Wednesday, May 16, 2018.
There was supposed to be a big announcement in Jacksonville today that Boise State’s 2019 season opener against Florida State has been officially moved from Tallahassee. “But Boise State couldn’t wait,” tweeted the Florida Times-Union, noting that “the '19 schedule on Boise's official website indicates the game is set for Aug. 31 in Jacksonville.” The neutral-site contest will be played at TIAA Stadium, the home of the Jaguars and the Gator Bowl. It’ll be the first time in 11 years the Seminoles have played a regular season game in Jacksonville. Florida State is slated to play on the blue turf on September 19, 2020, the back end of the home-and-home series announced by former Boise State athletic director Mark Coyle five years ago. That, uh, will not be a neutral site.
Boise State was supposed to finish the 2017 season against coach Willie Taggart and Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. Now the Broncos will open against Taggart and the Seminoles in 2019. Taggart, of course, took the FSU job 11 days before the Ducks and Boise State faced off in Vegas, leaving the Oregon job to Mario Cristobal. This will be the first time Taggart has ever played a neutral-site game in the regular season. “It seems like a lot of these games are getting good ratings and people are interested in them,” Taggart said during the ACC Spring Meetings yesterday. “It’s kind of the way the game is going now.” He said earlier this year that he would not shy away from scheduling neutral-site games against marque opponents to open seasons moving forward.
Did you know Joey Martarano’s baseball plans have been at least temporarily interrupted? I didn’t, either. But Martarano was released one month ago by the Chicago Cubs, about 13 months after giving up his career as a Boise State linebacker to return to baseball. In 69 career games in the minors, Martarano batted .252 with two home runs. He hit .340 for Eugene last summer upon his return to the Cubs organization, but he struggled after he was promoted to South Bend. So what will the former Fruitland Grizzly do now? How about this possibility? Just shootin’ in the dark here, but since Martarano used his redshirt year in 2013, his NCAA football clock has run out. But if he hasn’t attended more than 10 semesters of college, he would be eligible to play NAIA football. Does College of Idaho come to mind?
The Buffalo Bills’ rookie minicamp was held last weekend, giving former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen his first workout at the next level. Allen impressed his teammates with the way he handled the huddle—and he made some of those jaw-dropping throws. He’s a high-character guy and still may be a great NFL quarterback. But concerns about Allen’s accuracy are very real and were something the Cleveland Browns couldn’t get past on draft night. Inquiring minds want to know: was Allen’s completion percentage of 56 percent last season largely due to a weak supporting cast? Well, it was also 56 percent in 2016, when he had targets like Tanner Gentry and Jake Hollister.
Allen, who was taken No. 7 overall by Buffalo, tries to explain it. “I think if you look at the film at the times that I did miss, my feet were jacked,” Allen recently told NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live. “Going back to our offensive system I was asked to do a lot of things. Threw the ball downfield a lot. I admit that I didn’t put the ball where it needed to be all the time. But, you know, given the circumstances that we had in Wyoming, we had two back-to-back eight-win seasons. It was a place where we ended up winning football games. I think that I helped out in that manner putting the team in the best position to win football games.”
Mel Kiper Jr. has come up with his first “way-too-early Big Board rankings” for the 2019 NFL Draft. He doesn’t see a repeat performance by the Mountain West, which had three first-round picks this year. But it is indeed ridiculuously early. The most interesting pick as far as Bronco Nation is concerned would be Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert at No. 19. “At 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Herbert has a big frame but is also an above-average athlete for a guy that size,” writes Kiper. “He has completed over 65 percent of his passes and has a 34-9 TD-INT ratio over 16 games. Staying healthy could mean a breakout year in 2018.” The Las Vegas Bowl was more akin to a breakdown for Herbert. He had thrown for just 92 yards on 26 attempts after three quarters, with two interceptions, one of them Kekaula Kaniho’s pick-six.
Boise State women’s softball continues to celebrate its first-ever Mountain West championship and its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. The Broncos face Washington Friday night on ESPNU in the Seattle Regional, a double-elimination tournament that will produce one Super Regionals qualifier. Minnesota and Texas are on the other side of the bracket. It’s phenomenal that this team pulled it off, finishing the regular season 40-14 just two years after going 14-38. Boise State leads the nation in hitting with a .358 average.
When the new Idaho Steelheads schedule is released every year, I look for what’s new. The new slate is out, and the Steelheads face three opponents for the first time in the 2018-19 season. Idaho makes its first-ever trip to Indianapolis in late October to face the Indy Fuel. While they’re in the Midwest, the Steelies will face Toledo for the first time, with the Walleye coming to Boise in mid-January. Plus, the Jacksonville IceMen come to town at the end of November for their first-ever games against the Steelheads. The Steelies also have the obligatory 15 games against the Utah Grizzlies (who play the home opener in CenturyLink Arena on October 19) and 17 versus the Rapid City Rush.
This Day In Sports…May 16, 1928:
The day Billy Martin is born. The hot-headed but talented Martin managed the New York Yankees five different times between 1975 and 1988, an era peppered by fights with opposing players, his own players, and a marshmallow salesman. But there was success on the field, including a World Series title in 1977. He also managed the Twins, Tigers, Rangers and A’s. Martin was also a big league second baseman for 11 seasons. He began his pro career in Class D baseball in Idaho Falls in 1946. Billy Martin, who died in 1989, would have been 90 years old today.
(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.)