Tuesday, July 30, 2013.
Yes, I saw a headline on the San Diego Union-Tribune website that read, “Aztecs fans best in non-BCS world.” You bet it got my attention. An Emory University sports marketing study made the declaration, basing its model on fan support over the last 10 years while “controlling for team quality.” It found that San Diego State has received “fairly consistent support even when the team struggles.” The rest of the top five consists of BYU (I get that one), Wyoming, Idaho and Marshall. The Vandals are about as attendance-challenged as they come, so we won’t even go there.
The study spends a lot of time talking about why Boise State doesn’t measure up. “While Boise State is arguably one of the most successful programs at any level, the fan support is often not what one would suspect. Boise State has 20,000+ students, a metro area population of more than 600,000, regularly wins more than 10 games and doesn’t sell out,” it says. The conclusion by authors Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi: “Boise fans should probably be grateful for the program they have, and should provide more support." Okay. But San Diego State’s enrollment is 36,000 in a metro area of more than 3,000,000, and the Aztecs averaged 30,879 fans per game during a nine-win season. The Broncos averaged 35,404. Make some sense out of that. Just know that the blog post about the study on Emory University’s website has some inaccuracies
The bottom line, though, is the fact that Boise State did not technically sell out once during the 2012 season after Bronco Stadium was expanded to 37,000. The closest the Broncos came was versus BYU, when they kind of sold out at 36,864. Everyone wonders about the timeline on the blueprint for further expansion of the stadium. Well, it’s not going to happen until it needs to. And after this season, it still won’t need to. The luck of the draw has left Boise State with a less-than-compelling home schedule. The most attractive games are Air Force and Nevada, but attendance will probably have to rally after the tone is set by the home opener against FCS Tennessee-Martin. I feel that “football town” argument comin’ on again. The onus is on Bronco Nation this season.
NFL training camp notes pertaining to former Boise State offensive linemen: Ryan Clady has been limited in practice as he eases his way back after winter shoulder surgery. Denver isn’t going to rush it—the Broncos plan to sit Clady in practice for another couple of weeks. Arizona’s Nate Potter is said to have added 15-20 pounds to his 6-6 frame. Hopefully the extra bulk will help as he tries to win a starting job. The Cardinals have brought in Eric Winston from Kansas City to compete at the tackle spot. Most see Winston on the right side and Potter going at it versus Levi Brown for the left tackle job. At right guard for Arizona, Daryn Colledge has been bothered by a right leg injury. But Kent Somers of AZCentral.com reports that it’s due to nerve damage, not a broken bone. Coach Bruce Arians says Colledge should be able to return.
Idaho has been preparing for fall camp in relative quiet, with no conference hype to help it sneak into the headlines. But word is that junior college transfer quarterback Josh McCain has been in Moscow this summer participating in player-run practices. The battle will be on next week, as McCain tries to beat out the local favorite who led the quarterback derby coming out of the spring, Coeur d’Alene’s Chad Chalich. Coach Paul Petrino is keeping his options open at one key position that has to turn things around after a rocky 2012.
Utah State’s football status in the state of Utah has more or less been restored to ancient levels. USU’s series with BYU has been extended until 2016—and it’s home-and-home, not three-for-one or two-for-one. The Aggies and Cougars will play in Logan this year and in 2015, while the teams face off in Provo next year and in 2016. Furthermore, the last two games in the current set will be played on the final Saturday in November. Utah State lost by just three points in each of its last two games versus BYU, 6-3 last season at Cougar Stadium and 27-24 in 2011 at Romney Stadium. You’ve come a long way, Aggies.
Extra innings equaled extra frustration for the Boise Hawks last night. First, the Hawks were eight outs away from being no-hit by Spokane last night before Jose Dore punched out a single in the bottom of the seventh. Then, with the Hawks trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth, Kris Bryant doubled in Boise’s first run, and Yasiel Balaguert brought in Bryant on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. And on to extra innings it went. But the Indians struck for three runs in the 11th for a 5-2 victory. It was only the third RBI in the last eight games for Balaguert, who’s now tied with teammate Jacob Rogers for the Northwest League lead in that category.
Josh Donaldson has been facing some mid-summer doldrums, but the former Boise Hawk’s role in Oakland’s run this season has been duly noted by the A’s. Donaldson has been named his team’s recipient of the Heart and Hustle Award. The distinction, awarded to a member of each big league team, is voted on by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and given to active players "who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game." Donaldson is in the midst of (by far) his best season in the majors, but he’s battling a slump that has dropped his average below .300. He finally snapped an 0-for-17 slide last night in an 9-4 win over Toronto.
Former Boise State standout T.K. Kim has made it through a lot of qualifiers the past couple of months. Kim advanced to U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying and made it to the U.S. Amateur Public Links. Now he’s in for the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship after winning the two-round local qualifier by five strokes yesterday with a strong 12-under performance at Falcon Crest. The U.S. Amateur will be played two weeks from now at The Country Club in Brookline, MA.
KTVB.com Mountain West Factoid of the Day: The conference has prided itself on bowl success, but it has some ground to make up after a disappointing 2012 bowl season. Over its first 13 seasons, the Mountain West posted a 31-20 bowl record and captured the Bowl Challenge Cup four times from 2005-12. But the MW went just 1-4 last year in the postseason, with Air Force, Fresno State and San Diego State all suffering poundings in their bowl games. Nevada came close against Arizona but suffered the indignity of blowing a 13-point lead in the final 1:08 and losing to Arizona, 49-48. That probably inspired Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault to move on as much as anything.
This Day In Sports…July 30, 1959:
Future Hall of Famer Willie McCovey makes a dramatic debut in the major leagues when he goes 4-for-4 with two triples against another future Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts, to spark the Giants to a 7-2 win over the Phillies at old Seals Stadium. McCovey would play in only 52 games that season due to his late call-up, but he’d hit his first 13 home runs and be voted the National League Rookie of the Year. After 508 more homers, McCovey retired midway through the 1980 season.
(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.)