Porter names Ben Johnson to men’s basketball staff


Porter names Ben Johnson to men’s basketball staff

Ben Johnson, a former assistant coach at Washington State with extensive playing and coaching experience in Australia, has joined Terry Porter’s men’s basketball staff at University of Portland as an assistant coach.

“It didn’t take long for me to recognize that Ben would be a great addition to our staff after we reconnected last month,” Porter said. “Ben has great experience coaching at the collegiate level, specifically here in the Pacific Northwest. He also has great knowledge of coaching and talent-evaluation in Australia. Most importantly, Ben and his family will be an excellent fit for the University of Portland community and the basketball program.”

Johnson, like Porter, is an extension of the Dick Bennett coaching tree. Johnson teamed with Bennett’s son, Tony Bennett, to lead Wisconsin-Green Bay to great success from 1989-92 while playing for Dick Bennett. The Bennetts and Johnson would later reunite at Washington State and lead the Cougars to unprecedented success on the court.

"It is a tremendous honor for me to join Coach Porter's coaching staff at the University of Portland,” Johnson said. “My family and I are extremely grateful for this opportunity. I am looking forward to helping him, our coaching staff, as well as current and future players build a very competitive basketball program.”

Johnson spent nine seasons at Washington State serving two years under Dick Bennett and then three more under Tony Bennett. Johnson assisted in recruiting, scouting and all other coaching duties while helping Cougars to three consecutive postseason appearances (two NCAA, one NIT), the second such occurrence in school history. 

He remained on the WSU staff four more seasons under new head coach Ken Bone, before returning to Australia, where he had a successful professional playing and coaching career. 

Johnson had great success in recruiting Australian players to Washington State, most notably two-time Pac-12 All-Conference forward Brock Motum and current NBA center Aron Baynes. WSU’s success during Johnson’s tenure included two seasons of 26 wins (2006-08), which tied the school record. The Cougars also were ranked No. 4 nationally at one point, the highest ranking in program history. WSU also had two players earn Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors.

From 2013-16, Johnson served as the South State Performance Manager for Basketball Queensland in Australia. His duties involved program planning and talent identification of the U14-U20 age groups. He also provided coaching mentorship and development.

In April 2016, Johnson coached at the prestigious U18 Australian Junior Championships – where his Queensland South State team reached the national championship final and finished as silver medalists.

After graduating from UW-Green Bay in 1992 with a degree in business communication, Johnson played three years of professional basketball in Cairns, Australia from 1993-95. His time overseas coincided with the beginning of his coaching career as he worked as a basketball youth development officer and state clinician. During those years, he coached and developed hundreds of Australian players at the local, junior and state representative levels.

From 1995-2002, Johnson cut his teeth in collegiate basketball coaching by returning to UW-Green Bay, where he served as an assistant coach. In 1996, he helped guide his alma mater to another NCAA Tournament appearance.

Johnson returned to Australia in 2002, where he got his first head coaching position at the U23 level for the Kuiyam Pride. The following year, Johnson also took on head coaching duties for the Kuiyam Pride Women. The Pride Women competed in the professional Australian Basketball League. Following the 2003 season, Johnson was named Queensland Australian Basketball League Women's Coach of the Year.

FOR TRANSACTIONS: University of Portland names Ben Johnson assistant men’s basketball coach.

Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s Get National Attention This Saturday

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Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s Get National Attention This Saturday


From a pure basketball standpoint, there hasn’t been a better rivalry game on the West Coast than Gonzaga vs. St. Mary’s. A non-hoops fan likely couldn’t put either school on a map (Spokane, WA and Moraga, CA for the handful of you reading this), yet these two schools continually play a high brand of basketball when they lock horns three times each year.

Speaking of Maps – this Saturday, ESPN will give viewers a global geography lesson, as they profile the six Australians that St. Mary’s has plucked from down-unda’ and the plethora of international Zags recruited by assistant Tommy Lloyd. Both teams being ranked in the top 12 adds intrigue to what was already going to be a great game in the confined quarters that is St. Mary’s gym.  If you’ve never been to a basketball game in Moraga, CA, you will notice that the gym is pretty small. Then if you leave the high school gym you are in, head down a windy, turkey-filled road to St. Mary’s College, you will notice the gym you are now in is really small.  It would be safe to say that of all the basketball gyms in California, St. Mary’s isn’t in the top 500 for seating capacity. In terms of bodies per seat on Saturday night, St. Mary’s will rank #1 in the world. The aisles will have droves of people in them, as apparently the fire marshal in Moraga isn’t too concerned with job security.

