BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday, July 24, 2019.
The cream rose to the top Tuesday in media voting for the Mountain West Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Curtis Weaver got the nod, setting the table for his junior year (and possibly final year) at Boise State. Weaver’s sack totals have been well-chronicled over the past two years. What kind of slipped by was the two-time first-team all-conference pick’s place in the Mountain West pecking order. Weaver’s 20.5 career sacks are two shy of entering the league’s top-5 career sack list and eight away from setting the MW record. A bonus for Weaver Tuesday morning: he’s on the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy that goes to the nation's top defensive player.
Weaver is joined by Boise State defensive tackle David Moa on the Preseason All-Mountain West defense. Media members recall enough of his sophomore and junior seasons—especially the sophomore one—to feel that a healthy Moa can rise again. On offense, the Broncos saw first-team nods for offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland, offensive guard John Molchon and wide receiver John Hightower. Speaking of bonuses, Cleveland and Molchon were both named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy on Tuesday. Anyone missing? As in, chip-on-the-shoulder candidates. We’d go to the Boise State secondary for that. Kekoa Nawahine is coming off a sub-par year, and DeAndre Pierce is coming off a lacerated spleen that shelved him at the end of September. Avery Williams? He probably should have been All-MW.
JORDAN LOVE FRONT AND CENTER
Utah State has the Mountain West Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and the Aggies are going to roll with it. USU has launched a Heisman Trophy campaign for junior quarterback Jordan Love. The guy was really good last year, throwing for 3,567 yards and 32 touchdowns against only six interceptions. Love set five Utah State single-season records. He deserves a Heisman push. But as a refresher, Boise State’s Kellen Moore was one of four finalists for the 2010 Heisman and traveled to New York to join Auburn’s Cam Newton, Oregon’s LaMichael James, and Stanford’s Andrew Luck (Newton was the landslide winner). And Moore got there organically—there was no campaign.
FOLLOWING THE SCRIPT
The Mountain West preseason poll was anticlimactic Tuesday morning. Boise State is picked in the Mountain Division, followed by Utah State and Air Force. The Broncos have been favored to win their division—or the entire conference—every year since joining the Mountain West. That’s nine straight years, and you can make it 12 if you go back to the WAC days. This time Boise State received 15 of the 21 first-place votes. There was a tiny discrepancy in the West Division: behind Fresno State and San Diego State, Nevada was picked third instead of Hawaii. Somebody did give the Rainbow Warriors his or her first-place vote, though.
PINS AND NEEDLES ‘TIL AUTUMN
It’s complicated, this Mountain West media rights thing. So much so that commissioner Craig Thompson doesn’t expect any new deals to be announced until the fall. The exclusive negotiating window with CBS Sports Network was supposed to begin on April 30, with ESPN immediately thereafter. But the windows have been muddied—and they’re still open. Thompson did tell reporters that he's "very confident" there will be more revenue for Mountain West schools, and said the contract surely won't go 12 years like the one for the American Athletic Conference. Who knows what the digital world will be like in 2032? A footnote that is sure to rankle the rest of the conference: Boise State’s home football games will still be marketed as a separate entity.
MORE THAN ALLIE O IN DES MOINES
As Allie Ostrander gears up for her 3,000-meter steeplechase challenge at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, IA, on Friday, we should not forget another former Boise State star in the field. Five years ago, Marisa Howard almost did what Allie O has done the past three. Howard was runnerup in the women’s steeple at the NCAA Championships. She, too, has her eyes set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which are now less than a year away. Howard’s qualifying time for the U.S. Outdoors is 9:36.46, but her career best is 9:30.32 from a meet two years ago in Finland. Ostrander’s personal best is 9:31.44, set at the Prefontaine Classic at Stanford earlier this summer. Also competing at the U.S. meet are former Broncos David Elliott in the 5,000-meters and Sadi Henderson in the 800.
THE HAWKS ARE 1-0
The Boise Hawks were looking for a fresh start Tuesday night as the second half of the 2019 Northwest League season began. Everybody entered the fray at 0-0 in the second-half standings—and, after going 15-23 in the first half, the Hawks are 1-0 following an impressive 3-0 blanking of Eugene last night. It was pitching-by-committee, as five Boise hurlers combined on a seven-hitter. Bladimir Restituyo delivered the most visible blow in the form of a solo inside-the-park home run, his third homer of the season. The Hawks’ seven-game losing streak thus comes to a merciful end.
This Day In Sports…July 24, 1978:
New York Yankees manager Billy Martin “resigns” a day after calling slugger Reggie Jackson a “born liar” and owner George Steinbrenner a “convicted felon.” For all practical purposes, of course, Martin was fired, the first of five times it happened under Steinbrenner’s watch. “The Boss” quickly announced plans to bring back Martin in 1980, but he’d actually re-hire the fiery former second baseman early in the 1979 season, letting Bob Lemon go. Martin would manage the Yanks again in 1983, 1985 and 1988.
(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.)