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

A Grip on Sports: No matter which conference West Coast schools are in next season, night games will still be a big part of the schedule

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Chip Kelly is correct. College football is meant to be played in the afternoon. On Saturday. Surrounded by folks who walked through trees turning bright orange and red. But the reality is green is the only color that matters. The color of money. Night games are – and will continue to be – all the rage. Especially on the west side of the country.

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• The first thought we had this week when we heard the Nov. 4 game in Boulder would start at 8 p.m.? Maybe we’ll get to hear another Deion Sanders rant. The last time the Buffs played a late game – not their first this season – the first-year Colorado coach blamed the late start on being in the Pac-12.

As if moving to the Big 12 next season will change where Boulder is located.

As any Washington State or Washington or, heck, Big Sky fan, knows, if your team is good, late-night games follow. The networks controlling college football – ESPN and Fox – realize they can’t start a game in the Eastern Time Zone at 10 or 11 p.m. But they want to have appealing “inventory” available for then. The result is good teams in the Mountain or Pacific zones host games that start late.

(As an aside, calling a game “inventory” is just another way of dehumanizing the impact of late nights on players, viewers and anyone else connected to the game. It’s also truthful. At least for the networks. For them, it isn’t about the game itself. The game is just a commodity to be bought and sold.)

The Cougars’ game that night in on the Pac-12 Network. The soon-to-be-defunct broadcast arm of the soon-to-be-defunct conference seems to be once again just dropping in its games at any time slot not filled by the Fox or ESPN schedule. This week WSU visits Tempe, with the game against Arizona State starting at 5 p.m. PDT. Not 4:30. Not 7:30. But 5. The Stanford game in Pullman Nov. 4? It will kick at 6 p.m.

If it seems an odd time, it is. But with Washington and USC facing off on ABC at 4:30 and the Oregon State/Colorado game slotted in at 7 (again, 8 in Boulder), it’s the best time available for WSU and Stanford.

It could be worse. Arizona State and Utah are kicking off that day in Salt Lake City at noon, which is 11 a.m. in these parts. At least the sun should be up by then.

• We actually watched a lot of baseball yesterday. We were rooting for two teams and both won. Which makes the day better, right?

The only reason we wanted the Diamondbacks to win was to have a game to watch tonight. Well, that’s not precisely true. Watching Ketel Marte and Paul Sewald celebrating a World Series berth in on our bucket list for this season. Before it expires, we would be happy to see Sewald, the M’s closer for the first half of the year, and Marte, once Seattle’s top prospect, enjoy something their former franchise never has.

At some point those in charge in Seattle will see another of these types of celebrations and realize what it takes to win. Making decisions based not on financial considerations but, instead, on whatever makes the team better.

The other series had an obvious choice. The Rangers aren’t the most lovable team in the world, though Bruce Bochy has had an admirable managing career after being a backup most of the time as a player. But the opponent is the hated, cheating, still-worth-all-the-vitriol Astros.

We heard the broadcast crew last night say three things about Houston we didn’t agree with. They felt players like Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman had cleansed their legacy since the cheating scandal. They also didn’t believe Bryan Abreu should have been suspended during the postseason. And Abreu showed the pitch that hit star Adolis Garcia – the key player in Monday’s Series-clinching rout – was an accident by plunking another Ranger last night in almost the same spot.

In order: No way, that will never happen. They are stained forever, mainly because there was no punishment; Abreu should have been out because, if he did the crime in the postseason, as MLB believes he did, then he should pay the price in the postseason too; and showing you can be wild by hitting another guy seems way too convenient. And allows him to get away with a freebie.

But then again, it’s the Astros. Rob Manfred has always allowed them to do whatever they want, with repercussions.

Now they can go home for the offseason.

