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

A Grip on Sports: It’s time to shift gears, from Saturday’s college football action to the NFL’s version

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Here we go. We’re off. Turning the page from the college variety of football on the weekend to the NFL version. Red zone issues to The RedZone Channel. A rain-induced snorefest in Seattle to … a rain-induced snorefest in Seattle? We’ll see.


• Actually, we probably won’t. See, we mean.

Watching the Seahawks host Arizona today won’t be easy. Certainly not as easy as turning on the TV, flipping over to KAYU-28 and settling into the Laz-e-Boy. Then yelling, “honey, how’s the chili comin’?”

Anyhow, we interrupt that fantasy – if we aren’t upstairs helping, there is no way we should expect someone else to make the chili – to share the reality. We’ll have to find a sports bar somewhere, tip the guy in control of the TVs a $20 (or is it a $50 in these inflation-riddled days?) and watch in silence.

At least it’s at a decent time.

Unlike last night’s shocker in Husky Stadium. Sorry, we didn’t see it. We watched the end of Utah’s annual “upset” of mighty USC. Then watched a bit of UCLA’s blowout of Stanford and a few minutes of UW’s nearly unexplainable no-show against the one-win Sun Devils. Then it was nighty-night.

Our brain was fried.

Too much thinking during the afternoon, as we watched Washington State lose at No. 9 Oregon. We had one nagging thought after that one was over. If the Cougars had played in a similar manner the previous two games, they would have been 6-0 and ranked in the top 15 headed into Eugene. Well, if they had played as they did in Saturday’s first half.

That was the September Cougs, returned to life.

Alas, October’s version resurfaced after halftime, the Ducks’ rush took its toll on Cameron Ward’s accuracy and success-rate and the defense wore down under the somewhat-relentless Oregon running attack. Game, set, match.

But not season. A decent-to-really-good one is still possible. The next four games on the WSU schedule: at 1-6 Arizona State, home versus 2-5 Stanford, at 3-4 California, home versus 4-3 Colorado. Not Murderer’s Row, that’s for sure.

Two wins, bowl eligible. Again. Three and the holiday season is warmer. Four and it’s hot. Five?

Just disband the Pac-12 right there. Especially if UW hasn’t stumbled earlier. There would be no better way than that to say goodbye to the WSU’s century-long conference home than an Apple Cup upset in Seattle.

• We once spent an evening playing Clue in a USC dorm room with Lynn Swann. Don’t ask. But one thing we noticed, even as an 18-year-old kid, was how poised and articulate he was. That wasn’t an accident. The person we were dating at the time, and the person Swann wanted to, were both part of the reason. They worked in the USC sports information office, helping with media training.

The office had a mission. To prepare Trojan athletes for the media challenges not just of their college career, but their future. The players, in all sports, were tutored in the nuances of the craft.

And many of them took the lessons to the next level and beyond.

Fast forward 50 years. Lincoln Riley is the football coach at USC. The savior, cough, cough, of the Trojan legacy. The man who will lead the school into the Big Ten. The leader of men.

The guy who gets perturbed if a reporter writes something nice about one of his players because it included a cute anecdote Riley didn’t approve. And the guy who wants his players to avoid challenges.

At least that’s how it looked last night. On the field, against the more physical Utah football team, and then after, when Riley wouldn’t let his players talk. So much for the USC tradition of preparing its student/athletes for the future – on and off the field.

It’s another piece of evidence that Riley views his players as a commodity. A commodity whose sole purpose is to help him win. To enrich his bank account. The future? Forget that. He weighs every action with one scale: Does it help Lincoln Riley enjoy success?

We admit in that, he’s not alone in his chosen profession. And the players might not even understand the foundational piece of their future success they are being denied. But those of us who have lived for decades, seen the differences between coaches who get it and those who don’t, do know. And, whenever possible, will always encourage athletes to make choices based on where their future will be valued. Nurtured. Respected.

That doesn’t seem to be the case at USC anymore.


