Friday, April 20, 2012.
The one-hour conglomeration of the 10 “Gruden’s QB Camp” specials aired last night on ESPN2. If, like me, you hadn’t seen most of the episodes other than the one featuring Kellen Moore, you had to be struck by how Monday Night Football analyst and former NFL coach Jon Gruden barbecued many of the other quarterbacks. Gruden especially went after Andrew Luck, spending an inordinate amount of time on the Stanford star’s pick-six against USC. Kellen’s show was a love-fest by comparison. Won’t his knowledge of the game and unmatched dissection of defenses count for something a week from now?
When you open up your new Sports Illustrated, you’ll find NFL writer Peter King plugging both Shea McClellin and Doug Martin as first round-worthy in the NFL Draft next Thursday. But NFL clubs, he predicts, won’t do what he thinks they should do, and doesn’t expect either player to go in the first round. According to an NFL source, McClellin has visited and/or worked out for 11 different teams. Martin is getting some buzz in Denver now. I suggested Kellen Moore as a late-round pick for the Broncos yesterday (without a lot of supporting evidence). But it would be quite a Boise State trifecta if Martin and Moore joined Ryan Clady in Denver. By the way, the Broncos are now switching to Peyton Manning’s no-huddle offense. So very Kellenesque.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen can now put ink to paper after his reworked contract was approved yesterday by the State Board of Education. The new five-year, $11.75 million deal goes through the 2016 season. It’s paid through athletic department revenue, not state funds. And, welcome to the world “Chris Petersen Enterprises LLC,” the umbrella from which the various facets of Pete’s public persona will emanate. This is another preemptive strike by the Broncos, who know Petersen, with his 73-6 career record, could be making twice as much money somewhere else right now.
It’ll be a toned-down Silver & Gold Game tonight as Idaho concludes spring football. A spate of injuries along the offensive line will turn the event into a situational scrimmage. With so much still to be determined on the O-line, and new systems still being installed by coordinator Jason Gesser, it’ll be tough to tell where the Vandal offense really stands until fall camp. Coach Robb Akey says neither Dominique Blackman nor Taylor Davis has taken charge at the quarterback spot—that battle won’t be decided until August. “I’m looking for something clean and consistent from those guys,” Akey said. “They’ve both done some real good things. They both have had success in situations and they both have thrown the ball well.”
With just under 12 minutes remaining last night at CenturyLink Arena, the Idaho Steelheads’ Chad Nehring scored a controversial go-ahead goal. From there, the Steelheads hung on for dear life against some angry Wranglers. The game ended with Las Vegas whacking away in front of Steelies goalie Jerry Kuhn, to no avail, and Idaho won 4-3. That narrows the Wranglers’ lead in the ECHL Western Conference semifinals to two games to one going into tomorrow night’s Game 4. It didn’t look good when Las Vegas took a 3-2 lead in the third period with a shot from the blue line after Marty Flichel had fallen on top of Kuhn on the previous shot. The players were unable to untangle before Jeff May’s goal sailed through. But Cody Purves struck 41 seconds later for the Steelheads to knot the game up. Nehring followed with his game-winner just over two minutes later.
The Steelheads gutted it out last night—and in the process, they discovered they indeed have a shot at extending their stay in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Exhibit No. 1: the team that played on its heels and managed only 18 shots on goal versus Las Vegas in Game 1 Monday night put up 45 last night. Exhibit No. 2: the Steelies made their power play count, converting two of four chances. But the key has been individuals stepping up under pressure. The third period goals by Purves and Nehring last night are emblematic.
The Boise State men’s tennis team wraps up the regular season today with Senior Day matches against the College of Idaho and UNLV at the Appleton Center. The Broncos appear to be peaking as they try to extend a 24-match home winning streak. They’ve won 14 of their past 15 outings. Here’s a Pattonism from coach Greg Patton: “My only wish is that this season would last longer,” he said. “It’s like a hot fudge sundae—while you are savoring the taste, you are also trying to make it last as long as possible.” Seniors Damian Hume, James Meredith and Erik Sheldon will be making their final home appearances today. Hume is the reigning Mountain West Player of the Week.
A severe neck injury almost ended the career of Boise State gymnast Amy Glass three years ago. Last night Glass was named the top senior gymnast in the nation, winning the AAI Award at the banquet preceding the NCAA Championships in Duluth, GA. Tonight she competes in her second NCAA title meet as an individual qualifier. Glass will fire it up in the all-around as she tries to become the first Bronco to make the finals at nationals. Glass is only the seventh Bronco ever to compete at the NCAA Championships—and the fifth in all-around.
The 2,550 runners in tomorrow’s 35th Annual Race To Robie Creek come from diverse places. There are entrants traveling from Singapore, Ireland and France. And Emmett. It’s been almost six years since arguably Idaho’s most popular boxer ever, Kenny Keene, retired from the ring. But he has hardly retired from life. Now 43 years old, Keene will be running the grueling half-marathon over Aldape Summit tomorrow. Keene and his fellow runners are being warned by race officials to take extra precautions to remain hydrated tomorrow, as we could have our first 80-degree day of the year. Nevertheless, it should be colorful. The theme this year is “Samurai Sailtoad.”
On the PGA Tour, Graham DeLaet needs to make cuts. The former Boise State star is playing the Valero Texas Open this week and shot a 1-over 73 in the first round yesterday. So he’s on the bubble. At any rate, a big paycheck this weekend that would close the gap on what DeLaet needs to retain his PGA Tour card doesn’t seem likely. DeLaet has $477,976 left to win over his next 16 tournaments to remain an “automatic qualifier.”
Hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since we lost the Pride of Payette, Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. The 8th annual Harmon Killebrew Days kicks off tonight in Payette with a banquet at Payette High, featuring what are expected to be emotional tributes from former teammate and Twins manager Frank Quilici and Killebrew’s oldest son, Cam. Tomorrow evening Payette’s baseball team will host New Plymouth at Killebrew Stadium. The event, sponsored by the Harmon Killebrew Foundation, raises money for the Payette High baseball team.
This Day In Sports…April 20, 1912, 100 years ago today:
An historic day for baseball stadiums. Fenway Park opens in Boston, with the Red Sox beating the Yankees, 7-6. Fenway is more popular than ever, having sold out every game since May, 2003. Tiger Stadium opened in Detroit on the same day, with the Tigers beating the Cleveland Indians, 6-5. That ballpark was retired at the end of the 1999 season. And on April 20, 1916, it was the first game in the history of Wrigley Field—the Chicago Cubs downing the Cincinnati Reds, 7-6.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)