Wednesday, July 11, 2012.
Now that we’re less than a year away from the probable end of the WAC, it’s time for Idaho to start making plans. Let’s think out loud. First, the Vandals could move their non-football sports to the Big Sky next July, knowing that the conference would also welcome the football program at any time. Then, if Idaho really thinks independence in football is viable, it would have some time to explore the possibilities. Perhaps the Big Sky and the Vandals can agree on a deadline of, say, February 1. Idaho could go all-out trying to secure five home games against FBS opponents next year in order to remain at college football’s top level. The Big Sky, meanwhile, could draw up two different league schedules for 2013, one with the Vandals and one without. If independence turns out to be unfeasible, Idaho football could seamlessly move to the Big Sky.
The obvious seam in this idea would be the reaction of teams committed to play Idaho in 2013 if the Vandals are forced to reverse course and go to the Big Sky. Would Ole Miss still want Idaho on the schedule? Would Washington State still be as neighborly? How about any other teams (Wyoming and Northern Illinois are already aboard) that commit to play Idaho and are left hanging? Perhaps the Vandals could improvise and play 2013 as an FCS independent of sorts, accommodating opponents already on the schedule and filling the other dates with Big Sky schools.
When the new college football playoff was painted as including two more major bowl games in its rotation, there was hope that there would be more access for what are now non-BCS schools (and make no mistake, that’s the level facing the Big East). But here comes Notre Dame saying it has offered itself for an automatic spot in the Orange Bowl opposite the ACC champion in seasons when it is “good enough” to play in a top-tier bowl but doesn’t land in the four-team playoff. “Death To The BCS” indeed. How soon before America starts to miss it? I can’t wait until 8-4 is “good enough” for the Fighting Irish.
Two years of watered-down scheduling through an agreement with the WAC ends after this season, and independence is actually looking up for BYU. The “Holy War” between the Cougars and Utah won’t go on long-term hiatus after all, as the Utes announced yesterday they’ll travel to Provo next year and “welcome” BYU to Salt Lake City in 2016. The break in the series in 2014 and 2015 will be the first in almost 100 years. The Cougars’ schedule in 2013 now includes home games against Utah, Texas, Boise State and Georgia Tech. BYU also faces Notre Dame, Washington, Houston and Hawaii on the road.
The Boise Hawks return home tonight after enjoying their first off day of the season. Hopefully it was a time for the Hawks to regroup after allowing 10 runs in each of the last two games, both losses at Tri-City. Boise is struggling at 8-17 but does have some positives. Three of the Northwest League’s top seven hitters are Hawks—Jeimer Candelaria is second at .330, Stephen Bruno fifth at .308, and Gioskar Amaya seventh at .297. The Hawks actually lead the league in team batting with a .259 average. An eight-game homestand at Memorial Stadium kicks off with the beginning of a five-game series against the Vancouver Canadians tonight.
We take a breath during the All-Star break for a “where are they now” check. Former Bishop Kelly and Oregon State standout Josh Osich has made it up to advanced Class A with the San Jose Giants. Osich has made 16 appearances with two starts, going 0-2 with a 3.50 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 18 innings. He’s set to start tonight for San Jose against the Modesto Nuts (yes, the Nuts). The 23-year-old lefthander was a sixth-round pick of San Francisco in 2011 and probably would have gone higher had he not missed the 2010 season with the Beavers due to Tommy John surgery. Osich has tools and can be imposing at 6-3, 235 pounds. If he can stay healthy—he’s already been on the disabled list this season—he could pitch adjacent to McCovey Cove at some point.
The revamping of the PGA Tour became clearer yesterday, and it has caused the Albertsons Boise Open to find a new spot on the calendar next year. The big tour is adding a series of three $1 million tournaments in September, 2013, called “The Finals.” The top 75 players from the Web.com Tour (formerly the Nationwide Tour) will join those who place No. 126 through No. 200 on the PGA Tour money list to decide 50 PGA Tour cards. The Boise Open, of course, is a September staple on the Web.com Tour. Next year it will move to July 25-28, but the competition will be fierce as the Web.com Tour becomes the primary vehicle for PGA Tour qualification.
Boise’s Steve Tarkon missed making match play by one shot yesterday at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in Midvale, UT. Tarkon carded a two-over 73 in the second round of stroke play and finished tied for 65th—the top 64 advanced. Eagle’s Ty Travis was in the next group, tied for 77th after shooting a four-over 75 yesterday. Moscow’s Chris Williams, one of the nation’s top amateurs, tied for 10th in stroke competition and opens match play today against Alex Williams of Seattle.
The player at the heart of the turnaround that resulted in the first exceptional era of Idaho basketball continues to be a force in pro hoops. Former Vandal Don Newman has been named Randy Wittman’s top assistant with the Washington Wizards after seven years on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio, where he was part of two NBA championships. Newman was Big Sky Player of the Year as a senior in 1979-80, when Idaho went 17-10 in Don Monson’s second season as head coach. The Vandals then went 52-7 the next two seasons and made the Sweet Sixteen of the 1982 NCAA Tournament. Newman has been an NBA assistant for 13 years after coaching Sacramento State for five seasons in the mid 1990’s.
This Day In Sports…July 11, 1996:
L.A. Lakers general manager Jerry West pulls the first of two coups that set the table for three straight NBA championships at the turn of the century. West traded Vlade Divac to Charlotte for the draft rights to a Philadelphia high school phenom named Kobe Bryant. The next week, West would sign Shaquille O’Neal as a free agent from the Orlando Magic, completing the genesis for the Lakers title teams in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
(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.)