Friday, June 18, 2010.
It’s been a berserk couple of weeks in college sports, an unprecedented period that at one point looked like an Icelandic volcano but settled into a series of random fireworks shows. And it ended yesterday with Utah accepting its invitation to the Pac-10. Hard to believe it was only 11 days ago when the first shot was fired—a blank by the Mountain West when it delayed its offer to Boise State. Then eight days ago Colorado peeled itself out of the Big 12, and the Pac-10 cat appeared to be out of the bag. Nebraska opted for the Big Ten last Friday, the same day the Broncos got their Mountain West invite, but Texas and the rest of the Big 12’s “gang of five” put the wheels in reverse. And here we are.
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said later in the day yesterday that his conference is done with expansion and will stay at nine members. Not that he didn’t have eager hopefuls knocking on the door. When he landed in Denver on a flight from San Francisco Wednesday, Thompson said he had messages from “eight to 10 schools” expressing interest in the Mountain West. Fresno State had to be one, but it will have to be content to be the WAC’s flagship program. "Today's statement is save that quarter or 50 cents or whatever a phone call is these days,” said Thompson. “Because we're complacent and we're going to be a tremendous nine-team league in 2011." (“Complacent” probably isn’t the word Thompson wanted there.)
Side benefit for the rest of the WAC now: maybe some of the coaches’ seats won’t be as hot—if they’re still around. Some time ago, Dan Hinxman in the Reno Gazette-Journal looked at it this way after detailing the dissatisfaction that dogs Nevada coach Chris Ault down south. “When you have a team such as Boise State in your conference, the fan base has a shining example of what could be, and accepting less is difficult to stomach,” wrote Hinxman. “If the Broncos aren't having the success they've had in the last decade, Ault's future isn't an issue. Case in point, Fresno State's Pat Hill has also had plenty of naysayers in the last couple years despite 10 bowl appearances in 11 seasons.” You think those two guys are looking forward to 2011?
Boise State is poised to have three sets of brothers on its roster in 2011 with the verbal commitment yesterday of Rocky Mountain High wide receiver Dallas Burroughs. He’s the younger brother of Bronco wideout Mitch Burroughs and would be Rocky’s first Division I football signee. Scout.com reports that Dallas was clocked at 4.44 in the 40-yard dash at January's U.S. Army Combine in San Antonio. The Burroughs boys would join the well-known Moore brothers, Kellen and Kirby, and the lesser-known Wilson brothers, Dave and Matt, at Boise State.
With little reason for dissent, the State Board of Education has unanimously approved the new contracts for Idaho football coach Robb Akey and Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice. It took a long time for Akey and Idaho to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, but he’s on tap for $356,000 in the first year of his new five-year deal. That’s a raise of almost $100,000 after guiding the Vandals to their first winning season in 10 years and a win in the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl. Rice will have a base salary of $400,000 on his five-year contract—and will get another year tacked on when Boise State officially enters the Mountain West.
You can feel those trade winds pushing the sighs of financial relief all the way across the Pacific. Hawaii’s season opener against USC has been saved, as the NCAA has pushed back the start date for one of the Trojans’ penalties to 2011. The NCAA had taken away the option of USC using the “Hawaii exemption” for a 13th game to prevent it from scheduling the Warriors as a pseudo bowl opponent in December like Alabama did when the Crimson Tide was on probation in 2002 and 2003. Hawaii stood to lose millions if the nationally-televised September 2 game wasn’t played, and the NCAA took that into consideration.
The players who take the field for the Boise Hawks tonight for Opening Night in Yakima all hope they end up checking out the ivy at Wrigley Field. Some of them will. The trick is figuring out which ones. Will this be a bountiful crop as the Hawks begin their 10th season of affiliation with the Cubs? The most bountiful year so far has been 2002, when 12 members of the Hawks’ Northwest League championship team eventually made the majors. The initial Boise roster is an international one—there are players representing seven different countries. One is pitcher Yao-Lin Wang from Tai-Tung, Taiwan, who was followed around by a translator at the Hawks’ Media Day Wednesday.
Hawks manager Jody Davis has settled on his Opening Night starter on the mound. It will be John Mincone, a 20-year-old lefthander from Dix Hills, NY. Mincone was an 11th round draft pick of the Cubs last year and spent his first pro season in the Arizona Rookie League, going 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA. The Hawks are trying to rebound from a sub-par 2009 that saw them finish eight games below .500.
This Day In Sports…June 18, 2000, 10 years ago today:
Tiger Woods turns the 100th U.S. Open into a one-man show, winning by 15 strokes over Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez. Woods' 15-shot margin shattered the Open mark of 11 set by Willie Smith in 1899 and was the largest in any major championship—surpassing the 13-stroke victory by Old Tom Morris in the 1862 British Open.
(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.)