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It’s going to be a wild few weeks for the Broncos

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on May 9, 2012 at 7:29 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 9 at 12:42 PM

Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

It’s looking like Big West or Bust for Boise State.  At least the Big West is going to talk about it next week.  Whether anything comes of it is another matter.  Andy Katz of expects the conference to stand pat and not make room for the Broncos’ non-football sports.  “The Big West was thrilled to get San Diego State to keep in its all-California/Hawaii league,” writes Katz.  The conference doesn’t view Boise State’s basketball program the way it does that of the Aztecs. 

As has been mentioned so many times, the Big West has gone as far out of its comfort zone as it is likely to go by accepting Hawaii’s non-football sports this year.  Could Boise State buy its way into the Big West with the money it will get from the Big East’s new TV contract?  Not until it knows what that money will be—and that’s months away.  So let the water cooler talk continue.  What would “bust” be?

Boise State continues to monitor the situation.  Man, is that an understatement.  It’s a dilemma.  Mark Blaudschun of the Boston Globe suggests that the influential group of Big East basketball powers, predominantly Catholic schools, could break away and form their own conference.  Writes Blaudschun: “Included in that group are Marquette, Providence, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova, DePaul, and St. John’s, with the possibility of Xavier, Dayton, and even Butler (although Butler has committed to the Atlantic 10) being targeted as part of a 10-team—primarily Catholic—basketball conference.  (Notre Dame said it would not take part in a split.)  These moves could happen sooner rather than later.”

Blaudschun thinks Big East football is in trouble when the new BCS playoff plan is in place this summer.  “Whether the new Big East is part of that plan seems less likely than ever before, especially if Louisville leaves, which would be the move that could really incite the basketball schools to break away,” Blaudschun says.  “With Pittsburgh and Syracuse heading to the ACC for the 2013 season, and with Louisville, Rutgers, and UConn all searching for escape hatches, the odds of the Big East fading into oblivion as a football conference and shrinking significantly as a basketball conference are steadily increasing.”

Pete Thamel of the New York Times takes a slightly different tack.  The surprising reality with the Big East—if it stays together in its intended 13-team and 18-team formats—is that it could still be a lucrative league,” writes Thamel, who has spent time in Boise covering the Bronco football program.  “Neal Pilson, a media consultant and former president of CBS Sports, predicted that the Big East could surpass the deal it turned down last year, which was considered similar in value to the ACC’s $155 million annual deal.  ‘I think if they stay together and negotiate as a single unit, I think they can come away with even more than what ESPN offered a year and a half ago.  The critical thing is that they have to stay together,’ Pilson said of the Big East.”  That means Louisville doesn’t go to the Big 12 and take Cincinnati with it.  And that Connecticut and Rutgers don’t follow Notre Dame if the Fighting Irish were to join the ACC.

Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton was on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday to talk primarily about Idaho.  He reiterated his stance that the top of the FCS is stronger than the bottom of the FBS and thinks his league is a better place for the Vandals.  And, as the rich get richer in the BCS conferences, Fullerton says, “The break is not occurring between the FBS and FCS.  The break is occurring in the middle of the FBS.”  That has relevance to Boise State.  If there’s a divide—and five conferences of 12-16 teams (70 or so schools) take over the top of the college football world—on which side of the dividing line would the Broncos be?  Part of the attraction of the move to the Big East for Boise State is positioning for the next seismic shift.

Fresno State’s loss is Oklahoma’s gain.  And it’s definitely a loss for the Bulldogs.  Their leading receiver last season, Jalen Saunders, left the team after spring football because he didn’t feel he fit in with new coach Tim DeRuyter’s offensive scheme.  Saunders has surfaced at Oklahoma, where he’ll have to sit out this season as an FBS transfer.  The All-WAC wideout had 50 catches for 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

There’s never been more buzz about Michigan State football in East Lansing.  The Spartans have sold 6,100 new season tickets for the 2012 season, causing them to suspend new sales last week.  MSU will process what it has and may resume sales June 1.  The Spartans expect to break their record for season tickets, 61,479 set in 2000.  The athletic department may have to cap sales since they need to set aside 5,000 seats for visitors (that’ll be a hot ticket for Boise State fans August 31).

We’ve been following Casey Kotchman since he was seven years old, taking late-night batting practice at Memorial Stadium from his dad, Boise Hawks manager Tom Kotchman.  Casey grew up and made the majors in 2004—now he can probably be classified as a journeyman.  Kotchman played for the Braves and Red Sox three years ago, the Mariners two years ago, the Rays last year, and this season he finds himself in Cleveland.  He’s starting at first base but batting down in the order.  With his average at just .182, that’s understandable, although he did drive in three runs in Monday night’s 8-6 win over the White Sox and went 2-for-4 last night in a 5-3 loss to Chicago.  Interestingly enough, the not-fleet-of-foot Kotchman has already stolen three bases, matching his career high.

Racing resumes today on what should be an ideal evening at Les Bois Park.  And there’s something at stake, as three trials are scheduled for the Bitterroot Derby May 26.  The 10 fastest quarter horses from the three races tonight will advance.  Trials for the Bitterroot Futurity will be run Saturday.  The Futurity finals will cap an eventful holiday weekend on Memorial Day.

This Day In Sports…May 9, 2010:

Forty-two years and one day after Jim “Catfish” Hunter does it, Dallas Braden throws a perfect game for the Oakland A’s in a 4-0 win over Tampa Bay.  It was the 19th perfect game in big league history, but only Braden’s 18th career victory in the majors—and his first complete game.  The moment was especially poignant coming on Mother’s Day, as Major League Baseball brought out the pink bats to bring awareness to breast cancer and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  Braden lost his mother to cancer at the age of 14.

(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.)