Thursday, April 18, 2013.
Jeff Choate is back in blue and orange, but with a different logo. I don’t know how well this would have played with the local blue and orange. The former Boise State assistant was hired in early January as defensive coordinator at UTEP by new head coach Sean Kugler, who worked with Choate with the Broncos in 2006. Well, UTEP just held its spring game—and Choate has now bolted for a job as special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach at Florida, where one-time Boise State colleague Brent Pease is offensive coordinator. The spot on the Gators’ opened up suddenly last week when defensive line coach Bryant Young, the former NFL star, resigned to spend more time with his family.
Florida coach Will Muschamp calls Choate, who had spent just one season at Washington State after six years on the Boise State staff, “high-energy.” Do you think? SI.com’s Holly Anderson looks at it this way: “A cursory examination of a world map suggests that if Choate’s current energetic travel patterns continue, he’ll be coaching American football somewhere in the vicinity of Caracas come 2014. We wish Choate the very best of luck with his world tour.” Zing. Kugler, by the way, still has two former Broncos as assistants, secondary coach Gabe Franklin (a holdover from Mike Price’s staff) and defensive line coach Andrew Browning, who left his graduate assistant’s post with Boise State to take his first full-time coaching position with the Miners.
Former Boise State star Legedu Naanee, cut loose by the Miami Dolphins midseason last fall, is still seeking to play a seventh NFL season. Cleveland has invited Naanee to its minicamp for a tryout. The new Browns offensive coordinator is none other than Norv Turner, who was head coach in San Diego when Naanee played there. And the Cleveland’s head coach is Rob Chudzinski, who was O-coordinator at Carolina two years ago when Naanee was a Panther. The 29-year-old wide receiver has 108 career NFL catches for 1,232 yards and four touchdowns but managed just one reception in Miami before he was cut last season. Also, former Bronco defensive tackle Mike Atkinson will participate in the Detroit Lions' local day workout Monday. Hailing as he does from across the river in Windsor, Ontario, Canadian Bacon qualifies as a local.
Dezmyn Trent of Tacoma has signed his National Letter of Intent for Boise State, and that’s a good get for coach Leon Rice. Trent is a 6-4 all-state guard at Washington’s 3A level and is a scorer of great renown. He had eight 30-point games and four 40-point games this season on the way to a Foss High School record 27 points-per-game average. Trent committed to the Broncos in early March and visited during the Broncos’ 69-65 win over San Diego State. At the time, he credited Bronco assistant John Rillie, with whom Trent said he bonded after being recruited by Rillie for more than two years.
Fresno State has lost star guard Kevin Olekaibe, who has been granted a release to transfer to another school for his senior year. Olekaibe is 20th on the Bulldogs’ career scoring list—he was second in the WAC in scoring last season at 17.8 points per game but fell off to 8.3 this season in the Mountain West, shooting under 35 percent. Olekaibe is the 10th scholarship player to depart the Fresno State program since Rodney Terry took over as coach two years ago.
The Idaho Steelheads will have their rock between the pipes when they open the ECHL Western Conference semifinals tomorrow night at Ontario. Goaltender Josh Robinson was returned to the Steelheads from the Texas Stars yesterday after having been called up to the AHL club a week ago. Robinson has been recalled to Texas three times this season without seeing any game action. The rookie out of Michigan Tech was named Steelheads team MVP after posting 27 victories during the regular season and finishing second in the ECHL in three categories: wins, save percentage and shutouts.
The past week has been something for Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson. First, the former Boise Hawk hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning against the Angels in Anaheim last Thursday night, opening the floodgates in an 8-1 victory. Then Donaldson blasted a walk-off homer in the 12th inning in Oakland the next night to beat the Tigers, 4-3. And Monday night he ripped an eighth-inning triple to drive in the winning run, leading the A’s past Houston, 4-3. Now 27, Donaldson has become an everyday player in this, his third major league season. He had a big summer for the Hawks in 2007, batting .346 with nine home runs.
Ten days after injuring his ankle in Serbia’s Davis Cup win over the U.S. at Taco Bell Arena, top-ranked Novak Djokovic was back on the court yesterday. Djokovic was cleared to play in the Monte Carlo Masters and defeated Mikhail Youzhny in his first match, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Djokovic was reported to be tentative on the ankle in the first set of a duel that took two hours and 15 minutes, but he was moving well.
Boise State tennis ace Andy Bettles has another Mountain West Player of the Week honor in his pocket. The junior from Somerset, England, won the award for the third time this season after going a combined 4-0 in No. 1 singles and doubles in last week’s Bronco wins at UNLV and Fresno State. Bettles is now ranked 30th in the nation in singles. Boise State celebrates Senior Day tomorrow in an afternoon match against Nevada at the Appleton Center.
The Race To Robie Creek had always billed itself as the Toughest Half-Marathon in the Northwest. Now it’s simply the Toughest Race in the Northwest. The theme for this year’s 36th annual event Saturday is “RoBie, or not RoBie.” Somehow I can’t envision many runners donning Shakespeare grab, with those layers of padding, and trying to trudge over Aldape Summit. Check out the race day schedule: 10:00–“We come crying hither.” 11:45–“Lord what fools these mortals be.” 11:55–“It will have blood they say...” High Noon—“A true beginning of our end...fairwell fair cruelty.”
This Day In Sports…April 18, 1966:
In what some would now call a dark day in sports history, a major professional regular season sporting event is played on an artificial surface for the first time ever, as the Houston Astrodome celebrates its grand opening. The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Houston Astros 6-3 to win the inaugural game. It was also a milestone day for Don Sutton, as the Dodger rookie got his first major league victory—the start of a Hall of Fame career that would see him win 324 games.
(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.)