Despite being rather one-sided, Gonzaga and St. Mary’s has developed into a rivalry in-part because there literally isn’t anyone else in the WCC that matters.  The Zags have developed into a national power, but the Gaels remain a tough thorn in their side that has been known to draw blood at least once every couple of years.  To put the combined Zags-Gaels dominance over the WCC into perspective, these two schools have met in the WCC Tournament Championship Game in 8 of the last 10 seasons. To put Gonzaga’s dominance over St. Mary’s into perspective, the Zags have won six of those eight meetings. The two outlier seasons in which the Zags and Gaels didn’t meet resulted in Gonzaga taking down BYU. At the time, it seemed the guard could be changing for the right to play second-fiddle in the WCC, as Randy Bennett didn’t have enough miles on his account to make his usual recruiting trips to Australia and BYU was benefiting from a post-Jimmer renaissance. But the tide has turned back to St. Mary’s being the best conference foe Gonzaga has, at least for this season. In fact, St. Mary’s was actually picked by the WCC coaches to win the conference this year, as coaches were wishful in their thinking that Gonzaga’s loss of All-American Nigel Williams-Goss, lottery pick Zach Collins, and silent-assassin Jordan Mathews would result in a National Title Game hangover.

But the Zags had their ibuprofen and Gatorade ready, as they started the season hot and picked up wins over Ohio State, Texas, Washington and Creighton. But in January, after leading for 38 minutes, they lost to an unranked St. Mary’s squad up in Spokane. Can the Zags return the favor this time around? They will need to figure out a way to contain Jock Landale, who is an absolute issue in the paint. Mark Few will counter with a balanced cast of characters, as the Zags have six players averaging double-figures in conference play. Rui Hachimura has been great off the bench and is climbing draft-boards as we speak. Zach Norvell looks like the next coming of Ray Allen, and Silas Melson is filling the super glue-guy role to perfection.  The Zags are good, the Gaels are good, and this game should be highly entertaining. Both teams shoot well, are highly skilled. A Zags win would set the stage for an imminent rubber-match at the WCC tourney in Vegas next month. If history repeats itself, put your money on the Zags.

Northwest College Hoops Roundup – Conference Play Is Almost Here!


Northwest College Hoops Roundup – Conference Play Is Almost Here!


Non-conference play is winding down for northwest college hoops and there are a ton of bright spots to keep an eye on. Excitement for some of these teams will eventually come to a halt, but it’s fun to hope right? Christmas time is here and great records are abound, even if they’re supported by cupcake schedules.

PAC-12 basketball starts soon after Christmas on the 29th of December, so tune in!

Oregon Ducks

This team has a lot to look forward to this season after the tough Boise State loss. The Ducks success should be attributed to the emergence of Kenny Wooten off the bench. He’s a freshman who’s only missed 3 buckets over the past three games. Sure he’s a big man and shouldn’t be missing much, but he’s been part of huge runs that have helped get the Ducks out of offensive ruts.

Heading into PAC-12 play, expect the Ducks to start off hot. Their first two PAC-12 games include Colorado and Utah, neither of which would be able to handle guards Elijah Brown and and Payton Pritchard. As I write this, Pritchard is off to a fast start against Central Arkansas, scoring double digits in just the first half.

Don’t be surprised if this team ends up being ranked before facing Arizona State well into January.

Oregon State Beavers vs. Kent State, 4:00PM PT Thursday | ESPN3

The Beavers will face an underrated Kent State team tonight, and so long as they can contain Jaylin Walker, they’ll be fine. He’s averaging 16 points per game and he will be the Beavers’ biggest priority on defense.

