A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s Friday already? What a great day for a fish fry. But first, we have to land one. A big one. An “Old Man and the Sea” size one. That’s easy. The biggest football game of the weekend happens in Seattle tomorrow. GameDay will be there and everything. Expect at least three videos of some guy in a white apron throwing a fish toward the camera. Will it be Oregon or Washington catching it?
• Of course, you want to watch. Even if you are a Washington State fan. The No. 7 (UW) and No. 8 (UO) teams are playing. Two 5-0 records. Two semi-new coaches in charge. Two teams headed to the Midwest next season. Two either loved or hated fan bases, depending on your point of view. Good versus Evil. Or Evil versus Evil – if you have a Cougar flag outside your home on Saturday mornings.
Who wins? Well, ABC, for one. The network will broadcast the game, starting at 12:30 p.m. And the guy who years ago shot the Seattle skyline from a ferry for the network. There has to be some residuals, right? And Big Ten commissioner Tony Pettiti, who may not be in Seattle but who has to be sitting somewhere, watching while counting piles of money a la Scrooge McDuck.
It’s the best game of the weekend for college football fans, though No. 10 USC at No. 21 Notre Dame is close (NBC, 4:30). As good as the Northwest rivalry game is – stop it, Butch, it is a rivalry and one that will only grow more intense in the next decade – its history pales in comparison to the first nationally significant one that plays out in front of Touchdown Jesus or the Coliseum’s eternal flame each year. This year, though, only one team has a national title shot and you have to be able to defend the Trojans’ defense to make that argument seem valid.
The other good matchups Saturday evening are in the Southeast – No. 25 Miami at No. 12 North Carolina (ABC, 4:30) – and back in the Northwest – No. 18 UCLA at No. 15 Oregon State (Fox 28, 5).
Washington State, ranked 19th, has been banished to the Pac-12 Networks this week, with the game with Arizona beginning at 4. Heck, even the FCS’ No. 3 team, Idaho, has a bigger reach, with the Vandals’ homecoming game with No. 16 Montana set for ESPN2, starting at 7:30 p.m.
• The Seahawks are in Cincy on Sunday, playing an early game (10 a.m.) on CBS. Which means you have the entire afternoon to sleep off the celebration or pity party. With the Taylor Swift show having played last night on Amazon, Sunday night’s NFL game (5:20, NBC) features the battle of New York, the Giants at the Bills. Everyone outside the Empire State can go to bed early.
• If you’ve watched television as long as we have, you have seen at least 1.2 million crime shows in which the hero unearths key evidence in the final act. It’s labeled a “smoking gun” as it is that, literally, often.
Digging through the documents related to the Pac-12’s lawsuit with a couple former employees, Jon Wilner recently found what might just qualify for Oregon State and Washington State. It shoots hole through the departing schools’ legal argument. And commissioner George Kliavkoff’s fingerprints are all over it.
Kliavkoff admits, in a sworn statement filed last summer, USC and UCLA had been removed from the Pac-12 board. You know, even before the two schools leave the conference for the Big Ten. They didn’t keep their seats, even though it’s not Aug. 1, 2024 and the schools not staying in the conference are arguing today the bylaws allow them representation until they actually leave.
Here is how Wilner describes it: “It shows Kliavkoff, under penalty of perjury, acknowledging that announced departures to other conferences trigger removal from the Pac-12’s board – exactly the point Washington State and Oregon State are arguing in their lawsuit.”
How do you argue otherwise now in front of a judge and expect to be taken seriously? You shouldn’t. But, you know, money. Stay tuned.
WSU: There is a lot going on this morning. We start with Greg Woods’ in-depth look at how Ben Arbuckle runs the Washington State offense – and how he uses trick plays. … It looks as if Arizona’s Jayden de Laura is healthy. But healthy enough to start? That’s not assured. … Besides the key statement Wilner uncovered, he also discovered how much the conference owes Comcast, a not unsubstantial sum. … We linked this basketball rivalry piece yesterday in the Times but it ran on the S-R site this morning. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Wilner has his picks in the S-R while John Canzano has his picks on his website. So does Christian Caple. … The game in Seattle is an opportunity for both teams. An opportunity to get a heads up in the national race. And for either Washington or Oregon to stay atop the conference standings. It’s a game worth watching with a tub of popcorn. Maybe even sit with Jalen McMillan’s grandmother. … Before then, however, there’s an 8 p.m. game tonight (ESPN). Stanford, trying to rebuild under Troy Taylor, comes off a bye and travels to Colorado, already rebuilt in some ways under Deion Sanders. Late starts, even if Sanders isn’t a fan, are always going to be a staple with teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. … Kyle Whittingham doesn’t like talking about injuries. The Utah coach explained why as his Utes prepare for a visit by California and its new quarterback. … Oregon State’s strength is its offensive line. UCLA features an attacking defense keyed by its pass rush. They collide in Corvallis this week. Scott Barnes will be watching, and watching a long time. … It should be raining, and raining bruises, in South Bend for USC tomorrow.
Gonzaga: The West Coast Conference’s men’s basketball media day rarely varies from a tried-and-true formula. Except yesterday. Saint Mary’s was picked by the coaches to win the conference title. That doesn’t happen often. Theo Lawson covered that part of event. He also has a story on the Bulldogs’ television schedule. … Jim Meehan talked to lots of folks about the Zags’ continuing conversations with the Big 12. … The women, who have a challenging nonconference schedule ahead, will hold their FanFest on Saturday afternoon. Greg Lee has a preview of that event.
EWU: As the Eagles visit Pocatello for a game against Idaho State, they may once again do it without their starting quarterback. Dan Thompson has more about that possibility in this story. … The Bengals are ready to welcome Eastern into their dome. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, winless Northern Colorado hosts defending league champ Sacramento State. It seems like a homecoming mismatch. … UC Davis and Weber State both need to win. … Cal Poly is in tough at Montana State.
Idaho: The best game in the conference this weekend is in Moscow, with the Vandals hosting longtime rival Montana. Colton Clark has a preview of the top-25 matchup that will be held in a sold-out Kibbie Dome.
Preps: It was a busy Thursday in the Greater Spokane League, highlighted by Mt. Spokane’s 42-6 victory over Cheney at Union Stadium. Dave Nichols has the game story. … Dave also has a roundup of the other action last night and a look ahead to tonight’s football action. … There have been some issues with entry at the new ONE Spokane Stadium, something those who run the facility hope will disappear when construction is completed. Elena Perry has this story. … Quite a few folks with Spokane connections will be inducted into the state’s American Legion baseball hall of fame Saturday night. Dave has a look at the honorees.
Chiefs: Spokane moved to bolster the offensive nature of its defense Friday, picking up Layton Feist in a trade with Regina. Dave has more here.
Seahawks: Geno Smith got healthier during the bye week but it doesn’t sound as if he’s 100% for the game Sunday in Cincinnati. … Devon Witherspoon, Ja’Marr Chase and DJ Metcalf have engaged in a respectful long-distance discussion this week.
Kraken: Two games, two losses. Last night Seattle fell 3-0 in Nashville.
Mariners: We can’t watch Seattle in the playoffs, so we’ve sort of adopted the Diamondbacks. They’ll play Philadelphia in the NLCS after the Phillies eliminated the Braves for the second consecutive season.
• The NBA seems to have done a complete 180 on resting players. And done it almost overnight. Why is that? We wondered. David Aldridge explained. Have a good weekend. Until later …