BOISE, Idaho — Tuesday, July 14, 2020.
Who’d a thunk we’d ever see this day? Jeff Caves was entrenched in Boise forever, right? Not so fast, my friend. Caves announced yesterday that, after more than 35 years as the host of Idaho SportsTalk, this Friday will be Caves’ final day on the show. I’m sure he’ll do some guest shots in the future, but it’ll be from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where he and his wife, Lacie, are moving to be closer to her family. And, Caves is going to do something different, he says. He and Larry Polowski founded IST as a once-a-week, one-hour program on KIDO in 1985. It’s been the heart of KTIK’s lineup as a daily show since 1994. The peak of his career was when he doubled as Paul J. Schneider’s analyst on Bronco football in the 2000s. Hard to imagine IST without him. There’s only one Jeff Caves. He’s the face. It’ll be interesting.
The Pac-12’s announcement Friday that it, like the Big Ten, is going to a conference-only schedule wiped out some premium games for the Mountain West. Utah State was set to host Washington State in coach Nick Rolovich’s debut with the Cougars. And Rolovich’s former program, Hawaii, was rocked by the loss of matchups against Arizona, UCLA and Oregon. (The Rainbow Warriors did get Robert Morris to replace Fordham in their opener, though). Also kaput are what was to be UNLV’s Allegiant Stadium debut against Cal and the Rocky Mountain Showdown between Colorado and Colorado State. Meanwhile, BYU lost games against Utah, Arizona State and Stanford and now has only seven games left. Legit question: will the Cougars still visit the blue turf on Friday, November 6?
MOTIVATION FOR LAWRENCE?
To preview the 2020 NFL season, writer Jeremy Fowler and ESPN Insider asked more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to help compile the top 10 players at 11 different positions. Monday it was time for edge rushers. DeMarcus Lawrence of Dallas was No. 10, which sets the table for a chip on the former Boise State star’s shoulder. But it was a reasonably wide consensus, mainly due to lack of sacks. “It's surprising to see a player with (only) five sacks last season on this list, but Lawrence drew steady double-teams,” writes Fowler. “Lawrence won on 25.8 percent of his pass rushes, which makes his low sack total curious. But coaches like his versatility to rush the passer or stop the run. ‘He's not as consistent a pass-rusher as I'd like, but he's deserving,’ a veteran defensive coach said.”
The college football season may be in doubt, but watch lists are not. Boise State cornerback Jalen Walker is on the latest one, for the Chuck Bednarik Award that goes to college football’s defensive player of the year. Walker’s breakout 2019 season saw him earn second-team All-Mountain West honors. Walker led the Broncos with nine pass breakups and was fifth in tackles with 53.
His only interception was a pick-six, a 15-yarder that set the tone in the 56-21 win at Utah State. In his debut as Tyler Horton’s replacement at corner last August, Walker made seven tackles, including one for loss, and broke up a pass in the 36-31 win at Florida State.
WE CAN ONLY HOPE TO SEE HIM
Let’s jump on this nugget now in hopes that it soon won’t be a moot point. A feature at CBSSports.com lists “College football stars ready for the biggest bounce-back performances in 2020.” One of them may or may not be seen on the blue turf in September.
“It seems like James Blackman has been at Florida State for a decade, yet he still has plenty of time left to right the ship,” writes Barrett Sallee. “That will happen this year. Blackman went through an up-and-down sophomore campaign last year during a tumultuous season in Tallahassee. But first-year coach Mike Norvell is an offensive wizard who has gotten the most out of his quarterbacks no matter where he's coached.” Blackman was 23-of-33 for 327 yards and three touchdowns against Boise State last year, but virtually all the damage came in the first half.
DERRICK ALSTON, ‘POINT FORWARD’
Here’s an interesting Derrick Alston concept from “Rookie Wire” at USAToday.com. “According to a person with knowledge of the situation who spoke to USA TODAY Sports Media Group on the condition of anonymity, Alston will likely take over the position of starting point guard at Boise State next season,” writes Bruce Kalbrosky. He points out that Alston led the Broncos with 3.1 assists per game last season—topping both Alex Hobbs and Justinian Jessup. As a sophomore, he recorded just one game with four assists. Alston hit that mark 11 times in 2019-20. His assist percentage was sixth-best in college basketball last season among players 6-9 or taller. “This is something that can make Alston more alluring to NBA teams,” Kalbrosky writes.
The effort remains strong as student-athletes and supporters try to save Boise State baseball and swimming and diving. KTVB’s Jay Tust reported late last week that the Boise Hawks have offered to reduce rent for Memorial Stadium by a combined $90,000 ovder the next two years. Tust also reports that pitcher Jay Baggs has become the fifth Bronco to find a new home, and the third to transfer to a Pac-12 school.
Baggs is headed for Arizona State. And outfielder Reagan Doss is the second former Boise State player to transfer to Cal Poly. In February, Doss hit the first Boise State home run in 40 years when he launched a solo shot in the season-opening series at Texas. Both players were redshirt freshmen for the Broncos.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…July 14, 2013:
At the age of 19, Jordan Spieth becomes the youngest player to win a PGA Tour event in 82 years when he outlasts Zach Johnson and David Heath in a five-hole sudden-death playoff at the John Deere Classic. Spieth had started the final round six strokes back. He holed a 44-foot bunker shot on the 18th hole to make the playoff. And look at him now. Spieth has 13 career victories, including the Masters and the US Open in 2015, when he spent some time as the No. 1 golfer in the world.
(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.)