OSU isn’t the flashiest team in the PAC-12, but they’ve proven so far that they’ll be a tough out. As they start conference play against Utah, Colorado, and Oregon, fans should be confident that the Tres Tinkle led squad will give their opponents a run for their money.

This team has displayed patience in their offense. 58% of team field goals end in assists for the Beavers, while averaging about 69 possessions per 40 minutes. Turnovers have been an issue, but the team has already surpassed their win total from last year and are buying into Coach Tinkle’s basketball philosophy again.

Washington Huskies vs Montana, 8:00PM PT Friday | PAC-12

The Huskies pre-conference slate of games has been a relative success. They nabbed a historic win against Kansas and will look to finish with 10 wins before PAC-12 play begins. They host the Montana Grizzlies in what should be an easy game.

The UW will have a tough beginning to conference play. Both USC and UCLA will be difficult, and PAC-12 success essentially hinges on Noah Dickerson’s ability to further sustain his strong play. Coach Hopkins has been able to improve Dickerson’s efficiency dramatically this year, as he’s making 63% of his field goals this year. Last year, he made 54% of his shots.

Another question remains with Jaylen Nowell. He’s a freshman guard with great size, and has been amazing on offense thus far. Can he sustain 17 points per game in the PAC-12?

If he can sustain his rise has UW’s main offensive option, it’d be great if he could get some support.For example, David Crisp struggles against decent competition. Even with a hot shooting performance against dead-weight Bethune Cookman, he’s only made 37% of his field goals this year.

Washington State vs. Bethune Cookman, 6:00PM PT Friday | PAC-12

As I’m typing this, the Washington State Cougars are behind the Kansas State Wildcats. Of course, the reason seems to be Malachi Flynn’s cold shooting. In the first half against the Wildcats, Flynn has made just one out of seven three-point attempts. He had a solid game against lacking IUPUI, but at this stage, I don’t think the Cougars will be able to readjust their dependence on the three point shot.

The Cougars currently rank seventh in the nation on percentage of field goal attempts from three-point range. Their offensive rating is middling, meaning that this team has decided to live or die by the three.

Washington State will feel brief relief against Bethune Cookman, breezing by a weak program. If the Cougars are looking to start PAC12 play against UCLA and USC, then Flynn will need to reconfigure his shot selection. WSU is making their threes against weaker teams now, but can they keep it up in the PAC12?

Gonzaga Bulldogs at San Diego State, 7:00PM PT Thursday | CBSSN

Fans should be happy with the state of this team heading into conference play. They’ve had impressive wins against Creighton, Texas, and Florida. Although Gonzaga lost to Villanova, this team has won three straight games heading into a game against the San Diego State Aztecs. Sure the game against North Dakota State was worrisome, but Gonzaga overcame their recent inconsistencies.

Turnovers have been causing setbacks during the win streak, but look for Coach Mark Few to right these wrongs immediately. The Bulldogs have coughed the ball up 34 times over the past two games. I don’t see the Aztecs beating Gonzaga though, since the Bulldogs are so efficient on offense. Gonzaga has the sixth best offensive rating for a team in the NCAA, right behind Arizona State.

What does conference play look like? This is the time of year when the Bulldogs take a break and practice for the rest of the year. Their first two conference games against Pacific and Santa Clara will be cakewalks.

In addition! Portland State Vikings at California, 8:00PM PT Thursday | PAC-12

Barrett Peery has the Portland State Vikings looking healthy as they head into tonight’s game against California, a game they have a very good chance at winning. In his first season with Portland State, he has the team at nine wins already.

Led by guard Deontae North, this offense just flies. They have about 82 possessions per game, and they don’t turn the ball over that much, which is pretty respectable. They score a ton of points at about 93 per game.

On the other hand, the Vikings are known to fly on offense. Last year, they were 8th in the nation with points per game. What makes Barrett Peery different?

Look for them to make some noise this year, as Peery looks to maintain the energy that the Vikings have displayed this year. After facing the California Bears, they’ll face paltry conference opponent Sacramento State.