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WSU: Of course, Greg Woods has a story today on the Stanford game time. But that’s not all. He also has his first look at this week’s opponent, Arizona State. The Sun Devils have struggled but played their best game of the year last week in Seattle. … Backup running back Jaylen Jenkins didn’t suit up last Saturday, suspended for an unexplained violation of team rules. Monday, Jake Dickert announced Jenkins had been dismissed from the team for the same reason. Greg has that story as well. … Golfer Pono Yanagi was named Washington Golf 2023 Men’s Player of the Year last week. That news kicks of the S-R’s latest local briefs column. … Arizona State has lost so many offensive linemen, it is asking for volunteers. Remember when WSU did that at quarterback? … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has his Pac-12 power rankings in the Mercury News this morning as well as those for the Mountain West – just in case they are WSU and Oregon State’s brethren next year. … This is the final week in the conference in which every game is a “so-long” one. The opponents will be headed to different destinations next season. John Canzano unearthed that gem and its part of this mailbag. … It’s a good day to delve into the conference as a whole and more than one publication does just that. … What happened to the vaunted Washington offense last weekend? Pressure from ASU’s front for one thing. The Huskies’ Ryan Grubb is still trying to figure out what else. … Oregon has its hands full again this week. Utah is always tough in Rice-Eccles Stadium. But at least the Ducks seem healthy. … Don’t worry about Utah next season. The Utes will be one of the Big 12’s best right from the start, especially if the injured players return for another year. … Oregon State it right in the mix for the conference title. They head to Tucson to face resurgent Arizona and its new quarterback on Saturday. … USC is coming off two consecutive defeats and seems to be reeling. But California is the perfect antidote. … Stanford has a tough road ahead. … UCLA is opening more Rose Bowl seats for Colorado’s visit – and wearing some sweet throwback jerseys. … In basketball news, Caleb Love hopes a fresh start in Tucson is in the offing. Did that work for Wyatt Earp? … The early season schedule will challenge Colorado. … Arizona still has nine former players in the NBA.

Gonzaga: We’ve known Anton Watson well since he was in middle school. There was no time we ever thought he would choose boxing as his preferred sport. We still don’t but we’re also not surprised Watson used its training methods in the offseason to improve his fitness. He’s smart and knows a challenge when he sees one. Jim Meehan has a great story on the change in Gonzaga’s senior big. … GU guard Ryan Nembhard is on the Bob Cousy Award watch list this season. Theo Lawson has more on the Creighton transfer up for an honor that goes to the nation’s top point guard.

Idaho: With second-ranked Montana State headed to the Kibbie Dome this week, the Vandals know they have to be at their best to win. And stay there for the rest of the season. Colton Clark delves into what No. 9 UI has done so far this season, what it has planned for the week and what may be coming. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, the standings are so weirdly tiered, the playoff picture is pretty murky.

Preps: The soccer playoffs are on tap, with all of the GSL spots secured. Dave Nichols has a playoff preview.

Chiefs: Dave also checks in with the Chiefs this morning, putting together this notebook.

Seahawks: Uchenna Nwosu will probably miss the rest of the season after the pass-rush specialist tore his pectoral muscle against Arizona. … Geno Smith needs to cleanup his mistakes. That was the unspoken message from Pete Carroll on Monday. … Can the defense hold up for the rest of the season? … Hey, the 49ers lost again last night. The top of the West is getting tighter.

Mariners: After their 11-4 win in Houston last night, the Rangers get to sit around, watch Philadelphia and Arizona play and then prep for the World Series. The Diamondbacks stayed alive with a 5-1 victory in Philadelphia.

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• Like Cal and Stanford, we’re headed for the Atlantic coast. Just this week for us, though. We’ve always wanted to walk the beach in North Carolina. Well, ever since we read a biography of the Wright Brothers in about the fourth grade. Another of those great Scholastic books that started us on the road to where we are now. We’re sure we read about the Shenandoah in a book back then as well. But there is no way words caught how beautiful the place is in October. We experienced it first-hand Monday. Wow. Until later …