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

A Grip on Sports: The rhythm of the football season is comforting, even if a bye or two disrupts it a bit

A GRIP ON SPORTS • As fall begins to tighten its grip on the Northwest, illustrated as always in the colors of the season’s palette emerging in the foliage, we welcome one aspect of the season. The pattern of a football-centered week.


• It’s Thursday morning, so here we are, ready to help you look toward your favorite somewhat-professional team’s Saturday game. And your favorite truly professional team’s Sunday game. All the while keeping on an eye on the Mariner-less playoffs.

Pretty fun, huh?

Where to start? How about with one pro football club – in the old-world definition – clinching a playoff spot? Yep, no matter how frustrating the Sounders’ season has been, and believe us, we’ve heard every frustration from our hyperlocal – read, related – fans, the team clinched another MLS playoff spot last night with a win over the L.A. Galaxy.

See that Jerry Dipoto? The Sounders win titles and still stay relevant most years. If it can be done in other sports, why not in yours?

• But back to the American version of football. The Cougars have been practicing in 60- and 70-degree weather in Pullman recently. They won’t see that in the L.A. Basin this Saturday, unless they get up at 6 a.m. By the time the ball is kicked in the Rose Bowl – WSU’s final conference game in the ancient and mystical stadium – at noon, it should be in the mid-80s. And the sun will be beating down.

Wearing white jerseys is a good choice.

With Washington not playing this week, it seems like a good time to check in with the other regional teams we care about. Oh, Eastern is at Idaho State. And Idaho travels to Cal Poly. That’s fine. But if either return to the cool confines of the Inland Northwest with a loss it will be an upset of epic proportions.

Which frees out mind to embrace all things Seahawk. They’ll be playing … oh, crud. They have a bye too? Dang it. Just when we wanted to settle in and watch them kick someone’s rear end again. Last week was fun, wasn’t it? The win over the Giants had a very old-days feel.

• If you want to relive the days when October baseball was king, there is only one divisional series – after the four wild-card sweeps gave us a day off or so – worth focusing upon. Philadelphia and Atlanta meet starting Saturday.

Two old-school franchises who play with a new-school flavor.

For some reason we look at baseball’s playoff bracket and figure we’re going to see another Astros-Dodgers World Series. If you’re a Mariner fan, it’s because the baseball gods hate you. After all, it was Seattle’s 1-0 meaningless last-day win that gifted hated Houston with a first-round bye. No good deed goes unpunished in this game. Bad ones?

Rob Manfred will grant you immunity for them.

• Speaking of the Cougars, and we were, the brouhaha with GameDay’s Pat McAfee hasn’t blown over yet. And makes us wonder when college football became the WWE?

Wasn’t it P.T. Barnum, the 19th century’s version of Vince McMahon, who coined the idea any publicity is good? But when you act like a bully and people call you out for it, is that counterproductive?

McAfee is still being assailed for his asinine comments concerning WSU last week, from places as varied as Washington D.C. – sorry but no Congressperson weighed in, being that many of them are a bit busy doing their own asinine stuff – to Portland, Ore.

Funny thing. We’re pretty sure McAfee is in the Barnum camp. As long as people are talking about him, he’s happy. Which is probably why he weighed in the first place. Jake Dickert gets upset at Lee Corso, Ryan Leaf and Kirk Herbstreit have an X spat and McAfee? He’s ignored. Can’t have that.

Time to say something foolish. And mean. People will talk. That will get it done. Well, we’re done. Until the next faux-fight.


WSU: The Cougars picked up another recruit’s promise last week. An edge rusher from Oklahoma. Greg Wood delves into the recruiting process for Malachi Wrice in this story. … Greg Lee once covered Colson Yankoff’s exploits at Coeur d’Alene High. But that was years ago. Yankoff, however, is still playing college football, though the Viks’ former quarterback is a running back and special teamer with UCLA. … We mentioned the McAfee comments above. We can pass along a column from the Washington Post in the S-R that rips into his already tired act as well as John Canzano’s thoughts. … UCLA knows it needs to head to the Big Ten with some momentum. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, we pass along Jon Wilner’s Heisman handicap in the S-R this morning. … Jon also has his picks for the week, including his thought the Cougars will not only cover but win. … How has conference realignment impacted recruiting? … Oregon State heads to California for a night game in a place where it has played close games in the past. … Please don’t bring live animals to games, as what happened last week at Oregon. It’s not good for them. … The Ducks received good and awful news on the injury front. … Before Colorado can deal with Arizona State, the Buffs must put the USC loss behind them. … Speaking of the Trojans, they have a trap game of epic proportions this week. With Notre Dame looming next Saturday, USC hosts three-touchdown underdog Arizona. … Utah’s defense is great, its offense not good. Kyle Whittingham is trying to stave off any finger pointing. Will everyone getting the use of a pickup truck (through NIL) help?

Gonzaga: The Zag men officially released their nonconference schedule yesterday and there were no surprises. Jim Meehan has a look at what could be a challenging away-from-Spokane schedule. … Jim also passes along the news Orlando picked up Jalen Suggs’ fourth-year option. The club is all in with the former GU point guard. … We missed this Elena Perry story yesterday about Anton Watson and his visit to a local elementary school. We pass it along today.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, UC Davis may not have the conference’s leading rusher available when it hosts Montana. … Weber State has finalized some future nonconference games.

Preps: Dave Nichols has his usual roundup of Wednesday’s action. … Greg returns with a cross country notebook, highlighting the results of the recent Battle for the 509 race last weekend.

Seahawks: Jamal Adams had spent a year rehabbing a terrible injury. He was on the field Monday for nine plays. Was hit in the head. A doctor hired by the NFL to evaluate such things objectively ruled him out with a concussion. Adams lashed out in front of the national audience. He is facing sanctions. He apologized. … The 2013 season is always there. … Devon Witherspoon showed Pete Carroll “who he is.”

Mariners: What are the M’s going to do with Teoscar Hernandez? It is possible the decision will not be theirs to make. … Dipoto’s comments at the end of the year presser can’t mask the fact it is ownership calling the shots. Especially when money is involved. … Still, Dipoto’s comments illustrate a deep-seated problem in the game.

Kraken: Camp is almost over. Shane Wright is still working hard.


• We haven’t sweated just walking around for a long time. A few weeks at least. But we did yesterday walking around in Southern California. It was warm. And the sun is still at a pretty direct angle. We missed such things. Well, our muscles did. Our head was pretty ticked we forgot a hat. Until later …