Friday, July 30, 2010.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson implores the remaining schools in the conference to use departing Boise State as inspiration. “All eight schools are in a better spot than where Boise State was in 2001 (when it joined the WAC),” said Benson Monday during his state of the conference address. But really—how many are in that position? In ’01, the Broncos were coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons and Big West championships, each accompanied by Humanitarian Bowl victories. They had the momentum in attendance and, consequently, revenue and support as their train got rolling. No other league institution has all those ingredients currently working for it.
But just for the sake of argument, let’s single out one school that could make a significant leap. Not to “next Boise State” elevation, but to the upper echelon of the new makeup of the WAC. The team with the best chance is Utah State. The fact that USU was picked to finish fourth by WAC coaches this week was enlightening. The Aggies are regaining a recruiting foothold in their home state, they have stability in their coaching staff, and they’ve turned it around on offense behind quarterback Diondre Borel.
The next step (beyond a winning season) is developing an Aggie Nation in football. Coach Gary Andersen is well aware that there’s a blueprint right across the parking lot, where the student section at Utah State men’s basketball games creates one of the great home court scenes in the West. “If we win football games, you won’t be able to get a seat in (Romney Stadium),” said Andersen.
The Boise State-Virginia Tech game on Labor Day will mark the beginning of a new era at ESPN. It’ll be the first game in the network’s inaugural schedule of 3D college football broadcasts, with 13 contests selected from amongst the hundreds ESPN televises this season. The network says ESPN 3D is available in about 45 million homes. I don’t have it. If I did, would I wear special glasses for the privilege of having Ryan Winterswyk bull-rush into my living room? Yikes.
Ryan Clady has been placed on the Physically Unable To Perform/Non-Football Injury list by the Denver Broncos. Sounds complicated, but the short analysis would tell you that the team is making sure Clady, an All-Pro last year, is fully healed for the regular season. The former Boise State star tore the patellar tendon in his left knee in April while playing basketball and had surgery. At the time, it was said Clady would be out “three or four months.” Well, it’s been three months now—and it looks like it’ll be four.
Mike Iupati checks in with the San Francisco 49ers today in Santa Clara. And expectations could hardly be higher for the first round draft pick out of Idaho going into training camp. Already penciled in as the starter at left guard, the Niners are hoping Iupati’s run-blocking skills can segue from the Vandals to the NFL. The 49ers had trouble in their mid-range running game (gains of 5-10 yards) last year, leaving tailback Frank Gore itching to run behind a user-friendly offensive line. DeMaundray Woolridge was devastating on mid-range runs for Idaho last season, and the key was the 6-5, 330-pound Iupati.
A week ago things were looking pretty good for the Boise Hawks. Not so now, as the Hawks succumbed for the seventh time in a row last night, losing to Vancouver 3-1 at Memorial Stadium. Five Canadians pitchers held the Hawks to six hits, with Alvaro Ramirez the only player to collect two on the night. Ramirez also scored Boise’s only run. Thing is, three Hawks pitchers limited Vancouver to five hits. A pair of run-scoring singles off Eric Jokisch in the sixth inning spelled the difference. The Hawks and Canadians play the third of their five-game series tonight.
With a lot of Cubs fans wondering if Ryne Sandberg might be the heir apparent to Lou Piniella as manager, we hear that there are four players named Ryne (all after Sandberg) active in minor league baseball right now. One of them is Ryne Reynoso, who was born in Sun Valley and was an all-state player for Wood River High School, where he graduated in 2003. Reynoso went on to Boston College, then was a 26th round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2006. He made it to Triple-A last year and was there this season before being traded to the Red Sox organization earlier this month. Reynoso is in long-season Class A right now, waiting for a Triple-A spot to open up in Pawtucket.
Idaho Steelheads players will have a defined ladder to climb again this year, as the organization has extended affiliation agreements with the NHL’s Dallas Stars and AHL’s Texas Stars through this season. While this will be the second year for this combination of teams, the Steelies’ relationship with Dallas dates back to the WCHL days. But the affiliation with Texas has given Steelheads a direct route to the NHL. Those Stars are based in Austin, just a hop, skip and jump away from the big club. So guys get noticed.
Ron Ptacek called it the thrill of a lifetime—and he held up well in the first round of the U.S. Senior Open yesterday. The Boise pro carded a two-over-72 at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish outside Seattle. Ptacek is six shots off the lead. We’re assuming they’re pronouncing his name correctly up there. Boise’s other entrant, Indian Lakes pro Jeff Thomsen, came in with a five-over-75.
This Day In Sports…July 30, 1959:
Future Hall of Famer Willie McCovey makes a dramatic debut in the major leagues when he goes 4-for-4 with two triples against another future Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts, to spark the San Francisco Giants to a 7-2 win over the Phillies at old Seals Stadium. McCovey would play in only 52 games that season due to his late call-up, but he’d hit his first 13 home runs and be voted the National League Rookie of the Year. After 508 more homers, McCovey retired midway through the 1980 season.
(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.)