Monday, June 11, 2012.
It was two years ago today—just two years ago today—that Boise State accepted an invitation to the Mountain West Conference. It is truly stunning what has happened since then (and it ain’t over yet). How was the news received on June 11, 2010? It was seen as the culmination of a seven-year effort by university president Bob Kustra to get the Broncos into the Mountain West, a landmark day for a school that had been in Division I-A for only 14 years. The goal had been reached. Well, a year from now Boise State will have 19 days left in their brief Mountain West era, as the Big East beckons the football program, while the Broncos non-football sports cross their fingers that the Big West will beckon.
Consider how crazy the speculation was two years ago. There were rumblings of Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State helping create a Pac-16 and blowing up the Big 12. Colorado had already announced its move, but Utah hadn’t quite left the Mountain West yet. So some inside the MW envisioned giving Iowa State and Kansas State a landing place to create a 12-team league. With Boise State, BYU, TCU and Utah already in the fold, it would be a BCS automatic-qualifying layup. But, of course, Utah went to the expanded Pac-12, the Big 12 survived, BYU decided to go independent late that summer, TCU announced a move to the Big East that never happened (trumped by an eventual Big 12 move), and Boise State was scooped up by the Big East. Feel free to pinch yourself when it’s over. Whenever that is.
Three of Boise State’s first four commitments for the 2013 recruiting class were from Idaho. You had Fruitland stars Joey Martarano and Alec Dhaenens and Rocky Mountain offensive lineman Eli McCullough. But now the Broncos have gone back into Texas, with Scout.com reporting a verbal Friday from offensive lineman Andrew Tercek from East Central High in San Antonio. Tercek was on campus for an unofficial visit Friday and committed by the end of the day. The 6-3, 285-pounder is the Broncos’ first verbal from Texas after landing six from the Lone Star state in the 2012 class.
Michigan State quarterbacks coach Dave Warner sounded like he could be talking about Joe Southwick when discussing Spartan QB Andrew Maxwell on Idaho SportsTalk Friday. Like Southwick, Maxwell is a fourth-year junior who’s been backing up a program stalwart—in this case, MSU star Kirk Cousins. And, if Southwick gets the Boise State job, Maxwell will make his starting debut against his Bronco counterpart on August 31. “He’s paid his dues,” said Warner of Maxwell. “He’s been a great backup. He knows how to prepare—he knows how to practice, so hopefully he’ll be able to step in and do a good job.” Maxwell is 29-of-51 in his career for 294 yards and a touchdown. Southwick is 40-of-54 for 400 yards and two TDs with one interception.
The 5th annual Ironman 70.3 Boise will be remembered for two bizarre things. First, when the blue-skinned athletes emerged from frigid Lucky Peak into what was then 44-degree air, the bike portion of the race was shortened from 56 to 15 miles. That made it the Ironman 29.3 Boise. Then at the finish line, not even a photo could separate the two men who broke the tape together, and it was declared a tie between New Zealand natives Marty Reed and Callum Millward (although the race website has Millward first and Reed second). Boise’s Kevin Everett finished sixth, 3½ minutes behind the co-champions. On the women’s side, Great Britain’s Jody Swallow dominated the competition, winning by more than two minutes.
Here’s hoping the Boise race, quirks and all, can strike a new deal and continue on next June. It’s a treasured regional commodity—one of only five Ironman 70.3 events in the West. There are 53 competitions in the series worldwide this year. It would be nice as we move forward if everyone kept his or her stories straight. One report said the Ironman 70.3 Boise was shortened Saturday “because of snow on portions of the bike course.” Uh, okay.
Kurt Felix’s national championship in the decathlon earned Boise State 10 points at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. So, in case you’re wondering, the Broncos finished tied for 29th in the team competition. Meanwhile, BSU’s Emma Bates didn’t score team points but was 12th Saturday in the women’s 5,000 meters, getting second-team All-America honors as a result. Bates led all freshmen in the event and became the first Bronco woman to notch outdoor track and field All-America honors in eight years.
Hailey’s Ryan Casey had “home rapids advantage” and won the inaugural North Fork Championship Saturday on the Payette River above Banks. The tortuous whitewater of Jacob’s Ladder tested a highly-touted field of world class kayakers, drawing hundreds of spectators along Highway 55. The 35-year-old Casey has been running the North Fork since he was 19 and also counts descents in Nepal, Peru and Russia among his paddling highlights. Casey tamed all of Jacob’s Ladder’s imposing features, such as Ocean Wave, Rock Drop, Taffey Puller and Golf Course.
One former Boise Hawk we haven’t checked yet this spring has been a steadying force on Boston’s mostly discombobulated pitching staff. But now lefthander Rich Hill is on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow strain, almost exactly a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Hill had been solid out of the bullpen, posting a 1-0 record and 2.63 ERA since being activated at the end of April. Hill, a Boston native, has split time between the majors and minors in his three seasons in the Red Sox organization after a nightmarish 2009 in Baltimore that saw him slog through with 7.80 ERA. When he’s been in the bigs with Boston he’s been good, registering a 1.58 ERA overall. Just goes to show you never know—Hill didn’t look so good when he played his first pro season with the Hawks, going 0-2 with an 8.36 ERA in 2001.
This Day In Sports…June 11, 1997, 15 years ago today:
Without question, the most courageous performance in the legendary career of Michael Jordan. Severely weakened by the flu, a glassy-eyed and dehydrated M.J. pours in 38 points to lead the Chicago Bulls past the Utah Jazz, 90-88, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at the Delta Center. The lasting image of that night is Scottie Pippen propping up Jordan as he left the court at the end of the game. The win positioned the Bulls to close out the series in six games back home at the United Center.
(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.)