Gonzaga is the top dog in Washington

© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga is the top dog in Washington


Nearly 12 years to the day from the last time the Gonzaga Bulldogs took the court on the Washington Huskies’ home floor, there was a palpable tension in the air. Having played each other the last two seasons, there was something different about this matchup. The Huskies, coming off a win over #2 Kansas, had a renewed sense of optimism. Fans had suddenly been reminded that yes, their Dawgs had in-fact started the basketball season and yes, Mike Hopkins may have turned this program around much sooner than anticipated.  Another key ingredient to this Sunday night game is the large contingent of Zags alumni and fans in Seattle. Having navigated UW’s tricky requirements of purchasing five-game plans just to get in the door, a couple thousand Zag-faithful decked in blue and red showed up, hoping to witness the Zags first win at Hec-Ed Pavilion since 2003.  Look down towards the court to see Adam Morrison (Zags radio color commentator) with a headset on, and flashbacks to his 2005 43-point performance spoiled in a 95-93 loss come rushing back to any Zag.

Was the perfect storm brewing in Seattle for the Huskies to top the Zags? A small but faithful UW student section, highlighted by frat-boys with “H-O-P-K-I-N-S” painted on their chests, seemed confident. David Crisp appeared calm, as he mingled with fans five minutes before the game, choosing to dap-up those sitting courtside before clanking a long three off the front iron.  Husky students invaded a good chunk of the Zags’ side during warmups, as they prepared for some sort of high-five tunnel that you may see at an 8u soccer game. Gonzaga’s basketballs would bounce over to students, only for the UW faithful take it upon themselves to shoot and miss ugly-looking jumpers.

If the UW season ticket holders sitting near the court looked up, however, they would see a dark cloud looming in their arena. A sleeper-cell among Husky Five-Game Ticket Package holders had been born, and tonight was their coming out party.  It would only take an electric play by the Zags before everyone in the arena would know just what they were in for. It only took four minutes, as Zach Norvell Jr. grabbed a steal, went coast-to-coast, and packed a dunk with his left hand that not many knew he was capable of. Norvell proved he was more than just a three-point threat, as he was undercut by a Husky defender, dunked with authority, and went spilling onto the floor for the and-one. The arena went nuts, with Norvell motioning to the crowd as you would expect he would if the game were in Spokane.  It was over from there, as the Zags out-rebounded, out-hustled, and out-played the Huskies all night long.

This 97-70 blowout by the Zags made a few things evident:

  1. Gonzaga is here to stay. It’s a national brand that is now too big to fail under Mark Few. Gone are the days of wondering if this is going to be an up or down season for the Zags. “Who did we lose from last season?” is no longer all that important of a question. Few and co. are attracting players from all over the country and world, have mastered the art of the redshirt season (Olynyk, Wiltjer, Goss, Williams, Norvell), and are unbelievably consistent year-in and year-out. The last three seasons have seen an Elite 8, Sweet 16, and Championship Game despite nearly complete starting-five turnover each season. It’s clear that the Zags are more similar to programs like Duke, Michigan State, and Villanova than they are St. Mary’s or Butler. Their fans travel like an annual Final Four contender and they play like it. UW better not bank on Gonzaga being a little mid-major that may give them some trouble from time to time. The Zags are a barometer that UW will have to try and measure themselves against for a long, long time.


  1. UW is going to take a couple years to rebuild. Riding high off their upset over Kansas (I mean, who isn’t beating Kansas these days?), Husky fans decided to start paying attention to basketball this week. Their football season is on pause, as a month passes by between games, and the 7-2 basketball team has grabbed their attention. #TougherTogether was splattered all over video boards and social media announcements throughout the game. Ultimately, true colors came through for the fair-weathered fans in attendance, as streams of people poured out of the stadium with eight minutes left in the game. If UW is going to be #TougherTogether at home, more than roughly 1/100th of their students are going to need to show up. The shirtless H-O-P-K-I-N-S crew in the front row does deserve some respect, as they stuck it out the whole game, even if the P, K, and N were on their phones for most of the second half. As for the UW students on the court, UW has a few good pieces. Dickerson is a monster down low and Nowell is a stud freshman that loves to taunt defenders when he makes buckets to close the gap from 20 to 18. UW does not play any senior significant minutes, which could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, Hopkins will have an experienced team next year. On the other, he will have trouble freeing up any scholarships to begin bringing his own recruits in, unless he cuts a few players. The question remains- is Hopkins here to stay, or will he use UW as a springboard for his head coaching career? When Boeheim does retire, will Hopkins be on the first flight to Syracuse? It certainly seems like a possibility, and whether Husky fans totally buy into this program could depend on whether the Hopkins family is buying or renting their house.


