Sunday, Nov 3 at 6:09 PM
(Tom Scott's column will return Wednesday.)
Thursday, August 19, 2010.
And we thought that one week in June was bizarre. One day in August has topped it. Yesterday started with word that BYU would leave the Mountain West, going independent in football and joining the WAC for all other sports. Then came rumors that UNLV and San Diego State would bolt for the WAC in all sports, spurring the Mountain West to counter in the afternoon with invitations to Fresno State and Nevada. The Bulldogs and Wolf Pack accepted last night, leaving the WAC reeling just hours after it appeared the league would pull off an historic coup. Now there’s just one little wild card, as the Mountain West awaits assurance from UNLV and San Diego State that they will stay. Oh—and BYU is yet to confirm it’s leaving.
At this point, why would the Rebels and Aztecs even consider the WAC? Apparently the resentment over the Mountain West’s TV contract ran deeper than any of us here knew. Las Vegas and San Diego are larger markets that have struggled to get (or have been reluctant to give) clearance for the mtn. But Nevada president Milton Glick said at his press conference last night that UNLV played an integral role in Nevada getting its invitation to the MWC. He said Nevada and UNLV belonged in the same conference and that "without the support of UNLV, this decision would have been much more difficult for the Mountain West Conference." Doesn’t sound like the Rebels will bail.
BYU fans have not hidden their disdain for the mtn., and the school is prepared to do something about it. BYUtv is armed and ready for major expansion with what they bill as the best HD studio facilities west of the Mississippi. BYU would be able to negotiate with ESPN again—and keep the all the TV revenue from non-ESPN games. The only drawback: no beer commercials.
Boise State is left to hope that it can not only hold onto that old non-conference contract with Utah, but also the one it had with BYU starting in 2012. Two things happen if the Cougars depart the Mountain West, leaving a 10-team league that includes Fresno State and Nevada. There would likely be nine conference games, allowing room for only three non-conference contests. And the Boise State-BYU meeting in 2012 would revert to a non-conference game, filling up the Broncos’ schedule (they already have dates with Utah and Oregon State). You know what that would mean. At least two straight years without the Boise State-Idaho game, which is set for its 40th edition this November in the Kibbie Dome.
You won’t find many coaches affected by yesterday’s chaos talking out loud. TCU’s Gary Patterson would be an exception. "If you're BYU, you better be careful what you wish for," Patterson said at ESPNDallas.com. "It's not my job to worry about what Utah does, what BYU does, but I can tell you this: If you think being an independent is an easier way to get to a national championship, you're kidding yourself." Patterson also threw out this nugget: “Just wait and see in the next two weeks before you make any judgments and see what happens in the national landscape. Things that I know that maybe you don't know. That's all I'm going to tell you."
If the WAC ends up a six-team conference when the smoke clears, it’s a bitter pill for commissioner Karl Benson, who has been able to keep the league together through thick and thin for the past 16 years. The options are not good for those left behind. Could the WAC talk Montana and Montana State into joining? Those are tiny TV markets, but Montana in particular has unbelievable support (and a track record of football success). Portland State and Sacramento State are in large markets—with no support. Both are at the bottom of a large sports totem pole, ala San Jose State. The school you feel badly for is Hawaii, who has had a legit Division I-A football program for 40 years and has been a WAC member since 1979. The Warriors are in a helpless position, maybe headed for independence themselves.
There must be some real football to talk about here. Oh yeah, Boise State’s second and final scrimmage of fall camp is set for Saturday night, this one open to the public. After what transpired at the first scrimmage last Saturday, the offensive line will be under the microscope. The Broncos would seem to have a deadly three-pronged ground game with Jeremy Avery, D.J. Harper and Doug Martin. But they need some holes, and they didn’t get many of them in scrum No. 1. One resounding offensive positive last Saturday, though: the session was turnover-free.
The aftermath of Idaho’s second scrimmage of fall camp also involves the offensive line. That unit committed seven penalties Tuesday and—absent a 47-yard run by Princeton McCarty—saw the running game gain only 27 yards on 40 carries. At that point, though, some credit has to go to the Vandal defense. Linebacker Jeffrey Bediako, one of the Dutchmen who came to Boise with Boise State’s Geraldo Hiwat and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe to play high school football, had a solid scrimmage. The former Boise Brave registered five tackles, two of them for loss.
There’s a former Bishop Kelly quarterback in the news at the University of Colorado. And this time, it’s not Cody Hawkins. Kyle Cefalo, who followed Cody at BK, is now a walk-on wide receiver with the Buffaloes and is in the mix, according to coach Dan Hawkins. Cefalo originally attended Oregon State on a baseball scholarship, playing for the Beavers in 2007 before transferring to Wenatchee Community College. Cefalo hasn’t played a football game since his senior season with the Knights in 2006. Obviously what is interesting to onlookers at CU—and wrenching to Hawk—is what will be done with Cody in his senior year at quarterback. Tyler Hansen has been taking most of the first-team QB reps in fall camp.
The Boise Hawks were a power-hitting club in the first third of the Northwest League season—then the energy supply all but turned off. And that was a factor in the 25-game stretch that saw the Hawks go 7-18 heading into last night’s game against Everett. But it was power that dug Boise out its latest hole, as Ryan Cuneo, Jeff Vigurs and Richard Jones all went yard in a 4-1 win over the AquaSox, the first time the Hawks have hit more than two homers since 2007. On the mound, the contributions came from Austin Kirk and Larry Suarez. Kirk turned in one of his best starts of the season, allowing one run on four hits over five innings. Suarez came on to toss three scoreless innings in his best outing as a Hawk. Aaron Kurcz closed out in the ninth inning for his save. Now the Hawks’ annual Western Idaho Fair road trip begins Friday night in Vancouver.
This Day In Sports…August 19, 1992:
Rookie second baseman Bret Boone, grandson of Ray Boone and son of Bob Boone, becomes the first third-generation major leaguer when he breaks in for the Mariners against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Bret had a hit, an RBI, and two runs in his debut as the M’s won, 10-8. Boone returned to Seattle in 2001, leading the M’s to their best season ever with 116 wins. But less than four years later, with his numbers in a steep decline, the Mariners cut him loose. Boone finished the 2005 season with the Twins and retired the next spring.
(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.)