Friday, July 9, 2010.
We’ll know a lot more about what will really make the WAC tick after Boise State’s departure when the conference gathers for its annual Football Media Preview in a couple of weeks. But I see one best-case scenario for WAC expansion. First, the league convinces Montana to bet the house and leave the cozy confines of the Big Sky for possible feast and possible famine in the FBS. If Louisiana Tech stays, it puts the WAC back at nine teams and balances the football schedule. And the Grizzlies are a regional fit. North Texas would give the conference an unnatural travel partner for La Tech, and create out Southern outposts instead of one.
Then the WAC invites the University of Denver as a non-football member, giving the league 10 basketball schools and balancing the hoops travel situation. Not to say that the Pioneers would “deliver” the Denver TV market, but hey—that’s where the WAC’s headquarters are. Denver is currently in the Sun Belt and went 19-13 last season in men’s basketball.
Jason Robinson is participating in Boise State’s player-run practices this summer, and that has to be a very good sign for the senior nicklebacker who was suspended the first day of spring football. There’s been no official announcement from the Broncos yet on Robinson’s reinstatement to the team. He went to court in May following a guilty plea to a reduced charge of misdemeanor battery after a downtown altercation in February. One other positive note out of the PRP’s: linebacker Daron Mackey has been partaking in drills on a limited basis after having his solid 2009 season end last November with a knee injury against Nevada.
There’s a summer diversion that’s becoming a tradition for Boise State players, the Offense vs. Defense Charity Softball Game at Memorial Stadium benefitting The First Tee of Idaho. Derrell Acrey is captaining the defense this year and Kellen Moore the offense. Acrey is already singin’ the blues as his best player, Winston Venable, has had to withdraw from the game because he’ll be out of town at a wedding. Venable, of course, comes from a baseball family—his dad, Max, had a 12-year career in the majors, and brother Will is an outfielder for the San Diego Padres. The event a week from Saturday at Memorial Stadium will start with the home run derby, with Austin Pettis tabbed as the early favorite.
We’ve been doing a lot of counting down and date-marking around here, for everything from Boise State’s move to the Mountain West to kickoff against Virginia Tech. Well, when it comes to Fresno State coach Pat Hill, nobody knows when the counting started or when it will end. A month ago today in the Fresno Bee, it was reported that Hill’s contract extension—first announced last December—is still going through a legal review. "It's not that it's not important," athletic director Thomas Boeh said last month. "It's not urgent because it doesn't take effect for over half a year." Well, aren’t Fresno State recruits curious about how long Hill’s going to be there? The Bulldogs don’t have any 2011 commitments listed yet at Scout.com.
Jesus Morelli and Alvaro Ramirez carried the big sticks last night as the Boise Hawks held off Eugene, 5-4, at Memorial Stadium. Morelli was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, and Ramirez contributed a double and a triple as Boise moved back to two games above .500. The Hawks made five additions to their roster yesterday, including Matt Szczur, a fifth-round pick and a two-sport star from Villanova. He also plays football—he was the MVP of the 2009 FCS National Championship Game for the Wildcats against Montana. Szczur, a consensus first-team FCS All-American last season, will return to Villanova for fall camp sometime next month. He rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns and had 270 all-purpose yards in the Wildcats’ 23-21 win over the Grizzlies last December in Chattanooga.
Former Boise Hawks pitcher Mitch Atkins has been called up by the Chicago Cubs. Atkins joined the club Wednesday but hasn’t been used yet by manager Lou Piniella. Atkins is looking to gain a foothold in the bigs—he was up with Chicago for three days last month but never got to pitch. The 24-year-old righthander made two appearances for the Cubs last July without allowing a run. Atkins had an unremarkable year with the Hawks in 2005, going 3-6 with a 5.03 ERA, but his career took off the following year at Peoria, and he’s had a solid season at Triple-A Iowa.
Boise State product Graham DeLaet is in position to make the cut today at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, IL. Former Bronco teammate Troy Merritt is not. DeLaet carded a two-under-69 at TPC Deere Run, getting started with an eagle on the par-five second hole. Merritt struggled to a three-over-74, ultimately undone by a double-bogey on No. 15. Everybody at the tournament is looking up at Paul Goydos and Steve Stricker, who roared home with a first round 59 and 60, respectively.
This Day In Sports…July 9, 1946:
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox has four hits, scores four runs, and knocks in five as the American League defeats the National League, 12-0, in the All-Star Game. In the eighth inning, the Splendid Splinter hit a Rip Sewell blooper pitch for a home run, a feat no one else had ever accomplished. The much-celebrated game marked the return of the Midsummer Classic after a one-year absence due to World War II.
(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.)