BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, July 25, 2019. 

The theme of Boise State’s offseason has been: if sophomore Chase Cord is healthy, he’s the favorite to trot out as starting quarterback in a little over five weeks in Jacksonville.  The word “if” is still a factor, though.  “He’s not there yet,” coach Bryan Harsin said at Mountain West Media Days.  “He’ll get there, and we’ll progress him when we get into fall camp.”  The timeline, therefore, remains: the Broncos probably won’t identify a starter until a week to 10 days before the Florida State game. 

“I’m excited to see him,” said Harsin of Cord.  “We’ve got everybody now that can compete, and he’ll be a part of that, and we’ll see what happens.  Highly-touted true freshman Hank Bachmeier has his hat in the ring, along with senior Jaylon Henderson, redshirt freshman Riley Smith and true freshman Kaiden Bennett.  In other news, wide receiver John Hightower and running back Robert Mahone have their academic houses in order and are eligible, and how about this: wideout Octavius Evans is fully cleared for fall camp.

The spotlight on John Bates, Garrett Collingham, Tyneil Hopper and company just became more intense.  The Boise State tight end position will not have the benefit of an Austin Griffin out there this season.  Griffin, rated the No. 1 junior college tight end in the country when he committed to the Broncos, won’t be on the roster this season due to poor grades, according to Harsin.  Griffin, 6-7 and 250 pounds, made only 13 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown in six games last season at Mt. San Antonio College despite his ranking.  That opens the door for Hopper to make a bigger impact as a true freshman—and increases edge-setting responsibilities for Bates and Collingham. 

A .500 RECORD WILL BE SAFER NEXT YEAR

The Mountain West listed nine “potential bowl opportunities” yesterday for its members beginning in 2020.  Three of them have asterisks, though.  The new jewel, replacing the Las Vegas Bowl, will be the yet-to-be-named Los Angeles Bowl in the Rams’ and Chargers’ new stadium.  Later in the day it was confirmed that the conference’s opponent will be from the Pac-12, same as Vegas previously.  The lineup also includes the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Arizona Bowl and Hawaii Bowl, plus another ESPN Events-operated bowl game, likely to be held in the Dallas area.  The asterisks are contingency slots in two other bowls, plus the College Football Playoff (big asterisk).  At least the Mountain West will avoid the five-bowl situation last season that left 6-6 Wyoming home for the holidays.

PLEASE AVOID EMPTY STANDS, MW

A tweet from B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press yesterday certainly caught my attention:  “Mountain West has had early talks about possibly moving the title game to a neutral site in either Los Angeles or Las Vegas, per commissioner Craig Thompson.  ‘There's interest in exploring it, no question,’ Thompson said.  Could theoretically happen as early as 2020.”  Well, unless there’s something I’m missing here, this would be an attendance disaster.  And I don’t say that just because I’m in Boise, America.  It’s hard enough for the team that hosts he title tilt to re-sell an entire stadium in six days.  The three conference championship games played on the blue turf have averaged just 24,759 fans per game.  Traveling to Vegas or L.A. on six days’ notice?  I don’t think so.

A MILD MORNING ON DECK(S) FOR LATE JULY

Safety Kekoa Nawahine and offensive guard John Molchon represented Boise State at Mountain West Media Days.  They flew home late last night, just in time for…Deck Day.  The Broncos wrap up summer conditioning this morning at the crack of dawn with the grand finale of strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman’s pet drill: running the upper deck at Albertsons Stadium.  The team started with two the first week of June and has been working its way up.  Today the Broncos are running more than 20 decks.  Think about that.  One after the other.  The good news—the weather is as friendly as it gets on July 25.  Temperatures at sunrise were in the upper 50’s.  Now there’s a short break for the Broncos; fall camp opens a week from tomorrow. 

JAY-TRAIN IS OKAY TO PLAY

Jay Ajayi, still languishing on the NFL free agent market, was finally cleared for action Wednesday—nine months after tearing his ACL in Week 5 with Philadelphia last season.  The Eagles have moved on, of course.  But Ajayi could have some suitors sooner rather than later as all NFL training camps will be underway by Friday.  Jared Dubin of CBSSports.com runs down some teams that still might be interested in the former Boise State star, picking Tampa Bay as the best fit under new coach Bruce Arians.  Then Dubin likes Houston (to compete with Lamar Miller), Jacksonville (to push Leonard Fournette), Carolina (to spell Christian McCaffrey) or the L.A. Chargers (as insurance against an extended Melvin Gordon holdout).

FROM BARBASOL TO BARRACUDA

Former Boise State star Troy Merritt missed the cut at the Barbasol Championship last week after winning the tournament last year.  Maybe more familiar terrain will give Merritt a boost today, as he tees off at the Barracuda Championship outside Reno.  Montreaux Golf & Country Club is surrounded by Ponderosa pines and aspens.  Kind of looks like McCall.  The field will be a little watered-down, as a lot of the heavy-hitters are playing the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. 

THE 'L' RETURNS FOR THE HAWKS

After a breath of fresh air in the form of a victory Tuesday, the Boise Hawks slipped back into the loss column Wednesday night with an 8-3 defeat at Eugene.  Michael Toglia had the only multi-hit game for the Hawks, going 2-for-4.  But that masks the first-round draft pick’s struggles in his first pro season—Toglia is batting just .214.  It’s been a mid-summer nightmare for the Hawks.  On July 5, they were 12-10 but have lost 14 of 18 games since.

This Day In Sports…July 25, 1999, 20 years ago today:

At this time his story is still heartwarming—Lance Armstrong wins the Tour de France just three years after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs.  Armstrong survived the cancer and formed his Livestrong foundation to support cancer patients.  He would win the Tour de France six more times before all seven titles were wiped out by a lifetime ban from cycling in 2012 for the doping offenses that he had denied for more than a decade.

(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.)