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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Mountain West preseason poll contained no surprises, unless you were expecting Utah State to be picked ahead of Boise State in the Mountain Division. Some folks were, if only because of the conference schedule. The luck of the Mountain West draw affects the championship outlook, because not every school plays every other school in a 12-team league. For the second straight year in the Mountain West's divisional configuration, the Broncos play all of the West Division's "big three," Fresno State, San Diego State and Nevada. USU doesn't play the Bulldogs nor the Aztecs (neither does the No. 3 Mountain Division pick, Colorado State). Neverthless, Boise State is the pick over the Aggies to advance to the Mountain West title game in December.

Fresno State and San Diego State are strong enough to stand on their own at Nos. 1 and 2 in the West Division without scheduling help. The defending MW champion Bulldogs return 16 starters despite losing quarterback Derek Carr to the Oakland Raiders. But, as noted, neither team has to face Utah State this season. Nor do they play Colorado State, which would qualify as a trap game for both.

Likewise, there were no surprises in the Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year picks, as Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton was the choice on offense, Fresno State safety Derron Smith took the defensive vote, and Carlos Wiggins of New Mexico got the nod on special teams. The four Boise State players most likely to get All-Mountain West consideration all made it: running back Jay Ajayi, wide receiver Matt Miller, cornerback Donte Deayon and safety Jeremy Ioane. The BSU secondary is drawing a lot of respect—if the front seven can do its part, the Broncos could live up to predictions.

Coach Bryan Harsin announced at Mountain West Media Days that Joe Martarano has returned to Boise State from the Chicago Cubs' Arizona Rookie League team. Martarano went just 2-for-13 in four games, batting .154 with six strikeouts. His last appearance produced an 0-for-4 night two weeks ago. Football is Martarano's sport now, and he may have a dual role to look forward to with the Broncos. Harsin has put a "slash" of sorts next to the former Fruitland High star's name, calling him a linebacker/fullback.

Buried among all the Las Vegas hoopla was Scout.com reporting yesterday that wide receiver Bryan Jefferson of Leesburg, FL, committed to Boise State yesterday. Jefferson had narrowed his 12 FBS scholarship offers down to two choices, the Broncos and Central Florida. Orlando is about 40 miles from Leesburg—Boise is about 2,600 miles away. But, Jefferson told Scout.com leading up to his decision, "Distance is not a problem…the opportunity at Boise State is great. They have a winning tradition that I love." He also mentioned his connection with the coaching staff. The 6-0, 180-pounder visited campus last weekend, and the 2,600 miles win out.

Why is it so easy for media and coaches to pick Hawaii, a Sugar Bowl participant just seven years ago, to finish last in the West Division? The Warriors' program is a mess, even beyond Norm Chow's 4-20 record in his first two seasons. The UH athletic department failed to reach an agreement to use school dormitories during training camp, so the team will be sleeping on cots in a couple campus dance studios. Now, the Warriors are scrambling for a place to eat during camp, as the reception area in the Stan Sheriff Center they normally use won't be available due to a remodeling job. You mean nobody checked on that in advance? Wow.

Sun Belt Media Day was held yesterday at the Superdome in New Orleans. Idaho was represented by center Mike Marboe and defensive end Maxx Forde, along with coach Paul Petrino. The Vandals may not be the ideal geographical fit in the Sun Belt, but Petrino wants to take full advantage of that. "That's one of our goals this year, to win all of our home games," said the second-year coach. "It's a long ways for them to come and they got to come in and play in our dome and our fans get crazy. So we're really looking forward to those people coming and playing us—we're going to do it all the time, so we'll be use to traveling a long ways. But when they come play us, they're not use to traveling that far."

The Boise Hawks have recovered from some healthy deficits on the scoreboard this month, but a six-run third inning by Everett last night was too much for them. That was all she wrote, as the Aquasox stopped the Hawks, 6-0, to begin the second half of the Northwest League season. Boise has recorded just 10 hits in its past three games, after recording 10 or more hits in each of its previous seven contests. The Hawks and Aquasox play the second of their five-game series tonight, if it isn't interrupted by rain predicted for the Puget Sound area.

Emma Bates has become the first Boise State female and second Bronco overall to win a Mountain West Student-Athlete of the Year award. The junior distance-running star won the NCAA championship in the 10,000-meter run last month to cap a 2013-14 season that saw her collect four first-team All-Mountain West honors and five All-America awards across cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field. Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr was the MW Male Student-Athlete of the Year. Boise State track and field stamdout Kurt Felix won the award in 2012.

If you're checking your Les Bois Park schedule, you'll want to note that the Governor's Cup races originally planned for tonight have been moved to August 2. Tonight Les Bois will run the AHQA Challenge race trials, capped by the mile-long HBPA Stakes. The track's season-long jockey leader, Nikeela Black, is planning on five mounts tonight. Black has won an amazing 36 percent of her 146 starts.

A couple mopup notes on the Albertsons Boise Open: the tournament's website says the event raised a record $1.45 million for local charities last week. The funds will be distributed among 82 organizations. And never underestimate the ability of a Monday qualifier. Joey Garber earned a spot in the field by making the top 12 in the qualifier at Ridgecrest—then he finished tied for 10th Sunday at Hillcrest in his first career start on the Web.com Tour. Garber, who just completed his college career at Georgia, made $18,400 and earned a berth in this week's Midwest Classic in Kansas City.

This Day In Sports…July 23, 2012:

The NCAA levels a shocking series of sanctions on Penn State for its coverup role in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The Nittany Lions had to forfeit $60 million, give up 10 scholarships per season over a four-year period beginning in 2014, endure a four-season bowl and Big Ten championship ban, and vacate all victories from 1998-2011. The latter penalty removed the late Joe Paterno from his pinnacle as the winningest coach in NCAA history. The NCAA also allowed Penn State players to transfer to other schools immediately without losing a year of eligibility.

(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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