Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said back in April that early July was crunch time for deciding whether the 2020 football season would start on time. We’re about a month beyond that right now. This is crunch week. The NCAA Board of Governors is going to meet Tuesday to decide the path forward—be it an NCAA ruling on the season or a deferment to conferences and divisions to make that call. Also this week, the fate of Boise’s host role in the 2021 NCAA Tournament could be decided, as that same Board of Governors discusses Idaho’s new law banning transgender females from playing on women’s high school and college sports teams. Boise State is slated to host the first and second rounds of the tournaments March 18-20 at ExtraMile Arena. The local sports scene is shaky right now.
Another curve ball was heaved at college sports over the weekend, as a coalition of Pac-12 football players from multiple schools posted a letter in The Players Tribune saying it would opt out of fall camp and games without assurances of COVID safety precautions, initiatives that address racial injustice and revenue sharing. ESPN reported the movement numbered more than 400 players. The letter is signed “Players of the Pac-12” with the hashtag #WeAreUnited. Would players in the Mountain West have that kind of power or influence? In the MW right now, there’s no revenue to share.
BENNETT’S BUS STOPS IN SACRAMENTO
Quarterback Kaiden Bennett is on his third university in less than a year. Bennett left the Boise State program at the end of fall camp last summer and headed for Nevada. Then this summer, he left the Wolf Pack and entered the transfer portal. He has settled on FCS Sacramento State, near where he starred in high school at Folsom. Bennett has all four years of eligibility still remaining, and he may have found a place he can start. The Hornets have to replace Kevin Thomson, the 2019 Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year who has transferred to Washington. A refresher on Bennett’s numbers: he threw 121 touchdown passes against just 18 interceptions at Folsom High.
COYOTES STILL LOOKING AT SCHEDULE CREATIVITY
The three Cascade Conference schools that play football in the Frontier Conference, including College of Idaho, are still on an island next spring. The Frontier has announced it plans to play an eight-game round-robin conference slate among the five Montana schools this fall. So unless things change (though they probably will), C of I, Eastern Oregon and Southern Oregon will probably look to the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference and the Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference to cobble something together. The NAIA postseason is still in play though, as that organization’s Council of Presidents voted Friday to postpone its football playoffs until spring.
MERRITT ‘SETTLES’ FOR $381,500 – AND THE U.S. OPEN
The rest of Troy Merritt’s 2020 PGA Tour season has ratcheted up, as he is not only headed for the PGA Championship this week in San Francisco, he also qualified for his second U.S. Open with a second-place finish at the Barracuda Championship. Merritt took full advantage of the unique Modified Stableford scoring system for three rounds at the Barracuda and led by four points going into Sunday’s action but he was overtaken by Richy Werenski and finished second by point (Werenski earned $630,000). The back nine didn’t serve the former Boise State star well. Merritt parred all nine holes, and pars are worth zero points. Werenski earned five points with an eagle on No. 16, and that was the difference. But Merritt does have momentum now, bouncing back after back-to-back missed cuts and pocketing a healthy paycheck.
A KEY AZTEC RE-UPS AT SDSU
Boise State’s Derrick Alston announced last month that he’s withdrawing from the NBA Draft, thus becoming a 2020-21 Mountain West Player of the Year candidate. You can rinse and repeat that storyline for San Diego State’s Matt Mitchell, who revealed Friday that he’s also returning to the Aztecs for his senior season. Mitchell started the final 19 games of SDSU’s 30-2 campaign, averaging 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He was the Aztecs’ second-leading scorer behind MW Player of the Year Malachi Flynn. Mitchell was rolling at the end of the season, putting up 17 points against the Broncos in the Mountain West Tournament semifinals in an 81-68 win.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by COMMERCIAL TIRE…keeping you and your family on the road.
August 3, 1989: The Cincinnati Reds produce the highest-scoring first inning in Major League history, pushing across 14 runs against the Houston Astros at Riverfront Stadium. The Reds sent a record 20 men to the plate and collected 16 hits. The bottom of the first lasted 38 minutes, with the Reds going on to win the game, 18-2. It was exactly three weeks later that Cincinnati manager Pete Rose was forced out, accepting a permanent place on baseball’s ineligible list.
(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.)