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Boise State’s darlings are still sometimes disparaged

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on June 3, 2010 at 7:25 AM


Thursday, June 3, 2010.
If that invitation to the Mountain West comes Monday (or whenever), there will be less of this in 2011. But make no mistake this year: despite Boise State’s popularity as the little guy making it big, there is a Bronco backlash out there, especially in SEC land. Robbie Andreu in the Gainesville Sun (as in, home of the Gators) headlines his column, “The Boise State Problem.” Writes Andreu: “We may pretty much know who one of the title-game teams is going to be one week into the season. Yes, that would stink. Boise State figures to begin the season in the No. 2 or No. 3 spot in the polls.  nd the Broncos have what amounts to a one-game schedule—against Virginia Tech, which will be ranked. If the Broncos win this game, the suspense might be over—they could be headed to the national title game.
Andreu continues: “Boise State has proven over the past few seasons that it is a legitimate team and a legitimate player on the national stage.  But the schedule is plain lame. How lame is it? (Andreu inserts the entire Bronco schedule here.) What the hell is that? Vanderbilt could run the table against that slop. All I've got to say, and I say it for college football fans everywhere, is: Go Hokies!” Well, not everywhere.
If there’s a pro basketball icon in the city of Boise, it would have to be Randy Livingston. The former LSU star has now made some NBA Development League history, becoming the first guy to go from a player to an assistant coach to a head coach in the D-League, as he is the new head man of the Idaho Stampede. But making history was secondary. “When we won the (2008) championship and they retired my jersey, I always envisioned being head coach of the Idaho Stampede,” said Livingston at his press conference. “This is a day I’ve been waiting for a long time.” He’s played for four of the Stampede’s previous coaches—Rory White, Larry Krystkowiak, Joe Wolf and Bryan Gates—and he says he’s taken a little from each of them. Livingston describes his style of play as “unselfish, defensive-oriented, share the basketball.”
Some Randy Livingston 101: he played for nine different NBA teams and all or part of five seasons with the Stampede, bridging the years from the CBA to NBA affiliation. Livingston was the D-League Most Valuable Player in 2006-07 and is the franchise’s career leader in games (163), points (2,428) and assists (1,517). That last number is the most striking and speaks to the core of Livingston’s game. He’ll expect that from his players.
With the Boise Hawks arriving Tuesday, it’s time to talk about where they play now (Memorial Stadium) and where they may play in the future. First you need the money for a new multi-purpose outdoor athletic facility in the Boise area. Then, if you build it, will they come? And where would you build it? Meridian has indicated interest in the Hawks moving there, spurring the City of Boise to circle its wagons. The location of a sports facility matters quite a bit. There was a lot of debate on the Idaho Stampede leaving the Idaho Center for Downtown Boise. Would the Hawks leave the city for outlying Meridian (which is really the middle of the Treasure Valley now)? Maybe. I just hope they wouldn’t become the “Meridian” Hawks or “Treasure Valley” Hawks or “Idaho” Hawks.
Hawks general manager Todd Rahr, who is working tirelessly on the concept as Memorial Stadium hits its 21st birthday, says yes, they will come. But it’s going to be a long process to get it built. Rahr has been blogging on a possible new facility, and his latest entry talks about the right size for a new ballpark in the Treasure Valley. He looks at comparably-sized markets with new facilities built this century, most of them fielding long-season Class A teams (the Hawks are short-season A). Rahr found that attendance increased an average of 95 percent in the new digs, and maintained after three-year honeymoon periods. With the Hawks having averaged 2,769 fans over the past three seasons, Rahr projects crowds of 5,390 per game in a new stadium. So 5,500 would be a nice capacity.
Rahr keeps his eye on Triple-A. If Boise were to raise its baseball bar, that’s where it would have to go, as there are no Double-A leagues in the West. The place to monitor is Reno, where the Aces are in their second season in the Pacific Coast League, playing at a new 9,000-seat downtown ballpark. Reno is averaging 6,095 fans a game, sixth in the 16-team PCL. That’s down only slightly from the Aces’ maiden season in 2009, when 6,481 a game showed up. And this year’s number could top last year’s once the good weather kicks in (it hasn’t been any better down there than it’s been here this spring). Keep in mind that’s over the course of 72 home games, as opposed to the 38 the Hawks play in the Northwest League. Could Boise, in a similar-sized market, duplicate that? Discuss amongst yourselves.
Ken Griffey Jr.’s sudden retirement yesterday brings to mind one of the biggest things that happened during the Hawks’ first season in 1987. As the first overall pick of the major league draft that year, Griffey was the most celebrated newcomer in baseball.  And, amazingly, Seattle assigned Junior to short season Class A in the Northwest League, and he came through Boise with the Bellingham Mariners. The moment was not lost on new Hawks fans, who turned out to Borah High’s Wigle Field in greater numbers than usual to see the new phenom. I recall a smiling, 17-year-old Griffey being interviewed that night by a much younger Mark Johnson. Junior hit .313 in 1987 with 14 home runs, a lot for the NWL.
This Day In Sports…June 3, 1932:
It’s one of baseball’s more remarkable and lesser-known feats. The New York Yankees’ Tony Lazzeri becomes the only major leaguer ever to hit for a “natural grand cycle,” as—in order—he had a single, double, triple, and home run, with the homer being a grand slam. It came in a 20-13 slugfest win over the Philadelphia A’s, but it was overshadowed by Lou Gehrig becoming the first player of the 20th century to hit four homers in a single game.
(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.)