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Don’t ever be doubtin’ Kristin Armstrong

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on August 1, 2012 at 7:30 AM

Wednesday, August 1, 2012.

You like to go last in a cycling time trial for the same reason you like to get the ball last in a college football overtime.  You know exactly what you need to do.  Boise’s Kristin Armstrong had the advantage of going last today in the women’s time trial final at the Summer Olympics in London.  And Armstrong knew she had a formidable time to beat, as Germany’s Judith Arndt had completed the course in less than 38 minutes.  But Armstrong blistered the field and successfully defended her 2008 Olympic title in Beijing, winning today by more than 15 seconds.  It was an exhilarating victory for Armstrong, a little over two months after a broken clavicle in the Exergy Tour in Boise almost derailed her.  But Kristin was unflappable.

Some thought Armstrong was toast after the spill in the Exergy Tour prologue in May, but there she was as a spectator at the race after her surgery the next day, maintaining that she was undeterred in her quest to make it to the Summer Games.  Some doubted her in late 2010 when she announced a comeback after a year and a half off to start a family with husband Joe Savola.  Some doubted she could medal in the Olympics at the age of 38 (she’ll be 39 a week from Saturday).  But today she occupied the highest spot on the podium, with son Lucas close by. 

Word is Big East Media Days this week are being covered by 70 reporters.  That’s a ton more than we saw at the Mountain West gathering last week in Las Vegas.  How many of those will exit stage left next year when Pittsburgh and Syracuse move to the ACC?  And will the new entries in 2013, including Boise State, bring a media mob to replace them?  Not likely, since next year’s Big East meetings will again be held back in Newport, RI.  The horde back there right now isn’t getting a lot of new information.  There are five finalists for the commissioner’s post vacated by John Marinatto, but no one knows who they are.  The Big East is talking about creating a bowl game for its champion, probably in Florida, probably beginning in 2014.  Probably.

A story by’s Joe Schad about future Big East football scheduling has to make you chuckle.  The conference is discussing a “zipper” format that would not divide teams along East-West lines.  The eight-game league schedule would include six divisional games, one rotating game against an opponent from the other division, and one crossover game between natural rivals.  Who is Boise State’s natural rival?  Why, San Diego State, of course.  The team the Broncos have played exactly once.

Awaiting the Broncos next season will be old bowl foe Louisville, which is the dominant Big East favorite this year after garnering 24 of 28 first-place votes in the conference’s media poll.  With that said, the Cardinals should be better next year when they compete with Boise State (unless their Big 12 wish is granted).  Louisville has 17 starters returning, but only nine seniors on the roster.  The Broncos and Cardinals have played two postseason thrillers, with Boise State winning the Humanitarian Bowl 34-31 in 1999 and Louisville taking the Liberty Bowl 44-40 in 2004.

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press said yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk he thinks it’s “50/50” that Kellen Moore makes the Lions’ 53-man roster.  Birkett saw the signing of free agent R.J. Archer a little differently than most, though.  “I didn’t see it as a challenge,” said Birkett.  “It was as much as anything to give (backup quarterback) Shaun Hill’s arm a rest going into the regular season.”  Birkett thinks Moore is the No. 3 QB right now.  The question is: will Detroit carry three quarterbacks?  Birkett said preseason games will obviously tell the tale.  “How he performs in those games will be key, showing that leadership and maturity that fans associate with him,” Birkett said.  Moore hasn’t necessarily passed the eyeball test with Lions fans yet—then again, they don’t realize what happens when the bell rings.  We’ll find out in 10 days.  Kellen will get his chance.

Many wondered what Billy Winn’s motor would be like when he got to the NFL.  Well, several observers in Cleveland say the former Boise State defensive tackle is earning praise from Browns head coach Pat Shurmur in the early stages of training camp.  To end the day last Sunday, Shurmur put the first-team offense against the second-team defense, as he wanted to see his two rookie D-tackles, Winn and John Hughes, side-by-side against the starting offensive line.  "We did that on purpose," Shurmur said, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "They battled in there pretty well."

Boise’s Stephen Fife survived the Major League Baseball trade deadline yesterday and will get his third big league start tonight for the L.A. Dodgers.  The Borah High grad will face the Arizona Diamondbacks in Dodger Stadium, looking for his first career victory after essentially being robbed of that in each of his first two starts.  He’s not facing a Roy Halladay or a Matt Cain this time.  The Diamondbacks will send second-year right-hander Josh Collmenter to the hill.  Maybe that’s not such a good thing, though—Fife outpitched the big names, compiling a 1.46 ERA in 12 1/3 innings.  Now he has to tackle an anonymous guy.

The Boise Hawks finally got that first home run from 6-foot, 250-pound slugger Dan Vogelbach last night.  And it was a blast—a three-run shot that gave the Hawks a 5-1 third-inning lead over Spokane.  Boise stretched the lead to 9-1 in the fourth, helped by a two-run homer from Marco Hernandez. It got ugly for awhile after that.  The Indians scored six times in the eighth to pull within a run at 9-8, then tied it with another run in the ninth.  But the Hawks’Jeimer Candelario saved the day in the bottom of the ninth, smacking a walk-off double that scored Stephen Bruno from first base for a 10-9 victory.  It was Boise’s fourth straight win, their longest streak of the season.  And look who’s in first place in the Northwest League East Division second-half standings.  The Hawks are 5-2 now.

A “Mountain West Forgotten Fact of the Day”: Everybody knows the magic number from the Kellen Moore era at Boise State—50 victories in four years, an NCAA record.  But did you realize the Broncos are the first college football team since 1900 to win 12 games in four consecutive seasons?  There are only two other programs that have recorded as many as three straight 12-win campaigns, USC (2003-05) and Oklahoma (2002-04).  Other tributes to Boise State’s sustainability: the Broncos have the best home field record in the new century (74-3) and the best conference mark over that period (86-6).

This Day In Sports…August 1, 1945:

The legendary Mel Ott, standing only 5-9 and weighing 170 pounds, becomes the first National League player in history to hit 500 career home runs, connecting for the New York Giants off Boston Braves pitcher Johnny Hutchings.  Ott, a 12-time All-Star, was in his 20th season with the Giants and would retire less than two years later, finishing with 511 homers.

(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.)