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

A Grip on Sports: When it comes to the transfer portal scoreboard, we need our results now, not sometime down the road

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Every sport has a scoreboard, real or imagined. And every aspect of every sport has an impact on that scoreboard. It’s real. And we imagine not all who follow a sport understands how much. We have to imagine, as well, how the newest aspect of college sports, the transfer portal (and its younger sibling, name, image and likeness) will transform future scoreboards.


• There is no need to imagine how much the two relatives have transformed college athletics already. We’ve lived it every day. Heck, last summer we personally spent multiple hours helping athletes we had coached find new homes. And realized, if that was the case for us, just think how people employed full-time as coaches were seeing their lives change.


But that’s a peripheral impact. As our dad used to say on a near daily basis back in a considerably more male-centric era, no one wants to hear about the labor pains. They just want to see the baby.

The baby in this case is the aforementioned scoreboard. The due date has passed. Portal entry, except for rare exceptions, is closed. Every fanbase is in the waiting room, anticipating the delivery.

They can’t wait for the nurse with the news, either. They want to know. Now. Is our school winning or losing the transfer portal? Did our losses outweigh our gains – or vice-versa? Will the new left tackle from Wossamotta U. have more impact than losing our edge rusher to Eastern State University? Can the new point guard from Minnesota State fill the offensive hole left when our senior forward transferred to Texas Methodist?

No one can answer those questions just yet. But anyone can try. Well, not us. At least not with any authority. So we won’t.

Others have, of course. And they have opinions on how have our local schools have fared this portal season in the two dominating sports, football and men’s basketball.

We start with Washington State. The Cougars are often lumped in with fellow Pac-12 survivor Oregon State, who has seen as much roster-decimation in basketball and even more in football than WSU. But neither are considered net winners in any evaluation we can find.

There is a caveat for basketball, though. The coaching change in Pullman has made an incomplete grade necessary. The in-ink version won’t show up until sometime in June, probably. But don’t expect it to be an “A” – a circumstance that may never occur at either of the remaining Pac-12 communities.

For both OSU and WSU to be successful in every sport, rarely traveled paths have to be followed. From Mike Leach to Mike Riley, from Tony Bennett and Kyle Smith to Ralph Miller, the most successful coaches at those institutions in those sports have always danced to their personal melody.

David Riley knows the tune. And writes his own compositions. The players he will attract to Pullman may not be Grammy-worthy to some but that doesn’t matter – as long as they can make beautiful music together.

Mark Few has been churning out gold records for years. Thus, when he attracts a transfer to Gonzaga these days, most reviewers expect hits. That certainly seems to be the case with Michael Ajayi, the Pepperdine transfer talented enough to be invited to play his tunes at the NBA’s pre-draft combine. The other transfer en route to GU, well-traveled guard Khalif Battle, who had his latest gig last year in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is a mercurial talent who will have learn to play in Few’s ensemble offense. If he does, the scoreboard could tilt GU’s way next March.

As for the other Division I men’s programs, Dan Monson is just starting to rebuild Eastern Washington’s scattered-to-the-winds roster and Idaho seems to be doing much of its work behind the scenes thus far.

Those schools’ football programs also labor under another burden. The portal and NIL have turned the FCS level into a Triple-A of sorts. Develop great players, see them leave. That hit especially hard in Moscow. But such is the world today.

And tomorrow? It will change. As will the scoreboard. Too bad we don’t know for sure how much. It would save us all a lot of work. And worry.


WSU: What got us thinking about the portal and such? The news this morning Riley and the Cougars are welcoming in Quinnipiac transfer Rihards Vavers. And the yawn experienced nationwide. We are of the mind if Riley sees something in Vavers, a 6-foot-7 wing who averaged 7.9 points and 2.8 rebounds as a freshman last season, there is something there. At least something that fits in with the Cougs. Smart coaches find players that fit. And Riley is smart. Greg Woods has more on Vavers in this story. … It is possible next NBA season, former WSU star Klay Thompson will be wearing a different uniform than he’s worn his entire career. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, even with spring practice complete, Jedd Fisch is still trying to make Washington a winner – in the portal and the Big Ten. … It does not look as if Dan Lanning is leaving Oregon anytime soon. … Utah picked up former UW quarterback Sam Huard in the portal. … Arizona State has more challenges next season than just the travel ones. … In basketball news, the Oregon State men have added a lot to their roster. … It is not a miracle, just a long friendship, that brought Danny Manning to the Colorado coaching staff. … Tommy Lloyd understands roster construction. … On the women’s side, the Big Ten announced the conference schedule. We have links from Oregon and USC.

Gonzaga: Don’t ever forget just where the Zags fit into college basketball’s hierarchy. They are near the top. How can we prove that? A new, NIL-based tournament is springing up this Thanksgiving. Gonzaga won’t be among the eight teams playing, with money on the line for the players. But that’s only because GU had already signed to play in the Bahamas. In 2025? As Theo Lawson reports, the Bulldogs will almost certainly be one of the 16 teams participating. … Pitcher Erik Hoffberg has won another award. That news leads off the S-R’s latest local briefs column.  

EWU: Tanner Groves, the former Shadle Park and Eastern star, has found a new home for next season overseas. He will be playing in Cairns, for the Taipans of Australia’s National Basketball League. If the city sounds familiar, it is the hometown of former Washington State and NBA big man Aron Baynes. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Montana State picked up a transfer the old-fashioned way, from a community college. … This story from Northern Colorado is a reminder schools play in multiple conferences all the time. … UC Davis is an example of that as well.

Preps: We have an interesting prep track feature to pass along from Greg Lee. It’s about Lewis and Clark pole vaulter Kyle Worthy and parkour. Yes, parkour. … We also have Dave Nichols’ roundup of yesterday’s district action to pass along.

Indians: The road trip to Hillsboro didn’t start well, with Spokane being shut out 5-0. Dave Nichols has the coverage. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, the Indians did not lose any ground as Eugene lost at home to Tri-City 3-1. … Visiting Everett defeated Vancouver 5-3.

Mariners: We watched the Mariners last night. Didn’t expect all that much after they fell behind. Then Cal Raleigh pinch hit. Bases loaded. Had to watch. He pulled a hanging slider foul. Thought he had missed his pitch. Turns out, he got another one. Hit it in the third deck. And yet the M’s had to rally with four ninth-inning runs to win 10-6. … Bryan Woo should be back soon. J.P. Crawford may be longer. Same with the guy we’re most interested in seeing, reliever Gregory Santos, on the 60-day injured list and seemingly out of mind.

Seahawks: How much will Byron Murphy help this season?

Storm: Seattle won its final exhibition game last night, routing the Mercury. … The Storm has a wild-card in their deck. … The WNBA will start chartering on road trips this season.


• Another reminder. We will not be here on Friday. Here tomorrow. Here Saturday. Not Friday. Until later …