Friday, April 6, 2012.
There have been complaints about “The mtn.” network ever since it went on the air in 2006. Fans of Mountain West schools either didn’t have access to it, didn’t want to pay for it, or were dissatisfied watching it. But it did provide a service—and now it’s on the way out. John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal Daily reports “The mtn.” is shutting down effective May 31. NBC Universal/Comcast told the Mountain West it has decided to end distribution of the network June 1, although the conference is said to be close to finalizing a deal with CBS Sports Network for football and basketball in the upcoming athletic year. At least that will improve exposure if it works out—CBSSN is available in 45 million homes, and “The mtn.” just 13 million. Here’s hoping CBS tightens its up-camera shots so the players don’t look like little bitty ants.
Just based on what coach Chris Petersen said about spring football in his press conference this week, you can pencil in your own first-team for the Boise State defensive line. “Demarcus Lawrence is showing up—Sam Ukwuachu is showing up,” said Petersen. There are your defensive ends. Lawrence is that Bronco rarity, a junior college transfer ticketed for a specific need. Ukwuachu is a redshirt freshman who was one of those Texas plums in the 2011 recruiting class. And Petersen had this: “Mike Atkinson is in as good as shape as I’ve ever seen him.” There’s one of your tackles. “If (all the seniors) take the next step like Mike, we’ll be okay,” Petersen said. Atkinson has pulled a Titus Young in getting back in the good graces of the coaching staff. The other tackle? I’m thinking Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe.
The Broncos have a group of interesting onlookers during spring ball this week. For the fifth year, Hosei University of Tokyo has sent a contingent of coaches and players to watch practice and pick the brains of the Boise State coaching staff. The relationship was established in 2008 through the BSU College of Education via a sister university program. The Hosei Tomahawks have learned well from the Broncos, advancing last December to the Japanese collegiate semifinals. Their colors happen to be blue and orange, and they’re completing a new training facility at their campus that will include a blue practice turf with orange end zones to commemorate the relationship with Boise State.
There’s never been a pre-draft ramp-up like this one for Boise State’s NFL prospects, and Doug Martin and Shea McClellin remain in the forefront. On the heels of his workout with the Cleveland Browns, Martin has sessions scheduled with the Rams and Cowboys. James Carlton of CBSSports.com reports that the Packers have shown “significant interest” in McClellin, citing a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story.
One stat that stood out in Idaho’s first scrimmage of spring football last Saturday was six sacks allowed. Developing the offensive line is just as important to the Vandals as identifying a new starting quarterback this season. The process will continue tomorrow morning as Idaho hits scrimmage No. 2. Gone are starting tackles Matt Cleveland and Tyrone Novikoff and guard Sam Tupua. The Vandals do have first-string center Mike Marboe back, but he’s having to spend time getting into rhythm with quarterback Dominique Blackman. Twice during last Saturday’s scrimmage Marboe and Blackman fumbled the exchange on the snap, and the defense recovered. Marboe and Blackman have been spending a lot of quality time together since.
The Kelly Cup Playoffs move to Southern California tonight for the Idaho Steelheads and the Ontario Reign. The Steelheads have to win two of three games down there to keep their season alive. We’ll find out tonight how hot hockey is in Ontario, as teams have to re-sell their arenas from scratch in the postseason—no season tickets, no advance group sales to help out. The Steelies, having to deal with mid-week playoff dates as well, drew only 1,823 for Game 1, with the crowd improving to 2,916 in Game 2 at 5,000-seat CenturyLink Arena. The Reign led the ECHL in average attendance this season at 6,308 fans per game.
The Idaho Stampede go into the final weekend of the season wondering what this campaign really means. The Stampede haven’t had a winning season since coach Bryan Gates left for the NBA three years ago. The organization put a lot of emphasis on making the D-League Playoffs this season after missing last year by just one game. The Stamps missed badly this season, sitting in last place in the West Conference entering the games against the Bakersfield Jam tonight and tomorrow night. Coach Randy Livingston may find himself at a crossroads, especially if the Stampede find a hybrid agreement with an NBA team that would demand that club’s system be instituted.
As nine more season openers unfold today, we find 20 former Boise Hawks on Opening Day major league rosters. Included are former Boise teammates from the 2008 season who are poised to become the 91st and 92nd former Hawks to make the show—Ryan Flaherty is with Baltimore, and Marwin Gonzalez is suiting up for Houston. Three Hawks alums to watch are up-and-comers who have new homes this season: Andrew Cashner in San Diego, Tyler Colvin in Colorado and Sean Marshall in Cincinnati. Marshall pitched a scoreless ninth in the Reds’ 4-0 win over Miami yesterday.
Other Boise State campus notes: the Bronco men’s tennis team, featuring reigning Mountain West Player of the Week Nathan Sereke, hosts Air Force and Weber State tomorrow. BSU is coming off a mild upset of Fresno State last weekend and is working on a 22-match home winning streak. And tomorrow is big-big-big for the Boise State women’s gymnastics team. The Broncos compete in the NCAA Regionals in Fayetteville, AR, with a trip to nationals on the line. In 25 previous regional appearances, BSU has never advanced to the NCAA Championships. The closest the Broncos have come was last year, when they missed by just 25-thousandths of a point.
This Day In Sports…April 6, 1987, 25 years ago today:
At Caesar’s Palace, in his first fight in three years, 30-year-old Sugar Ray Leonard goes into his WBC middleweight title bout against “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler as a 3-1 underdog. But Leonard was declared the winner of the 12-round event on a split decision, upping his record to 34-1. Hagler suffered his first loss in 11 years and angrily protested the judges’ decision.
(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.)