Tuesday, February 2, 2010.
When was the last time Sports Illustrated.com wrote about Boise State’s recruiting class? Uh, never? It was the headline story on SI.com’s college football page yesterday (in conjunction with TCU). “Neither school is yet attracting the type of elite prospects who announce their pledges on national TV, but they're both getting into homes they probably wouldn't have five years ago,” writes Stewart Mandel. “The awareness of Boise State's program makes it easier for them to go head-to-head with Pac-10 type programs." Mandel notes the eight-man Bronco class to be announced tomorrow includes one four-star recruit and five three-stars, for an average of 2.63 on the “recruiting star” scale. Four years ago the average was 2.17.
Now, that kind of assessment is very much appreciated around here, I’m sure. But on the other hand, the perspective misses the mark a bit. Both Boise State and TCU have built their programs on guys who fit their systems. Access to blue-chip recruits means access to blue-chip problems (just ask Oregon). And Mandel recognizes that, pointing out: “Two of the teams' biggest recent stars—All-America Frogs defensive end Jerry Hughes and Broncos cornerback Kyle Wilson, a projected NFL first-rounder—were two-star prospects out of high school.” When asked after the 2007 Fiesta Bowl how Boise State’s recruiting would change as a result of the monumental win, coach Chris Petersen said, “I hope not at all.” And essentially it hasn’t. Petersen is still choosing the specific guys who fit the system. They just have a little more talent now.
As big a finish as Doug Martin had at running back for Boise State, and as much anticipation as there is for the return of D.J. Harper, do not forget about Jeremy Avery. The Touchdown Club of Columbus hasn’t and is set to present its prestigious Award of Distinction to Avery and eight other returning college players this Saturday during the 55th TDC Awards Banquet. The club has selected Avery as a “player to watch” in 2010—also on the award’s list is TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. Avery goes into his senior year with 2,436 career rushing yards and 21 total touchdowns.
U.S. Olympic downhiller Erik Fisher goes to Park City today to deal with a broken hand. The Middleton resident will confer with doctors to figure out how to rig up a cast that can hold a ski pole, then it’s right back to training. By the time he heads for Vancouver, Fisher will have the cast removed. He makes his Olympic debut a week from Saturday, the day after Opening Ceremonies. Fisher and Capital High grad Hailey Duke were on Sunday Sports Extra the other night. Duke is still walking on air after making the Winter Games as a slalom specialist. “It still has a ‘new car smell’ on it,” she said.
Could the ESPN BracketBuster event be any more pointless for schools outside the NCAA Tournament bubble? Boise State has the honor of hosting UC Davis on February 20 in this year’s BracketBuster. Not surprisingly, it’s not included in the TV package this year, as the Broncos are 11-11 and the Aggies are 8-12. All it does is interrupt the conference race for both schools and gives BSU another non-marquee opponent in Taco Bell Arena. Amazingly, Boise State and UC Davis have never played in men’s basketball. The Broncos return the favor with a trip to Davis next season.
Four WAC teams made the BracketBuster TV pool (Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State and Utah State), with three of the games on ESPN2. But the only halfway compelling game of the bunch is Utah State’s home date with Wichita State, who is 19-4 and is in second place in the Missouri Valley Conference. A staggering 98 teams are playing in this year’s BracketBuster. Why not just take the top two teams from each of the non-power conferences and call it good? Wasn’t that the original idea—to give the true “bubble” teams exposure?
Two things to catch up on from the weekend. One is “further information” on Coby Karl’s call-up from the Idaho Stampede to the Golden State Warriors. Karl’s situation turns out to be much like those of Sundiata Gaines and Anthony Tolliver, the Stampede’s other two NBA callups this season. Meaning, Coby wasn’t brought in to collect pine. Karl’s debut with the Warriors Sunday night featured career highs in just about everything significant—24½ minutes, six points and six assists. He also had a career-high in fouls, leaving the 112-104 loss to the Thunder with six personals. Karl had played only five minutes in three games earlier this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And he logged only 70 minutes total in 17 games with the Lakers two seasons ago. Karl appeared in five games with the Stampede this season, averaging 27.2 points and 7.8 rebounds.
The other wrapup item is Marty Flichel and his Idaho Steelheads career scoring record. The Steelheads have always had an advantage among the local pro franchises because of player longevity. The way baseball’s minor leagues are structured, the Boise Hawks can never have it. The Stampede have experienced some in recent years with guys like Randy Livingston and Roberto Bergersen. But the Steelheads are unique, with team centerpieces that last for years. Flichel broke Cal Ingraham’s career points record over the weekend. Flichel’s in his seventh season with the Steelies—his time here dates back to the old West Coast Hockey League days. The 33-year-old center has become an Ingraham-type icon among Idaho hockey fans. Flichel now has 382 points (150 goals, 232 assists) as a Steelhead.
Former Boise Hawk Garret Anderson may return to L.A. But his primary color would be blue, not red. The Dodgers are in discussions with Anderson about becoming their fourth outfielder, according to the Los Angeles Times. The 37-year-old veteran spent last season with the Braves, batting .268 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. Anderson had spent his first 15 seasons with the Angels after working his way up through their farm system. His first stop was Boise in 1990. Anderson has the longest continuous big league career of any former Hawk in history.
This Day In Sports…February 2, 2001:
Equaling her own outdoor world record in the women’s pole vault, Pocatello’s Stacy Dragila sets a new indoor record by clearing 15 feet, 2¼ inches at the Millrose Games in New York. Women’s pole vault had become an Olympic-sanctioned event the year before, and Dragila had won the first-ever gold medal in Sydney. She was at the peak of her career and was easily the sport’s most popular performer.
(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 also handles color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football.)