffs included 12 teams, like next year, what would it look like? Pretty fun. … Washington has a big test this week, at Oregon State, who moved up to 11 in the CFP rankings. The Beavers still can end up in the Pac-12 title game. … Oregon could still end up in the playoffs and Bo Nix could win the Heisman, as long as the Ducks win their next three games, starting with Arizona State this week. … Deion Sanders is trying to hold off the distractions – a lot of distractions – as Colorado prepares to play in Pullman on Friday night. … It’s Big Game week in the Bay Area but Stanford, already a big underdog, could be without its best quarterback. … Lincoln Riley is trying to be patient with rebuilding USC, who really needs a win over UCLA this week. … Arizona State needs to hire a new athletic director that is more conventional. … The Arizona defense’s turnaround this year has been led by a former WSU player. The Wildcats are rolling just as the school begins a tough process of trimming expenses – and possibly sports. … In basketball news, Oregon State’s men rallied and won in overtime once more. … Colorado rolled to another win. … A beat-up USC team got beat-up even more at home by one of the West Coast’s premier programs, UC Irvine. … UCLA hosts Long Island tonight. … The fourth-ranked Utah women fell at No. 21 Baylor. … The Arizona women swarmed San Diego.

Gonzaga: We knew last night’s visit by Eastern Oregon would be a rout. And we were sure it was going to be in the first half, when a walk-on came off the GU bench to play. The result, however, was even more dominating than we expected, 123-57. Theo Lawson has the game story and one more, on the Wooden Award preseason list a couple Zags were named to Tuesday. … Jim Meehan has the difference makers and a look at what the four main bigs accomplished, as Gonzaga sat some offensive records. … Colin Mulvany has the photo gallery. … Elsewhere in the WCC, the Santa Clara and Saint Mary’s women both won. … The Santa Clara men rallied past Stanford.

Idaho: The Vandals hosted Evergreen State last night and ran away with an 88-42 victory, their first of the season. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, no matter who wins in Missoula on Saturday, the season will go on. … Northern Colorado has one more chance to win a football game this season. … It was a good week for the Weber State men in just about all sports. … It wasn’t easy for Dan Hawkins last week, playing his son’s football team. … Cal Poly has improved this season. … In basketball news, Colorado State had little trouble with Northern Colorado’s men. … Montana State’s women handled San Jose State. … Finally, Northern Arizona is favored in both men and women at this weekend’s NCAA cross country championships.

Seahawks: How has Leonard Williams changed the Seattle defensive front? Will he help against Los Angeles? … It’s pretty cool to see Russell Wilson playing well. … This week a decade ago? The Falcons were on the schedule.

Kraken: It’s getting late early for Seattle.

Mariners: Seattle made a roster move as the Rule 5 draft looms. Goodbye Mike Ford. … The former M’s brain trust of Bryan Price as pitching coach and Bob Melvin managing is back together in San Francisco.

Golf: Rory McIlroy decided he doesn’t want to be on the PGA Tour board anymore.


• Thanksgiving is only about a week away. Really? Seems like only yesterday it was Halloween. We have the candy around the house to prove it. Maybe we should put some of it in a cornucopia and meld the two holidays. Until later …