BOISE, Idaho — This is purely water cooler talk at this point. But it has been duly noted that both Boise State and Idaho have openings on their football schedules on September 19 now that the Broncos have seen their game against Florida State squashed and the Vandals are without their matchup at Washington State. There’s not a whisper of this game being arranged yet, but it would be a very 2020 thing. We’re coming up on the 10th anniversary of the last time Boise State and Idaho played in football. The caveat: is it worth it to hold this event with no fans (or only a few)? Part of the scene is the electricity in the stands. That’s why we always wondered why the one of the Broncos’ non-conference opponents couldn’t have been Idaho instead of Tennessee-Martin in 2013, or Portland State last year. Without the stands full, I say wait on this.
IDAHO STATE HAS PLANS THAT DAY
Idaho State wouldn’t be in play for a September 19 game on the blue turf, as what had been the Bengals’ opener at New Mexico has been rescheduled to that date. ISU and the Lobos had been set to face off in Week 0 on August 29. The Bengals would just be happy to hang onto that game in any week. Now UNM is hoping to play rival New Mexico State in the opener. Maybe that will placate New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who doesn’t want any of the state’s universities playing contact sports this fall. Can the Lobos and Aggies get a waiver for playing each other?
BYU NEEDS SOME PLANS
Also on the scheduling front, BYU is down to six games now that the SEC has opted for a conference-only slate this fall. The Cougars are minus another big home date—they had Missouri on the docket on October 10 in Provo. It also removes a possible coup BYU was hoping to pull. AL.com reported a couple weeks back that there was a “strong possibility” the Cougars and Alabama could open the season against each other to help fill a slot. Now that’s done. There’s no substance yet to widespread suggestions that the Cougars join the Mountain West for one season only, giving them all the games they want. Boise State, of course, already has BYU on the blue turf in November. That’s now the Broncos’ marquee home game.
THE WEARER OF THE ‘AUGHT’
It looks like Boise State has its No. 0. Safety JL Skinner had hinted at this on Twitter—now there are photos from workouts showing Skinner wearing that numeral (he’s still listed as No. 33 on the Broncos’ official roster). It was three months ago that the NCAA allowed the use of No. 0 this year for the first time in almost four decades. At that time, I answered an obvious question: Has a Boise State player ever worn No. 0? Kind of. Glenn Simonton, a noseguard, wore No.00 as a true freshman in 1981. But zero was phased out the next couple of seasons, and Simonton finished his career wearing No. 57 in 1984. Skinner apparently will be the first to don No. 0 in this new era. He should make it iconic.
RYPIEN’S SECOND TRY IN DENVER
Denver Broncos training camp is underway, and former Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien is back with the club. Rypien will have to adjust to new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s scheme after getting comfortable with former OC Rich Scangarello’s offense last year. He’s No. 3 on Denver’s depth chart behind presumed starter Drew Lock and veteran Jeff Driskel, an offseason signee. Rypien didn’t take a snap in 2019, although he was active for three games. He completed 27-of-44 passes for 207 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the preseason last year.
MERRITT HANGIN’ IN NEAR TAHOE
Troy Merritt’s clubs need to make up their minds. The former Boise State star went birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey over the final four holes in the first round of the Barracuda Championship Thursday in Truckee, CA. Still, Merritt is tied for 18th and is in a great position to make the cut today at the Tahoe Mountain Club. We’ll see how he holds up over the weekend. This is the eighth straight week Merritt has played a PGA Tour event.
SAVE SOME SEMBLANCE OF THE KICKOFF
The designated hitter in the National League? A runner automatically placed on second base when a game goes to extra innings? As seismic as these supposed one-season-only changes may be, methinks fans will get used to them. Could the DH rule be permanent? By the same token, even though the short-lived XFL is history, a rule from that league could stick elsewhere in football at some point. In XFL games, kickoffs were booted from the 25-yard line, but the kicker was a lonely figure. His 10 teammates lined up 40 yards away—at the opposing team’s 35. The returning team stood at its 30. Only once the ball was caught by the returner were players on either side be allowed to move. It was creative, and it was safe. Most importantly, it may be the only way to keep kickoffs part of football in the future.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…July 31, 1990, 30 years ago today:
With a win over the Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers fireballer Nolan Ryan becomes the first and only pitcher to reach 300 wins in the 1990's. Ryan had one of the most diverse legacies of any major league pitcher. In addition to winning 324 games, he struck out a major league record 5,714 batters, threw seven no-hitters, 12 one-hitters and 18 two-hitters. Ryan played in 27 seasons from 1966 to 1993, tying Cap Anson for the most seasons in a major league career.
(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.)