THE VANCOUVER COLUMBIAN ran a good column the other day putting perspective on the newly released data about the highest-paid state employees in the past fiscal year. The top five were all coaches: Steve Sarkisian, Lorenzo Romar, Ken Bone, Paul Wulff and Nick Holt.
"One certainly can make an argument that it is outrageous for a football coach to make $2.5 million while many state workers are facing layoffs or dealing with public debate about the level of benefits they receive. But if citizens are going to sustain an informed conversation about such issues, a couple points need to be raised," the paper wrote.
Among those points were these: Major-college coaches are paid from ticket revenues, television contracts, and other fundraising methods tied to their sport, not from the general fund that comes from tuition; football generates the revenue that basically funds all the money-losing sports like baseball, track, volleyball, etc.; and that the coaches at Washington and Washington State are the most publicly visible employees at their universities.
Whether anyone likes it or not, the simple fact is that football and basketball are the biggest marketing and public image tools a school possesses. When your teams do well, donor dollars to all parts of the school increase, student applications to your school increase, and television exposure increases. That's why the hiring of Mike Leach is so important to WSU.
ONE OF THE MOST SOBERING parts about sports is injuries. And one that just gnaws at me is the knee injury that CouGreat Kyle Weaver suffered in his second season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kyle has been a basketball nomad ever since, playing in the D-League, overseas, a 10-day stint with the Jazz in 2011, and a just-concluded campaign in Germany’s top pro league, averaging 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists for ALBA of Berlin. Now he's signed on to play with the Jazz' NBA summer league team. That's great news because it's proof that neither Kyle nor the NBA have given up on making the marriage work. One of his teammates on the summer team will be John Stockton's oldest son Michael, who spent the past season in Europe following a stellar career at tiny Westminster College in Salt Lake.
Meanwhile, another former crimson hoops great, Klay Thompson, is one of 13 members of the USA select team helping the national team to get ready for the London Olympics this summer. Think of the select team as future Olympians, a "scout team" who scrimmages against the national team to help them get better prepared. The Golden State Warriors have been following Thompson's progress on the Select Team -- click here for more.
ONE THING THAT DRIVES ME nuts about Cougfan.com is that some great stories get pushed off the front page too quickly because of the pace that new stories flow in. Two highly enjoyable stories in the last few weeks that moved off center stage far too quickly were these:
Legendary Posse secondary still loves game, which looked back and then caught up with the DBs that helped make the Palouse Posse one of the most feared defenses in the nation in the early ‘90s; and this look at quarterback controversies through the eyes of guys who lived them, 3 old Cougs reflect on their QB controversies. If you missed them the first time around, be sure to take a read today.
Speaking of the Cougfan.com front page, late this summer the entire site will undergo a giant makeover as part of FoxSportsNet’s revamping of all sites affiliated with Scout.com. Not only will the site look sharper, but the navigation and presentation of information will be light years better. It no doubt will take some getting used to, as we’ve had the current system in place for six or seven years, but we are very confident you’ll wind up as excited about it as we are. We’ll have more details later.
THE PIRATES OF THE PALOUSE blog ran an interesting guest column the other day from someone close to Cougfan.com who happens to be a Husky. It's well worth the time to head over HERE to take a read. Coming from a Husky (albeit, one who likes Cougs), the message about taking advantage of unique opportunities should resonate loudly with all Cougars.
By the way, the folks who run Pirates of the Palouse are organizing what promises to be a fun party of Coug fans in Las Vegas on Sept. 15, the day after the Cougs’ nationally televised game at UNLV. Party starts at 7 p.m. at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. Head to the events page on PiratesOfThePalouse.com for more details and to order your tickets.
SPOKANE'S Danny Mattingly RECENTLY gave a verbal pledge to play football at Notre Dame. To our recollection, he's the first Irish verbal out of the GSL in quite some. For those of us a little longer in the tooth, Notre Dame used to cherry pick the area on a regular basis in the '60s, '70s and '80s. Aaron Robb, Dave Machtolf, Vince Fairhurst, Tom Laney, Mike Oriard, Bill Etter and Bob Minnix (now WSU's assistant AD in charge of the mentoring program) were among the locals of that era who answered the siren call of the golden dome. Mike Kramer's brother, Pat, a big lineman out of Colton in the late '70s, was another.