Wednesday, June 30, 2010.
I did something for fun back on April 22. Obviously, I thought something would happen in conference realignment, but I was as off-base as anyone else. Let’s revisit the paragraph word-for-word:
“With Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany saying yesterday that the conference's timetable for possible expansion is still 12 to 18 months, let’s do this: we’ll put a note in the future file for Wednesday, June 30, to see if anything has changed. It’s more unlikely than ever that anything will develop by then in the Mountain West. At the BCS meetings in Scottsdale, BCS executive director Bill Hancock acknowledged for the first time that the Mountain West has accomplished enough in recent years to merit consideration as an automatic qualifier to the BCS bowls in 2012 and 2013. That would seem to support commissioner Craig Thompson’s contention that the MWC doesn’t necessarily need Boise State to reach the BCS promised land.”
Three days later, on April 25, the Statesman’s Brian Murphy wrote his detailed column headlined, “Boise State's door to the Mountain West is closing.” Seemed like a reasoned piece. But then, on May 14, came the famous tweet from Joe Schad of ESPN.com that said, “Two people close to situation said MWC more likely than not to offer membership in June.” And that’s all anybody talked about the next four weeks. Still hard to believe it’s all come to pass.
The WAC has made it official: expansion will not happen soon. The league will stand at eight schools after Boise State leaves—at least through the 2011-12 athletic season. The WAC Board of Directors talked by conference call yesterday for the fourth time since the Broncos’ departure was announced June 11. It’s going to take time for North Texas to analyze its situation; the Mean Green would have to inform the Sun Belt today if it was going to move a year from now. And UNT seems hungry for Conference USA. The rest of the possible candidates are FCS (Division I-AA) schools. And they couldn’t move up for two years anyway due to the NCAA moratorium. Montana, the only real desirable option, hasn’t assembled its task force yet.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson has also made this official: “A 12-team league that would allow the WAC to split into divisions and conduct a football championship game will be evaluated." I don’t see that as good news. That would probably necessitate the conference to dip into the California FBS ranks and pick up schools that are unlikely to be able to drum up the financial commitment necessary. It would seriously water down the WAC.
At the annual College Football Kickoff Luncheon in Colorado Springs, attended by most of the state’s key honchos, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson revealed how he’s leaning for Boise State’s schedule in 2011. Thompson told the gathering the Broncos would probably, as speculated, slip right into the conference game rotation currently assigned to Utah. That would mean home games against Air Force, New Mexico, San Diego State and Wyoming—and away games at BYU, Colorado State, TCU and UNLV. The Cougars and the Horned Frogs on the road right out of the gate? I guess that’s the price you pay for the big move.
One of the first goals of an undrafted free agent in the NFL is to make it to training camp. Some players we think of as good ones don’t. Former Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky got to camp with Houston three years ago but was cut before July two years ago by Pittsburgh. Former Bronco wideout Jeremy Childs left school early for the NFL, went unpicked in the draft, and was released before camp last year by San Diego. Former Idaho standout DeMaundray Woolridge has now experienced that disappointment, as he was cut yesterday by St. Louis. Woolridge sure got it done as a Vandal last year, rushing for 979 yards and 18 touchdowns. He could still be picked up by another club, as former Nevada wide receiver Marko Mitchell was by Minnesota Tuesday after being let go in Detroit.
Nevada’s looking for info like that to take its collective mind off the university’s athletic department deficit of $1 million. Nevada has lost a good share of its state-appropriated funds—that on top of a 20 percent drop in men’s basketball attendance, and the Wolf Pack’s ongoing big enchilada, the lack of fans at football games. Nevada averaged only 17,500 per game last season in Mackay Stadium, 101st out of the 120 teams in the FBS. "There's where we can make this up, in football attendance," Wolf Pack athletic director Cary Groth told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "We've had a really aggressive sales plan with our football season-ticket plans." But Pack football faces the same problem Bronco basketball did last season: you can’t make fans go if they don’t want to. Boise State has taken corrective measures. Nevada?
Fancy that—the Boise Hawks have won three games in a row after dropping Eugene last night, 5-2. With the victory, the Hawks have moved into first place in the Northwest League East Division for the first time since Opening Night in 2008. The Emeralds scored both of their runs in the first inning on a two-run homer and nursed the 2-0 lead through the early stages of the contest. The Hawks finally got to reigning Northwest League Pitcher of the Week Matt Lollis in the fourth inning, scoring four runs with two outs. With the bases loaded, Alvaro Ramirez cleared them with a triple. Then Pierre LePage drove in Ramirez with a single, and that’s all Boise needed. The five-game series in Eugene wraps up tonight.
This Day In Sports…June 30, 1998:
On an historic final day of June, all three sluggers pursuing Roger Maris’ 1961 single-season home run record blast round-trippers. As it turned out, only one of the players was legit. The Cardinals’ Mark McGwire hit his 37th homer, the most ever hit before July and equaling the 1969 record of Oakland’s Reggie Jackson for most homers by the All-Star break. The Cubs’ Sammy Sosa recorded his 33rd homer and his record 20th for one month. And in the Kingdome, Ken Griffey Jr. belted his American League-leading 33rd home run.
(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.)