Thursday, July 19, 2012.
Where we once talked of NFL numbers for former Boise State players in the thousands, we now talk millions. That’s where one-time BSU star Ryan Clady is as he hits an impasse in contract negotiations with Denver. Sources say the two sides are far enough apart that an extension of Clady’s deal is unlikely before training camp. Without a new deal, Clady could be a free agent at the end of this season. Then, Denver could slap the “franchise” tag on its starting left tackle next year. For the sake of reference, this year’s “franchise” pay scale for offensive lineman is $9.3 million (Clady is slated to make $3.5 million this season as he wraps up his rookie contract).
Clady is already entering his fifth NFL season after leaving Boise State following his junior year and going in the first round of the 2008 draft. Only four other offensive linemen in NFL history have started every game of their first four seasons and made two Pro Bowls. And now he’ll be protecting the blind side of new Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. Maybe if Clady does a good job of that, Manning will throw him a little screen pass the way Boise State’s Taylor Tharp did in Clady’s final game on the blue turf in 2007. As you recall, Clady scored a touchdown on that play—but it was called back by a penalty.
The next phase of Doug Martin’s life is underway, as he reported to training camp yesterday with Tampa Bay’s other rookies. When fellow Bucs running back LeGarrette Blount checks in next week, it’ll be game on. But the Buccaneers’ website points out that the title of starter might not be that big a deal, as they could develop some sort of two-back system. “Much of it may depend on how versatile Blount and Martin prove to be,” says Buccaneers.com. “Obviously, being competent in the passing game—both as a receiver and, just as importantly, a blocker in the backfield—will increase the chances for either back to remain on the field for all downs. Martin was seen as that sort of multi-talented every-down back by scouts and analysts before the draft, and Blount is determined to prove that the same description applies to him.”
The running theme behind the apparent push for Idaho to go independent in football next year is dominoes. The Vandals are hoping there are still dominoes to fall in conference realignment that would create a spot for them in the Mountain West. U of I president Duane Nellis told the Lewiston Morning Tribune the school could go independent “for a year or two just to see what the landscape leads to." That would be designed to buy Idaho some time in case there’s another conference shakeup. "This isn't the end of these conference adjustments,” Nellis said. “I think that's going to continue to evolve." Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton said he’s willing to wait. Said Fullerton: “If it was independence for a little while in the football program, I think that they'll find very quickly that it's almost impossible, but if that's what they have to do, I understand that."
It’s final (as final can be these days)—there will be 12 teams in the Big East when Boise State joins the conference in 2013. Pittsburgh is following Syracuse’s lead with plans to pay the Big East $7.5 million so it can join the ACC on July 1 of next year. The Big East also confirmed yesterday it has dropped its lawsuit against TCU for leaving before it even joined. Sources say the Horned Frogs paid $5 million to the Big East for the league’s mental anguish. That’s probably what Boise State would have had to do had it decided to remain in the Mountain West last month.
There was a good crowd at last night’s Boise Hawks game, but not many of them were in their seats yet when former Boise State stars Kellen Moore, Nate Potter and Kyle Efaw threw out ceremonial first pitches. There wasn’t much hoopla, because after their tosses, poof—they were gone. Current Bronco Hilton Richardson may have done some analysis of those pitches in the press box (Efaw’s was the best). Richardson is staying involved in his old sport, running the Cubs’ pitch-tracking laptop. As a five-year minor-leaguer, Richardson will be the featured performer in Saturday night’s Bronco Football Summer Classic softball game at Memorial Stadium. Have they decided what to do with him in the home run derby? “I’ll probably make an appearance,” Richardson quipped.
As for last night’s Hawks game, there was a quick start and a very quiet finish for the home team in an 8-4 loss to Yakima. Boise led 4-2 after three innings, but the Bears started scoring runs like a slow, annoying drip. A couple base-running blunders and three glaring errors by the Hawks didn’t help. The damage had been done by the time South Korean reliever Su-Min Jung finally put a stop to it with two scoreless, hitless innings and three strikeouts. With the win, the Bears clinched the first-half title in the Northwest League’s East Division, assuring themselves a spot in the postseason in September. The Hawks bused overnight to Eugene, where they open a five-game series tonight.
Former Borah High star Stephen Fife is headed back to Albuquerque this morning. His stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as many expected, was temporary—but he got an impressive major league debut out of it Tuesday night. Fife was on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday and elaborated on the experience. He’s anxious to hear the tape of legendary Vin Scully’s play-by-play. “Friends and family recorded the game—I can’t wait to hear more of that,” said Fife. “It’s absolutely phenomenal to hear a Hall of Fame broadcaster call your name.” Actor Rainn Wilson from the “Office” threw out the first pitch and announced the starting lineup at Dodger Stadium, including “Stephen ‘Barney’ Fife.”
Fife’s second pitch of the game “let me know where I was at.” He threw a changeup but it ended up in the middle of the plate, and Jimmy Rollins laced it to right field for a double. “I was pretty confident after that,” Fife said. His most emotional moment was when Matt Kemp threw out Phils slugger Ryan Howard at the plate to end the sixth inning. Fife gave an emphatic fist pump—then caught himself. “I realized that I’m the rookie on the field, and I’d better put my head down and go back to the dugout,” said Fife. The debut performance is a definitive boost for the 25-year-old. “It ensures the fact that I have what it takes,” he said.
This Day In Sports…July 19, 1976:
At the Summer Games in Montreal, diminutive 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci, at 4-11 and weighing 80 pounds, becomes the first gymnast in Olympic history to receive a perfect 10.0 score. Then the amazing Romanian recorded six more in the competition. Her score after the uneven parallel bars appeared as 1.00, since the scoreboard wasn’t equipped to handle a four-digit number.
(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.)