Wednesday, July 24, 2013.
In rapid succession in Las Vegas came the Mountain West preseason media poll and the MW preseason all-conference team. And right off the bat you had a thumbnail sketch of the Boise State football program. The Broncos were the overwhelming choice to win the league’s new Mountain Division, garnering 40 of 41 first place votes. Yet they drew only three all-conference nods (left tackle Charles Leno, center Matt Paradis and defensive end Demarcus Lawrence). Quarterback Joe Southwick took it in stride during Mountain West Media Days in Las Vegas. “I don’t know how much film the guys who pick those things watch,” said Southwick. “But I can understand why our team overshadows maybe some individuals sometimes. I think it’s just a reflection that the Boise State team encompasses more than the individual, which is awesome.”
Five years ago, the addition of the Utah State and San Jose State programs to a conference would have drawn a deafening sigh, as much as the Aggies and Spartans were struggling in the new century. But one striking theme that came out of the meetings in Las Vegas was what great additions those schools are to the football lineup now. USU and SJSU were the only teams other than Boise State in this year’s Mountain West that finished the 2012 season in the Top 25. This is going to be a very strong league with a lot of parity. Hey—Bronco coach Chris Petersen professes to be surprised that his guys were picked ahead of Utah State, considering the wealth of experience the Aggies return from their 11-2 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl championship team. The consensus in Vegas was that no one is going to go through the MW unbeaten.
Other Boise State news out of the Cosmopolitan Hotel included the loss of Capital High product Kyle Sosnowski for the season due to a ruptured patellar tendon. This will be the second straight season Sosnowski has lost to injury. That puts the focus on a now-healthy Gabe Linehan, Holden Huff and Connor Peters at the tight end spot. And maybe true freshman Jake Roh. And one of Boise State’s wide receivers of the future will not be Kendal Keys, who signed with the Broncos in February. This has been viral for awhile now—rumblings fueled by Keys on social media that he is going to end up at UNLV, where his brother Kenny is a defensive back. At 6-2 and just a shade under 200 pounds, Keys is a coveted target.
The boldest statements of Media Days came from Fresno State senior quarterback Derek Carr, annointed as Preseason Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year. “I’m going to go out and work as hard as I can every day and try to be the best quarterback in the nation,” said Carr, who led the Bulldogs to a share of the conference championship last year with Boise State and San Diego State. “I want to be the best to ever play this game. I say that in a humble way, but as a competitor that’s where my mindset is.” Then came the Heisman talk. “We’ve never had a Heisman Trophy winner at our school,” Carr said. “And the only reason I want to win it is for my school—so they can say they had a (Heisman) winner.”
Commissioner Craig Thompson’s talk with the media covered a range of subjects yesterday. The Mountain West leader said he doesn’t think the 70 or so schools now known as automatic qualifiers are going to break away and form a new division. And he said the conference is the strongest of the five non-access leagues—and that he would be “shocked” if the Mountain West doesn’t earn the “group of five’s” designated berth in the access bowls more often that not when the new system begins in 2014. Thompson thinks the league is so solid that its champion won’t have to go undefeated to get to the big bowls, either. “We will have a 10-2 Mountain West champion playing in a ‘host’ bowl in this (first 12-year) cycle,” he said.
Thompson said the Mountain West is still working with the networks on television plans for the conference’s first championship game on December 7. He’s shooting for a 3½-hour window at night that would ensure the Mountain West title tilt is the last game of the day, giving it some exclusive exposure. You know what that means if Boise State is fortunate enough to have it played on the blue turf. Parkas, longjohns, blankets, ski gloves and snow boots. Normal high and low in Boise that day is 39 and 25.
Which provides a segue into the Albertsons Boise Open, being played in July for the first time. The $775,000 tournament opens tomorrow at Hillcrest Country Club, and all the way along organizers and fans alike have wondering about the weather. The event was held in September for its first 23 years, generally sandwiched around the fall equinox. So here are your average temperatures for September 21: high of 77 and low of 49. Nice. The National Weather Service pegs the Thursday through Saturday run in Boise at 100, 101, 98 and 90. The final round sounds glorious.
The local amateur making the most waves in 2012 had been T.K. Kim, who just finished his career at Boise State. Kim played in the NCAA Regionals, won U.S. Open Local Qualifying, and played last week in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. But the hottest local golfer now is Eagle’s Ty Travis, who made it through the Albertsons Boise Open Monday qualifier and will tee off with the pros tomorrow at Hillcrest. Travis won the Idaho Men’s Amateur going away a week and a half ago. He has also revealed he’s transferring from Weber State to join Kevin Burton’s golf program at Boise State.
Boise Hawks pitching has been phenomenal. The Hawks recorded their third straight shutout last night and fifth in the last two weeks, blanking Eugene 6-0. Boise hurlers have now thrown 27 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. The last nine saw Dillon Maples, Corbin Hoffner and Carlos Martinez combine on a seven-hitter versus the Emeralds. It was Maples’ first victory as a Hawk. The offense has provided extra run support during this shutout streak—the Hawks have outscored the other guys 27-0 the last three games. Kris Bryant, the highest draft pick ever to play for Boise, made his Hawks debut last night. The No. 2 overall selection would like to forget it, though. Bryant went 0-for-5 and struck out all five times. Boise has now won 10 of its last 11 games as the second of the three-game set against the Emeralds is set for tonight.
I’ll have a KTVB.com Mountain West Factoid of the Day for the next two weeks. The first one deals with all the “tops in the nation” nuggets Boise State carries into the 2013 season. The Broncos are the only team in the country with seven straight 10-win seasons, the only one since 1900 to log four consecutive 12-win seasons (2008-11), the winningest program in the country over the past 16 years (168-35), the winningest team on its home field in the new century (79-4), the winningest team in conference games in the new century (93-7), and the highest-scoring team in the new century (41.04 points per game).
This Day In Sports…July 24, 1963:
A mailman is born. Karl Malone, a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and selected in 1996 as one of the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History," celebrates his 50th birthday today. Malone was Utah’s first round pick in the 1986 draft and followed with 17 stellar seasons as power forward with the Jazz, teaming with guard John Stockton all the way through and scoring over 36,000 points. He’s married to former Miss Idaho USA Kay Kinsey and has spent some quality time in the Gem State.
(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.)