Tuesday, June 15, 2010.
For awhile it looked like Boise State’s game with Utah in 2011 was going to morph into a conference matchup in the Mountain West. Now, with yesterday’s stunning salvation of the Big 12, the Broncos may have gained another home date with a Pac-10 school. The Utes were to come to Boise as a non-league opponent next year and in 2013, with the Broncos heading for Salt Lake City in 2012. It was the conclusion of the series that began in 2006 with Boise State’s 36-3 win at Utah. Last Friday, it appeared the games conveniently became conference contests with BSU’s invitation to the Mountain West. Now, after Texas and the rest of the “gang of five” announced intentions yesterday to remain in the Big 12, it looks like the Pac-10’s only option is to go after the Utes, with the conference having already jumped the gun with Colorado.
Everybody knew Utah could leave the Mountain West, but it didn’t show any signs of happening this way until the weekend, when Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe impressively circled his wagons. The theory was that Utah served as the Pac-10’s fallback position if the “gang of five” chose other conferences—or for a Pac-16 if Texas A&M opted for the SEC. Now Beebe goes from goat to hero, and Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is, well, a wee bit humbled. The Mountain West’s chances of becoming an automatic qualifier in the BCS bowl picture will take a serious hit if Utah does the expected and bolts for the Pac-10. But the MWC is still unquestionably a better place for Boise State to be.
As the smoke starts to clear in the conference realignment craziness, you’ve got to feel for the Fresno State Bulldogs. They were welcomed into the old-line WAC in 1992, a pinnacle achievement for a program that had worked so hard to become a player in the 1980’s. But Fresno State was left behind by the Mountain West mutineers in 1999. The Bulldogs were then the WAC’s flagship football program when Boise State joined the conference in 2001. They were on the cover of Sports Illustrated that season and were No. 8 in the polls—until the Broncos pulled off that 35-30 shocker in Fresno. That was the beginning of the end, and now Fresno State has seen the little upstart with the blue turf pass it on a dead run, all the way into the Mountain West.
Here’s how history is viewed in Fresno, through the eyes of Matt James in the Fresno Bee: “It wasn't enough the Mountain West had to take off with the WAC's best horses the first time (in 1999). It came back to burn down the barn. So what's wrong with Fresno State? Why always a nicely dressed bridesmaid? Well, there was a reason it was left out of the MWC to begin with, the hires and choices that were made during a dark era. Whether you want to call it a wise move or revenge by the MWC, that was the reason. Athletically, the Bulldogs were an obvious choice. On integrity, they were an obvious liability. How can another conference really believe the old Fresno State is truly gone when it has the same president (John Welty) that allowed it to happen the first time?” But hey—if Utah leaves, the Mountain West could always add one more…?
Ryan Dinwiddie must be refreshed after taking a year off from football. The former Boise State star, just signed last month by Saskatchewan of the CFL, is in position to nab the backup quarterback spot with the Roughriders. Dinwiddie went 13-of-19 for 141 yards Sunday in a 29-27 exhibition loss to the B.C. Lions. “What we saw would solidify him as the No. 2 quarterback,” said coach Ken Miller in the Times Colonist newspaper in Victoria. Elsewhere in the CFL, Caldwell’s Cody Pickett, the former Washington quarterback, is set to sign today with the Calgary Stampeders after being released by the Montreal Alouettes.
Former Boise State and Boise Burn quarterback Taylor Tharp did end up being signed by Utah of the Arena Football League last week. And he did play in the Blaze’s 70-50 loss to the Chicago Rush. Tharp came on in relief of ex-Burn teammate Mark Thorson and threw for only 83 yards on 7-of-16 passing. But he did connect for two touchdowns. Former Caldwell Cougar and Burn defensive lineman Mark Weivoda had a sack and a fumble recovery for Chicago.
I asked recently if the WAC could possibly follow its three first-round picks in the NFL Draft with two NBA first-rounders. Can you say three? Sean Deveney projected in yesterday’s Sporting News Today daily online edition that Fresno State wing Paul George will go 13th overall to the Toronto Raptors, Nevada forward Luke Babbitt 15th to the Milwaukee Bucks, and Wolf Pack guard Armon Johnson 29th to the Orlando Magic. There are no projected first-rounders from the Mountain West, despite the fact the MWC placed four teams in the NCAA Tournament this year.
The Boise Hawks will land at the Boise Airport this afternoon. We’ll know a lot more about who exactly the Cubs sent to Boise after the team arrives. But we know plenty about the Hawks’ new manager this season. Jody Davis, the popular former Cub, will skipper the Hawks this summer. I can still hear the late Harry Caray saying his name on WGN telecasts (when they used to be on basic cable). Davis played at Wrigley Field from 1981 until 1988, when he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He had one of his best seasons during one of those Cubbies heartbreak years. Davis collected 94 RBIs in 1994, when the Cubs won the National League East—their first title of any kind since 1945. Alas, they would fall to San Diego in the National League Championship Series.
This Day In Sports…June 15, 1977:
The New York Mets unceremoniously trade three-time Cy Young Award winner Tom Seaver, the team’s best and most popular player, to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Pat Zachry, along with Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman. The deal breaks the hearts of both Mets fans and the man they called “The Franchise”. It’s the result of squabbling between Seaver and Mets general manager M. Donald Grant over the future Hall of Famer’s contract and the direction of the team.
(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.)