First prep for the Big Dance in 2018

It had to happen before the NCAA Tournament ever returned to Taco Bell Arena. It had to happen before the NCAA Tournament ever returned to Taco Bell Arena, and now it looks to be sooner rather than later. Boise State will put a proposal for a new video board in the facility before the State Board of Education during its meetings today and tomorrow in Coeur d’Alene, indicating it’ll be up in plenty of time before the Big Dance visits again in 2018. The system’s top-end cost is $1.5 million, with more than half of the funds coming from Learfield Sports. The 13-year-old screens currently in use (fuzzy images and all) are 48 square feet on each of the four faces. The new boards would measure 121.5 square feet. That’s probably the most important amenity in bringing Taco Bell Arena up to speed for the NCAA Tourney, which hasn’t been to Boise since 2009.

The board will also be approving athletic department budgets for the 2015-16 school year. Boise State is slotted at $38.5 million, Idaho at $15.4 million, and Idaho State at $9.5 million. Football budgets go in at $8.8 million for the Broncos, $5.5 million for the Vandals and $2.6 million for the Bengals. What’s striking there is that Boise State’s football number is less than 23 percent of its total athletics budget, far less than the state’s other two universities.

Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, the former Boise State defensive tackle who had been trying to fight his way back into the NFL from a knee injury last August, was waived yesterday by the San Diego Chargers. The Boise High grad and native of Holland signed with the Chargers in May of last year as an undrafted free agent and was on the Bolts’ injured reserve list last season. Tjong-A-Tjoe logged 126 tackles and eight sacks during his four-year Boise State career.

It doesn’t affect Boise State this year, at least during the regular season. But then again, it does. As the Mountain West strains to stay above the rest in the Group of 5 world, one of its top programs, San Diego State, has suspended five different players for the first six games of the season. Coach Rocky Long says it’s for a violation of team rules. “Stuff like this seems to happen from time to time,” Long told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s a disappointing deal.” One of the five guys is a starter, offensive guard Darrell Greene. The Broncos don’t face the Aztecs this fall, but the Mountain West needs wins on its non-conference slate to boost the strength-of-schedule for all its members, and this could affect that.

Catching up on news involving another Mountain West rival Boise State doesn’t play this year (this happened last week), Nevada has added a one-time four-star recruit at quarterback. Who knows what kind of prospect Austin Kafentzis is now, but the Wolf Pack aims to find out. And why wouldn’t you with this pedigree? Kafentzis, from Sandy, UT, has transferred to Nevada from Wisconsin, where he was recruited by former Utah State coach Gary Andersen. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Utah in 2012 and 2014 and is No. 2 all-time among American high schools with 20,021 yards of total offense and 218 touchdowns passing and rushing combined in his career. Kafentzis will still have eligibility left when the Broncos and Pack meet again in 2017.

Kyle Schwarber made his debut for the Chicago Cubs last night, but he was a late-inning replacement at catcher and struck out looking in his only at-bat. So let’s talk about another former first-round pick who came through Boise. Ryan Flaherty had one of his better offensive nights in helping Baltimore rout Philadelphia, 19-3. Flaherty was 2-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored and three RBI in the Camden Yards crusher. The 28-year-old second baseman has only 12 runs batted in and three homers on the season now and is hitting .253. It was the first time Flaherty had gone yard since April 19 (to be fair, he’s missed 24 games this season due to a groin injury).

The ECHL has announced its Season-Ending Rosters as submitted by the clubs. The Idaho Steelheads hold the rights to 20 players, eight of whom can receive qualifying offers from coach Brad Ralph by July 1. Players who don’t get a qualifying offer become free agents. Here’s the Steelies list: Chris Rawlings, Olivier Roy, Travis Ehrhardt, Charlie Dodero, Patrick Cullity, Zach Kamrass, Jake Rutt, Martin Lee, Shawn Boutin, Eamonn McDermott, Matt Case, Levi Nelson, Alex Belzile, Wade MacLeod, Jefferson Dahl, James Livingston, Colton Beck, Brett Robinson, Jason Bast, and Rob Linsmayer.

Mark Snider, the longtime Idaho Stampede announcer, picked this up while surfing the web: a list of every player who has been on a Cleveland team with LeBron James, whose Cavaliers were finished off by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals last night. 
The site ranked them all, from No. 82 to No. 1. There are 10 players with Stampede connections, the highest-ranked being Luke Jackson at No. 46. There were a couple guys from the Stamps’ CBA era, Ira Newble and Kaniel Dickens, the former Idaho Vandal. Former Boise State star Coby Karl is also on the list, as is the inimitable Lance Allred, the legally deaf forward who grew up in polygamist communities in Montana and Utah until his family broke away. Current Stampede assistant Zendon Hamilton was also a one-time LeBron teammate.

This Day In Sports…June 17, 2010, five years ago today:

For the fifth time in their storied histories, the Boston Celtics and L.A. Lakers go to Game 7 against each other in the NBA Finals. And the Lakers came from behind to win it, 83-79, repeating as champions and claiming their 17th NBA crown, one short of the Celtics’ record. For two-time Finals MVP Kobe Bryant, it was his sixth title. And it was the 11th in the career of Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Seems so very long ago for Lakers fans.

(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.)