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HCA: Tyler Hilinski’s death continues to reverberate

His brother, Ryan, is soon off to play at South Carolina, but Tyler is always at top of mind.

NCAA Football: San Jose State at Washington State
Ryan Hilinski, the brother of deceased WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski, holds their mom, Kym, during the flag raising ceremony at the first home game this season.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

As we all have had too much fun with this Washington State Cougars football season, it seems fair to say that the death of presumed quarterback Tyler Hilinski has faded from the consciousness of most fans.

It’s not malicious; it’s just that ... life goes on, right?

That’s easier for you and me than it will ever be for the Hilinskis, who are the subject of a New York Times story that surfaced yesterday.

“We will sit here for the next 20 years and not know what the heck happened to Tyler,” said Tyler’s dad, Mark.

The story focuses largely on Tyler’s brother, Ryan, and his decision to continue to play football even as the family wonders if degenerative brain disease CTE played a role in Tyler’s death. Ryan is one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the 2019 class and has signed financial aid paperwork to play for the South Carolina Gamecocks, where he’ll enroll early after Christmas.

Everything about football now is distressing for the Hilinski family, and most likely always will be. They worry that Ryan could lose sight of where Tyler’s football dreams end and his own begin.

“It can’t just be for Tyler,” Kym said.

She spent the spring fretting about Ryan’s college decision, wondering whether she would be able to set foot in the same stadiums Tyler played in if Ryan stayed on the West Coast. She and Mark worried even more about whether they could bear sending him more than a short drive away.

Most of all, everyone worries whenever Ryan gets hit in a game, none more than when he was concussed in his final high school game. They wonder what those hits could mean now and what they could mean in the future.

“If anyone says they’re not, then they’re lying,” Kelly said. “Because every time I hear a smack or see him go down at all, I hold my breath just a little bit. My heart skips.”

The story bills the dynamic as “raw and complicated.” That’s a good way to put it, and it’s worth your time to read this well-written piece that eschews the temptation to find easy answers.

Mike Leach and Texas Tech, Part MMXLVIII

Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel — the same guy who broke the Pac-12 officiating debacle — went out in search of former broadcaster Craig James, who appears to have disappeared from the public consciousness after his well-documented dust-up with then-Texas Tech-now-WSU coach Mike Leach, as well as a spectacularly failed U.S. Senate bid.

And wouldn’t you know it ... Leach has thoughts on James!

Leach remains bitter about the firing from Tech and James’ role in it, because he feels it cost him his job at Tech and two prime years of his career. In a recent phone interview, Leach said of James: “You create your own karma. It looks like he might have created his. I think he’s a dishonest person and the sport is better off without him. And that’s pretty clear-cut.”

Yep, that’s about all there is to say about that.

Sportswriting Ain’t What It Used To Be

A website called “Bamamaven” has come up with a “Tournament of Champions (that) features Alabama’s top 16 national title teams in bracket-style single-elimination tournament.” The reason that’s relevant to you is that the 1930 Alabama team completed its season with a Rose Bowl victory of WSU.

We don’t really care about the Crimson Tide, but as part of the story, the author dug up a snippet from the coverage of the game on New Year’s Day 88 years ago:

Wrote Royal Brougham of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “Out of the sunny southland came another great Alabama football team and it hit a bewildered Cougar from Washington State like a jug of Dixie gin. By a 24-to-0 score the banjo-plucking, mammy singing troubadours from the land of cotton won the annual Rose Bowl classic, and they were that much the better team. The vaunted defense of the western champions crumpled like the walls of Jericho before an amazing pass attack which caught the northmen flat on their heels.

“The Bammers unleashed a passing and cleverly masked running offense which the canny Coach Wade kept stored in the cooler all season long. And before it the touted cougars were just corn bone and possum pie. That freckled-necked southern gentleman who coaches the Tide won today’s game with his noodle, and don’t let anybody tell you different. Wade sat out there on the bench and outfigured the lads from the northwest all afternoon long.”

Man, I’ve got a lot of work to do on my recaps.


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