A Grip on Sports: As WSU heads to Utah again, Cougars will try to answer some pressing questions


INFLUENZA IN SPORT • There appears to be a main question surrounding Washington state’s football schedule as the Cougars prepare to face Utah this morning. A principal and a whole bunch of secondaries.


• We’ll go to the main thing in a second. For now, let’s start with the tributaries. As in, who plays the quarterback? Will it be Laura’s Jayden or someone else?

That’s a typical football question, isn’t it? Everything has to do with health, the eternal uncertainty with sport. We don’t know the answer, but we know it’s not a difficult question. If Laura can play, he will. If he can’t, he won’t. Not much ambiguity here.

This is not the case with one of the other questions hovering around the program, which has been dragging on since the summer. What’s up with Nick Rolovich and the COVID-19 vaccine? It doesn’t matter where you stand on this one. You have to admit it was a distraction. So much so that in fact, it keeps Washington State President Kirk Schulz from sleeping at night. And made him let go.

He admitted it yesterday on a conference call with members of the Washington State Faculty Senate, telling them the controversy had caused him to take too many martinis for too many nights.

Which brings us after a few hundred words to the main question. Can Rolovich keep his job?

I don’t know if there are any chances on the answer, but it doesn’t look good. Not when your ultimate boss complains about the smoke surrounding the program on an open mic. Or when your team is not playing well. And that’s the main thing. If the Cougars were 3-0, after smoking Utah State in Game 1 and playing two halves against USC the way they played in the first, there would be a lot less pressure.

Not that Rolovich wouldn’t be under fire. It was going to happen from the first day he admitted he wasn’t going to get the shot. And he didn’t help himself with the way he handled the questions that followed. But Al Davis was right so many years ago. Just win baby.

It won’t be easy today, despite Utah’s record. The Utes will play their first Pac-12 game after spending the last two weeks losing close games to teams from Mountain West, BYU and San Diego State. They will also be at home, which was not the case during these two defeats. And they’ll start a new quarterback: Cam Rising, who was injured last year when the Cougars traveled to Salt Lake City and allowed 38 points in the second half in a 45-28 loss.

In this match, Max Borghi, playing for the first time under Rolovich after an injury, touched the ball 11 times. It was understandable. But that has also started a trend, as the All-American contender has just 40 touches in WSU’s first three games this season. That’s another one of those questions for this morning. Will Borghi be presented more?

With the quarterback issue on the line, he may have to do it if the Cougars are to fulfill Davis’ mantra. Anything less will do.

• Are the M’s fun? to watch right away? This is another easy question to answer. Yes. It doesn’t matter what happens.

We resumed the game late last night, after they took a 6-5 lead and were trying to hold on. They did it. And they did it in a tense and entertaining way.

Would you expect less in a pennant race? That’s what it is, isn’t it, even though there isn’t a real pennant in play? If Seattle catches the Yankees or the Red Sox – the M’s have already nabbed every other wild card contender – they’ll likely hang a wild card pennant somewhere in T-Mobile. However, by an old-fashioned definition, it really isn’t.

No matter. Playing in the playoffs for the first time in two decades will be reward enough. Heck, watching games like last night’s at the end of September is quite a reward in itself.


WSU: Along with Colton Clark’s story on Schulz’s comments, we can also pass Colton’s game preview – the game starts at 11:30 am on the Pac-12 networks – and his pick – Utah by a bunch. He also has his keys to the game.… It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence, sporting director Pat Chun offered contract extensions this week to his three most prominent coaches who are not named Rolovich. Baseball coach Brian Green accepted one yesterday. Colton has more in this story. … With the departure of Charlie Brewer, Utah must hope that adversity will no longer hit the quarterback position or he could be in trouble. … Elsewhere in Pac-12 and college football, Jon Wilner answers a few questions in today’s Mercury News, then delivers his stock market report. … Washington opens the Pac-12 game today by hosting California in a clash of teams that want to run the ball. By the way, new commissioner George Kliavkoff has close ties to the UW. … Today’s best game will be at Stanford where the Cardinal will host a UCLA team after a surprising non-conference loss. … The State of Oregon has the opportunity to make a statement against USC. It’s been 61 years since the Beavers won in LA against the Trojans. … USC is back with Kedon Slovis as quarterback. … Oregon should have no problem with Arizona, who have yet to win a game. Or participate in a few of them. The Ducks’ defense adapts to the conference game. … The only way Colorado can upset Arizona State (or engage its fans) is to take it offensively. The Sun Devils don’t want that to happen.

UEF: Not only is the East 3-0, but they travel to Southern Utah with a chance to go 1-0 in the Big Sky game. That’s if the Eagles don’t look past the Thunderbirds for next week’s game with Montana. Dan Thompson gets a glimpse of the game.… Around the Big Sky, the Grizzlies also can’t look past Cal Poly, although a local crowd should help in that regard. … Northern Arizona just won their biggest non-conference victory in 80 years, which could help northern Colorado stall. … The best showdown is between Weber State and UC Davis. … The State of Montana lost Jeff Choate but continued to sail against the State of Portland. … The State of Idaho is home to the State of Sacramento.

Preparations: It’s not often that a high school football game comes down to a 60-yard field goal attempt with a chance of a win. But that’s what happened last night at Union Stadium, as Central Valley held on for a 21-19 win over Mount Spokane. Dave Nichols has the history of the game.… Dave has a roundup of other actions as well. … Mead’s former track coach Gary Baskett died on Thursday at the age of 77. Dave has his obituary.

Indians: Baseball in Spokane is over for the year, as the Indians lost 5-0 to Eugene last night at Avista. The Emeralds won the High-A West title series 3-1. Steve Christilaw has the story.

Sailors: The M’s roll in September, mainly because the unnamed bullpen was difficult to manage. Paul Sewald escaped a goal-laden ninth inning jam last night as the M’s held 6-5 at the Angels. … Will Matt Brash be Seattle’s newest starting pitcher?

Seahawks: The way the NFL applies the taunt rule makes players wonder how to act. … Brandon Shell won’t play tomorrow. It hurts the offensive line. … There are reports that Josh Gordon will be allowed to play again.

Kraken: Seattle has a few young forwards who are trying to buy time with reserve lines.

Golf: You couldn’t have asked for a better day for the United States than the one they had on Friday with a 6-2 lead at the Ryder Cup. Saturday morning was not so strong.


• We will come back to this site around 3pm this afternoon with our column on the television broadcast of the game Cougar by Pac-12 Networks. While we’re interested in how Roxy Bernstein and Lincoln Kennedy describe the game, we’re more interested in how Cougars answer the questions we asked at the start of this column. Until there …


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