Tuesday, June 5, 2012.
ESPN Insider is running down “20 Teams That Can Win It All,” based on Brian Fremeau's five-year program metric in Football Outsiders Almanac (which is too complicated to detail in this space). Boise State has been unveiled as No. 11 in the series. ESPN.com’s Ryan McGee capsules what we’ve said many times: “If someone had come to you in the spring of 1999 and said, ‘Hey man, you won't believe how good these guys are going to be,’ you would have told them to move to a lower altitude. They were a recently graduated Division I-A program that had managed to make the I-AA playoffs only three times since 1981. And, oh yeah, they're in Idaho. Yet here we are, 14 seasons later, and the Broncos have posted a record of 146-22 with 12 bowl berths, including a pair of BCS bowl victories. They became the folk heroes of the barren wasteland of the non-automatic-qualifying conferences.”
McGee has two prongs—why the Broncos can win it all, and why they can’t. The can: “Their experience level isn’t as bad as you think.” McGee draws from the expertise of Kellen Moore. "The nature of our team, especially on offense, is that it gets a lot of people into games all year long," said Moore. "People on the outside look at this year's offensive line, and on paper, it looks like they are losing three starters. The reality is that I look at the guys on the roster and I see guys that have played. A lot." The can’t side: “The schedule isn’t as easy as you think.” Writes McGee: “This year they kickoff at Michigan State, a preseason top-20 team. Two weeks later they host BYU. Two weeks after that they travel to Southern Miss, another team with BCS-busting capabilities. No, it's not the SEC West, but it's still a mighty tough early row to hoe.”
Fremeau’s metric foresees this: the most likely season record is 10-2 (35 percent likelihood). The “projection window” says there’s a 95 percent chance the Broncos’ record will fall somewhere between 9-3 and 12-0. Freneau has the swing games as the ones at Michigan State, versus BYU, at Southern Miss, and at Nevada. His summary: “The Broncos return the fewest starters in college football and will debut a new face at quarterback for the first time since 2008. It worked out pretty well the last time Boise State had a major overhaul on offense, and Chris Petersen's track record speaks for itself, regardless of which pieces need replacing year after year.”
Doug Martin is in the fold—and in the money—with Tampa Bay. The former Boise State star has signed a five-year contract with the Buccaneers after being selected No. 31 overall in April’s NFL Draft. Terms were not disclosed. Martin has been battling an offseason hamstring strain during the Bucs’ organized team activities and has been limited in practice. But Tampa Bay appears confident that Martin will be full-strength by training camp and battle incumbent running back LeGarrette Blount for the starting spot.
Okay, here are the names we can wonder about. Will the Chicago Cubs send any of these players to the Boise Hawks at some point this season? The Cubs used the sixth overall pick in last night’s Major League Draft to pick outfielder Albert Almora out of Mater Academy Charter in Hialeah Gardens, FL. Chicago also had two compensatory first-rounders: pitchers Pierce Johnson out of Missouri State and Paul Blackburn out of Heritage High in Brentwood, CA.
Hawks play-by-play man Mike Safford Jr. reminds me that there was indeed a Cubs first round draft choice who played for the Hawks last summer. It was last year’s No. 9 overall pick Javier Baez, who played only two games for the Hawks at the end of the season and went 1-for-6 with one run batted in. But it counts. A Scott Slant correction. Safford reports that Baez, a shortstop, was just promoted to Class A Peoria and hit two 450-foot home runs in his first five games.
The Major League Draft a year from now could present a crossroads for Fruitland’s Joey Martarano. He’s the second-ranked high school third baseman in the country according to ESPN. Martarano, of course, was also the first verbal commit in Boise State’s 2013 football recruiting class. What happens in the next June’s draft may determine whether or not shoulder pads are in Martarano’s future.
The College of Idaho has its first first-team NAIA All-American in 14 years. And he’s a local guy to boot. Outfielder Izaac Garsez of Caldwell got the nod yesterday after batting.389 with eight home runs and 53 RBIs, plus 29 stolen bases. Garsez was also named NAIA West Player of the Year. Now we just have to get the Cubs to draft Garsez today and assign him to the Hawks.
It’s been an agonizingly frustrating season on the Nationwide Tour for Troy Merritt. The former Boise State star missed the cut last week at the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, NC—and unfortunately, that’s been a regular occurrence. Merritt, who spent the last two seasons on the PGA Tour, has missed seven consecutive cuts and has made only $18,523 this year. The last time he played on a weekend was early March. Merritt was the 2008 WAC champion as a Bronco and won seven tournaments that season, the most in Division I-A.
This Day In Sports…June 5, 1977:
The Portland Trailblazers, led by the most famous Deadhead in the sports world, Bill Walton, beat the Philadelphia 76ers to win the NBA championship. The 109-107 win in Game 6 gave Portland what is still its only NBA title. The Blazers have been back to the Finals twice (1990 and 1992) but haven’t been able to repeat the feat.
(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.)