Friday, Jul 23 at 4:25 PM
(Tom Scott's column will return Wednesday.)
Friday, July 23, 2010.
It used to be a rite of summer to run down the college football preview magazines and see where Boise State was picked. I remember how excited everybody was when Sports Illustrated had the Broncos No. 64 in the country about 10 years ago. When SI reveals its list next month, Boise State will be in the top five. The thunder has really been stolen by high expectations—there won’t be a lot of drama in the preseason polls at WAC Media Days, which begin Sunday night. Among the “big four” magazines that come out early, all of them pick the Broncos to win the WAC. Nationally, BSU is No. 2 in Lindy’s, No. 3 in the Sporting News, No. 4 in Athlon, and (oh, he of little faith) No. 6 in Phil Steele. It’s Steele who thinks the Broncos will be playing in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against Stanford in January in San Francisco.
On the surface, the forecasts for Idaho don’t look so fantastic. But for a team used to 8’s and 9’s in the WAC and triple-digits in national rankings, this is major progress. The Vandals are picked to finish anywhere from fourth to seventh in the conference. Their highest FBS ranking is 76th in Athlon. Idaho is 78th in the Sporting News and 91st in Lindy’s (Phil Steele only lists a top 40).
You’d expect the No. 1 subject at the WAC gathering in Salt Lake City to be the future of the conference, and when the eight-team WAC of 2011 might become a nine or 10-team league again. Hopefully the session won’t produce any baggage like it did last year, when Hawaii coach Greg McMackin invoked a reprehensible gay slur when describing a Notre Dame dance at the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl banquet the previous December. McMackin was suspended for the month of August and forfeited a good chunk of his salary. If that episode is now forgotten on the Islands, the Warriors’ performance last season is not. They went 6-7 and missed the Hawaii Bowl, with their defense allowing almost 30 points per game.
Here’s another table-setter for the WAC meetings, with Fresno State coach Pat Hill’s new contract a done deal. Writes Matt James in the Fresno Bee: “What is certain is that if Hill wants to stay until 2013, or beyond, a few things have to happen. First off, he has to win the WAC title in 2011. Has to. Boise State will be gone to the Mountain West by then. Colin Kaepernick will have left Nevada. No excuse would cover that failure. It would be embarrassing. It would be the last piece of unraveling cable holding the bridge together. Winning the WAC again in 2012 would be a nice bonus. The Broncos proved that conference wins were an important part of graduating as a program. It's Hill and his program's curse to be forever compared, at least locally, to what Boise State has accomplished. But let's be honest, no one else was able to accomplish it either.”
A year after his inglorious season opener in Bronco Stadium last September, could Jeremiah Masoli and his rap sheet make another appearance in the Gem State this year? ESPN.com reports that the latest school the dismissed Oregon quarterback is checking out is UNLV, which plays Idaho in the Kibbie Dome September 18. Masoli has already been linked to Louisiana Tech as he looks for a new place to play. It’s not a layup that he would be eligible this season. Masoli has apparently finished his undergraduate work at Oregon, but he has to show the master's program he seeks isn't offered at UO—and he has to get an NCAA waiver with Oregon’s blessing.
Reports out of Dallas say Orlando Scandrick’s fractured finger is healing well and that he’ll be ready for at least limited duty when Cowboys training camp opens next week. The former Boise State standout suffered the injury early in organized team activities. It’s expected he’ll be good to go with added protection for the finger. The Cowboys want Scandrick on the field—he had a strong finish to the 2009 season and is seen as a key component as the nickel corner in the Dallas defense. Scandrick, who left BSU after his junior year and became a fifth-round NFL Draft choice, had 51 tackles last season, with one sack, one interception and two forced fumbles.
The Boise Hawks were trying to record their second four-game winning streak of the season last night. It would have been huge in the divisional race the Hawks are trying to win next week. But it was not to be, as Tri-City brought them down in a 7-2 victory. The Dust Devils piled up 14 hits against three Boise pitchers. But Yakima did the Hawks a favor last night, beating second-place Spokane, 2-0. So Boise’s lead remains at a half-game over the Indians. Meanwhile, Hawks first baseman Richard Jones has been named Northwest League Player of the Week after hitting .467 with one homer and 11 runs batted in last week. Jones started the season in Peoria and struggled but is hitting his stride in Boise.
Former Boise Hawk Sergio Mitre comes off the disabled list tomorrow and jumps right into the fire with the Yankees. Mitre will take Andy Pettitte’s spot in the Yanks’ starting rotation against Kansas City, with Pettitte out for as long as a month due to a groin injury. Yankee fans, concerned about Mitre, have been clamoring for general manager Brian Cashman to go out and get a big-name starter, just like always. “I’m amazed at the overreaction,” Cashman said in the New York Times. “I’m not looking to get a starter, and our insurance policy is Sergio Mitre, who would be in most people’s rotations. We’re lucky we didn’t have to cash that in until late July. People are saying there’s no way we’re going to go with him. Why not?” Mitre is 0-1 with a 2.88 ERA this season, but his career ERA is 5.39.
You’d think it would be home nation, home cookin’ at the Canadian Open for Graham DeLaet. But it’s his former Boise State teammate, American Troy Merritt, who’s making a bid after the first round in Toronto. Merritt is just two shots back after a four-under-66 yesterday. Merritt started the back nine with birdies on six of the first seven holes. DeLaet, the 28-year-old from Weyburn, Saskatchewan, was even-par at 70.
This Day In Sports…July 23, 1969:
On baseball’s 100th anniversary, the All-Star Game is in the nation’s capital—and the National League brings the fireworks. The Giants’ Willie McCovey, in the midst of an MVP season, launched two home runs and Reds catcher Johnny Bench added another as the Nationals pummeled seven American League pitchers, 9-3. It was the seventh straight All-Star win for the National League.
(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.)