Thursday, July 24, 2014.
In surfing other cities' media outlets in the wake of Mountain West Media Days, you find some good Boise State nuggets. That's because questions are asked that we think have already been answered here. But the out-of-town people sometimes prompt different responses from guys like Bryan Harsin. Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal noted that the biggest crowd of reporters this week came out for the new Bronco coach. Harsin still creates intrigue from the three trick plays that won the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma, but they really wanted to know what it was like to replace Chris Petersen, he of the 92-12 career record and two undefeated seasons. Somehow it got tied into the fact that Harsin also replaced Jake Plummer as quarterback at Capital High 20 years ago. What's tougher? "Both sucked," Harsin joked. "I seem to do that."
Other observations included the Fresno Bee's Marek Warszawski calling Harsin "a youthful-looking 37-year-old." Wrote Warszawski: "Harsin is by no means a Petersen clone. While Petersen was intense but reserved, especially around the media, Harsin seems cut from the Jon Gruden mold. Just as intense but more outgoing and, with a Gruden-esque booming baritone, sounds like a prototypical football coach. 'He definitely commands attention with that voice,' Corey Bell said. 'I'm looking forward to his pregame speeches.'" As for the big picture, what happens to the team with college football's best record in the new century (155-26) moving forward with Harsin? Colorado State's Jim McElwain told Warszawski, "They have the infrastructure and the means to keep that thing going for a long, long time."
Sometimes it's just expansion talk, or bowl tie-ins, or the BCS vs. the College Football Playoff that dominates the State of the Conference address. But Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson had plenty of ground to cover this year during Media Days. In an interview with Jeff Caves and Bob Behler on KTIK yesterday, Thompson zeroed in on the Ed O'Bannon trial, cost of attendance payments, and the power-5 conference autonomy issue. "There's seven lawsuits—we're named in three," noted Thompson on the subject of paying players for use of their likenesses. "The financial ramifications could be severe, but it's not just the Mountain West." Thompson said the play-for-pay debate is a muddy mess. Would it include all sports? Would walk-ons be left out? "There's not a lot of definition," he said.
Thompson isn't as worried about the pending NCAA vote on August 7 that would give autonomy to the power 5 conferences. Yet. "The only concerns would be down the line—they're not in play right now," said Thompson One is the scholarship cap of 85 for FBS football. If that is lifted at some point by the power schools, they can go back to stockpiling players like they did 40 years ago. The other is the transfer policy. If limits were removed on transfers, such as the rule requiring cross-division transfers to sit out a year, there would be wholesale raids on non-power conference talent. "Those (developments) would be catastrophic," Thompson said.
Two guys stand out on a relatively predictable Boise State depth chart in the Mountain West media guide. It's important to note that this information comes from the school, understanding that anything can happen in the next five weeks. But junior Troy Ware is listed as starter at one of the wide receiver spots. Ware showed signs of life last year with 10 catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns, but as a starter he'd be expected to at least quadruple those numbers. His first task will be to erase the bitter taste of the Hawaii Bowl fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Oregon State. Also, Dylan Sumner-Gardner is listed as the No. 2 safety behind Jeremy Ioane. It's a given that Sumner-Gardner, the four-star recruit who reneged on Texas A&M and graduated early from high school to join Bronco spring football, will play as a true freshman.
This watch list is a new one on me. Boise State senior safety Jeremy Ioane has been named to list for the first Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award. It doesn't need much description—the award goes to the nation's best player of Polynesian descent. Ioane is Hawaiian, and he appears poised to peak as a senior. Two weeks ago he was named to the Jim Thorpe Award watch list (as was Bronco cornerback Donte Deayon). The Polynesian award will be presented during Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend on January 23 in Honolulu.
There wasn't a lot of national coverage coming out of Tuesday's Sun Belt Media Day. But TheVandalNation.com did some transcribing of Idaho coach Paul Petrino's session with ESPN3.com. The subject inevitably drifts to the Vandals' quarterback battle, which became a two-way affair during spring football. "He's (Chad Chalich) got some competition. Matt Linehan is a redshirt freshman—his dad's been a coordinator in the NFL for years and is a former player for the Vandals. So Chad and Matt are competing. It's going to go through fall camp and we'll see who comes out. Last year we had to play three quarterbacks, so it will be good to have two guys that we feel like can go win games for us." Chalich, the sophomore from Coeur d'Alene, was the unquestioned starter last fall until a shoulder injury ended his season in October.
The Boise Hawks have lost their leadoff man and perhaps their most dependable bat. Jeffrey Baez, who rolled up a Northwest League season-high hitting streak of 20 games, has been promoted to the Cubs' long-season Class A team at Kane County. The 20-year-old Venezuelan was batting .267 and was second in the league with seven home runs. The Hawks have an extra day to get accustomed to Baez's absence after last night's game at Everett was postponed by rain. They'll make it up tomorrow night with a doubleheader against the Aquasox—two seven-inning contests.
Baez was one of six Boise Hawks players named to the Northwest League South Division All-Star Team yesterday in preparation for the annual game to be played August 5 in Eugene. Baez was picked as a starter, as were Justin Marra and Rashad Crawford. Marra is hitting .304 with five home runs and 24 RBI, while Crawford is batting .302 with 21 RBI, including a league-best five triples. Reserves for the South Division team include Hawks pitcher Trevor Clifton, infielder Danny Canela, and catcher/outfielder Mark Zagunis.
From Royal Liverpool to Royal Montreal for Graham DeLaet. The former Boise State star is in his native land for the RBC Canadian Open that tees off today. The "expert picks" at PGATour.com have DeLaet sprinkled throughout, despite his second-round struggle last week at the British Open. Location, location, location. Bill Cooney projects DeLaet as the winner this week. "Still hard to believe he's searching for his maiden Tour victory, but hardly a better way to break the ice than a win on his homeland's soil," says Cooney. John Swantek picks DeLaet from among his four candidates, all from Canada. "One of these Canadians has to be the first to end the 60 year draught, right?" queries Swantek. "I'll go with the best of the bunch at the moment." A native son has not won the Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher in 1954.
DeLaet's former Bronco teammate, Troy Merritt, is also in the Canadian Open field. Does Merritt make a deeper dent now into the FedExCup Standings? He landed right at No. 100 after tying for 20th two weeks back at the John Deere Classic, playing all four rounds under par. Merritt has made four of his last five cuts and has earned $786,000 of his $835,000 in season winnings in that stretch.
This Day In Sports…July 24, 1983:
With two outs in the ninth inning, Kansas City's George Brett hits a two-run homer off Yankees closer Goose Gossage. Yanks manager Billy Martin argued that Brett's bat had too much pine tar, and the umpires agreed—calling Brett out and ending the game with the Yankees apparently winning, 4-3. Brett went berserk, the Royals protested the game, and American League president Lee MacPhail ruled that Brett's home run counted and the game should be resumed. Weeks later, the Royals held on to win the continuance, 5-4.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB's Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB's telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)