Monday, January 25, 2010.
If you thought there was mega-hype for Boise State’s season opener against Oregon last year, wait until the Broncos’ game against Virginia Tech is moved to Labor Day for the sake of a prime time national telecast. Before the “Fan Fiesta” Saturday at Taco Bell Arena, WAC commissioner Karl Benson said he expects an announcement within a couple weeks confirming the change, setting up a showdown between probable Top 10 teams to wrap up college football’s kickoff weekend. The key is moving Boise State’s scheduled home opener against Toledo September 11 to avoid a five-day turnaround. But a bye week at that time could create an excruciating wait for the Broncos’ 2010 blue turf debut.
The Broncos are slated to play at Wyoming September 18, so unless ESPN can do some horse-trading with the Cowboys, BSU’s home opener wouldn’t occur until September 25 against Oregon State. We use that “September 25” loosely, as ESPN will find a way to move that game as well. Then again, part of the wheelin’ and dealin’ could even involve an early conference game in Bronco Stadium on the 18th. Everything’s in pencil right now.
Speaking of the “Fan Fiesta,” an unscientific poll of teenagers there anointed the team’s hip-hop dance routine as the top highlight. Like most everything the Broncos have done lately, it was well-executed. So was the rap by Thomas Byrd and Faraji Wright saluting Kyle Wilson (“He’s Goin’ To The League”). BSU also revealed its take on the top 10 plays of the year to be included in the upcoming 2009 season DVD. No. 5 was Billy Winn’s safety on LeGarrette Blount (I would have put that higher), No. 4 was Winston Venable’s leaping hit on Fresno State’s Ryan Colburn, No. 3 was Titus Young’s sliding end zone touchdown recovery on Jeremy Avery’s fumble after Avery’s 74-yard run, No. 2 was Young’s 100-yard kickoff return against Idaho, and No. 1 was—you guessed it—“Riddler.”
Those $5,200 a week paychecks from the Minnesota Vikings now come to an end for Ian Johnson and Vinny Perretta. The Vikings’ 31-28 loss to New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game eliminates the need for a practice squad, so Ian’s and Vinny’s offseason of uncertainty begins now. It’s been a great ride, though. Former Idaho State defensive lineman Jeff Charleston is in the Super Bowl with the Saints, as is former Boise Burn offensive lineman Kyle DeVan with the Colts. National media will have fun telling DeVan’s story.
How about this old adage: “I don’t care if we lose every game except one, as long as we beat (fill in the name of rival).” Is that true in the case of Boise State men’s basketball? The Broncos are 0-7 in the WAC and finish the first half of the conference season tonight at Idaho. A win over the Vandals would soothe a lot of hurt and restore a little confidence to shell-shocked BSU, but it wouldn’t undo the terribly disappointing start to the new year, regardless of opponent. Idaho is almost in the same boat, having lost five in a row and playing its worst half of the season in the final 20 minutes of a 60-48 loss to Utah State Saturday. A loss by Boise State tonight would leave the Broncos three games behind in the loss column for the eighth and final spot in the WAC Tournament in March.
Idaho fans are laying in wait for Boise State’s Anthony Thomas tonight. After the Vandals broke their 14-game losing streak to the Broncos a year ago, Thomas famously guaranteed that Boise State would not lose to Idaho again as long as he was a Bronco. Vandal faithful subsequently took great delight in Thomas and his teammates being swept by their rivals a few weeks later. We’ll see if Thomas’ game has finally returned, as he’s coming off a 19-point, six-steal effort against Nevada. We’ll also see if crowd control measures have taken hold in Cowan Spectrum, because things were pretty vulgar up there during the Bronco-Vandal game last year—on live TV for all to see. This time it’s being beamed not only back to Boise, but nationwide (albeit on a secondary network, ESPNU).
I hope you got a chance to see Patty Mills while he was in Boise. Because he probably won’t be back again. Mills was called back up by the Blazers Saturday after his second short stint with the Idaho Stampede. In five total games with the Stamps, the former St. Mary’s star scored 25½ points a game and averaged 5½ assists. The Stampede could have used Mills’ scoring Saturday night, as they fell one point short at Albuquerque, 109-108. The Stamps had roared back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to take the lead with 12 seconds remaining, but the Thunderbirds won it on a layup with four ticks left. Donell Taylor had his first 30-point game with Idaho, while Coby Karl stayed hot, putting up 28.
With the exception of a Saturday night gem by the home team, defense was sporadic in the weekend series between the Idaho Steelheads and Las Vegas Wranglers. Fortunately for the Steelheads, they were able to take two of the three games, including last night’s 8-5 track meet win. The Steelies got two hat tricks in the finale, with Evan Barlow and Tyler Spurgeon tallying three times apiece. Barlow’s final goal was an empty-netter that came one second before the final horn. Spurgeon had just rejoined the Steelheads Friday after playing for Wilkes Barre-Scranton of the AHL since a December 1 callup. Idaho is off until a Friday night game at Bakersfield.
Former Boise State stars Troy Merritt and Graham DeLaet are 2-for-2 as rookies on the PGA Tour. They’ve both made the cut in their first two tour events and are poised for another nice paycheck going into today’s rain-delayed final round of the Bob Hope Classic. Neither faltered as the spotlight brightened over the weekend. DeLaet shot 67-66 and is eight shots behind leaders Bubba Watson and Alex Prugh, while Merritt had rounds of 66-69 and is 12 strokes back.
This Day In Sports…January 25, 1998:
The Denver Broncos finally win a Super Bowl, beating the Green Bay Packers, 31-24, in San Diego. The Broncos had lost four Super Bowls previously. Three of them were with John Elway, the veteran quarterback who at last got the monkey off his back almost 15 years after coming out of Stanford as the no. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Denver would win the Super Bowl again the following year in the final game of Elway’s career.
(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 also handles color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football.)