Tuesday, July 24, 2012.
(Tom Scott’s column will return Thursday.)
Mountain West Media Days begin today in Las Vegas, with some questions of interest. Will Boise State be a unanimous pick to win the conference? It seems to be a foregone conclusion that the media and coaches polls will have the Broncos on top. But there’s always a maverick out there somewhere. Athlon Sports, Lindy’s and Phil Steele already have BSU No. 1 in the Mountain West. But wait—just remembered this tweet last week from Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Just submitted my MW football ballot. Picked Fresno State. Can see Boise State winning, but Broncos lost a lot, including Kellen Moore.” Okay, Mark. But Fresno State? In a year when the Bulldogs travel to the blue turf? Where they’ve lost each of their last two games by 51 points?
How is it that Boise State is expected to be the pick to win, though, after those massive departures due to graduation? You can find a clue in the computer rankings, Sagarin in particular. In the Mountain West, 2011 ended with Boise State No. 6 and TCU No. 20 (and the Horned Frogs aren’t around anymore. Then it dropped all the way to San Diego State at No. 70 and Air Force at No. 72. You can plug in newly-arrived Nevada from the WAC; the Wolf Pack was rated 60th. Prognosticators figure the Broncos won't lose enough ground—and the rest of the conference won't gain enough ground—to keep BSU out of the top spot.
It’s fairly certain that the preseason Mountain West Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year won’t be Broncos. That goes hand-in-hand with the relative scarcity of Boise State representation this year on all-conference teams in the college football preview magazines. It’s going to be a chip-on-the-shoulder kind of season up and down the Bronco roster. There’s some sentiment for Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith getting a preseason POY nod, despite being a sophomore. Smith had an outstanding 2011 season, with the exception of a Thanksgiving weekend trip to Bronco Stadium. Fresno State linebacker Travis Brown would be an interesting pick on defense. Brown is the son of late Bulldog defensive coordinator Dan Brown, a member of Boise State’s 1980 Division I-AA national championship team.
Will Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson mention Boise State by name in his “State of the Conference” address tomorrow morning? Thompson has been pretty good at ignoring it since the Broncos finally turned in their one-year notice of departure from the MW. With the commish still probably chafed at Boise State rebuff of the conference’s sweetened deal in an effort to get BSU to stay—and the school’s reluctance to acknowledge that—my guess is he’ll give a warm, warm welcome to newcomers Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada, and sing the praises of new 2013 members San Jose State and Utah State.
Three more former Boise State stars report to NFL training camps today. Billy Winn, Cleveland’s sixth-round pick in April’s NFL Draft, checks in the Browns. Winn’s motor was questioned throughout his career with the Broncos. But when it was on, man was it on. That’s what the Browns are counting on. Cleveland drafted two defensive tackles this spring, with John Hughes of Cincinnati coming aboard in the third round. Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron says Hughes and Winn those two will compete against Scott Paxson and Brian Schaefering for a starting spot.
My count last week had 24 former Broncos in NFL camps, a record by far. Chadd Cripe of the Statesman lists 25. The guy I missed was linebacker Aaron Tevis, the undrafted free agent who reports today to the New Orleans Saints. Joining Tevis will be a player who preceded him at LB on the blue turf, Korey Hall. Now a fullback, Hall didn’t see much action at that spot last season after coming over from the Packers, playing mainly on special teams. The pride of Glenns Ferry may be at a crossroads going into hi sixth NFL season.
The Boise Hawks return home tonight against the team they faced in Memorial Stadium last week. There’s an interesting sidebar to this series: it’s the last time the Yakima Bears will ever play in Boise as the Yakima Bears. That franchise is slated to move to Hillsboro, OR, next year, although not all is hunky dory in that Portland-area city. The Bears’ owners aren’t kicking in any money for the planned new 4500-seat ballpark, and many over there think they should. The Oregonian says without a contribution from the team, “city taxpayers will pay about $1 million a year for 20 years to repay stadium bonds.”
It’s a big week at BanBury. The 40th annual Junior America’s Cup tees off today at the Eagle course. It’s a prestigious 17-team regional tournament chock full of high school-age players from some of golf’s hotbeds. But Idaho has won the event once, back in 1998. This year’s Idaho team consists of Eagle’s Colby Dean, Boise’s David Elliott, Boise’s Mark Brassey, and Twin Falls’ Kevin Miley. Northern California won the Cup last year in Evergreen, CO.
This Day In Sports…July 24, 1983:
With two out in the ninth inning, Kansas City’s George Brett hits a two-run homer off Yankees closer Goose Gossage. Yank manager Billy Martin argued that Brett’s bat had too much pine tar, and the umpires agreed—calling Brett out and ending the game with the Yankees apparently winning, 4-3. Brett went berserk, the Royals protested the game, and American League president Lee MacPhail ruled that Brett’s home run counted and the game should be resumed. Weeks later, the Royals held on to win the continuance, 5-4.
(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.)