A GRIP ON SPORTS • Thursday are hard days. Hard days to get out of bed. Hard days when deciding what’s for dinner. Hard days to come up with a column idea.
• Taco Tuesday is a thing. So is, in our house at least, Fast-Food Friday. But Thursday? A week in front of the ultimate Thursday, Thanksgiving? What’s on the table tonight. Nothing alliterative, we assure you. Though we have something alliterative to offer.
Thrown-Together Thursday. Not dinner. This column.
A little of this, a little of that. Whatever is left in the recesses of our mind’s refrigerator. Ice-cold takes, we assure you.
Thoughts such as how many people will tune in to watch Washington State host Colorado tomorrow night on FS1? The game, scheduled to begin at 7:30 but will probably kick some time after 7:40, may have seemed like a great idea in September but now is more of an afterthought. Both teams enter with 4-6 records and only an outside chance of qualifying for a bowl game – the true goal of programs of this stature. Even if Deion Sanders preaches otherwise.
And there’s the draw, isn’t it? Deion. Coach Prime, as he asks everyone to call him. Back when this game was locked into a somewhat prime time spot – only on the West Coast, of course – the possibilities were endless in Boulder. And those possibilities seemed to be realized for about three weeks to start the season. Since? One win in seven chances. Which is one more than Jake Dickert’s team has in its last six opportunities.
So eight wins in 20 combined games. One team will exit Martin Stadium at around 11 p.m. Friday with a slight chance at bowl eligibility – Utah looms for the Buffs, UW for the Cougs, both on the road. The other? One more game until the transfer portal opens and each player either leaves their respective school or hopes the coaching staff doesn’t try to recruit a new player for their spot.
Just like college football has been for the past century.
• But that’s not all we’re thinking about. Our mind is also wandering across the Cascades, where a 38-year-old Bobby Wagner is playing as well as ever. Wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Wagner is just 33 years old. But we’re hoping he’ll still be playing in five years. After all, he’s among our top five Seahawks of all time. Even if he had to play last year wearing a Rams jersey.
Seattle made a financial decision almost two years ago and Los Angeles did the same last spring. Which means the middle linebacker is in his second incarnation as a Hawk and, though he’s lost a step or two, he’s still darn good. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t play every snap and the Seattle defense wouldn’t be so much better than last season.
Remember the first meeting between these two franchises last season? How Wagner wrecked the Hawks’ hopes? Maybe he’ll have that type of game again Sunday, when Seattle and L.A. meet in the NFL’s grandest palace for a late-afternoon battle.
As for his place in Seattle history, it’s as assured as anyone from Steve Largent to Marshawn Lynch, though Wagner’s personality leans more to the former than the latter.
He’s like a modern-day Walter Jones, doing his job year after year without much fanfare or national recognition until it’s about done. Then everyone realizes he’s a Hall of Fame player. The anti-Russell Wilson, in other words. And yet, the two were the yin and yang of the Hawks’ Super Bowl-winning team, one for the offense, the other the defense. Without both, no title.
• Speaking of titles, can the Huskies clinch the last Pac-12 regular season one Saturday evening in Corvallis? Or will their hopes be pounded into the Reser Stadium turf?
One thing is for sure. Their defensive coordinator better have a better day than the school’s attorney had in Colfax on Tuesday. If that performance is repeated, we’ll take OSU by 24. Again.
WSU: We’re used to Friday Cougar games, aren’t we? But we’ve become accustomed to them being the Apple Cup. Not this year. This year it’s a made-for-East-Coast-insomniacs party. Before it kicks, though, Greg Woods wanted to introduce you to one of the heroes of the athletic department’s underground marketing effort to get students to games. Meet Collin Scott. … Colorado is focused on stopping Cameron Ward. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, the ruling in Colfax is still reverberating, at least with Jon Wilner. … It also is front and center with John Canzano, who delves into the Pac-2’s plans. As does The Athletic. And others, including the Associated Press and Yahoo. … How about the Mountain West? How does it impact that conference? … Speaking of Sanders, the Colorado coach might be the betting favorite to be Texas A&M’s coach before Thanksgiving as the carousel turns. … Who are the favorites in this weekend’s games? Wilner has his picks in the Pac-12 and we can offer a couple more national lists. … Wilner is back with his Heisman rankings in the Mercury News. … Mistakes are worse if you don’t learn from them. A certain Washington player, who became a star in an instant last week, says he has learned. … We’re worried a similar mistake will befall the Huskies in Corvallis, though the faux pas could come from the third team on field. That would be so Pac-12, wouldn’t it? … Oregon State, facing a huge opportunity, will use its offense to keep Michael Penix Jr. off the field. … Oregon hasn’t committed many mistakes outside of the one day in Seattle. The Ducks are ready for Arizona State, though they know their former offensive coordinator will have some surprises ready. … There are two rivalry games this week. In Los Angeles, it could be Chip Kelly’s final game for UCLA, if reports are to be believed. Meanwhile, USC may be playing its last game with Caleb Williams at quarterback. Enjoy it. He’s actually had a better season than last, when he won the Heisman. … In the Bay Area, California’s quarterback has risen to the top for the Bears. … Is it possible Arizona has improved enough to challenge Utah? Sure looks like it, especially considering how beat up the Utes still are. … ASU’s outgoing athletic director has a sweet deal. No wonder he has no regrets. … In basketball news, Oregon expects to be healthier when it returns to the court Friday night. … There is a new look for the Colorado offense this season. Five out, spread the court. It is working. … Utah has a tough challenge this weekend. … UCLA pounded overmatched Long Island. … One Arizona player supplies energy. … Arizona State is ready to return to the court. … The Washington women are 3-0 after rolling over Pacific.
Gonzaga: We watched the GU women dominate North Florida for the final three quarters last night in the Kennel. Greg Lee did as well and he has this game story concerning the 83-55 victory. … Colin Mulvany was there as well and he has a photo gallery. … More than 24 hours have passed, so Theo Lawson can offer his rewind of the rout of Eastern Oregon. … Meanwhile, Jim Meehan has this story on the elite company Dusty Stromer joined last week as he started his first game as a freshman this century.
EWU: It’s the final week of football’s regular season, with Eastern trying to deny visiting Northern Arizona a chance at a winning conference mark. That leads off Dan Thompson’s Big Sky notebook for the week. … Elsewhere in the conference, the Brawl of the Wild’s importance this season. Discuss.
Idaho: Last week’s loss at Weber State looms large this week as the Vandals host Idaho State to end the regular season. They need to win to assure any hope of a bye in the FCS playoffs. Colton Clark has more in this preview of Saturday’s game.
Velocity: Spokane’s USL franchise has a coach. It’s Leigh Veidman, a transplanted Englishman with a long playing and coaching history. Justin Reed has all the details in this story.
Kraken: A late lead, who cares? That seems to be Seattle’s rallying cry – or is it a failing cry? – this season. The Kraken cracked again, giving up two third-period goals and losing 4-3 in overtime at Edmonton.
Sounders: Stefan Frei will man the box for Seattle a couple more years, according to an online report.
Mariners: Another Seattle guy won a postseason award. First it was Carson Carroll winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award unanimously. Now it’s Blake Snell, duplicating it with the Cy Young. It’s his second time winning the award. Too bad neither plays for the Mariners.
• Wonder who our top-five favorite Seahawks of all time? Well, we mentioned six names above. We can’t pick between them. There is a tie. We’ll just have to find a bigger mountain than Mount Rushmore. And we didn’t even mention Cortez Kennedy. Or Kam Chancellor. Or Kenny Easley. Or Jon Ryan. Hey, every all-time team needs one redhead. Until later …