  1. Hec-Ed (Alaska Airlines Arena) needs a face-lift. I hope Mike Hopkins put this into his contract, as this facility is not on-par with those of premier programs. With a listed seating capacity of 10,000, this arena should only be comfortably seating 8,500. This way, they could sell-out without the help of a couple thousand fans from the opponent. The upper bleachers are just that- bleachers with no backs. The lower bowl has bleachers as well. The band is cornered on an awkward second level walkway. Bathrooms saw lines 50 feet out the door, clogging up the concourse during halftime. Access was limited to four lines total, creating a log-jam outside along Montlake Ave. There are some great features to Hec-Ed, such as the classic windows and brick exterior. However, if fans are expected to pack this gym, they deserve an experience more similar to what’s currently available at the football stadium across the parking lot.

University Of Washington Men’s Basketball – Rebuilding Starts With The Coaching Staff


University Of Washington Men’s Basketball – Rebuilding Starts With The Coaching Staff


Former Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was largely credited with an affable personality for bringing in highly ranked recruits from California, and promoted a brand of basketball largely dependent on that kind of personality. Unfortunately, this brand didn’t translate into as many NCAA tournament appearances or PAC-12 championships as the athletic department wanted. The coaching style largely depended on familiar big-time Husky players to take over games and lead teams into the postseason. Unless the likes of Isaiah Thomas or Brandon Roy mightily willed the Huskies into tournaments, seasons were lost. This is slightly disappointing because Romar was really good at recruiting and was liked by many fans. These same fans however, should be ecstatic about their new coach Mike Hopkins.

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The hiring of former Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins by the UW signified a push towards a traditional style of basketball, not just on the court but via recruiting front as well. Fans shouldn’t expect results quickly, but the signs are evident that major improvement is coming, and it starts with this coaching staff.

Will Conroy and Cameron Dollar are being retained as assistant coaches. Their ties to the local communities is paramount to the success of luring local high school basketball standouts down the Husky pipeline. Conroy has been on the Husky bench since 2015, and is also a decorated Husky player. Having also played locally on the high school level, his retention signifies Hopkins’ desire to maintain stability on the bench and the recruiting front. Dollar should be viewed as someone who can help strategically on the floor on a nightly basis. His last appointment was head coach of the Seattle Redhawks where he maintained winning records at home, and had his team appear consistently at the College Basketball Invitationals.

The assistant coach that doesn’t have the most recognition in the Pacific Northwest quite yet is assistant coach Dave Rice. There’s real significance to this hire, as I personally had the pleasure of witnessing his UNLV head-coaching tenure back in Las Vegas. To say the least, there was usually always some kind of drama, but his recruiting ability competes with the best recruiters out there.

In short, he wasn’t the greatest head coach from a playbook standpoint. While he was personable, he lacked the stratagem to bring some of his talented teams to the next level. He was able to bring the Runnin’ Rebels to the NCAA tournament twice, but couldn’t consistently dominate a relatively weaker Mountain West Conference. His recruiting classes were always outstanding for being in a city where playing college basketball had become lackluster.

The likes of Anthony Bennett, Rashad Vaughn, and Patrick McCaw came through his system before entering the NBA. He has experience building local pipelines as well and even poaching a couple players from PAC-12 programs. A lot of his former players are also on the edge of being in the NBA or are currently playing in lesser leagues around the world. Rice remains as the third most winningest coach at UNLV and his unique experience from Las Vegas brings a certain tenacity on the recruiting front.

The mix of carryover and new blood to the bench shows how Hopkins is willing to adapt to this new climate. Coming in, he’s showing Husky fans that he won’t just be copy-pasting his former mentor Jim Boeheim’s system from Syracuse.

