Friday, July 6, 2012.
Yes, things were rather active in my absence. Boise State did elect to go the Big East route once and for all in football last Saturday. Now the Broncos await a Big West vote that’s supposed to take place by September to learn the fate of their non-football sports. San Diego State had been pushing the other Big West schools hard on Boise State’s behalf, apprehensive about the possibility that BSU would stay in the Mountain West and leave the Aztecs on a football island. But does it matter to San Diego State now? The Aztecs have their Western partner in the Big East. You’d think that if the Big West had the Broncos over a barrel before, it would be the Snake River Canyon now. UC Santa Barbara athletic director Mark Massari has said it’s 50-50 that Boise State will get in. It has to be 80-20, as eight of the 10 Big West presidents need to vote yes.
With the move to the Mountain West last year, Boise State saw the end (at least for a long time) of its biggest football rivalry. With the move to the Big East next year, will two more big rivalries go on long-term hiatus? Nevada and Fresno State would have to be non-conference opponents, as they were last season. The Wolf Pack may have one opening on its non-league schedule each of the next two years (perhaps two in 2014 due to the Hawaii exemption). The Bulldogs are almost fully-booked themselves. Then there’s Boise State, which looks to be full next season, with one opening in 2014. Fresno State’s locale smack in the middle of California and Reno’s proximity to the state are important, considering the number of Bronco players who hail from there. This season will mark the first time since 2000 Boise State hasn’t played a game in California.
SI.com is running a photo gallery of “College Football Teams That Could Have Benefited from a Playoff (Last 50 Years)” on its college football homepage. And you know who’s among them. SI.com pretty much tells it like it is. “Chris Petersen and the Broncos have become the model for the non-BCS team that never gets a shot. In 2006, Boise State was seen predominantly as a good team in an easy conference until it shocked Oklahoma, 43-42, in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The cries grew louder in 2009, as both Boise State and TCU were undefeated and seemingly worthy contenders for the national title. Instead, the BCS pitted them against one another, quashing any speculation about how smaller-conference teams could compete with the major conferences.”
Ah, the life and times of the five-star recruit. A year ago, the hype surrounding the Boise State-Georgia game was punctuated by Isaiah Crowell, the top-rated running back recruit in the country who was about to put on a Bulldog Pro Combat uniform. Now, with Crowell kicked off the Georgia squad last week following his arrest on felony weapons charges, it appears he has transferred to Alabama State, an FCS school. In the meantime, Crowell has retained a high-profile Atlanta criminal defense attorney to represent him. You always wonder what so-called five-star players bring to team chemistry.
The Boise Hawks’ tailspin was about to continue its whirl last night, as Tri-City used a manufactured ninth-inning run to take a 6-5 lead at Memorial Stadium. The Hawks’ season-high losing streak threatened to reach five games. But then came bottom-of-the-ninth heroics, as Gioskar Amaya singled home the tying run and Stephen Bruno knocked in the walk-off game-winner for a desperately-needed 7-6 victory. Amaya went 3-for-5 and Bruno 3-for-4 on the night. The Hawks had to rally twice. They tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth on a two-out RBI single by Willson Contreras. They could have taken the lead, but pinch-hitter Jeimer Candelario grounded out—Boise hasn’t had a pinch-hit this season. The three-game home series against the Dust Devils wraps up tonight.
It’s indeed sad that Dontrelle Willis has finally hung it up at the age of 30. The righthander has been riding a steady decline since he left the Florida Marlins for the Detroit Tigers after the 2006 season, and he finally retired after failing to make any progress this season with Baltimore’s Triple-A club. Willis was easy to follow over the years since pitching Opening Night for the Hawks when they began their Chicago Cubs era in 2001. The D-Train, who won National League Rookie of the Year honors two years later, was popular here and throughout baseball. Willis was 72-69 in his big league career with a 4.17 ERA.
But there’s another former Hawk with a much happier story this week. Darin Downs, whose career nearly ended three years ago when his skull was fractured by a line drive, made his major league debut Tuesday night with Detroit. Downs temporarily lost his speech after the 2009 incident while pitching in Double-A and had a tough time with post-concussion syndrome. But he eventually returned to baseball, with the payoff coming Tuesday in a scoreless inning against the Minnesota Twins. And yesterday the 27-year-old was fabulous, throwing three scoreless frames and striking out five in the Tigers’ 7-3 win over the Twins. Downs, the 95th Hawks alum to make the bigs, compiled a 14-9 record in 37 appearances over three seasons with the Hawks. He helped Boise to its last Northwest League championship in 2004.
Buoyed by four birdies on the back nine, Graham DeLaet got off to a strong start yesterday at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia. DeLaet shot a three-under 67 in the first round, four strokes behind leader Vijay Singh. The former Boise State star is close enough to retaining his PGA Tour card to taste it. Playing on a major medical exemption, he needs to make $103,024 in his next nine events to reach the threshold that would have put him among the top 125 money-winners in 2011. DeLaet has made the cut in seven of his last eight tournaments.
It’s been a great summer locally already for the sport of kayaking. First came the inaugural (and successful) North Fork Championships last month. This weekend it’s the Ford USA Freestyle Kayak National Championships at Kelly’s Whitewater Park in Cascade. It’s a spectator-friendly place, and admission is free. Each competitor gets two runs in the preliminaries tomorrow in an effort to score enough points for Sunday’s finals and a chance at freestyle kayaking’s national title.
This Day In Sports…July 6, 2008:
Roger Federer’s five-year run of Wimbledon men’s singles championships comes to an end in a remarkable five-set marathon against Rafael Nadal on Centre Court. Nadal took the first two sets, and—working around a long rain delay—Federer fought back to take the next two in tiebreakers. The elapsed time of the final was four hours and 48 minutes, and ended at 9:16PM Wimbledon time when Nadal survived the final set, 9-7, after another rain delay. It was the final Wimbledon before the addition of the retractable roof.
(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.)