Friday, May 4, 2012.
At first glance, the revised Boise State football schedule simply moves the home game against BYU to a Thursday for an ESPN telecast. Oh, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The BYU date is now Thursday, September 20, but the home opener against Miami (Ohio) remains on the previous Saturday, September 15. So this will be the first time the Broncos have had to endure a five-day turnaround since 2005, when they played New Mexico State at home and then went to Fresno State the following Thursday—and lost to the Bulldogs 27-7 on ESPN. To make the short gap more tolerable, the Miami (Ohio) game will kick off at 2 p.m. to buy several extra hours, making it the earliest date on the calendar Boise State has ever played an afternoon game.
The Nevada game in Reno has also been moved. That one’s going back a week to December 1, the final day of the regular season, to accommodate ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. That gives the Broncos what might be a much-needed late-season bye week; of course, it does the same for the Wolf Pack. There are only two night games on the Bronco Stadium slate this season. One is the national game versus BYU. The other is November 3 against San Diego State. Not only is it at night, it’s late at night—kickoff at 8:30 p.m. for CBS Sports Network. The other intriguing start time is at Hawaii on November 3. That will start at 5 p.m. Mountain time, which will be 1 p.m. on the Islands, to accommodate NBC Sports Network.
SI.com’s Andy Staples weighed in yesterday with his 2012 Post-Spring Power Rankings. Staples ranks Michigan State No. 10 and Boise State No. 20. Of the Broncos this season, Staples writes: “This will be fascinating to watch. The players who will take over at Boise State signed with the Broncos after the program had proven itself to be more than a flash in the pan. They've worked behind some very good players, but are they ready to uphold the winning tradition those draftees helped create? We should know quickly whether the next generation is ready. Boise State opens at Michigan State, and Sparty will not allow any of the Broncos to ease into their new roles.”
Admittedly the term “student-athlete” doesn’t apply to every player in college football. But it does, more often than not, at Boise State. And it especially sticks with Nate Potter. The Timberline High grad and Arizona Cardinals draft pick has been named to the 2012 National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Hampshire Honor Society. The group is comprised of college players from all divisions that maintained a cumulative grade-point average of 3.2 or higher and were significant contributors to their teams. Potter was not only a consensus All-American, he was also named a first-team Capital One Academic All-American, the first Bronco football player to earn the honor since 1978.
While Kellen Moore, Tyler Shoemaker, Aaron Tevis, Chase Baker and Jarrell Root await their NFL free agent shots, another former Boise State standout who’s been through the process is looking for another one. Safety Winston Venable, who as a nickel was the Broncos’ defensive MVP in 2010, has been waived by the Chicago Bears. Venable did put on the uniform in the regular season, though, appearing in 12 games for the Bears last season and making eight tackles on special teams. Three Boise State products, Byron Hout, Kyle Efaw and Cedric Febis, are still looking for free agent tryouts.
This will not be a fun day for Idaho—nor will it be for Boise State. When the smoke clears, Idaho and New Mexico State will be the only football-playing schools left in the WAC, and Boise State’s non-football sports will be trying to swim to shore before they go over the falls. In an interview with the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said the WAC has hired a consultant to assist with membership. But face it: WAC football is history. And the only non-football additions that appear to be available are Cal State Bakersfield and Utah Valley. Are you ready for a basketball league that features those two along with Boise State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Denver, Seattle and Texas-Arlington? Egads.
The last horse with Idaho ties to run in the Kentucky Derby was in 2003. Hagerman's Buddy Gill, an Idaho-owned horse with Boise Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens aboard, came from well back to finish sixth. Will we remember Rousing Sermon long-term, or will he become a trivia question? The Idaho-raised horse out of Tree Top Ranches in Parma is a 50-1 long-shot in tomorrow’s Run For The Roses. Rousing Sermon, the Champion California Two-Year-Old of 2011, is in rarified air, though. According to Tree Top Ranches manager Dan Kiser, there were 37,000 foals born in 2009 with “Kentucky Derby dreams,” and only 20 made it to Churchill Downs. I mentioned yesterday that Rousing Sermon was raised in Idaho but born in California—Kiser says he is only the third California-bred horse in the past 10 years to race in the Derby.
Greg Patton can now arrange his trophies in a quadrangle. The inimitable Boise State tennis coach has captured a Coach of the Year award in a fourth different conference after being named to the Mountain West honor yesterday. Patton, who now has 10 Coach of the Year awards in his 16 seasons with the Broncos, has also won in the Big Sky, Big West and the WAC. He was also NCAA Coach of the Year in 1997. Boise State is 26-6 this season and faces Florida State a week from tomorrow in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The College of Idaho plays for a spot in the NAIA World series this afternoon in Portland. The Coyotes routed Menlo College 9-2 yesterday—their opponent in the NAIA West Region title game will be determined in an elimination game early this afternoon on the Concordia University diamond. This marks the second straight year the Yotes have played for the regional title, and their ninth championship game appearance in 13 seasons. The C of I last won the tourney title in 2002—the last season they qualified for the NAIA World Series.
Boise cyclist Kristin Armstrong is warming up nicely for the inaugural Exergy Tour Memorial Day weekend in the Treasure Valley. The 2008 Olympic gold medalist has won the first two stages of the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico, winning yesterday’s 64-mile leg along the Continental Divide. The five-day event continues today with the individual time trials, Armstrong’s specialty.
This Day In Sports…May 4, 1994:
The United States hockey team stuns Russia, 3-1, in the quarterfinals of the world championships in Milan, Italy. This was the first time in 14 tries that the Americans had beaten the Russians since upsetting the USSR at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid—arguably the greatest victory in any team sport, ever.
(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.)