WSU: Yes, the Cougars were better in many ways yesterday. Not good enough, certainly, but better. That’s a point Greg Woods drives home in his game analysis. … He also has the difference makers and a story on Lincoln Victor’s record-setting day. … He also worked on the recap with highlights. … We covered a couple of those things as well in our TV Take, one that was a bit harder to get right without access to a DVR. … Tyler Tjomsland was in Eugene and has this photo gallery. … From No. 9 Oregon, there are quite a few stories of their 38-24 victory to pass along, ranging from the appreciation of Bucky Irving’s heartfelt performance to how the Ducks took control after halftime. … The S-R has a preview of the upcoming NBA season today and Theo Lawson focuses upon the local players, like Klay Thompson. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has his Saturday Night Five in the Mercury News. … The Oregon hangover was real for fifth-ranked Washington and it almost included a severe upset stomach. But a key fourth-quarter pick-6 took care of that as the Huskies survived 15-7 in the rain. Arizona State lamented a few too many mistakes and a few missed opportunities. And one tough call. … No. 25 UCLA changed quarterbacks, took care of the ball and ran over host Stanford 42-7 in the Bay Area. The Bruins seem to be getting their act together. … Not so USC. Two consecutive losses. For the fourth consecutive time No. 14 Utah outmuscled the 18th-ranked Trojans and, despite having a former walk-on at quarterback, made more key plays in the 34-32 win. … After the game, Kyle Whittingham admitted quarterback Cam Rising would not play this season. … Arizona, Colorado and Oregon State enjoyed byes before starting their stretch runs. … In basketball news, Arizona played its exhibition game without a couple key players. … A key player returned to Colorado practice.

Gonzaga: The NBA preview we mentioned above is in full force here, as Theo has stories on Chet Holmgren’s delayed rookie season, what may be ahead for Julian Strawther and 10 key games to watch for area fans. … There is also this piece on Rui Hachimura and the Lakers.

EWU: Over the recent years, Weber State has found a way to win close games against Eastern. Not Saturday. The Eagles ran over the Wildcats en route a 31-23 win in Cheney. Dan Thompson was there and has this game story as well as a notebook. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, the big game was in Sacramento, where the third-ranked Hornets hosted No. 2 Montana State. The Bobcats had too much offense in a 42-30 win. … Watch out. Idaho State is on a roll. It rolled over host Portland State 38-24 yesterday. … In a battle of two teams looking for their first conference win, host Cal Poly held off Northern Colorado 24-17. … Northern Arizona was on a bye.

Idaho: A bye week seems like a good time to catch up with a bunch of former Vandals.

Whitworth: Good quarterback play makes life at the Division III level easier. The Pirates received it again Saturday and eased into a 42-20 win over visiting Pacific. Greg Lee has the coverage from the Pine Bowl.

Preps: Dave Nichols takes his usual look back at Friday night football in this column.

Chiefs: Stop us if you’ve heard this before. Actually, don’t, because we know you have. Spokane let a third-period lead slip away and lost at Victoria in overtime.

Seahawks: You may need to know some things before today’s game. … One thing for sure, DK Metcalf was fined for a play he received a penalty. Will Dissly was fined for one he didn’t. … Going to a Seahawk game at Lumen Field doesn’t have to be overpoweringly expensive.

Kraken: The lights in Climate Pledge Arena dimmed last night. Then Seattle’s play followed suit and it lost to visiting New York.

Mariners: We say it again. Paul Sewald was right. … Philadelphia is one game from a second consecutive World Series after a 6-1 win in Arizona. … Despite Dusty Baker’s protestations, MLB decided his pitcher had intended to hit a Ranger, and suspended him. The teams meet tonight with Houston leading 3-2 in the A.L. Championship Series.

Sounders: A 2-0 win at Western Conference champion St. Louis on Saturday means Seattle will be the conference’s second seed in the playoffs. And enter having a 2-0 record versus St. Louis City FC, with both wins coming via shutouts.


• We’re headed to our nation’s capital today. To see a friend. And then find a spot to watch the Hawks. We may be tourists but we have our priorities. Until later …