(Tom Scott’s column will return Friday, July 6.)
Thursday, June 28, 2012.
Great timing for a vacation, Tom. Everything’s probably going to break loose in conference-a-palooza over the next week. This is what we know right now, though. If Boise State moves ahead with its switch to the Big East in football and gives the Mountain West its one-year notice by Saturday night at midnight, it looks like the Broncos will do so without knowing for certain where their non-football sports will land. Mark Patton, brother of BSU tennis coach Greg Patton and longtime columnist for the Santa Barbara News-Press, says the Big West didn’t take a vote on Boise State’s prospective membership in a conference call Tuesday, primarily because the league didn’t perceive there to be enough “yes” votes…yet. “There’s some financial things still up in the air, and that’s delayed it from happening,” Patton said yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk.
“There are enough (Big West presidents) out there who want them to pay a ransom,” said Patton. That means travel subsidies and then some. “There’s a little arm-twisting going on—a little politicking going on.” Patton sees those in Boise State’s corner wanting progress for the Big West, characterizing them as “the league needs to shed its ‘bus league’ image” group. Then there’s the other side that doesn’t see any sense in adding the Broncos. “They only need three naysayers on it to kill it,” noted Patton. Eight of the 10 Big West presidents need to approve Boise State as a conference member.
Those years spent protecting Kellen Moore in the Boise State backfield are paying off for Doug Martin. Pass protection was the most underappreciated part of Martin’s game as a Bronco, often going unnoticed. Not so in Tampa Bay. Josh Alper of NBC Sports.com says Martin is looking more and more like the Ray Rice-type of back that Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano craves. “Martin has flashed skills as a runner, receiver and pass blocker, the last of which is a skill he needs to have in his arsenal to stay on the field as much as Schiano hopes,” writes Alper. Bucs running backs coach Ernest Byner says pass blocking is the key for Martin, Tampa Bay’s first-round draft pick. “The thing that (rookies) struggle with most of the time is pass protection and especially nickel pass protection,” said Byner. But I don’t think that’s going to be an issue with him.”
BYU held its 2012 Football Media Day all by its lonesome yesterday. That’s the way the Cougars like it as they enter their second season as a football independent. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has established the Top 10 as BYU’s goal this season, although unlike recent years he didn’t harp on making it to a BCS bowl or playing for the national championship. "Certainly, this team is capable of finishing in the top 10," Mendenhall said. The Cougars serve as opponents in Boise State’s biggest home game of the season when they visit the blue turf for an ESPN telecast Thursday, September 20. BYU hosts Idaho in Provo on November 10. Elsewhere, TCU will officially become a member of the Big 12 Saturday night at midnight and is celebrating with a party at Rodeo Plaza in Fort Worth. The Frogs expect it to be hoppin’.
The College of Idaho wasn’t expecting its invitation from the Frontier Conference for a while, but it came yesterday, and the Coyotes are in. C of I, restoring its football program after 35 years of dormancy, will join the Frontier as a football-only member in the 2014 season. At that time it will be a nine-team league. Before the Yotes dropped football following the 1977 season, they played games against Frontier Conference members Carroll College, Eastern Oregon, Montana Tech, Montana Western, Rocky Mountain and Southern Oregon. The College of Idaho compiled a 32-13 record against those teams.
As the Boise Hawks return home tonight, one thing I’ve always liked about them is that they’re the Boise Hawks. Not the Idaho Hawks. It’s probably just me, but I like city names on pro sports teams. I think the name change in Florida this year that morphed its big league team into the Miami Marlins is awesome. I grew up as a San Francisco Warriors fan in the 1960’s, and when they became “Golden State” in 1971, I was underwhelmed (that’s the worst moniker of all). The Warriors are supposed to move back to San Francisco in 2017. However, said co-owner Joe Lacob, "It's the Golden State Warriors and it's going to remain the Golden State Warriors for the foreseeable future and maybe forever." Lacob said later, "It comes down to what the fans want." C’mon fans. I actually wish it was the Boise Stampede and the Boise Steelheads, too. But that’s just me.
The Hawks hope home cookin’ is better than whatever that bitter-tasting stuff was on the road. Spokane finished off a sweep of the Hawks at Avista Stadium yesterday, scoring five unearned runs in the second inning and cruising to a 6-2 victory. Boise scored only four runs in the three games and fell to 1-7 on the road this season. As quiet as the Hawks’ bats seem, they’re third in the Northwest League in hitting. Their team average is only .236, though—it’s a weak year at the plate so far in the league. The Hawks and Indians are in Boise now to open a three-game series at Memorial Stadium tonight.
Spokane pitching coach Ryan O’Malley had perhaps the most curious major league career of any former Boise Hawk. It lasted exactly one week in August of 2006. O’Malley was hurriedly called up by the Cubs the day after they had gone 18 innings and was thrust into a start against Houston. In that debut, O’Malley threw eight shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over Andy Pettitte and the Astros. O’Malley got a second start six days later, going 4 2/3 innings before leaving with a strained left elbow. He went on the disabled list—and never made it back to the majors again. O'Malley was a member of the Hawks’ rotation during their 2002 championship season, going 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA.
Speaking of Andy Pettitte, his comeback season with the Yankees was put on hold yesterday when he took a lined shot off the bat of Cleveland’s Casey Kotchman. Pettitte broke his fibula and is expected to be out for six weeks. We call Kotchman an “honorary former Hawk,” as he spent summers in Boise growing up in the 1990’s while his dad Tom was managing the Hawks. Casey is batting .227 this season for the Indians, his sixth big league team.
One day it’s the Nationwide Tour, the next day it’s the Web.com Tour. The PGA Tour yesterday made an immediate change in its title sponsor for the circuit that includes the Albertsons Boise Open, announcing a 10-year agreement with Web.com. It’s good timing for the company—beginning next season, the Web.com Tour will be the top vehicle for advancement to the PGA Tour. So, former Boise State standout Troy Merritt tees off this morning on the Web.com Tour in the United Leasing Championship near Evansville, IN. On the big tour, Graham DeLaet continues play on his major medical exemption at the AT&T National in Bethesda, MD.
This Day In Sports…June 28, 1957:
Baseball commissioner Ford Frick removes three Cincinnati Reds from the starting lineup of the All-Star Game after it’s determined fans in Cincinnati stuffed the ballot box. Frick inserted St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Stan Musial, New York Giants outfielder Willie Mays, and Milwaukee Braves outfielder Hank Aaron into the starting lineup. Funny, these days teams encourage fans to stuff the ballot box in All-Star voting.
(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.)