Monday, August 9, 2010.
Of all the things written in the days, weeks and months following LeGarrette Blount’s punching of Byron Hout, nothing was more disturbing than this headline the day after the incident on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website: “Was Oregon's LeGarrette Blount called the N-word by Boise State's Byron Hout?” The blog accompanying it was written by the Chronicle’s Zennie Abraham, who was wondering recklessly about the exchange. I was surprised to see something so dangerously speculative from the Chronicle.
“Hout and Blount know what was said,” Abraham wrote. “Was it the N-word? The mind runs with possible reasons Blount went off like he did but the only two logical ones I can see is that something racist was said or something awful but not racist was said.” As Hout’s teammates would attest, it was not something racist, but something in reaction to a Blount quote in Sports Illustrated last summer. And if you think “How ‘bout that ass-whuppin’”—which Hout confirmed Friday is what he said to Blount—is something awful, then so be it. Unsportsmanlike? Yes. Awful, and deserving of a sucker punch? Uh, no.
What was maddening was that Abraham’s speculation continued during the fall. He was convinced he had the goods on Hout. Abraham’s source was E.J. Prince, a friend of Duck wide receiver Jamere Holland, who tweeted, “Just talked to Jamere Holland (Oregon WR) said that L. Blount socked dude from Boise State cuz he called him a n_____.” Byron Hout’s going to do that? With numerous black teammates within earshot? On one of the most tightly-knit teams in the country? It’s appropriate to note that Holland was kicked off Oregon’s team last winter by coach Chip Kelly after an expletive-laced post on Holland’s Facebook page critical of the coach.
Friday was an eventful day for Boise State football, newly ranked No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Broncos earned cover story status in USA Today (not to mention the home page headline at SI.com yesterday). The USA Today feature by Kelly Whiteside got a pretty good summation of Boise State’s decade of sustained success from Kellen Moore. "There's a lot of guys here who were walk-ons originally and now they're on scholarship and starting. Guys sometimes just get overlooked," Moore says. "Maybe they're stuck in a high school program where they don't get the exposure or they're from a small town in Idaho. A lot of guys just have chips on their shoulders. For whatever reason, they didn't get their dream opportunity originally, but of course they're getting it now."
With the kudos come the naysayers. It’s part of the deal. Gene Sapakoff of the Charleston Post & Courier (in SEC country) is one of the doubters. “I appreciate what Boise State has done with its football program as much as the next objective guy,” writes Sapakoff. “Boise itself is a beautiful, friendly town and I enjoyed smacking Upstate radio personality Dan Scott in the backside with a snowball the day before Clemson played Louisiana Tech on the blue field at the Humanitarian Bowl. But if the Broncos get to Glendale, AZ, going 2-0 against real teams (Virginia Tech and Oregon State) and 10-0 against pastry, this poll is largely to blame and Steve Carell (and ‘The Office’) should pick the preseason top 25 next year.”
Through it all, Boise State landed two new verbal commitments over the weekend, both noteworthy for their places of origin. Running back Jay Ajayi is the third recruit out of the state of Texas in the 2011 class. Ajayi rushed for 1,627 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior last year. The Broncos also got a commit from linebacker Blake Renaud from De La Salle High School in Concord, CA, one of the top prep programs in the country. Renaud is a 6-2, 230-pounder who is ranked as the nation’s 20th-best middle linebacker recruit. Boise State now has nine commitments for next February’s class (with Emil Smith’s name having been tragically removed).
After the bizarre forfeit Saturday night, you had to wonder how the Boise Hawks would react. Would they be rejuvenated by the way manager Jody Davis had their backs? Davis refused to send the team back onto the boggy field in the second inning at Everett, prompting an automatic 9-0 loss. The Hawks remained a mess yesterday, though, losing to the AquaSox, 15-4. Everett amassed 21 hits, most in the Northwest League this season, and clubbed five home runs. And it happened without Davis, who has been suspended for six games and fined for his refusal of the umpires’ orders to resume play Saturday.
What now for Garret Anderson? The former Boise Hawk with the longest of all major league careers was designated for assignment yesterday by the Dodgers. Anderson was hitting only .181 with 12 runs batted in. "As tough as this was to do, for me because of how I respect this guy's career and respect him as a person, we just felt we wanted to try something different," said manager Joe Torre in the Los Angeles Times. In 17 big league seasons, Anderson has a career average of .293, with 2,529 career hits. At the age of 38, this might be it for him. If Anderson clears waivers, the Dodgers would have 10 days to trade him, release him or send him to the minors (if he'd accept an assignment).
Boise State’s two rookies on the PGA Tour, Troy Merritt and Graham DeLaet, both finished in the money at the Turning Stone Resort Championship this week in Verona, NY. Not a lot of money by tour standards, but it’s better than missing the cut. Merritt had a steady weekend and was five-under-par for the tournament, earning $8,560. DeLaet had three bogeys on the back nine yesterday and struggled to a two-over-74. He was eight-over overall, making $8,040.
This Day In Sports…August 9, 2005, five years ago today:
Felix Hernandez, Seattle’s prized 19-year-old prospect, picks up his first big league victory in his second start as the Mariners blank the Twin, 1-0. Hernandez pitched eight scoreless innings and allowed five hits—all singles—and did not walk a batter. He was the first teenager to win a start in the majors in 21 years. And Hernandez wasted no time doing it, as the game lasted only two hours and one minute, the shortest in Safeco Field history.
(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’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)