Certain TV cameras make this bearable

The bad news (although it’s not really news): Boise State’s games against Washington State and UNLV on the blue turf will be night games. The bad news (although it’s not really news): Boise State’s games against Washington State and UNLV on the blue turf will be night games. The Broncos’ home opener (and its marquee Albertsons Stadium game of the year) versus Wazzu will kick off at 8:15 p.m., and will be shown by ESPN2. That’s a Saturday, with good weather all but guaranteed. Then there’s the contest with the Rebels, the Senior Night game on November 18. That was already set for an ESPN2 telecast and will start at 7 p.m. That’s the good news (hey, the choice was 7:00 or 7:30—at least they went early). Thing is, the exposure on ESPN2 does make the late kickoffs worth it in these cases. The games that end up on CBS Sports Network or ESPNU (and especially ESPN3)? Not so much.

Boise State athletic director Curt Apsey recognizes the challenge. “Playing at night, under the lights to a national audience, has become part of who we are,” Apsey said. “We play on Thursdays, we play on Fridays, we play on a blue field and we play at night. We have embraced this as a department, and we need to find ways so that when the clock strikes midnight and we’re still playing, we look around Albertsons Stadium and see our fans embracing this as well.” Kickoff times are still to be determined for the Utah State and Colorado State dates in October. Those games are earmarked for the ESPN Family of Networks.

The next position group goes on the clock this morning for Boise State’s “30-Year All-Blue Team.” Voting should be a free-for-all for the defensive line. If you go in reverse chronological order, you’re looking at a headache of a decision. Start with Kamalei Correa—then add Demarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Shea McClellin, Chase Baker, Billy Winn and Bobby Setzer. And those are just the guys who made the NFL this century.

I’m the one who’s tasked with reminding you of the old days, and I’d start with Pete Kwiatkowski, who split his playing days between the green turf and the blue turf. Not only did Kwiatkowski work his way up to defensive coordinator on the Boise State coaching staff, he was a first-team Division I-AA All-American in 1987. The current Washington D-coordinator was a dominant D-tackle in his day. Kwiatkowski’s most memorable play in my mind was during his senior year at Mackay Stadium in Reno, when he sacked Nevada quarterback Jim Zaccheo on the final play of the game to seal a 40-34 Bronco victory.

There was a time when UNLV basketball was impenetrable. Fans were going to fill Thomas & Mack Arena no matter what. The Rebels’ program, however, has fallen into mediocrity. As new coach Marvin Menzies restocks the roster with good JC and Division I transfers (the latest being Christian Jones of St. John’s) comes word that the NHL is planning to expand into Las Vegas. The new franchise would debut in the fall of 2017 and would play in the new 17,500-seat T-Mobile Arena, which is already open. Organizers say they have already secured more than 14,000 season ticket deposits. Surely some of those have come from the UNLV hoops fan base. Maybe they’ll hold season tickets for both sports—maybe they won’t.

The Rebels’ attendance has fallen from 15,196 per game three years ago to 11,542 this past season. What will the Las Vegas NHL club do to that number? There may not be a lot of crossover between hockey and college basketball fans. But this isn’t the Steelheads against the Boise State Broncos. This is the NHL, and it’s bound to be a more-than-worthy competitor for the winter sports dollar in Vegas.

The roster will change, but the Boise Hawks have been stocked for Opening Night at Eugene Friday, and six players who toiled for the Hawks last year are on the list. Two of them hit pretty well for Boise last summer—outfielder Eric Toole batted .291 in 29 games, and shortstop Tyler Follis had a .282 average over 29 games. One of the returnees is a pitcher who struggled last year. Righthander Hayden Jones was 0-1 for the Hawks with an ERA of 11.00.

Despite winning American League MVP honors last year, former Hawk Josh Donaldson is only third in AL All-Star Game voting at third base behind Baltimore’s Manny Machado and Kansas City’s injured Mike Moustakas. Maybe there’s a chip on Donaldson’s shoulder. The Toronto star belted a grand slam into the second deck in Philadelphia yesterday to key an 11-3 rout of the Phillies. It was Donaldson’s second salami of the season and the third of his career. He went 3-for-4, knocked in five runs, and scored three times on the day. Donaldson is batting only .263 this year, but he now has 15 homers and 42 RBIs.

The College of Idaho’s athletic program is rather entrenched as one of the finest in the NAIA. Yesterday the Coyotes were honored by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, finishing 12th out of the nearly 300 schools in the NAIA for the second straight year in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings. Points were awarded throughout the 2015-16 season based on each institution’s finish in national competition in up to 12 sports—six women’s and six men’s.

This Day In Sports…June 15, 2014:

The San Antonio Spurs win their fifth NBA championship and avenge a bitter seven-game loss to Miami in the NBA Finals a year earlier by blasting the Heat, 104-87. One of the most dominant Finals runs in NBA history denied the Heat and LeBron James their three-peat, as all four of the Spurs’ wins came by 15 or more points. Coach Gregg Popovich and star forward Tim Duncan were part of all five San Antonio titles, and Manu Ginoboli and Tony Parker had a hand in four.

(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.)