Wednesday, February 24, 2010.
If you think that LeGarrette Blount’s infamous knockdown of Boise State’s Byron Hout on Opening Night last September has been relegated to college football history, well, it’s still a current event. At least the national media are on it again after four arrests of Oregon players in the past three weeks. Matt Hayes of the Sporting News traces coach Chip Kelly’s current chaos with the Ducks to his reinstatement of Blount in November. “The Oregon football program wouldn't be in this situation,” writes Hayes. “It wouldn't be analyzed and scrutinized and ripped and ridiculed; and yes, maybe it wouldn't even be dealing with this offseason nightmare of players gone wild. The fine line of personal accountability and responsibility was all but eliminated for every Ducks player.”
John Canzano of the Oregonian, never one to mince words, compares Kelly to the state’s other FBS coach, Oregon State’s Mike Riley, who will visit the blue turf this fall. “Anyone who followed the Jail Blazers era in Portland understood that Kelly was naive when he reinstated Blount and explained that it was a ‘human being’ decision. As if the human beings in the community in Eugene matter less than the ones who get first downs. And so we've arrived at the moment of truth for Kelly. What kind of program does he want to run?”
Canzano likens what’s happening now in Eugene to the crossroads Riley faced in Corvallis after the Dennis Erickson era at OSU. “Riley had to make a decision several years ago about whether he wanted to be part of the problem or the solution. And after some of his players assaulted a Guardsman, ripped off a cab driver and stole sheep while they drove around drunk he'd had enough. Riley cracked down, and the players shaped up. The hope here is that Kelly has had enough, too.”
Some good stuff’s been rolling out at SI.com. Andy Staples has unveiled his “2010 All Two-Star (And Fewer) Team,” meaning guys who were originally two-star recruits or lower and have since become major forces. “I figured (my) 2010 team would get much of its offensive production from Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore and Pittsburgh tailback Dion Lewis, who were widely hailed as diamonds in the rough,” writes Staples. “Except Moore and Lewis weren't that rough. Each was a three-star recruit.” But Bronco cornerback Brandyn Thompson, once a two-star signee, makes Staples’ squad. “Washington State was the only power-conference school to show interest in him,” writes Staples. “If you watched the Fiesta Bowl, you know Thompson. He intercepted two passes, including a pick-six to put the Broncos on the scoreboard.”
Two Oregon State players garnered “All Two-Star (And Fewer) Team” honors, wide receiver James Rodgers (Jaquizz’s brother) and walk-on Mike Remmer (zero stars), who started all 13 games at right tackle for the Beavers last season. And Staples already has a candidate for next year’s “All Two-Star (And Fewer) Team,” as OSU’s season-long starter at left guard, Grant Johnson, was also a walk-on. The Beavers’ ability to groom walk-ons shows that the Oregon State and Boise State philosophies are not far apart.
Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Insider has posted his top 50 Pre-Combine NFL Draft Board at SI.com, and Boise State’s Kyle Wilson is ranked No. 29. “Wilson capped off a good campaign in '09 with a terrific performance at the Senior Bowl,” writes Pauline. “He hopes to keep the momentum going with fast 40 times at the NFL Combine.” Wilson unofficially ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds during Boise State’s Junior Day last May. The Sporting News has a figure of 4.43 for Wilson.
Idaho’s Mike Iupati is the No. 18 player on Pauline’s board. “Iupati moves toward April as the highest-rated guard since Steve Hutchinson, whom Seattle selected with the 17th pick in the 2001 draft,” observes Pauline. “He offers outstanding physical skills and the ability to play in a variety of blocking systems.” Iupati begins his sessions of physicals and interviews at the Combine today.
As soon as the Idaho Steelheads started talking last week about positioning for the Kelly Cup Playoffs, they got a rude reminder about how much hockey is left in the regular season with a two-game sweep at the hands of the Ontario Reign. The Steelheads are seeking the first-round bye that goes to the top seed in the National Conference in the ECHL postseason. The Steelies look to reset their aim on that goal when they open a three-game series against Alaska tonight in Qwest Arena. They’ll have Evan Barlow back after almost three weeks on an AHL call-up. Barlow had collected 48 points in 37 games for the Steelheads, as well as ECHL All-Star Game MVP honors, before he left. You might budget a little extra time for tonight’s game, as the Aces are the league’s most penalized team—a whopping 1,253 penalty minutes.
U.S. bobsledder and Boise State grad Nick Cunningham was profiled in the Sporting News Today online edition, in the “What You Won’t Find On Facebook” Q & A feature. Cunningham’s bookmarks were TeamUSA.org and BroncoSports.com (that’ll make his alma mater happy). Boise is his “favorite city to visit,” and his “dream date” is Kellie Pickler. Okay, I had to look her up, too. She’s a star country singer. By the way, Cunningham is going to be elevated to driver next season with the retirement of Mike Kohn, for whom he was brakeman in the two-man competition. The former Bronco sprinter says he’s going to bring a bobsled to Boise and have everyone sign it—and then take it with him on the World Cup circuit next season. Meanwhile, Boise’s Sara Studebaker and the U.S. team finished 17th in the women’s biathlon 4x6 relay yesterday.
Former Boise Hawks pitcher Sergio Mitre has as good an opportunity as any in his major league career during spring training. New York Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland says Mitre will be in competition with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, among others, for the No. 5 spot in the Yanks rotation. Mitre was suspended 50 games at the beginning of last season after testing positive for a banned substance. But he reappeared last summer, temporarily taking Chien-Ming Wang’s spot in the Yankee rotation and going 3-3, albeit with a 6.79 ERA. Mitre was not active in the postseason. He was a starter on the Hawks staff that included Dontrelle Willis in 2001, the first year of the Cubs era in Boise.
This Day In Sports…February 24, 2001:
Two weeks after suspending operations, the Continental Basketball Association declares bankruptcy in the middle of its 55th season. The CBA had struggled after being purchased and later placed in a blind trust by former NBA star Isiah Thomas. The decision terminated the Idaho Stampede, whose original ownership had been trying for a month to step in and somehow save the franchise. But the financial stakes were way too high. When play was halted February 8, the Stampede at the time had the CBA’s best record at 17-7 and featured former Boise State star Roberto Bergersen.
(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.)