Thursday, February 25, 2010.
Three somersaults and five twists. That’s almost the easy part for Jeret Peterson in his “Hurricane” jump. All will be well if his skis land squarely on the snow tonight in the men’s aerials final at the Winter Olympics. The general consensus is: if Speedy hits it, he’ll have a gold medal. Then all the pain of Italy in 2006, and the friend’s suicide he witnessed in Park City, and his former substance demons will take a back seat to the national acclaim and adulation he’ll experience as a champion. But if Speedy doesn’t get the gold—even if he doesn’t medal, like in Salt Lake and Torino—he’s done it his way. He wants to earn it tonight. If it doesn’t work out, Peterson can’t ever say he didn’t try. He’ll still be one of the most popular Olympians ever to come out of the state of Idaho.
Peterson will see plenty of familiar foes at Cypress Mountain. Speedy won the World Cup title in 2005—he’s joined in the finals by four-time World Cup champion Steve Omischl of Canada and fellow American Ryan St. Onge, the 2009 World Cup champ. But Peterson has a good luck charm that arrived in Vancouver yesterday. In an interview with KTVB’s Mark Johnson this week, Speedy said he’d love an autographed jersey from Coach Pete. Chris Petersen obliged, shipping up a Boise State jersey with Jeret’s favorite number, 21, and “Speedy” on the back. He also received an orange Bronco football T-shirt which he hinted he would wear under his ski gear tonight.
Yes, Justin Wilcox is in the money. The former Boise State defensive coordinator, who made almost $225,000 at Boise State last year, has a three-year deal for $600,000 a year as the new D-coordinator at Tennessee, according to WBIR-TV in Knoxville. A single guy can live very comfortably on that back there. The Volunteers had the highest payroll for assistant coaches in the country last season. With the transition to Derek Dooley’s staff (and a little common economic sense thrown in after the one-year Lane Kiffin era), the salary total is dropping in 2010. But it’s still expected that Tennessee’s assistants will remain among the top five highest-paid. Dooley has a six-year contract at $1.8 million per after making $405,000 at Louisiana Tech.
With Boise State’s Kyle Wilson and Idaho’s Mike Iupati getting acclimated in Indianapolis, here’s another WAC star to watch at the NFL Combine. Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews gets this analysis from NFL Draft expert Russ Lande in the Sporting News: “Mathews, a first-year starter as a junior in ’09, lost playing time to other backs late in the season. He has the body and athletic ability to excel, especially for a team seeking a sledgehammer inside back. He will become a complete player who lacks Pro Bowl-caliber speed and ability, but he should have a solid career. Mathews has the chance to play right away on third down because of his ability to pass protect.” Lande projects Mathews as a second-round pick.
A very symmetrical and satisfying win last night for the Idaho Steelheads. Scoring a pair of goals in each period, the Steelheads blew past the Alaska Aces 6-2 in Qwest Arena. After Mark McCutcheon notched both tallies in the first period, the Steelies spread the wealth, with Ashton Rome, Tyler Spurgeon, Mark Derlago and Evan Barlow all getting on the board. McCutcheon assisted on two of his compadres’ goals to finish with a four-point night. Justin Johnson, who played 12 games for Idaho in 2006-07, was a little feisty in the contest. He picked up two fighting majors for tangling with Steelheads, the second one with four seconds left in the game. The Steelies improved to 6-1-1 against the Aces this season, with two more games in the series coming up tomorrow and Saturday.
The task continues to be thankless for the Boise State men’s basketball team tonight. Coming off their most disheartening loss of the season, the Broncos face the WAC’s surprise team, Louisiana Tech, in Ruston. Things are not as smooth for the Bulldogs now as they were in the early going when they raced out to a 17-2 start. They’re now 21-6 (8-4 in conference)—they did handle BSU easily in Taco Bell Arena last month, 79-64. La Tech already has secured its winningest season in eight years.
Idaho took a 74-57 thumping at New Mexico State last night, and the game on ESPN2 wasn’t that close, with the Aggies raining 12 three-pointers upon the visitors. The loss drops the Vandals to 4-9 in the WAC, but there’s still enough separation at the bottom of the standings to ensure them a spot in the WAC Tournament in two weeks. The battle to avoid last place is left to be decided between Hawaii and Boise State, who play each other March 4.
It was a heartbreaking ending to a sour season last night for the College of Idaho. In the first round of the Cascade Conference Tournament, the Coyotes lost 64-63 to Oregon Tech, NAIA Division II’s second-ranked team and the conference’s regular season champion. The Coyotes thus fall short of double-digit wins for the first time in 31 years—they finish the season 9-17.
Among the former Boise Hawks on the shelf in spring training is Cubs pitcher Angel Guzman, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery three weeks ago. Guzman is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season, though. The 28-year-old righthander was one of the Cubs’ best relievers in 2009, posting a 3-3 record with a 2.95 ERA in 55 appearances. Guzman was the Hawks’ ace in 2001, going 9-1 with a 2.23 ERA, numbers that eclipsed even those of Dontrelle Willis that year.
This Day In Sports…February 25, 1964:
In Miami Beach, 21-year-old Cassius Clay shocks the world by dethroning heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Displaying lightning-quick feet and hands, the brash young boxer kept the powerful Liston frustrated for six rounds. Claiming a shoulder injury, Liston didn’t come out for the seventh, relinquishing his crown. It was a big weekend in Miami—the Beatles were also in town during the first visit to America to make their second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
(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.)