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KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS/Local sports TV will have a different look; search continues at Oregon State; Luton aims for possible return this season; Pilots could place high in NCAA cross country

Musings on the sporting world. …

• Can't blame Golden State's Draymond Green for being miffed about the $25,000 fine imposed by the NBA for his role in a recent scuffle with Washington's Bradley Beal.

Doesn't seem fair, as Green pointed out, since Trail Blazers' president/general manager Neil Olshey got off scot-free with delivering a single-finger salute to a fan after the Los Angeles Clippers' 104-103 win over Portland. The gesture was caught on video.

The league investigated the incident but chose not to fine or discipline Olshey.TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - OLSHEY

"They got presidents of teams giving middle fingers on national TV and nothing's said," Green told ESPN's Chris Haynes, the former Portland broadcaster. "You don't want to shine the light on somebody else."

According to Haynes, sources said the league investigated and was told Olshey's gesture was "directed at a close friend who is a fan of the Clippers."

Through an email, Kiki Vandeweghe, the NBA's executive vice president/basketball operations, had this explanation for me:

"Neil informed us he was interacting with a friend, but nonetheless, we issued him a warning that the behavior is unacceptable."

I'm guessing Olshey is still smarting from that slap on the wrist.

Olshey did not respond to my text seeking comment.

So I'm left to offer this observation:

No matter the circumstances — even if it's your best pal heckling you after a frustrating loss — it's beneath the dignity of an executive overseeing the entire basketball operation of a professional sports franchise to be flipping the bird to someone while representing the team in an arena before/during/after a game.

It reflects poorly on that organization.

I would have expected some sort of mea culpa and/apology from Olshey for his actions.

But nothing.

• Things are moving briskly at NBC Sports Northwest, formerly Comcast SportsNet Northwest.

There is a new general manager — Len Mead, for seven years director of programming at what is now known as NBC Sports Boston.

And there is new programming headed viewers' way in 2018.

Around the middle of January, NBCSN will begin partnering with the folks at Rip City Radio (620 AM). That means RCR's two local shows — hosted by Dan Sheldon and Nigel Burton from 6-9 a.m. and by Chad "The Body" Doing and Travis Demers from 3-6 p.m. — will be simulcast on NBCSN instead of the shows aired on KFXX "The Fan" (1080 AM).

Additional new programming is expected during the day and early evening, meaning local programming will be telecast from 6 a.m. to about 8 p.m., five days a week.

If major league baseball arrives in Portland — and I think it's going to happen — NBCSN would be a likely landing spot.

• The Oregon State football coaching search remains in its embryonic stages.

"We're making progress, but we're not close to saying we're down to a few candidates, or even targeting anybody at this point," says Glenn Sugiyama, managing partner with DHR International search firm.

Athletic director Scott Barnes says he has a "soft target" deadline to hire a coach set for before the Dec. 20 letter-of-intent signing date.

Names I'm hearing as viable candidates — Beau Baldwin, offensive coordinator, California; Jonathan Smith, offensive coordinator, Washington; Alex Grinch, defensive coordinator, Washington State; June Jones, head coach, CFL Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Jim McElwain, recently fired head coach, Florida.

And let's not forget one other — interim coach Cory Hall, especially if the Beavers continue to show progress the rest of this season.

• It was great to have Jake Luton out throwing some passes at Oregon State's practice sessions this week. But that doesn't mean the junior quarterback — who sustained a thoracic spine fracture at Washington State on Sept. 16 — is close to a return to game action.

"I'm feeling good," says the 6-7, 235-pound Luton. "Just trying to get back into the swing of things — practice, school normal life stuff — but I'm definitely feeling better."

Team doctor Doug Aukerman cleared Luton for limited work in practice.

"Some basic warmups — 10, 15, 20 yards, tossing the ball a little bit, just to get the motion back," Luton says. "There's a little soreness — a little more than I would usually feel. But it's not a bad thing to get some soreness back in my body.

"(Aukerman) told me the bone is healing up well. There will still be a little pain for a while, but that's expected."

Luton hopes to accelerate his activity next week.

"Maybe I'll be able to lengthen it out and starting hitting normal throws," he says. "Every day is a progression. It's a day-by-day process."

Luton still hopes to return this season, but he is running out of weeks.

"It's been my goal since right after I got hurt," he says. "It's something where I'll have to feel it out. When it comes to the point where I think I can do it, and (Aukerman) agrees with me, hopefully we'll make it happen.

"I have to be smart about it, but this is the sport I signed up to play. Injuries come with it."

Hall would love to have Luton back — the Beavers have only former safety Mason Moran behind starter Darell Garretson at QB — but is most concerned about Luton's health.

"We have to err on the side of caution here," Hall says. "Jake wants to play, and we want him to play, but only when it's not taking a risk we shouldn't take. He has a lot of football left, including next year for us. I don't want to jeopardize that in any way."

• As always, University of Portland men's cross country is good.

But this season, as has been the case on occasion, the Pilots are very good.

In 2014, Rob Conner's thinclads placed third at the NCAA championships. Portland has a chance to equal that this year at the NCAA meet in Louisville, Kentucky, on Nov. 18.

"The goal is to make the podium (the top four teams), but we have a tough task," says Conner, whose Pilots are ranked sixth nationally.

Defending champion and top-ranked Northern Arizona and No. 2-ranked Brigham Young are heavy favorites to battle it out for the title. Portland, Stanford, Colorado and Syracuse figure to compete for the next two spots.

Conner used his top two runners — senior Jeff Thies and junior Nick Hauger — but held out his next four harriers from the WCC championships last Saturday at Oakland. BYU swept the first five individual places and took the team title while Portland, led by Thies (sixth) and Hauger (seventh), placed second.

It was unlikely the Pilots were going to beat BYU, anyway, so Conner used the weekend for rest and training purposes for his other runners. Portland went into the WCC meet ranked third, its highest-ever national ranking.

Connor will have his full complement of runners entered in the NCAA west regional Friday, Nov. 10 at Seattle, where he expects to battle Stanford for the team title. That will include Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse, a promising sophomore from France.

The 2017 Pilots are comparable to the '14 crew, Conner says.

"The only difference is this team doesn't have a proven front guy like Scott Fauble," says Conner, in his 28th season at the UP helm, of the three-time All-American. "We have three guys who could qualify to be All-Americans this year."

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