Thursday, Aug 12 at 1:28 PM
Thursday, August 12, 2010.
You almost wonder if it wouldn’t be better for Boise State if it could hang a foot over the edge and slow this merry-go-round down. The Broncos were back on the front page of SI.com yesterday, this time with a prediction that they’ll help define the new decade in college football. Stewart Mandel and Andy Staples team up on a lengthy feature that says, “The residual effect from last season, when Boise State and TCU met in the Fiesta Bowl and finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the final polls, has carried over to this preseason. Unlike previous ‘BCS busters’ that lost their head coach or graduated their starting quarterbacks, the Broncos and Horned Frogs both return the bulk of their teams.”
As a result, high preseason rankings are giving both a head start in their quests for a BCS Championship Game berth. And both have huge openers. “When the preseason coaches' poll was unveiled last week, Boise opened fifth and TCU seventh, meaning they'll have less ground to make up than in previous seasons should either go undefeated. Boise opens with a showcase game against No. 6 Virginia Tech, while TCU meets No. 22 Oregon State.”
Mandel and Staples say, “Even if it doesn't happen this season, programs like Boise State, TCU and BYU have established enough respect that their break figures to come soon enough. ‘The progress has been steady,’ said Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson.” Ah, the Mountain West. Here’s another observation from the SI.com duo: “The Mountain West, following two impressive seasons, is making a strong push to become the seventh (BCS) conference in 2012, aided by a push from Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.” And there’s more. Under the header “New star coaches will emerge” come two familiar guys out of the four mentioned, current Tennessee and former Boise State defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and Bronco O-coordinator Bryan Harsin (who they point out is a one-time drag-racer).
What does the rest of the WAC hope the Sports Illustrated cover does for Boise State? It’s predictable. Dan Hinxman of the Reno Gazette-Journal declares, “The Bronco reign is over. Sure, Boise State might be ranked in the top five, might return 19 offensive and defensive starters and might be on a run of seven WAC titles in the last eight years. They’ll stumble this year. They have to. They’re on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The SI jinx is legendary. Land on the cover and you’re headed for despair. At some point during the schedule, the jinx will ensnare another victim. It’s predestined. It’s in the cosmos. And if you’re one of the other eight teams in the WAC, it would be a sweet send-off for the Mountain West-bound Broncos.”
Idaho hopes the truth is somewhere in between after the Vandals’ first scrimmage of fall camp yesterday. On one side, there was a much-maligned defense that came through with 11 sacks, four quarterback hurries, two interceptions, and minus-nine yards allowed on the ground. On the other side, there was a very green offensive line that may have contributed to the defense’s big day. Despite throwing both picks, quarterback Nathan Enderle was 9-of-15 for 149 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown throw to Armauni Johnson. Leading the defense was linebacker JoJo Dickson with seven tackles, two sacks and an interception.
New Idaho Stampede coach Randy Livingston has himself a staff. Livingston has added Joel Abelson and Greg Minor to his bench for the upcoming season. Abelson has become a regular, as he worked under Bob MacKinnon last season and Bryan Gates the season before. Abelson will be the associate head coach. Minor comes to Boise after assisting with the D-League’s Bakersfield Jam last season and the Tulsa 66ers in 2008-09. The former Louisville standout also played five seasons in the NBA.
New Idaho Steelheads coach Hardy Sauter missed out on Evan Barlow and is still waiting on Tyler Spurgeon, but all in all he’s doing pretty well re-signing players from last season’s ECHL National Conference championship team. Sauter has forwards Adam Huxley and Matt McKnight aboard, the seventh and eighth guys to sign for the upcoming season. McKnight will be entering his third season with the Steelheads after being picked up from Las Vegas almost two years ago. Huxley scored 21 points and piled up 210 penalty minutes in his first season with the Steelies. He’s going into his eighth year as a pro.
There’s one local tie in the 2010 PGA Championship, teeing off today at Whistling Straits in Kohler, WI, as Capital High grad Mitch Lowe is in the field. Lowe’s been gone a long time, though. After graduating in 1985, he went on to University of the Pacific and has been in California ever since. He’ll be representing Del Rio Country Club in Modesto. Lowe is a three-time Northern California PGA Player of the Year; he also played in last year’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine. If I’m not mistaken, Mitch’s grandfather, Walt, was Boise State’s radio play-by-play announcer before Paul J. Schneider in the early 1970’s.
It was the Boise Hawks who got the silver platter treatment last night, benefitting from four Tri-City errors in a 4-3 win over the Dust Devils at Memorial Stadium. The Hawks have been finding ways to lose the past three weeks—they came into the game enduring a five-game losing streak. But they held on, helped by a perfect eighth inning thrown by Centennial High product Jordan Latham and a perfect ninth from Aaron Kurcz, who picked up his fifth save. Northwest League batting leader Alvaro Ramirez went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. Ramirez’s average is now .381.
I’d be flogged if I didn’t mention the North Boise Little League All-Stars. A gal who works for me has a son on the team, Evan Escobar, and she called yesterday with an update from the Little League West Regionals in San Bernardino. The Idaho state champs beat Laramie, Wyoming, 17-2, helped by two home runs by Josu Bieter (the mayor’s nephew). Now comes the meaty stuff—North Boise is into the semifinals on ESPN2 at 3PM today. The opponent is Beaverton, Oregon, a team the Boiseans lost to earlier in the week, 7-1.
This Day In Sports…August 12, 1978:
In one of the NFL’s most frightening moments, New England wide receiver Darryl Stingley is paralyzed after being tackled by Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum in an exhibition game. Tatum professed it to be a clean hit, but his style of play was widely scrutinized for the rest of his career. Tatum died just two weeks ago—without ever apologizing to the family of Stingley, who passed away in 2007.
(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.)