Friday, June 15, 2012.
Boise State has announced that its women’s gymnastics program will rejoin the WAC as an affiliate member beginning with the 2012-13 season. The release didn’t say “beginning and ending,” but that could be where things are headed. The WAC issued a statement yesterday following its conference meetings in Denver. “The WAC Board of Directors continues to aggressively evaluate membership options,” WAC Interim Commissioner Jeff Hurd said. In other words, no glimmer of hope for the conference yet. “We remain confident in the league’s future and will continue to survey and discuss several options,” said Hurd.
Andy Katz points out a subsequent basketball effect of Boise State’s non-football uncertainty in his “3-Point Shot” at ESPN.com. “Boise State is having a difficult time finishing its nonconference schedule because the Broncos still don’t know what league they will be in 2013-14,” writes Katz. “The Big West has left the door open for Boise State to seek an invitation. Boise State is committed to the Big East in football so the MWC seems out. The only other option is to continue with the plan of going to the crumbling WAC. Coach Leon Rice doesn’t know, though, if he can schedule Big West or WAC teams in nonconference games. He’d love to schedule MWC teams, but isn’t 100 percent sure the Broncos are out so he’s hesitating. Rice said long-term scheduling is impossible at this point.” Many are wondering what Rice is really thinking on all this.
You knew this game would be picked up nationally sooner or later, considering Southern Miss is getting some BCS-buster buzz this year. Boise State’s game against USM in Hattiesburg October 6 will be shown by Fox on either Fox Sports Net or FX. Kickoff time hasn’t been announced, but it appears it will be a day game (nice and sticky). That leaves only the Broncos’ September 29 game at New Mexico still needing a TV home. Also, details of Tyrone Crawford’s contract with Dallas have been revealed by various sources. The third round draft pick out of Boise State gets a four-year, $2.675 million deal that includes a signing bonus in excess of $575,000. And former Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle was waived yesterday by the Chicago Bears. Enderle was the Bears’ fifth-round draft pick in 2011.
We talked yesterday about the type of talent Boise State is able to recruit on what is a relatively shoestring budget. The Broncos aren’t doing it by grabbing the lowest-common-denominator talent academically. For the second straight year, the Boise State football program has been honored with a Public Recognition Award from the NCAA for finishing in the 10 percent in Academic Progress Rates. The only other school from the West to earn the award was the Air Force Academy.
The Boise Hawks were accustomed to winning as they built their place in the local sports landscape. Hawks games became can’t-miss things to do during the summer as the team rolled up 13 consecutive winning seasons from 1990 through 2002, the first 11 of them during the record-breaking tenure of manager Tom Kotchman. To be sure, winning teams aren’t the primary barometer of success in minor league sports, but they help. And the Hawks are due, having endured three straight losing seasons. Can second-year manager Mark Johnson coax a winning record out of this year’s mixture of youth and raw talent? The first of 76 chances at victory comes tonight when the Hawks visit Salem-Keizer for the 2012 season opener.
Two of the Hawks players Johnson and his staff are especially high on are Willson Contreras and Shawon Dunston Jr. Contreras, a third baseman for Boise last year, has been converted to catcher, and it appears to fit. “Good athlete, throws well, really good feet,” Hawks hitting coach Bill Buckner says. “He’s got all the tools.” Thing is, Contreras is the only catcher on the roster right now. So it’ll be all on him behind the plate out of the gate until reinforcements arrive from the Cubs camp in Mesa. Johnson likes Dunston for who he is, not the fact that he’s the son of a long-time major leaguer. “He’s a gamer—plays as hard as anyone I’ve seen,” says Johnson of the 19-year-old outfielder.
Jose Arias, a 6-5 righthander from the Dominican Republic, will be the Hawks’ Opening Night starter this evening. This will be a new experience for Arias, who has spent the last two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. Tonight he’ll be on the mound over 3,000 miles away in Keizer, OR. Arias is familiar with the starter’s role, though, getting 22 starts the past two seasons. He went 2-3 with a 3.97 ERA for the Cubs’ Dominican squad.
Idaho Stampede coach Randy Livingston’s contract expires today, with his chances of being rehired by the Portland Trailblazers as part of the Stampede’s new structure considered remote. The Blazers will make that call now under their new single-affiliation agreement with Idaho. One place Livingston will not be going is LSU, his alma mater. New Tigers coach Johnny Jones, like Livingston a one-time LSU point guard, told the Baton Rouge Advocate Livingston is not under consideration for a spot on the Tigers’ staff.
Today’s the day for Kristin Armstrong. The 2008 Olympic gold medalist from Boise will find out whether she’s part of the U.S. cycling team at the Summer Games in London. Armstrong has been furiously rehabbing the broken clavicle she suffered in the prologue of the Exergy Tour. “It’s been three weeks, and I’ve been on my bike for two,” Armstrong told KTVB’s Jay Tust. Not only that, she’ been riding up to 500 miles a week. “Every day I’ve been turning in my computer files to show all the training I’ve been doing—so if there are questions during the selection process, it shows the data that I am actually out on my bike riding.” Armstrong was undefeated in the time trial this year before her crash on May 24.
Vallivue High’s Gabrielle Barker rode consistency into the lead yesterday at the Idaho Women’s Amateur. Barker carded her second straight two-over 74 at Falcon Crest to cradle a one-stroke lead over Boise’s Maddie Sheils with 18 holes to go. First round leader Amy Hasenoehrl shot a six-over 78 yesterday and is two strokes back.
This Day In Sports…June 15, 1997, 15 years ago today:
June 15, 1997, 15 years ago today: Ernie Els, who in 1994 became the first Albertson’s Boise Open alumnus to win one of golf’s majors, notches another with his second victory in the U.S. Open. Els trailed by six strokes after the first round at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD. But the 27-year-old South African worked his way into contention and beat Colin Montgomerie by one stroke, helped by what he calls one of the shots of his life, a five-iron into Congressional’s treacherous 17th green in the final round.
(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.)