It's not just money the Group of 5 lacks

(TOM SCOTT'S COLUMN WILL RETURN TUESDAY)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Everybody talks about the growing money gap between Power 5 and Group of 5 conferences.  And that’s a very real concern moving forward.  But there’s another issue that goes hand-in-hand: an exposure gap.  Ever since this divide was established in the post-BCS world, mid-major football programs have been increasingly buried on sportspages, be they online or in print.  Last season at ESPN.com, for example, you’d scroll and scroll and scroll on the NCAA Football page, and often you’d never find diddly about the Group of 5. 

Yesterday, ESPN.com listed “Ten college football games with the highest stakes in 2017.”  As you might guess, there’s not a non-Power 5 team in sight.  Seven years ago, you would have seen Boise State-Virginia Tech.  Six years back, it would have been Boise State versus Georgia or TCU.  Those games did not disappoint, and they received massive national publicity going in and coming out.  It’s a different world now—and it’s not going back.

With that said, ESPN.com’s Top 25 feature of the week has to do with records that could fall this season at each school.  Since Boise State is No. 24, the Broncos do get exposure here. Writer Kyle Bonagura selected this item: “In just two seasons, quarterback Brett Rypien has already attempted 824 career passes, which has him fifth on Boise State's all-time list and only 395 behind leader Kellen Moore, whose total of 1,219 came in four seasons.  Rypien also needs seven 300-plus-yard passing games to break Moore's record of 16.”  Now if Rypien can get his completion percentage up in the Kellen stratosphere this year, he’ll take a major leap.

Then there’s No. 25 Washington State, who the Broncos visit September 9.  Bonagura’s nugget for the Cougs: “In three seasons at WSU, including two as the full-time starter, QB Luke Falk has thrown 89 touchdown passes, which leaves him 27 behind former USC quarterback Matt Barkley's conference record.  Considering he has thrown 38 touchdowns each of the past two seasons, Falk figures to have a good shot at owning the record when he leaves for the NFL.”  Math tells us that Barkley’s Pac-12 record is 116 touchdowns.  Which gives us an excuse to reminisce about Kellen Moore’s career total at Boise State: 142 TD passes.

Player-run practices start in another week and a half at Boise State, the summer staple of the new century.  On the “Huddle Up With Hars” segment yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk with Chris Lewis and Daryn Colledge, coach Bryan Harsin reiterated the importance of team leadership developing in PRP’s without the coaching staff around.  But Harsin pointed out something else that comes out of the summer workouts: ideas.  Players try things and present ideas to coaches when fall camp begins, and the staff values that.  Harsin says it gives Bronco players some ownership in game-planning when the season rolls around.  They put that much more effort into it when they’re vested.

We’ll make this short and not-so-sweet: the two former Boise State golfers entered in the AT&T Byron Nelson this week didn’t fare so well in the first round.  Graham DeLaet was three-over at 73, and Tyler Aldridge struggled to a seven-over 77.  DeLaet went into the turn with back-to-back double-bogeys.  Aldridge recorded five bogeys on the day—plus a triple-bogey on No. 16. 

Two former Boise Hawks produced their own little homerfest yesterday for the Chicago Cubs.  Javier Baez blasted his third career grand slam in the first inning against Cincinnati and went on to record three hits and a season-high five RBI.  The old standby, Kris Bryant, socked his eighth homer this season, a solo shot that put the Cubs up 6-0 in the fourth on the way to a 9-6 victory.  Bryant, the reigning National League MVP, is rolling again this season.  He’s batting .297 and has already reached the 20-RBI plateau.

The Boise State women’s softball team fought all the way back from a tournament-opening loss Tuesday and into a final title bracket game yesterday at the National Invitation Softball Championship.  But the Broncos finally succumbed, falling 8-0 to Weber State to end the Ogden Bracket—and their season—at 33-20.  Boise State had forced a second contest by defeating the Wildcats 5-1 earlier in the day, with sophomore Morgan Lamb clubbing a three-run homer for the second straight game to break open a 1-0 game in the bottom of the sixth.

A salute to the Treasure Valley YMCA crew for spending weeks shifting on the fly to rescue tomorrow’s Famous Idaho Potato Marathon.  Greenbelt flooding wreaked havoc with planning for the event, but somehow organizers were able to retain the marathon course’s certification as a Boston Marathon qualifier while re-routing all four of the event’s courses.  As of last night, there were 185 full marathoners entered, along with 1,133 runners in the half-marathon and over 1,000 between the 10K and 5K.  The finish line has been moved to the Albertsons headquarters on Parkcenter Boulevard, safely above the water line (we hope).

This Day In Sports… May 19, 1984:

Edmonton’s Wayne Gretzky cements his status as a superstar with two first-period goals, keying a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders that gave the Oilers their first Stanley Cup, four games-to-one.  The Islanders had won the previous three NHL championships.  Gretzky had not scored a goal until Game 4—then he tallied four times over the final two games.  However, the MVP of the Stanley Cup Finals was not Gretzky, but his Edmonton teammate, Mark Messier.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK.  He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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