You’ve seen the photos and video of Boise State’s new football uniforms everywhere. So let me take a different tack to begin today’s conversation. First, the new look is cool—essentially just a series of tweaks, but all of them good. There’s blue, orange and white (the gray uniforms are, mercifully, all but gone, while the black ones are still on the shelf). How about this idea, obviously not this year, but next? The Broncos need a Throwback Night, featuring one of the cleanest, classiest looks of all from the Tony Knap days in the early 1970’s. We’re talking blue home jerseys, with bold white block numerals and two orange stripes sandwiched in between two white stripes on the sleeves. The pants were white, with orange stripes outlined in blue. Those would look awesome on the blue turf. Let’s run it up the flagpole.
As for the new uniforms, Boise State didn’t turn its traditional look inside out. But that’s a good thing. The changes have been carefully plotted in association with Nike, with the process taking about 26 months all told. The Broncos could have made the change a year ago, but they wanted to wait for new Nike “Vapor Untouchable” technology (including “laser perforation” to keep players’ core body temperature constant). Nike first tried this chassis in the 2016 Pro Bowl and is introducing it to the entire NFL this year. The priority is speed and comfort—and these uniforms weigh 20 percent less than the old ones.
What’s important to everybody is how they’re going to look from the stands. The font on the numerals is the same typestyle used since 2009—the numbers are just bigger now. Who in the name of Bob Behler doesn’t like that? The most noticeable cosmetic change is two thick stripes on the upper arms and shoulders. The stripes represent “speed and power,” and they are a nice touch. All three versions of the jerseys sport blue collars. No explanation necessary. “Hope its a wake up call 2 the program,” tweeted former defensive tackle Alex Guerrero, a proud member of Boise State’s breakout teams and now the operator of Gridiron Dreams. Guerrero is just pointing out that the “Blue Collar” lettering stitched inside the collar has to serve as more than lip service. I think the Broncos know that these days.
There’s no more Joe Martarano at linebacker for Boise State, as he’s off playing baseball. Now the Broncos have one back from the national pastime, in a roundabout way. Mason Smith, who was drafted in the fourth round by San Diego in 2013, didn’t stick in the Padres system, batting .203 over four seasons. Now he’s a walk-on with the Broncos. Smith hasn’t played football since his senior year at Rocky Mountain in 2012. He’s penciled in as a safety, last measured at 6-2, 195 pounds. Harsin sees Smith as a good, mature fit at the age of 22. “I don’t know if he’s football-ready—that’s going to take time,” said Harsin. “As far as the type of person he is, there’s no question.” Ironically, Smith hit a home run in the final game last July with the Tri-City Dust Devils before his release.
There was one other walk-on name we hadn’t heard until yesterday. Harsin announced that linebacker John Mackesy has joined the program out of Chaffey College in California and is in town for player-run practices. Mackesy was listed at 6-3, 230 pounds last year at Chaffey, where he made 75 tackles, including 3.5 sacks. He provides another modicum of depth to a group that lost Tanner Vallejo, Ben Weaver and Darren Lee—and then Martarano. Three important scholarship guys have also arrived in Boise: quarterback Montell Cozart, the Kansas transfer, highly-touted JC offensive lineman Isiah Moore, and another ‘backer, Joseph Inda.
Someday in the next few years we’ll be following this, so, it is duly noted that San Diego State won the Mountain West Baseball Tournament in Albuquerque Sunday for the fourth time in five years. The Aztecs rallied with a three-run eighth inning to beat Fresno State 5-3 in the championship game, advancing to the NCAA Tournament’s Long Beach Regional this week. SDSU, seeded fourth, will play top-seeded Long Beach State Friday night in the double-elimination event. No. 2 seed Texas and No. 3 seed UCLA are also in that regional.
Former Boise Hawks have been hitting a lot of home runs for the Chicago Cubs lately. The team’s last nine games have been against California teams—the Giants at home and the Dodgers and Padres on the road. Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber have all gone deep in that time. Baez and Schwarber have homered twice, and Contreras hit one to end an epic 12-pitch at-bat against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw on Sunday (he fouled off five straight throws before connecting). A lot of good that’s done the Cubbies lately, though. That latest dinger by Schwarber came last night, and that was about as good as it got, as the Cubs lost their fifth game in a row in a 6-2 defeat in San Diego.
Andrew “Beef” Johnston, the popular Englishman who clinched his first PGA Tour card with a fourth-place finish at the Albertsons Boise Open last September, qualified for his second U.S. Open Monday at a Sectional in England. And the 28-year-old bearded one did it with a flair, carding three eagles, including a hole-in-one. Johnston’s first season as a PGA Tour member has been muted so far. He has one top 25 finish and has four missed cuts in 10 starts. Johnston’s reputation preceded him when he came to Boise last year. He had gained fame earlier in the year when, asked what his plans were after his first European tour win in Spain, said, “I can’t wait to get hammered.” Johnston then tied for ninth as the national center of attention at the British Open.
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May 31, 2007, 10 years ago today: The Idaho Steelheads complete their second improbable run to an ECHL championship in four years by beating Dayton 4-1 to win the Kelly Cup Finals. The Steelheads went into the postseason as the fourth seed in the National Conference and started with a first round series win over Stockton. Then they knocked off the best team in the league, Las Vegas, in six games—and the second-best team, Alaska, in five. The Steelies took the Kelly Cup Finals over the Bombers four games-to-one, with goalie Steve Silverthorn winning MVP honors.
(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.)