Monday, July 19, 2010.
When he committed to Boise State a little over three weeks ago, I said, “You may want to remember his name.” Tragically, Emil Smith’s name will be remembered for what never will be, as he was killed in car accident early yesterday morning. The linebacker from Moreno Valley, CA, was a passenger in a car that collided head-on with a minivan. It’s hard not to think of Paul Reyna when something like this happens. The difference is, Reyna had made it through National Letter of Intent Day and on to fall camp as a new recruit in 1999, and suffered his fatal injury during a scrimmage. Smith will never get even that far in his quest to experience what it’s like to be a college football player.
The current Broncos kicked out some summer jams Saturday night with their third annual Offense vs. Defense Charity Softball Game. The contest had a slow start but a wild finish, with the defense recovering from an early 7-0 deficit to tie the game. But a three-run opposite-field home run by quarterback Joe Southwick in the top of the fourth and final inning was the decider. And hey, Kellen Moore came on to get the save in the 10-8 win by the offense. The home run derby was eventful, as Hunter White went yard on seven of his eight swings in the preliminaries. But White was undone by Austin Pettis in sudden death in the finals. News of note on the defense: Jason Robinson did play in the game, and Daron Mackey did, too. Mackey, who suffered a knee injury against Nevada last November, was moving around pretty well.
Brigham Young University will still be around when Boise State joins the Mountain West in 2011. But is BYU set to stand idly by and accept the new status quo? The easy answer is no. Cougar athletic director Tom Holmoe, who was basically silent through the conference realignment frenzy this spring, spoke with reporters Friday. Holmoe said BYU is looking at all the possibilities out there in improving the school’s position financially and competitively. Holmoe expects more conference shuffling in coming years and wants to be ready. The bottom line, though, is automatic BCS qualification, and he hasn’t given up on the Mountain West’s chances of achieving that. "If we continue to play at the level we have in our conference, we're going to be automatic qualifiers," Holmoe said in the Deseret News. "That would (alleviate) a lot of people's concerns.”
According to the newspaper, “There's been speculation that BYU, which is frustrated by the lack of exposure provided by the Mountain West Conference and The mtn. television network, could leave the MWC and be on its own with the help of its own TV network.” Holmoe says independence is an option along with everything else, because BYU is in the unique position of owning its own TV network, BYUTV, which claims it has a potential audience of 150 million worldwide. No one else in the West has anything like it. BYU is without question the kingpin program in the Mountain West—football attendance last year was 64,236 per game, and basketball drew 14,292 a game.
Which brings us to that magic number at Boise State: 3,061. That was the average attendance for men’s basketball last season, the lowest since some time in the days of old Bronco Gym. The task of improving measurably on that is obviously tougher now with the release of the BSU schedule for 2011-12. A year ago there was consternation that the marquee non-conference home game of the season was going to be Portland State, coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance. This time there’s not even that. Is Long Beach State the plum? Fans are hoping that the possibility of one additional home game on this schedule brings something good—and that this carrot dangled about a future home-and-home series with LSU is real. Go Trent Johnson. At any rate, it’s not fair that Leon Rice’s drawing power is going to be judged by this slate.
The Boise Hawks and Spokane Indians opened a series pivotal to the first half standings in the Northwest League East Division last night. And fittingly, it was a slugfest, with the Indians knocking out a 12-11 victory. The game had a chance to be something else for the Hawks, but Jesus Morelli dropped a routine fly ball in the ninth that allowed a run to score, giving Spokane a three-run lead. That ended up being huge, as the Hawks scored two in the bottom of the frame—runs that would have tied the game were it not for Morelli’s gaffe. Meanwhile, Chris Huseby is becoming all hit and no pitch. He returned to Boise as a hurler, but manager Jody Davis hinted that he might put a bat in Huseby’s hands. The 6-7 Minnesotan is now a productive designated hitter, upping his average to .355 with a 3-for-3 performance last night.
Graham DeLaet has probably never seen a rollercoaster like the one he rode at the Reno-Tahoe Open. An opening round 70 allowed the former Boise State star to make the cut despite a 76 on Friday. Then DeLaet got everyone’s attention Saturday by tying the course record at the Montreaux Golf & Country Club with a 10-under-62. The fanfare included a story in the Reno Gazette-Journal playing up the Bronco-Wolf Pack rivalry angle. So what did DeLaet do yesterday? On the same course, he ballooned to a six-over-78 and finished nine shots off the pace.
For the first time in nine years, there’s a repeat champion at the Idaho Men’s Amateur. Ashton’s Chris Reinke won the 2010 title yesterday at Clear Lake Country Club in Buhl. Three consecutive bogeys on the back nine almost unplugged Reinke, but he was able to hold off Lewiston’s Geno Bonnalie. Reinke and Bonnalie had made it a two-man race Saturday when they each torched the Clear Lake layout with a seven-under-65. The top valley finisher was Boise’s Justin Merz, tied for third at four shots back. Merz had been tied for the lead after the first round Friday.
This Day In Sports…July 19, 1976:
At the Summer Games in Montreal, diminutive 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci, at 4-11 and weighing 80 pounds, becomes the first gymnast in Olympic history to receive a perfect 10.0 score. Then the amazing Romanian recorded six more in the competition. Her score after the uneven parallel bars appeared as 1.00, since the scoreboard wasn’t equipped to handle a four-digit number.
(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’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)