Friday, August 2, 2013.
It’s one thing to get Top 25 props from the preseason magazines like Athlon and Lindy’s. It becomes a bit more official when the first major rankings of the season come out. Boise State was No. 19 yesterday in the inaugural USA Coaches Poll of the 2013 season. The Broncos are the only Mountain West team—and only non-BCS school—represented. This is the fifth straight season Boise State has appeared in the initial Coaches Poll. The Broncos were No. 22 last season—their highest debut was No. 5 in 2010. The cautionary note from USA Today: “The defense lost six starters and probably will struggle early.” That’s the conventional wisdom, but we won’t know until they tee it up four weeks from tomorrow at Washington. The Huskies, incidentally, received three votes in the poll. And early odds have them favored over the Broncos.
Boise State’s Joe Southwick has watched fellow Mountain West quarterbacks rack up a bunch of watch list mentions. Now Southwick has one of his own, as he was named to the 2013 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list yesterday. The Unitas Award goes annually to the nation’s top college quarterback based on character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities and athletic accomplishments. Candidates must be fourth-year juniors or seniors, and on track to graduate with their class.
Nobody foresaw it ending this badly for Dan Hawkins north of the border. The former Boise State head man was fired yesterday as coach of the Montreal Alouettes just five games into the season. Observations out of Canada suggest that Hawkins never looked comfortable with the 12-man game, especially on offense, and that Anthony Calvillo, the CFL’s all-time leading passer, was frustrated with Hawk’s system. Interestingly, the Alouettes were in a bye week following a gutty 32-27 win over Edmonton. Hawkins was 53-11 with four WAC championships in his five seasons heading the Broncos before his 19-33 adventure at Colorado.
We’re a week and a half removed from Mountain West Media Days, and there was one coach who still hasn’t been talked about much. Air Force’s Troy Calhoun was on an island compared to his colleagues. Calhoun didn’t wax poetic about Boise State and San Diego State staying in the conference—or about Utah State and San Jose State coming in. Instead, he said, “It’s very obvious the university presidents, with the guidance of the conference office, have said that we’re in sports entertainment, we’re into revenue generation, and it’s through football. No decision will ever be made because of academics.” Isn’t it that way everywhere these days? Calhoun says no. “I think there are other leagues where I do think there’s a consideration for what you do in terms of school.”
While conference realignment was going berserk two years ago, you’ll recall that Air Force was considering a move to the Big East in football only, where it would have ultimately have joined Navy in what is now the American Athletic Conference. Is Calhoun glad the Academy decided to stick with the Mountain West? “We’ll see in due time,” he said. “It’s a little bit of an odd fit to a certain degree—the Air Force Academy in the current league. And yet the proximity, the geography of what’s involved (is understandable).” If the Mountain West is a “bit of an odd fit,” it’s hard to imagine what a better one would be. Certainly not the Army-type independent route.
Idaho coach Paul Petrino had an announcement earlier this week that definitively impacts the Vandal defense. The unit gets a huge (no pun intended) boost from the reinstatement of mammoth defensive tackle QuayShawne Buckley. The 6-4, 305-pound senior has returned to the team after being dismissed from the squad in February following a DUI arrest. Buckley started eight games last season, recording 25 tackles and four sacks.
You may not see Jamar Taylor play for Miami Sunday night in the Hall of Fame Game against Dallas on NBC. The former Boise State star just returned to the practice field yesterday after missing a week and a half of training camp while continuing to heal from sports hernia surgery in May. The Dolphins will bring Taylor along slowly, as now he has to get back into football shape and get quality reps in Miami’s system.
The Boise Hawks’ bats went cold last night, as the Northwest League’s top-hitting team was held to just five hits in a 5-1 loss at Everett. The Hawks didn’t get on the board until the eighth inning when Jacob Rogers hit a solo home run, his sixth of the season. The AquaSox, who have now won five in a row, got to usually-stingy Boise starter James Pugliese early, building a 3-0 lead after two innings. The Hawks wrap up their five-game series in Everett this weekend.
Despite the roll the L.A. Dodgers have been on without him, Borah High grad Stephen Fife may have pitched his way back to the bigs as he comes off his stint on the disabled list. It’s time for L.A. to make a decision on Fife, who made his second rehab start with Triple-A Albuquerque last Sunday, striking out seven in six innings and allowing just three hits and one unearned run. Said Dodger manager Don Mattingly, "He's making another start, we're just not sure where." If Mattingly brings Fife back into the rotation, the Dodgers would likely move starter Chris Capuano to the bullpen. Fife was 3-3 with a solid 2.20 ERA over his previous seven starts before going on the DL last month.
Hopefully the early Lucky Peak drawdown doesn’t affect this, because it sounds like a cool new rite of summer. Tigé Boats brings the Endless Wave Pro Wakesurfing Tour to Boise this weekend at Spring Shores. Demos by pros continue today, with competition set for tomorrow and Sunday. They’re calling this event the “Boise ‘Surf This’ Bash.”
KTVB.com Mountain West Factoid of the Day: Of the six remaining charter members of the conference, only San Diego State has won a football championship in the past 10 years. That came last season, when the Aztecs shared the crown with Boise State and Fresno State. Colorado State won the title in 2002 and 2000 and shared it with BYU and Utah in the Mountain West’s first year in 1999. Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV and Wyoming have never won a Mountain West football championship.
This Day In Sports…August 2, 1961:
On the heels of Frank McGuire’s resignation, North Carolina promotes Dean Smith to head basketball coach of the Tarheels. Smith would go 8-9 in his first season—but it would be the only losing campaign in 36 years of college coaching in Chapel Hill. Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982, Smith would step down after the 1996-97 season with 879 career victories—fourth in Division I history behind Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bobby Knight.
(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.)