The rebuild will take some time. Recently in an exhibition match, the Huskies barely escaped with a narrow win over a Division II school, Saint Martin. While scoring 91 points on any night is a great sign for offensive ability, giving up 87 points is a cause for concern. Nonetheless, Husky players David Crisp, Noah Dickerson, and Matisse Thybulle look to carry this offense early on. The loss of Romar also saw the loss of the highly touted Michael Porter Jr., who took his talents to Missouri, noting a big hit to the Husky offense. Hopkins will surely be stressing defense.

The first game for this new squad is this Friday against the Belmont Bruins, a team that has maintained relative success in the Ohio Valley Conference. Their senior guard is a premier passer and will cause trouble for the Huskies early in the game. Again, Husky players Crisp, Dickerson, and Thybulle will be responsible for responding with easy baskets. Fans shouldn’t expect much, but a win would be a great start to this season.

College Football Playoff spot for a Pac-12 team looking dim

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Playoff spot for a Pac-12 team looking dim


Fans from the conference of champions should get familiar with this statement because it won’t change. The conference is filled with parity right now and the end result will be playing in a somewhat meaningless bowl across the board. The parity fares well for programs like Arizona and Utah who aren’t traditional powers. Coming into the season there appeared to be three possible playoff contenders in Washington, Washington State, and USC. USC and Washington State have essentially been eliminated. SC was routed by Notre Dame, and Wazzu ran into a hungry Arizona team on its homecoming. At this point, it’s a battle for one New Year’s Six Bowl birth across the conference.

Now that we’ve unpacked the fact that there aren’t any elite teams, who’s the favorite to win the conference? There are four teams that have a compelling case. I’ll address each division and pick the two teams that’ll meet in the conference championship game.

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Pac-12 North

Stanford escaped in Corvallis last Thursday with a win over the Beavers without its Heisman candidate, Bryce Love. They’ve got a brutal stretch coming up with back to back games against Washington State and Washington. My guess is The Cardinal lose one of those two. Next, Washington State who’s currently reeling after an embarrassing loss against Arizona.

Washington State is in an interesting spot. It seems like the sky’s falling, but it’s actually in control of its own destiny. If they win their remaining three games, they win the division. However, there’s a reality factor when making this choice and for that alone I have no faith in the Cougars. I expect them to go 2-1 at the very best and ultimately eliminate themselves from contention.

Washington seemed like the bride amongst bridesmaids in the preseason. Its special teams unit caught a case of the yips against Arizona State, but it rebounded nicely against UCLA Saturday. With one away gain remaining against Stanford, it should come into each game as favorites. More than anything else, it’s more talented than each of the teams it’ll face. I’d be crazy to go against Chris Peterson’s ability to have his team ready for a strong close.

Pac-12 South

Arizona fans might want to pump the breaks on the basketball season. Rich Rod has something cooking right now. Khalil Tate is in the Heisman hunt after putting on another show against Wazzu. He threw for 275 yards and 2 TD to go along with 146 yards rushing and 1 TD. The kicker to this incredible stretch is he’s a true sophomore that just turned 18. What the hell was Rich Rod doing starting Brandon Dawkins the first five weeks of the season?! Saturday will essentially decide the Wildcats fate when they face off against USC; both are tied to the lead in the division. They won’t face another ranked opponent the rest of the way, but the rivalry with Arizona State is always tough to predict. I’ll pass on the Wildcats as my pick, but I’d love to be wrong.

USC and their golden boy, Sam Darnold, have been a bit of a disappointment this season losing each of its primetime games against ranked opponents. This is SC’s chance to salvage the season and I expect them to with home field being the difference in a tight high-scoring game. From there they face Arizona and Colorado; each winnable games.

That leaves Washington and USC in the championship.

Looking forward to this weekend’s Pac-12 football match-ups

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Looking forward to this weekend’s Pac-12 football match-ups

The Pac-12 finished the first-half of their season, paving the way for an exciting second-half finish. The Cougars are still without a loss and coach Gary Anderson has already, albeit mysteriously, left the Oregon State program. The state of Washington finally anticipates an exciting Apple Cup this Thanksgiving, and while it will be great having an Apple Cup holding significance again, ticket prices for the game have already skyrocketed.

