There’s a reunion of sorts coming up at the Albertsons Boise Open this week. It won’t be celebrated as such. Five former Boise Open champions are in the field beginning tomorrow, including the past four: Martin Piller, Steve Wheatcroft, Kevin Tway and Luke Guthrie. The other returning champ is the popular Jason Gore, who won in 2002. But they’ll be stone-faced and all business at Hillcrest Country Club as they try to secure PGA Tour cards while playing the second leg of the Web.com Tour Finals. Take Piller, the defending champion, for example. His victory in Boise earned him a Tour card, but he struggled in the show this season, finishing 162nd in the FedExCup standings. But hey, Piller shot 28-under par here last summer. That should be a confidence re-builder.
A lot of attention will be paid to Bryson DeChambeau this week. He is seen as having a high, high ceiling. DeChambeau’s victory at the DAP Championship to open the Web.com Finals last week was his first professional win. That guaranteed him a top 25 finish in the Finals and ensured him of a PGA Tour card next season. And some see DeChambeau as a game-changer—as in the game of golf. His win in Ohio is believed to be the first time any player in PGA Tour history has won a tournament using a set of irons all the same length. Last summer DeChambeau joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Ryan Moore as the only five players in golf history to win the U.S. Amateur and NCAA Championship in the same year. DeChambeau turns 23 on Friday.
Tanner Vallejo was Boise State’s team defensive player of the game in the season-opener at Louisiana-Lafayette. So what did the senior linebacker do with that bit of recognition last week? Vallejo went sideline-to-sideline all night against Washington State, making 10 solo tackles and 14 overall. His final stop was on Wazzu running back Jamal Morrow for no gain in the final miniute, burning precious seconds off the clock. According to Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, Cougar coach Mike Leach “called out his inside receivers, saying that with the exception of John Thompson, the others all got ‘kicked around’ by Vallejo.” Then Leach went down the toughness road again. Said Leach: “We’ve developed to be a team that, if you want to be nice to them, and all this ‘kumbaya’ crap, it doesn’t work.”
Washington State linebacker Logan Tago was arrested Monday on second-degree assault and second-degree robbery charges, both felonies, for a June incident in which he allegedly struck the victim to steal a case of beer, according to police. Tago had one tackle and shared in a tackle-for-loss in the Cougars’ 31-28 loss on the blue turf last Saturday night. The case of safety Shalom Luani has advanced to the prosecuter. Luani was arrested last month on a charge of second-degree assault. He was suspended for the WSU opener but returned last week to make two key interceptions against Boise State.
Washington State now hosts Idaho as it tries to get out of an 0-2 slide. Brett Rypien had some trouble against Luani and the Coug secondary. Now it’s the Vandals’ Matt Linehan’s turn. After a poor outing in the season-opening win over Montana State, Linehan was more effective in the loss at Washington last Saturday. He was 19-of-29 for 187 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, although he was sacked four times and took one particularly vicious lick. Coach Paul Petrino was able to get backups Gunnar Amos and Mason Petrino (his son) into the game. For Mason, it meant burning his redshirt year.
College of Idaho, rejuvenated after bouncing back with a big win at Willamette, will be upset-minded as it goes to Eastern Oregon Saturday night. The Mountaineers are 2-0 and went from unranked all the way to No. 10 this week in the NAIA Coaches Poll after beating Montana Western 35-23 on the road last Saturday. The Mountaineers have 23 Idahoans on their roster—the most visible so far has been senior defensive lineman Austin Brown out of Mountain View, who has seven tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Former Timberline High standout Don Hill is off the USC football team for the foreseeable future. Hill and teammate Osa Masina will no longer take part in football-related activities as they remain under investigation for sexual assault, coach Clay Helton said yesterday. Neither was allowed to play in the Trojans’ first two games of the season, but they continued to practice with the team and attend meetings. Both players are accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Hill’s off-campus apartment in July, though neither has been arrested or charged yet.
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett didn’t exactly give defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford a ringing endorsement Monday. Following up on the Cowboys’ 20-19 loss to the New York Giants, Garrett said he thought Crawford “was tough sitting in against the run at times. I thought he affected the quarterback at times. But he needs to be a more productive player for us. We need to get more out of our defensive line as we go forward.” To be fair, Crawford had offseason surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff that he was playing with throughout most of last season. He managed to make a career-high five sacks and 27 quarterback pressures with it. Meanwhile, former Idaho Vandal Benson Mayowa, helping fill in for suspended ex-Bronco Demarcus Lawrence, contributed a sack and a QB hurry of Eli Manning.
Dan Vogelbach made his big league debut Monday night, but not with the team he thought he would. He was dealt from the Chicago Cubs to Seattle before the trade deadline this summer, and he was called up by the Mariners. The 6-0, 250-pound slugger, a second-round draft pick of the Cubs in 2011, pinch-hit for Nelson Cruz in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ 8-1 win over the Angels Monday night and grounded into a fielder’s choice. Last night Vogelbach started at first base and collected his first big league hit in the Mariners’ 8-0 victory. He is the 123rd Hawks alum to make majors. Vogelbach played in Boise in 2012, when he hit .322 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in 37 games.
Movement among recent Idaho Stampede players: the Toronto Raptors have signed E.J. Singler to a contract. Singler was traded from Idaho to the Raptors’ D-League team last season. J.J. O’Brien, who played in 46 games with the Stamps last season and had a 10-day call-up by the Utah Jazz, has signed with Milwaukee. The former San Diego State standout has a shot with the Bucks. And former Stampede guard Kevin Murphy has signed with Orlando. Murphy was an All D-League first-teamer in 2013-14. Over parts of two seasons with Idaho, Murphy averaged 24.6 points per game.
A couple other notes: Boise State women’s basketball has added another marquee road game to its upcoming schedule (in addition to the one versus June Daugherty and Washington State). The Broncos will play at Washington on December 11. The good news is that the Huskies will play in Taco Bell Arena next year. And the Idaho Steelheads have agreed to terms with forward Anthony Luciani for the 2016-17 season. This will be Luciani’s sixth professional campaign—he spent last season in Norway and Italy.
This Day In Sports…September 14, 1968:
Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers defeats Oakland, 5-4, to win his 30th game of the season—the last time a pitcher has done that. McLain’s record for the season would be 31-6. The closest anyone has come since is 27, by Steve Carlton of the Phillies in 1972 and Bob Welch of the A’s in 1990. McLain’s career and reputation unraveled within a couple years, though, and he ultimately served several terms in prison for drug trafficking, embezzling and racketeering.
(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.)