Friday, July 7, 2017.
I hope everybody gets this guy’s name right when Nevada returns to the blue turf to face Boise State on November 4. The gut-punch of the week for the Wolf Pack was 1,000-yard rusher James Butler’s announcement that he’s leaving for Iowa as a graduate transfer—one month before fall camp. There are numerous candidates to replace Butler, but the one who had the best spring is Kelton Moore. That’s K-E-L-T-O-N. Moore is a 5-11, 210-pound sophomore from Arlington, TX, with two career carries for 10 yards, but he flourished during spring ball (Butler was sidelined with an injury). Wolf Pack running backs coach David White says Moore has a “gas tank the size of a lawn mower.” Nevada hopes Kelton Moore has even an iota of the impact of his kind-of Bronco namesake.
The rich get richer in college sports. And while Boise State’s athletic department performs nimbly, it is not rich (comparatively speaking). USA Today reports that Texas A&M led the nation in revenue for the 2015-16 budget year with more than $194 million. The Broncos were No. 62 at $46 million, third in the Mountain West behind San Diego State’s $56 million—and a couple hundred G’s behind UNLV. Elsewhere, Idaho is No. 127 with revenues of $22 million, and Idaho State is No. 184 at $13 million. The lowest-ranked Power 5 school is Washington State, which takes in $58 million. And so goes the gap between the power conferences and everyone else.
According to USA Today, there are 10 institutions in the country that received “at least $2 million in direct state or other government support during the 2015-16 budget year.” Five of them were in the Mountain West, and one of them was Boise State, at $2.8 million. Another was Wyoming, and that’s the crux of USA Today’s article on athletic department funding. The Cowboys do get state money, but it’s in the form of matching funds—the more the Pokes’ donors give, the more the school gets (up to $4 million total per year). The program has helped Wyoming with not only cost-of-attendance requirements, but also with its new $44 million training facility and its $30 million upgrade to the Arena Auditorium. Of course, Wyo has a huge advantage in creating such systems—it’s the only university in the state.
Top of the news in Denver is Matt Paradis being medically cleared following surgery on both of his hips following the 2016 season. The former Council Lumberjack and Boise State star has started every game of his career, including the playoffs, since spending the 2014 season on the Broncos’ practice squad. But his hip pain was so bad late last fall that Paradis had to stop practicing (while still taking every snap on gameday). At first the Broncos were hoping to have him ready for the regular season in September. But Paradis is ahead of schedule, and now it appears he’ll be able to participate in drills on a limited basis when camp opens at the end of this month.
For years we’ve followed the writings of Bruce Feldman at ESPN.com, CBSSports.com and FoxSports.com. Feldman has always given mid-majors their due, in particular the Mountain West. Sports Illustrated has wisely picked up Feldman, and he looks wiser to Bronco Nation now as he has Boise State’s Ryan Wolpin at No. 40 on his annual list of “The top 40 workout warriors in college football.” Writes Feldman: “The former walk-on has been, pound-for-pound, the strongest player on the Broncos’ team the past two years. He’s only 5’7½” but is a rock-solid 195 pounds. Wolpin, who is battling for the starting running back job, benches 383 pounds, squats 555 and power cleans 361.” Raise your hand if you’ve been waving the Ryan Wolpin flag. My hand is raised.
Some suggest that San Diego State is now the Mountain West’s elite football program. After all, the Aztecs are coming off back-to-back conference titles and bowl game routs of Cincinnati and Houston of the AAC. But there’s a cloud hanging over SDSU, as in, where in the world will they play three years from now. It’s certainly something teams will use against San Diego State, right? Well, the Aztecs have drawn their line in the sand on the recruiting trail. They received 10 new verbals in less than two weeks’ time, including one from cornerback Allan Mwata, who recently decommitted from BYU. The list includes six local commits, a record in the Rocky Long era. Four of the locals told a San Diego TV station that none of the schools competing for their services mentioned the Aztecs’ stadium situation.
All three Treasure Valley representatives on the PGA Tour are entered in this week’s Greenbrier Classic, and again we have one near the top of the leaderboard after the first round. Graham DeLaet fired a six-under 64 yesterday and is tied for third, three shots behind Sebastian Munoz. Now, if DeLaet can just stay the course (literally speaking). There are four automatic entires in the British Open up for grabs in this tournament. Those would appear to be out of reach for Troy Merritt and Tyler Aldridge. Merritt, still smarting from the 82 he shot last Friday at the Quicken Loans National, came in at six-over 76 yesterday. Aldridge carded a four-over 74.
After a rare two-game road trip to Eugene, made rarer by an epic 20-inning victory on the 4th of July, the Boise Hawks returned home last night to open a five-game series against Vancouver. The Canadians had a three-run first inning waiting, and that’s all they would need in a 4-1 win over the Hawks. Boise starter John Valek settled down after the shaky first, but he was still saddled with his second straight loss after a 2-0 start to the season. The Hawks continue to circle around .500—now they’re right on it again at 11-11.
Around the horn on the diamond—Borah High grad Stephen Fife made his debut in the Japanese major leagues yesterday, starting for the Seibu Lions against the Nippon-Ham Fighters. Fife threw 3 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs with a no-decision in a 7-6 victory. Also, former Boise Hawk Kyle Schwarber made his return to the Cubs from Triple-A yesterday. After batting .343 with four home runs during his 11-game stint with Iowa, Schwarber went 0-for-4 in the Cubs’ 11-2 loss to Milwaukee at Wrigley Field. And ex-Hawks Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Justin Bour of the Marlins fell short yesterday in the “Final Vote” for next Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Bour, however, is entered in the Home Run Derby Monday. He’s seeded seventh and gets to open against rookie phenom Aaron Judge of the Yankees.
This Day In Sports…July 7, 1979:
NBC conspires with Roscoe Tanner to delay the start of his championship match against Bjorn Borg. It was NBC’s first “Breakfast At Wimbledon” telecast, and the network wanted the final to start at five minutes after the hour instead of exactly 9 a.m. Eastern time as it always had been. But Wimbledon protested. So Tanner pretended he had to go to the men’s room and spent five minutes there. Borg won the title anyway, his fourth of five straight Wimbledon crowns.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)