Barring some miraculous upset, things look to be relatively quiet this weekend for the northwest college football programs.

#8 Washington State at California:

The Cougars didn’t give up 300 yards on the ground to Oregon last week as I’d predicted would happen. Their defensive front made a big statement as they took advantage of a Ducks team without their starting quarterback. The Cougs stopped the Ducks’ running game easily, forcing the Oregon team into an inefficient passing game, which sealed the victory for Washington State.

Cougars’ quarterback, Luke Falk, had his difficulties in the game as some passes were thrown short, and he posted his worst QBR of the year against the Ducks. Falk has been sacked 19 times so far this season, so it’ll be interesting to see what solutions the team has to keep their quarterback safe and away from constant pressure, especially up against a solid defense.

All that said, California shouldn’t be a threat for the Cougars Friday night. Falk and Leach look to keep everyone involved on offense and this should easily elude California’s questionable defense. Of course, there’s always a possibility that the Cougars could “Coug’ it” Friday night, given their reputation.

#5 Washington at Arizona State:

The Huskies look to take advantage of a weak Arizona State team on Saturday. Running-back Myles Gaskin should post his best numbers of the year against this team, since Arizona State’s defense is relatively poor. ASU hasn’t been able to compete well this year, barely beating Oregon and New Mexico State, while losing every other game.

It’s likely another easy win for the Huskies this season. It’s imperative that they strive for a large-margin win to avoid any possible blemish on their resume, as they’ll be compared to the other teams contending for a national playoff spot.

Oregon at #23 Stanford:

Both Oregon and Stanford have been fighting for third in the PAC-12 North division, but Stanford has been looking better as of late. If the Oregon Ducks can’t get their running game going early on Saturday, then they’ll struggle to find another answer on offense. Their backup quarterback had trouble completing passes to keep drives moving against the Cougars, dismantling their game-plan. Since they were forced to punt the ball often, their defense stayed on the field longer, which resulted in them being tired early in the game. Stanford should be able to run and win this game with ease.

Colorado at Oregon State:

The Oregon State program is in disarray after their coach left unexpectedly in the middle of this season. He did leave near $12 million on the table for OSU, agreeing to get the rest of this year paid out before he goes. It’d be surprising if any players can muster the will to play hard against Colorado after this sudden coaching change. The team isn’t playing very well at all on the offensive or defensive side as it is, so it’ll be curious to see whether the interim coach can get something extra out of the players. The Buffalos should walk away this weekend with a win after a rough start to their conference schedule.

Wait a minute! Corruption in college basketball? Who knew?

Wait a minute! Corruption in college basketball? Who knew?

Wait just a minute. What did I just hear? A major scandal involving college basketball? Money being funneled through coaches, agents, shoe companies, money managers to recruits?

Who would have ever expected something like this?

Well, only those with even a passive interest in college sports. Folks, college basketball has been dirty for decades and I think by now just about everybody is aware of that. But with the news of this scandal today I think we're going to hear more about it that ever before. This time it's not some soft NCAA investigation into a rogue program, it's an FBI probe three years old covering the gamut -- from shoe companies to the players. People are going to go to prison before this is finished.

It's about time somebody looked into this mess.

I have been in the business of following sports and writing about them for a long time and I have to go back at least 30 years to remember the first time I heard a story about illegal inducements being paid for a university to obtain a high school basketball player. Since then, there has been story on top of story. Former college coaches laugh about them over dinner and drinks. Why didn't I write about them? There was never proof. I didn't want to get sued -- and these guys have learned to cover their tracks pretty well. The NCAA has never seemed serious about putting a stop to it.

The first story I heard was about a well-known player who was recruited by a college entirely without contact with that player's high school coach. Which seemed crazy. But what happened was the player's AAU coach and personal workout coach was the one in contact with the colleges. He brokered the deal. That coach eventually hand delivered the player to a college and guess what?

That AAU coach soon showed up as a paid counselor/coach at the college's summer camp for kids -- at a rumored salary of $10,000 a week, which was way above the going rate for such things.

I've heard stories of players getting cars, money being passed through the hands of girlfriends or relatives and even brown paper bags full of cash being left for players at a secret location.

