Wednesday, April 21, 2010.
There’s a fine line between fame and anonymity, and Boise State may find itself walking the tightrope as talk of an accelerated Big Ten expansion explodes this week. All 11 FBS conferences are meeting this week in Scottsdale, but the BCS leagues are driving the agenda, and topping it—behind closed doors at the very least—is conference realignment. If there’s major movement, the big losers could be the Big East and Boise State, who will be left with nothing and nowhere of significance to go, respectively, after the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-10 are done poaching. As has been pointed out so many times the past few days, the No. 1 criteria is TV market size. And that’s something Boise State can’t do anything about.
The worst-case scenario would be a Big Ten expansion to 16 schools, which could trigger the formation of four 16-team super-conferences. There would then be a huge wall erected between the BCS conferences and the non-BCS leagues, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Boise State would not be stuck on the wrong side. The timing is not good for the Broncos, who are perhaps several years away from reaching their zenith—a 49,000-seat stadium, a revived men’s basketball program, an evolved academic standing, and enough associated style points to be attractive as a BCS school.
All those years of striving for (and earning) validation and inclusion could be thrown back in Boise State’s face. What would end up happening if four super-conferences are created is what the NCAA intended to do in 1978 when it created Division I-AA. A separation of the classes at the top level of college football. Of course, what unfolds between now and July 1 could surprise us. A lot. It would not be the first time.
The concern over Kellen Moore’s spring is much ado about nothing in my mind. Sure, the Boise State star was 14-of-31 for 143 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in two spring scrimmages. There’s nothing wrong with Bryan Harsin lighting a fire under Moore. But Harsin’s probably said all he needs to say about it. He just wants to make sure Moore doesn’t take a single play off in practices and scrimmages. Not that Kellen did, or ever would. What I saw last Saturday during Moore’s limited time in the Blue & Orange Game was a masterful spotting of a wide-open Kyle Efaw, his third option on the play, for a long gainer. And a needle-threader to Titus Young that told us everything we need to know. Moore was going against the WAC’s best defense, spending his time against the No. 1 unit. The other quarterbacks were facing the 2’s and 3’s.
Anything can happen in the NFL Draft tomorrow night for Boise State’s Kyle Wilson, as NFL teams jockey around—and change their minds. The best shutdown corner the Broncos have ever produced could go ahead of highly-touted Florida cornerback Joe Haden in the first round. Or Wilson could be forced to wait until the second round Friday night. Fans of Wilson don’t want to get their hopes up, but Michael Smith of ESPN now projects him as the No. 7 overall pick, going to the Cleveland Browns. No. 7? Let’s meet midway between there and where many mock drafts have him, in the mid-20’s. How would No. 15 sound to Kyle? That’s where the New York Giants pick, and Wilson grew up a Giants fan in Piscataway, NJ.
The Idaho Steelheads can taste it now. They’ve worn down Utah and pushed it to the brink, taking a punishing 6-1 victory last night in Game 3 of the ECHL National Conference semifinals. The Grizzlies must have spent themselves in Game 2. John Swanson and Kevin DeVergilio each scored twice, as the Steelheads have now amassed 17 goals in the first three games of this series. Meanwhile, Richard Bachman just brings his lunch pail between the pipes, making 32 saves last night. Bachman has gone all the way against Utah as Rejean Beauchemin rehabs a minor injury. Former Steelie Lance Galbraith had one big fat stat last night: 16 penalty minutes, 10 of them on a misconduct with 2½ minutes left in the game. The Steelheads can now take a breath and gear up for Friday night, when they can close this thing out.
It’s hard to keep it all straight as new Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice goes into overdrive. Monday’s verbal commitment, Joe Hanstad, is tabbed for the Broncos’ 2011 recruiting class. Yesterday, Rice announced another signing for this year’s class, 6-5 forward Thomas Bropleh of Denver by way of New Hampton Prep School in New Hampshire. BSU may have one scholarship still to give in 2010—if 7-footer Ben Mills is ultimately released from his letter of intent.
The WAC has named its All-Decade team for men’s basketball. There was nary a Bronco on the list, but that’s not surprising—this is an elite group. Let’s take it in chronological order. Fresno State’s Melvin Ely, whom Boise State faced during its first year in the WAC, was a two-time conference Player of the Year. Paul Millsap, now a member of the Utah Jazz, was a rebounding monster for Louisiana Tech mid-decade. Nick Fazekas was at the center of Nevada’s rise to prominence. Jaycee Carroll led Utah State’s immensely successful transition to the WAC. And Luke Babbitt represents modern-day players, although that moniker now comes to an end as he plans to leave Nevada and declare for the NBA Draft.
Our former Boise Hawks of the Day are Jerry Blevins and Ricky Nolasco. Oakland exiled Blevins to Triple-A Sacramento for most of last season. But he was a man on a mission in spring training and is now a key element of the A’s best start since 1992 (at least until the Yankees got a hold of them last night). Blevins won his second game of the season—and third of his career—last Saturday against Baltimore. He was 6-1 with a 1.62 ERA during his first pro season in Boise in 2004, the last year the Hawks won the Northwest League championship. Nolasco is coming off a complete game five-hitter in a 5-1 win over the Phillies last Saturday for his first win of the season. He was 7-2 for the Hawks NWL championship team in 2002. Jon Heyman of SI.com lists Nolasco as one of the top breakout candidates in the majors this year.
This Day In Sports…April 21, 1980, 30 years ago today:
Unknown Rosie Ruiz is the first woman to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Other runners wonder, “Who the heck is Rosie Ruiz?” and say they never saw her on the course. Neither did race officials as it turned out, and Jacqueline Gareau is declared the winner after Ruiz is disqualified.
(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’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)