Friday, August 8, 2014.
(TOM SCOTT'S COLUMN WILL RETURN TUESDAY.)
It went as expected. The NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted 16-2 in Indianapolis yesterday to grant the Power 5 conferences autonomy, allowing them to develop their own guidelines on things such as financial aid, health care and recruiting. The wedge between the haves and have-nots is hereby thicker. The saving grace for the Mountain West and the other non-power conferences, at least for now, is that the Power 5's big new stick does not enable it to enact rules related to transfer eligibility and scholarship limits. Those are the two areas that MW commissioner Craig Thompson said would be "catastrophic" should the Power 5 ease transfer and scholarship rules.
A sidebar to the SI.com story on the autonomy vote pops up a photo of Boise State players celebrating on the blue turf. It links you to Pete Thamel's story, "The end of Cinderella: Where do Group of Five teams sit in playoff system?" penned after Mountain West Media Days. Many are resigned to the fact that this marks the end of a non-power school crashing the national championship discussion, like Boise State did in 2010. "If that's not a possibility, then college football's not going to be nearly as exciting as it is," Bronco coach Bryan Harsin said. "If all you're talking about is five conferences that can do it, to me that will hurt our sport more than anything." Thamel points out that teams either currently (Boise State and Hawaii) or formerly (TCU and Utah) in the Mountain West finished in the top 10 of the BCS standings 11 times since 2004.
The local firestorm coming out of yesterday's vote can be traced to a Brett McMurphy article at ESPN.com. Power 5 coaches were polled on whether they thought teams from their conferences should no longer play schools from the Group of 5 (the non-power leagues). And right there under "yes" is Washington's Chris Petersen, just eight months removed from his 92-12 run at Boise State. There was an "undecided" option, but Coach Pete said yes. Chris Petersen is where he is because he had the opportunity to play—and beat—the major powers. It was not a binding vote, just an informal poll. Still, I don't get it. Former Utah State coach Gary Andersen, going into his second season at Wisconsin, didn't bail on his roots. He voted no. "Where do teams like (USU) go to get a big game?" Andersen said.
It's enough to make you wonder if the Broncos-Huskies game scheduled for Albertsons Stadium next September will happen. If it's nixed, though, it probably won't be because the Power 5 have finished circling the wagons. That gang is now expected to create an agenda to present at the NCAA Convention in January, and that would be too late for any scheduling legislation to wipe out the showdown on the blue turf by itself. But who knows what else may come up to put the kibosh on Boise State-Washington over the next few months?
I borrow from KTVB's Jay Tust's report on Boise State's scrimmage last night. At least, Tust's report on Bryan Harsin's report, since it was a closed affair. Defensive end Kamalei Correa, linebacker Blake Renaud, wide receivers Matt Miller and Shane Williams-Rhodes, quarterback Grant Hedrick and running back Jeremy McNichols drew particular praise from Harsin. The coach also said it's close to "1,000 percent" that safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner will play as a true freshman this season. Kickoff against Ole Miss in Atlanta is now less than three weeks away.
Idaho's Chad Chalich vs. Matt Linehan sweepstakes reboots in earnest tomorrow when the Vandals hold their first scrimmage of fall camp. A year ago, Chalich emerged as the clear winner while Linehan was redshirting, and the Coeur d'Alene product was the starter until an injury ended his season in October. Linehan pushed Chalich in spring football, though. Elsewhere, there's another "first time in 37 years" item: College of Idaho players report tomorrow for the Coyotes' first fall camp, which begins Monday.
Nothing significant to report from last night's NFL preseason games as it pertains to Boise State products. Among the rookies, Matt Paradis got into Denver's 21-16 win over Seattle, and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe had a pass breakup in San Diego's 27-7 win over Dallas. There'll be a slew of former Broncos in action the rest of the weekend, including Geraldo Boldewijn for Atlanta and Jamar Taylor and Daryn Colledge for Miami when the Falcons meet the Dolphins tonight. Taylor, the 2013 second-round draft pick, is expected to get an extended look at cornerback. Maybe he'll still be in the game to guard Boldewijn when the rangy wide receiver from the Netherlands (via Capital High) gets his shot. Boldewijn is best-known to Atlanta fans right now for dropping a touchdown pass on HBO's "Hard Knocks" and incurring the wrath of teammate Roddy White.
The Boise Hawks looked like they were on one of their patented comeback trails last night when they rallied from a 6-2 deficit to close to within 6-5 in the eighth inning at Salem-Keizer. But the Volcanoes put up a three-spot in the bottom of the eighth and went on to win the first of a three-game set, 9-5. One other note—former Hawk Javy Baez clubbed two home runs yesterday to lead the Cubs past the Colorado Rockies, 6-2. He went 3-for-4 with four RBI. It's been an interesting three-game big league career for the rookie second baseman. Baez had one hit in his first 10 at-bats, but the hit was a game-winning homer Tuesday night in his major league debut. Three of his four hits so far have left the ballpark.
To say there's a logjam at the PGA Championship would be an understatement. Take Graham DeLaet, for example. The former Boise State star is one of 15 players tied for 20th after the first round at Valhalla in Louisville. Two bogeys over the final five holes dampened what would have been a solid round for DeLaet, but he still managed a two-under 69 and sits four strokes off the lead. Now, if he can just maintain and make the cut, something he's done just once in five major championships in his career... There were 78 players who shot even-par or better on Day 1.
Just like that, we've come to the end of the 2014 Les Bois Park season. Tomorrow's finale is Fan Appreciation Day, and the nine-race card has three races with purses of more than $25,000. Leading jockey Nikeela Renae Black will have seven mounts, including one aboard KR Streakin Version in the feature, the Bank of America Championship Challenge, with a purse of $82,000 ($50,000 of it from the American Quarter Horse Association).
The seventh annual BAM Jam Boise, the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Idaho, is set to go tomorrow and Sunday on downtown streets, featuring nearly 300 teams and 1,000 players from eight different states and Australia. The defending champion in the elite division, Team Goldy's, is back, led by former Boise State stars Reggie Larry and Anthony Thomas. This year's BAM Jam boasts not only Bronco assistant coach John Rillie, but also another Australian with experience in professional leagues Down Under. Keiren Bairstow will compete for the Gates of Hope team—and yes, he's from that Bairstow family. Keiren's brother, Cameron, starred at New Mexico and was drafted in June by the Chicago Bulls after he finished being a thorn in Boise State's side.
This Day In Sports…August 8, 1976:
In a 5-2 victory over Kansas City, the Chicago White Sox make history by wearing shorts. Thank goodness Comiskey Park had natural turf. The latest of Bill Veeck's experiments didn't take (it was probably then that he started planning for Disco Demolition Night). Veeck was also the inventor of 10-Cent Beer Night and once, while owner of the St. Louis Browns in 1948, sent 3-foot-7 midget Eddie Gaedel to the plate.
(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.)