It's a nasty business that turned me off to college basketball -- even college sports in general -- years ago. And now, perhaps, there might be a chance to dive into the cess pool and see what can be done about the problems.


A look at Portland State's million-dollar early season football schedule

A look at Portland State's million-dollar early season football schedule

Portland State this week is headed to Corvallis for the second half of a very difficult season-opening schedule against teams out of their league. Way out of their league.

The Vikings' first game of the season was at Brigham Young last week. This week, "Barneyball" heads down I-5 to meet Oregon State in Corvallis.

By now, you know the reason the Vikings have scheduled two games they won't likely win:

Money. Big money for a Big Sky football program.

Portland State, it has been reported, got $575,000 for its 20-6 loss at BYU and is scheduled to receive $500,000 for the bus ride and expected loss to the Beavers.

Those are pretty good paydays but nothing like what a team gets for getting massacred by college football's big boys. Arkansas State is getting $1.65 million for a trip to Nebraska and Wyoming -- a pretty good team -- is going to get a million bucks for playing at Iowa.

I've never liked the idea that the smaller schools seem to need these big guarantees to keep their programs going. Playing up in class brings problems. First -- even though PSU can point to an upset win at Pullman over Washington State a couple of years back -- they are most likely going to get beat. And beat by a large margin. Second, when you play bigger and faster teams you'll be lucky to get out of some of these games without taking a physical pounding.

I don't like the notion that players' health could be sacrificed for the sake of money.

But welcome to the reality of college football.

Josh Rosen: You think college athletes have it tougher than the rest of the student body?

Josh Rosen: You think college athletes have it tougher than the rest of the student body?

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen made headlines this week with some remarks he made about academics and football -- and how they don't mesh very well. He got a lot of attention for an off-hand thought he had about raising the SAT requirements to get into Alabama but that statement was taken out of context.

But I have a problem with some of the other things he said, which to me came off as naive or insensitive about others trying to get through college without the benefit of a football scholarship:

Look, football and school don't go together. They just don't. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they're here because this is the path to the NFL. There's no other way.

No one in their right mind should have a football player's schedule, and go to school. It's not that some players shouldn't be in school; it's just that universities should help them more—instead of just finding ways to keep them eligible.

Any time any player puts into school will take away from the time they could put into football. They don't realize that they're getting screwed until it's too late. You have a bunch of people at the universities who are supposed to help you out, and they're more interested in helping you stay eligible. At some point, universities have to do more to prepare players for university life and help them succeed beyond football. There's so much money being made in this sport. It's a crime to not do everything you can to help the people who are making it for those who are spending it.

Pardon me if I'm not feeling all that sorry for these guys. I worked my way through school. So did my brother. And we had it easy. We had parents in a position to give us a little help. But what about that single mom with two kids working in a restaurant or clothing store trying to get through college? What about that young guy working eight hours of construction all day and then trying to put together enough night-school hours to get a degree? Or how about the kid who isn't working now but will be grinding for the next 20 years paying off that $100,000 student loan?

And those people aren't getting the "help" (tutors, advisers, etc..) that those football players are getting.

I understand the whole idea of big-time college sports generating a lot of revenue that never trickles down to the players. But I also see a whole lot of athletes -- including the ones who are in college ONLY as a path to the pros -- who place no value whatsoever on that college education. The athletes are often the rare ones leaving school without major unpaid loans hanging over their heads.

Let's talk about UCLA, where Rosen goes.

It's estimated that the cost of attending UCLA for just one year -- for a California resident -- is $34,056. For a non-resident it's $60,738. PER YEAR. So please, spare me all the talk about athletes not being paid for their athletic participation. They are being given something of great value, whether they realize it or not. Do they have to work for their scholarships? Of course, but maybe no longer or no harder than you or me or, more appropriately, our children did at jobs not quite as glamorous as playing college football or basketball.

There's nobody there to give you a standing ovation when you leave that janitor job every night on the way to night school. And certainly you're never going to be the Big Man (or Woman) On Campus -- with all the perks that go with it -- while slinging bento at a local food cart.

Spare me, Mr. Rosen. You and your teammates don't really have it so tough.