Could Fresno State be an MW "have-not"?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

Who do you automatically think of when you consider the "haves" among athletic programs in the Mountain West Conference? You might lean on football familiarity and go with Boise State, Fresno State and San Diego State, among others. But you'd only be partially correct. There's a lot of concern in the San Joaquin Valley about what the pending divide between the Power 5 conferences and everybody else will do to the Bulldogs. The NCAA autonomy vote is next week. The Fresno Bee's Marek Warzawski points out that Fresno State, with $33.6 million in athletic revenues, lags far behind Mountain West leaders UNLV ($64.5), New Mexico ($44.3) and Boise State ($43.1).

Not only are the Bulldogs not positioned to provide cost-of-attendance stipends, they don't even have a football training table set up. Athletic director Thomas Boeh has said he hopes the conference adopts a set of uniform rules regarding athlete benefits—wishful thinking for a university that faces a challenge in that regard. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson indicates schools will make those decisions individually. When Boise State joined the WAC in 2001, it looked up to Fresno State in almost every way. It's been a wild 13 years on both sides.

Dallas radio host Bob Sturm was on Idaho SportsTalk with us yesterday to talk about former Boise State standouts Tyrone Crawford, Orlando Scandrick and DeMarcus Lawrence. Sturm said Crawford, who tore his Achilles' tendon in the first practice of training camp a year ago, is healthy and making a bid for a major role on the Cowboys' defensive line. Sturm said Scandrick, going into his seventh NFL season, might be Dallas' best defensive player. And Sturm wondered if the high pass-rushing expectations being laid on Lawrence weren't unrealistic for a rookie trying to replace DeMarcus Ware. Now we hear that Lawrence suffered an injury to his right foot in the Cowboys' practice last night and was carted off the field. ESPN's Todd Carter reports that Lawrence will require surgery.

The Boise Hawks had grown a bit tired of treading water, and they came out of their collective shell last night with an 11-2 win at Hillsboro to avoid a three-game sweep. The Hawks scored at least one run in each of the first seven innings and recorded 20 hits, their highest total in six years. Danny Lockhart, on a Cubs' rehab assignment from Kane County, went 4-for-4 with two doubles, scored three runs, and knocked in a pair. Danny Canela contributed three RBI and Mark Zagunis also had a pair in the rout. The Hawks return home tonight to open a five-game series against the Vancouver Canadians.

One of the first great Boise Hawks stories was that of Troy Percival, who came out of UC Riverside as a catcher in 1990. Percival batted just .203 that season, and returned to Boise in 1991 to be converted to a closer. He went on to become the Angels' career leader in saves with 316 and notched 358 overall in his career with four big league teams. Percival, who last pitched in 2009, has now come full-circle, named the new head baseball coach at Riverside.

Later on the same day its new Marty Holly Athletic Center was dedicated, the College of Idaho released its 2014-15 men's basketball schedule. Missing from the slate is the Golden Rule Shootout, but there's a new tournament, the Taco Bell Shootout, to open the Coyotes' home schedule in November. The annual United Heritage Mayor's Cup series against Northwest Nazarene will be played in Caldwell November 11 and in Nampa November 24. At the end of November the Yotes will travel to Southern California to face two of the last three NAIA Division I national champions, Vanguard University and Concordia-Irvine. The C of I went 28-6 last season in its first campaign under new coach Scott Garson.

Boise State's hoops schedule has been partially released. The Mountain West unveiled its conference slate yesterday, and the beginning is no cakewalk for the Broncos. But what in the MW is? They open at Colorado State on New Year's Eve—then they return to Boise for their league home opener January 3 versus Utah State. BSU plays every Mountain West team twice except Wyoming and Nevada. The marquee nights in Taco Bell Arena: January 13 against UNLV, February 7 versus San Diego State, and February 24 against New Mexico.

Pierre Jackson was the most deserving D-League player to never get an NBA opportunity last season. But the former Idaho Stampede sharpshooter will have one now, if he can return to health. The Philadelphia 76ers signed the one-time D-League scoring leader and All-Star to a partially guaranteed one-year contract last Thursday despite the fact Jackson is likely to miss the season. Jackson tore his right Achilles tendon early in the Sixers' opening game at the Orlando Pro Summer League on July 5. That didn't temper his excitement. "Official. Lost for words!" Jackson wrote on Instagram. "Can't even begin to describe the feeling I have right now just knowing that I'm actually wanted to be a part of something that can be so special in the near future!"

Jackson was tops in the D-League with a 29.1-point scoring average when he elected to go overseas. In his final game in CenturyLink Arena, he poured in a league record 58 points. It was the Sixers who originally selected Jackson out of Baylor in the second round of last year's NBA Draft. But Philly traded him to New Orleans on draft night, and that's where gridlock set in. The Pelicans were set at guard, yet they didn't see a reason to trade the rights to Jackson. They finally did during the NBA Draft last month, and now Jackson has his long-awaited deal.

The Idaho Steelheads have seen the last of Josh Robinson. The popular goaltender has signed with the ECHL's Elmira Jackels, a team led by Robinson's college coach at Michigan Tech, Jamie Russell. Since Robinson is now on an ECHL contract, he can be called up by any AHL team. With the Steelheads, he was under contract with the Dallas Stars, so the Stars' affiliate in Texas was the only AHL club that could call him up. Robinson was 13-7-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average for the Steelies last season after going 27-8-4 mark with a 2.57 goals-against mark as a rookie the season before. The Steelheads have, however, agreed to terms with center Jason Bast, who appeared in 13 games with the team at the end of last season.

This Day In Sports…July 30, 1990:

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Fay Vincent. Steinbrenner had paid $40,000 to a small-time gambler in an attempt to gather damaging information on Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield. Steinbrenner had failed to pay Winfield's foundation $300,000 as promised in his contract, and Winfield sued the owner. Steinbrenner was eventually reinstated to baseball in 1993.

(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.)


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