(TOM SCOTT’S COLUMN WILL RETURN TUESDAY.)
This weekend Leighton Vander Esch dons his No. 55 NFL jersey for real, as Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp convenes in Frisco, TX. It’ll look very snazzy on the former Boise State star. Vander Esch’s helmet, however, will be very plain, just like all the other rooks, missing the signature symbol of America’s Team. Notes Kristi Scales in the Dallas Morning News, “Rookies won’t earn the star on their helmet until they make the roster. It doesn’t matter if a rookie is a highly touted first-round draft pick, or an undrafted free agent. When preseason games roll around, the equipment staff will stick a blue star on a rookies’ helmet, but by the time that rookie is back on the practice field at training camp, the star is gone.”
Cedrick Wilson will join Vander Esch in a starless Cowboys helmet his weekend. And, as a sixth-round draft pick, Wilson has some earnin’ to do. But at least he knows there’s a spot waiting for him in training camp in July. Same is the case for Jake Roh, who signed with Atlanta as an undrafted free agent and will go to work with the Falcons. But the tryout players out of Boise State are on the bubble at various NFL minicamps, including Mason Hampton in Cincinnati, Alec Dhaenens and Ryan Wolpin at Tampa Bay, Brock Barr in Atlanta and Gabe Perez with the L.A. Chargers. Hampton reportedly has another tryout in San Francisco, and Barr has a second one in Oakland.
New Boise State quarterback commit Hank Bachmeier was on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday, and we learned a little more about the four-star prospect and ESPN 300 recruit from Murrieta Valley, CA. Bachmeier was offered a scholarship about a year ago, and other offers started pouring in from Power 5 schools. “What really was the deciding factor for me was where I was going to be the most comfortable,” Bachmeier said. “To me, (Boise) just felt like home.” His in-season visit was during the win over Wyoming last fall. “I really fell in love with the city and the people,” he said. And he already pronounces it correctly (“Boy-see”).
Bachmeier likes Boise State just as much from a football standpoint. “I think the offensive scheme is next-level stuff,” he said, adding that he’s excited to pump up his football IQ. Bachmeier said he had more than 20 offers, and there were four schools he felt obligated to inform when he committed to the Broncos: Georgia, Vanderbilt, Cal and Oregon State. He’s preparing his schedule for possible early graduation in December—and early enrollment at Boise State in January so he can get a head start with winter conditioning and spring football. Bachmeier said it’s really coach Bryan Harsin’s and offensive coordinator Zak Hill’s call. “Whatever they want me to do—I’m going to do that,” said Bachmeier.
It’s not “Where are they now?” It’s “What are they making now?” We know that Jimmy Lake and Pete Kwiatkowski are still at Washington after having followed Chris Petersen there when he left Boise State almost 4½ years ago. Well, Lake is now the highest-paid assistant coach in Huskies history after signing a three-year contract extension worth at least $1.1 million annually to remain at UW. According to the Seattle Times, Lake’s salary is believed to be the second-highest among assistant coaches in the Pac-12, behind only Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, who is set to earn $1.7 million this year. Kwiatkowski, who is co-defensive coordinator with Lake, voluntarily gave up play-calling duties to help keep Lake in Seattle. Kwiatkowski’s salary jumps to $900,000 this year. Wow.
All good things must come to an end, and so it is for one of the most remarkable coaching legacies in college tennis. Greg Patton is stepping down after 22 seasons spanning more than 25 years as Boise State men’s tennis coach. There are two sides to the General. One is his record: 807 victories, 14 conference championships, 16 NCAA Tournament berths, 10 conference coach of the year awards, and an NCAA Coach of the Year honor in 1997, when the Broncos were ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation. The other side is his spirit: Patton’s endlessly positive vibe has saturated this city. His personality hit me up ‘side the head the moment I met him upon his arrival a quarter century ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. Greg will rock as the face of the Bronco Athletic Association.
Nerves were not much of a factor for the Boise State women’s softball team yesterday. The Broncos, knowing they need to take two out of three games against New Mexico this week to win their first-ever Mountain West championship, blasted out of the gate with eight runs in the first inning against the Lobos at Dona Larsen Park. Boise State ran away with a 10-0 run-rule victory in five innings and is one win away from the title with games remaining today and tomorrow versus UNM. Also, the NNU women’s softball team fell 5-2 to second-ranked Chico State in its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament yesterday in Chico, CA. The Nighthawks play an elimination game this afternoon against UC San Diego.
Competition begins in earnest today for Boise State athletes at the Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships In Clovis, CA, next to Fresno. Bronco star Allie Ostrander, having already met the NCAA qualifying time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, will not run in that event (she won the national championship last year). Ostrander also passed on the 10,000-meters last night (she won the Mountain West title last year). She is set for the 1,500-meters and 5,000-meters in this week’s meet. Also keep an eye on defending champions Sadi Henderson in the women’s 800 and Yusuke Uchikoshi in the men’s 3,000-meter steeple. Both go in with the top times in the Mountain West this season.
This Day In Sports…May 11, 2015:
After an investigation found that New England quarterback Tom Brady probably knew about the Patriots’ intentional under-inflation of footballs in the AFC Championship Game in January, the NFL suspends Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season. Brady appealed the suspension in a scandal that came to be known as “Deflategate,” and it was overturned, only to be reinstated for the first four games of the 2016 season. Brady’s vengeance came in Super Bowl LI, when he won the MVP award in the epic comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
(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.)