Friday, May 10, 2013.
One of the trade-offs for having ESPN holding the rights to every Boise State home football game is a lot of “TBAs” on the schedule. The Mountain West announced yesterday that, in effect, ESPN is going to fulfill its contract and broadcast the four Bronco home games not yet designated for TV: against Tennessee-Martin (Sept. 7), Southern Miss (Sept. 28), Wyoming (Nov. 16) and New Mexico (Nov. 30). We just don’t know whether they’ll be on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3. One of them theoretically still has to air on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 on a Saturday, according to the contract.
More importantly for fans, we don’t know when any of the four games will kick off—and we won’t for a long time. The release says, “While additional details on early-season games may be announced in the coming weeks, kick times and specific networks will primarily be determined throughout the season—generally within a 12-day window.” I guess it’s a nice problem to have, but could there be another 8:30 p.m. kickoff in November like there was last year against San Diego State?
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl has to be quietly rooting for Boise State not to make a fourth straight Las Vegas Bowl (yes, it is indeed known as the Las Vegas Bowl again). The Vegas game will be played December 21—same day as the FIPB—kicking off two hours earlier. And it’s on ABC for only the second time in history. The Las Vegas Bowl gets the first choice of Mountain West schools and the fifth choice out of the Pac-12. If the Broncos play in that game again, it could siphon off a significant number of potential Famous Idaho Potato Bowl attendees, including those who go to Vegas and those who cozy up in front of their TVs at home.
Now, about Mountain West basketball scheduling. With an 11-team league next winter, the conference has been trying to decide the logistics of an 18-game lineup. And what’s the bottom line again? Television, of course. A computer will generate a proposed schedule, but the Mountain West will have the flexibility to tweak it based on geography, rivalries and TV opportunties (not necessarily in that order). Count on seeing all the games involving the triumvirate of San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico on national TV. It creates a paradox for Boise State. If the Broncos are seen as a Mountain West attraction by the TV networks, they’ll get more marquee games on their schedule—and more exposure. If Boise State is considered to be back in the pack in TV value, it’ll have an easier schedule but will retain its relative hoops anonymity.
San Diego State has picked up what it considers to be a prize transfer to its basketball squad. Angelo Chol, who played his first two seasons at Arizona and saw his minutes diminish, will sit out next season and have two years of eligibility remaining in 2014-15. Chol, a native of Sudan, is a 6-9 forward who is seen as having tremendous upside. The San Diego Union-Tribune says that after Chol announced his intention to transfer last week, he was contacted by 52 schools, including several that made this year’s Sweet 16.
The 4th annual Northwest Premier Invitational basketball tournament tips off late this afternoon at Centennial and Capital High Schools, attracting some of the elite prep talent in the Northwest, Intermountain West and California. Among the biggest names are Borah senior-to-be Isaiah Wright, the state’s No. 3 recruit for 2014, and the state of Montana’s No. 1 recruit for 2015, Missoula Hellgate’s Tres Tinkle, the son of Montana coach Wayne Tinkle. Interestingly enough, five of the players with top 10 rankings hail from Eastern Idaho, including McKay Cannon of Shelley and Malek Harwell of Century High in Pocatello.
So far the home team has not won in the ECHL Western Conference Finals, and the Idaho Steelheads obviously hope that continues. Trailing two games to one, the Steelheads need one more win in Stockton to ensure a return the series to CenturyLink Arena, with Games 4 and 5 set for tonight and tomorrow night in the Asparagus Capital of the World. Since the Thunder’s 3-1 victory in Game 1, this has been an evenly-matched affair. Each team had 42 shots on goal in Wednesday night’s 2-1 overtime victory by the Steelies, but Idaho goalie Josh Robinson had one more save than Stockton’s Olivier Roy. Robinson needs to maintain his A-game—the Thunder still boast two of the Kelly Cup Playoffs’ top three scorers, Ryan Hayes and Andrew Clark.
The Players Championship is one of the bigger tournaments Graham DeLaet has played, and he’s in position to make the cut if he can put together a solid second round today. The former Boise State star shot a one-under 71 yesterday at TPC Sawgrass. DeLaet started the day with bogeys on two of the first three holes before settling down. He’s eight strokes off the pace, though—Roberto Castro, 113th in this week’s FedEx Cup standings, fired a seven-under 63 yesterday.
The Boise State men’s tennis team embarks on its 16th NCAA Tournament appearance, and its 14th under coach Greg Patton, when it takes on No. 23 Clemson this morning in the first round at Knoxville, TN. The Broncos have made it to the second round six times in their history, to the Sweet Sixteen twice (the last time in 2009), and to the Elite Eight once (in 1997). Boise State junior Andy Bettles, the Mountain West Player of the Year who’s ranked 40th in the country, hopes to set the tone in singles, but he faces a tall order. The Tigers’ Yannick Maden is ranked 26th.
Other goings-on of note: the Boise State softball team, after a 10-2 pounding of Nevada yesterday, wraps up the regular season with two more games against the Wolf Pack today and tomorrow at Dona Larsen Park. The Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships get underway in earnest today in Las Vegas. The Broncos did not have any entrants in the men’s decathlon nor the women’s heptathlon Wednesday and yesterday. And tonight marks the 10th annual Boise Hawks Fan Fest at Memorial Stadium from 5:30-9 p.m. The event features free admission.
This Day In Sports…May 10, 1998, 15 years ago today:
Tiger Woods ends a 10-month victory drought with a one-stroke win over Jay Don Blake at the Bell South Classic. Woods’ last victory had come in the Western Open in 1997, the season in which Tiger crafted his legend with his runaway 12-stroke triumph at the Masters. But the Bell South would be his only win of the ’98 season. Woods’ truly dominant run on the PGA Tour would begin the following year.
(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.)