Tuesday, March 20, 2012.
Ryan Clady has a new buddy on the way. The former Boise State star is going to protect the blindside of Peyton Manning as the latter becomes the new starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. And you don’t have to ask Clady to get off the fence regarding how he feels. , “Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” the Denver left tackle wrote yesterday on Twitter. “At the end of the day, Peyton Manning is just better than Tim Tebow,” Clady told ESPN’s Josina Anderson. Clady had a frustrating season in 2011 despite landing in his second Pro Bowl. Tebow constantly scrambles to his left, and Clady spent considerable time trying to figure out where Tebow was behind him and what he was doing.
To hear Len Pasquarelli of CBS Sports.com tell it, Clady could have a lot of money coming his way, too. “Clady might be most indicative of the kind of trickle-down financial impact that landing Manning could represent to a new teammate,” writes Pasquarelli, who lists all the reasons pointing to a perfect storm for the 6-6, 315-pounder. Clady is entering the final year of his original rookie contract of $17.5 million over five years. He has never missed a game, starting 64 consecutive regular season games since coming out of Boise State in 2008. His now-elevated importance should pay off handsomely in Denver. As Pasquarelli points out, “Quality young offensive tackles, after all, almost never make it to the free-agent market.”
Yesterday was Monday. You know, Monday. But early in the morning, there was Boise State busting through a spring football practice at its usual breakneck pace in the Caven-Williams indoor facility. That’s important as it pertains to the Broncos’ four-way quarterback battle. Coach Chris Petersen’s concern over reps for the QB’s being “watered down” has been mitigated by the hyper-speed of Boise State’s drills. Joe Southwick: snap, throw. Grant Hedrick: snap, throw. Jimmy Laughrea: snap, throw. Nick Patti: snap, throw. Next pattern, repeat. The four are getting their time in.
One of Trevor Harman’s strengths as the main kickoff man the past two seasons was hang time. Boise State’s kickoff coverage was outstanding last year in particular, and Harman’s lofty boots gave special-teamers plenty of time to introduce themselves to opposing returners. He kicked off a staggering 97 times last season and produced 17 touchbacks. Harman could go out of the end zone more this year with kickoffs moved out to the 35-yard line, or he could play with that hang time to plunk the ball inside the five and let the coverage team do its work. Now, Harman wants to add punting chores to his duties, and that’s where hang time gives him (pun intended) a leg up. A couple of Harman’s practice punts hit the rafters yesterday in the Caven-Williams.
Two days before spring football convenes, Idaho has filled one of its coaching staff vacancies with veteran assistant Gordy Shaw. He’ll be the Vandals’ run game coordinator and offensive line coach. Shaw, who began his coaching career 35 years ago as a graduate assistant at Cal Poly, spent the last three seasons as O-line coach at Hawaii. He assisted one season at Idaho—for the Vandals’ Big Sky championship team in 1989 under John L. Smith. Coach Robb Akey still has two spots open on the offensive side of the ball—one of them a wide receivers coach.
The Mountain West is dealing with the “overrated” label after all four of its teams made a first-week exit in the NCAA Tournament. UNLV fell too far behind Colorado to sustain its rally long enough for a win, Colorado State was overmatched against Murray State, and San Diego State didn’t have the inside muster to deal with Baylor. New Mexico was the team that acquitted itself well. At least the Lobos won a game, beating Long Beach State before coming up short against Louisville. When you look at it cumulatively, was the Mountain West really the fifth-best basketball conference in the country this season? With the Pac-12 in the tank, the MW had to carry the banner for the West, and it never quite came unfurled.
I talked last week about the importance of basic fan interest versus flashy venues in the NCAA Tournament. With all the new facilities available in the West, Taco Bell Arena isn’t as attractive as it was when it first hosted the Big Dance 29 years ago. But surely the NCAA noticed the huge chucks of empty seats at second/third round sites around the country. When Lehigh upended Duke Friday night in Greensboro, just 55 miles from the Blue Devils’ campus, there was virtually nobody in the upper level on at least one end. And when the devastated Missouri fans cleared out of town following the Tigers’ loss to Norfolk State Friday, Omaha was left with a sea of gray seats for the Sunday session. And those weren’t the only sites with problems. It looks really, really bad.
The College of Idaho baseball team has been buoyed by its performance in Lewiston over the weekend. It’s tough to beat perennial NAIA power Lewis-Clark State there, but the Coyotes did it again Sunday in a 9-6 win at Harris Field. The Yotes had also defeated L-C State Friday before dropping a doubleheader Saturday. The net result: C of I split a road series with the 13th-ranked Warriors for the first time in 10 years. The Coyotes, now 19-8, return to Wolfe Field Friday when they begin a four-game series against British Columbia.
Treasure Valley Racing has its plans together for the 2012 season, telling the Idaho Business Review that it will offer 36 days of racing at Les Bois Park this year from May 2 through August 11. That’s up from 15 days in 2011, when the reappearance of the horses after a three-year absence was delayed until 4th of July weekend after final agreements were ironed out. Races this season will be held every Wednesday and Saturday, some Fridays and Sundays, and on Memorial Day (July 4 is on Wednesday this year). Officials told the IBR more than 200 horses have already arrived at Les Bois. Capacity is over 800, and applications to board horses at the track have exceeded that number.
This Day In Sports…March 20, 2004:
One of the most unique nights in Boise State basketball history. When the Broncos blitzed UNLV 84-69 three nights before in the NIT, it looked like they’d be traveling for their matchup with Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the next round. After all, the Pavilion was booked all weekend. But a date was hastily arranged with the Idaho Center, and 10,153 BSU fans hastily scooped up tickets to see the Broncos get past UWM, 73-70, on a raucous night in Nampa. Their NIT run would end three nights later with a 66-53 loss at Marquette.
(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.)