Friday, February 19, 2010.
I noticed that the College Licensing Company has released its list of the top 75 universities in merchandise sales for 2009. Boise State is up to No. 45, the top mark among non-BCS schools (one spot ahead of Utah and five ahead of BYU). The Broncos have come virtually out of nowhere since the early 2000’s, thanks to their massive success in football and their logo change. The only other WAC schools to make the cut are Fresno State at 58th and Nevada at 70th. But keep this in mind if the WAC’s world is turned on its ear by expansion trickle-down the next couple of years. The top-rated FCS (Division I-AA) school was Montana…at No. 55. The Grizzlies would be a great brand addition to the WAC, if they could ever to be talked into making the move.
A lot of people are looking for the hidden meaning in Bob Gregory forsaking his defensive coordinator’s job at California to become a position coach at Boise State. But Cal coach Jeff Tedford has gone great lengths to stress that it was Gregory’s decision. In an interview with the Oakland Tribune, Tedford said, “He wants to spend more time with his kids and take a step back from coordinating. He's been at Boise before and likes the quality of life there. People's priorities change.”
And Tedford remains a big fan of Gregory. "I think Bob has done a great job,” he said. “I would entrust him with the defense anywhere I would ever be. I know what kind of worker he is. He's loyal, he's great with the kids. He has great values. The philosophy that we have both on and off the field, he totally believes in." Well, I think it’s all pretty simple. A Boise State program once seen as the fast track to a big-time job is now the fast track to happiness.
We can’t go into the Idaho Steelheads’ weekend series at Ontario without a Mark Derlago “streak check.” Derlago has piled up 36 points since New Year’s Day, second most in the ECHL. The 24-year-old left wing’s points streak is at 15 games—he has seven goals in the last five Steelheads contests. Derlago will welcome a major addition to his supporting cast tonight when Ashton Rome returns to the Steelies from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. Rome’s been gone since just after Christmas. At that time, he had 20 points in 28 games, including Idaho’s first hat trick of the season on Thanksgiving weekend. The Steelheads have not lost in regulation in the last 11 games, their longest such streak of the season.
While the Idaho Stampede’s roster has been experiencing “revolving door” syndrome, Donell Taylor has been a steadying force. The former UAB star and brother of one-time Stampede standout Ronell Taylor arrived the first of the year from the Erie BayHawks. Donell has now topped the 20-point mark in nine of the last 10 games and is averaging 23 points a night with the Stamps. Taylor will test the D-League’s best team tonight when the Iowa Energy visit Qwest Arena, sporting a 27-6 record and a six-game winning streak. Good luck trying to key on any one…or two…or three Iowa players. The Energy have six different guys averaging between 13 and 15 points per game. The L.A. D-Fenders come to town tomorrow night.
Boise State took plenty of guff for playing UC Davis in football last fall. And then the Broncos heard it some more when they only beat the Aggies by 18 points. But you know what? They have never played each other in men’s basketball. That changes tomorrow night when ESPN’s BracketBuster brings them together in Taco Bell Arena. ESPN is part of the game in name only, as this is simply an odd non-conference game in late February. UC Davis is 10-15—the Aggies upset Pacific a week and a half ago but are coming off a 25-point loss at Seattle Tuesday night, the same Seattle team that lost to Idaho 82-72 last night in Moscow.
The college basketball season is winding elsewhere in the valley. The College of Idaho closes out its home schedule with games against Evergreen State tonight and Northwest tomorrow night in Caldwell. The Coyotes are a very un-Yote like 9-14 and still need one win to lock up a berth in the Cascade Conference Tournament. Among those to be honored on Senior Night tomorrow is former Centennial High standout Craig McGee. NNU, the only college men’s hoops team in the valley with a winning record, fell at Montana State-Billings last night 74-72 to drop to 13-9. The Crusaders go to Central Washington tomorrow night before returning to Nampa for their final two home games next weekend.
There are no Idahoans on the Boise State men’s basketball roster this season, and there’s only one on Idaho’s roster. The people at Idaho Select hope to help reverse that trend as their hoops developmental program continues to grow. Many Idaho Select players are key ingredients in high school district tournaments this week and next. Two of the most prominent players face off tomorrow night in the Borah-Eagle District III semifinal at Mountain View High. Borah’s Craig Spjute leads the SIC in scoring at 23 points per game—he’s also the SIC’s No. 3 rebounder. The Lions’ star is shooting 55 percent from the field and 86 percent from the free throw line. Eagle’s Taylor Kelly already has a scholarship. Of course, it’s in football, not basketball, as the accomplished Mustang quarterback is headed to Arizona State.
It may be really nice in Cancun right now, but the golf course wasn’t so friendly to former Boise State stars Graham DeLaet and Troy Merritt yesterday. DeLaet carded a 1-over 72, and Merritt a 3-over 74 in the first round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Playa del Carmen. Both players are well below the projected cut line. What was a fabulous run in January for DeLaet and Merritt has turned into a grind in February.
Nate Holland’s fourth place finish in snowboardcross Monday may be the best mark yet among Idahoans at the Olympics. But I maintain Boise’s Sara Studebaker has provided the most inspired performances at the Vancouver Games. In women’s biathlon, a sport in which the U.S. is given no chance, Studebaker has been the top American in two events (the only American in one of them). Yesterday she was the second-best U.S. competitor in the 15-kilometer individual race—coming in 34th, her best finish yet, Studebaker has one event remaining, the 4X6 relay on Tuesday.
This will be a telling weekend for the Boise State men’s tennis team. The Broncos play at ninth-ranked Stanford today and at Fresno State tomorrow. BSU is at full strength now that Arizona State transfer Harry Skinner has been cleared by the NCAA. Skinner is 2-0 at No. 2 singles. Fresno State is a major threat to Boise State’s hopes of a WAC championship. The Bulldogs are battle-tested, having made it to the Sweet 16 of the ITA National Team Indoors last week, facing three Top 15 teams.
This Day In Sports…February 19, 1984:
Brothers Phil and Steve Mahre make history by winning the gold and silver medals in the Olympic slalom at Sarajevo. Steve has the fastest first run, but Phil’s combined run is 21-hundredths of a second faster than his brother’s. That story matched Bill Johnson’s upset win in the downhill as the biggest of the 1984 Winter Games. The biggest story of those Olympics now is the tragedy that has befallen Sarajevo since then.
(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 1350 KTIK/The Ticket. He also handles color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football.)