It’s the time of year that the countdown starts for Boise State’s football season. Or am I a little early? I don’t know. But yesterday marked the four-month checkpoint before the Broncos hit the blue turf to open the 2017 campaign against Troy. Over the summer, we’ll all be talking about the rematch with Washington State, the need for a win in Provo, and the triple-option from New Mexico and Air Force. But from coach Bryan Harsin, you’ll hear the word “Troy” over the next four months—and for good reason. The Trojans went 10-3 last year, the first 10-win season in their history, and won the Dollar General Bowl 28-23 over Ohio. Troy also had a player drafted higher than anyone in the Mountain West last week—offensive tackle Anthony Garcia was picked in the third round by the New England Patriots.
The Mountain West’s final two spring football sessions wrapped up Saturday with spring games. At Nevada, it looks like the Wolf Pack has found a new starting quarterback: Alabama transfer David Cornwell. In the Silver & Blue Game, Cornwell went 22-of-33 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns, a 55-yard strike to Brendan O’Leary-Orange. Cornwell, who appears to have a clear lead over the guy who finished last season, Ty Gangi, is the rare graduate transfer sporting two years of remaining eligibility. Cornwell was a top 100 propect out of high school but hasn’t thrown a pass in a game since his senior year in 2013.
You have to love Robert Kurada’s description of Fresno State’s spring game in the Fresno Bee: “The defense beat the offense and at times the offense beat itself with a couple of turnovers. There was some operator error in there, too, with bad snaps, procedural penalties, dropped passes and, in general, a lack of pop, which is something that bears watching.” Sounds like a team that finished 1-11 last season. The Bulldogs have nowhere to go but up, though, as Jeff Tedford settles in as head coach. “I think that we’ve just laid the foundation and I think the players understand a little bit about what the standards and the expectations are,” Tedford said. Still can’t believe how much times have changed.
San Diego State finished spring drills a long time ago, but its season-opening opponent in four months just finished 10 days ago. That happens to be UC Davis, new home of former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins, who oversaw a “Picnic Day” event with fans to cap spring ball. Hawk has been drawing heavily on the Aggies’ championship past as he gears up for his first season at his alma mater, and he resurrected the Picnic Day event, a tradition during the school’s glory days in Division II. Hawkins has two Boise State ties on his staff: his former safeties coach with the Broncos, Robert Tucker, is defensive coordinator, and former Boise State All-WAC safety Wes Nurse is Director of Football Operations.
There’s nothing conventional about an Idaho State football season these days, but 2017 is going to be something else. The Bengals will go into the campaign with a head coach, Rob Phenicie, who spent spring football doubling as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, all for just $85,000. ISU wrapped up spring with its annual Dave Kragthorpe Classic last Saturday, and the Bengal defense held the offense to one touchdown and forced four turnovers. Phenicie joked to reporters that he was upset with whoever was in charge of the offense. He was quick to point out that Matt Troxel is about to return to Idaho State as offensive coordinator. “I’m going to fire the O-coordinator and bring a new guy in,” Phenicie quipped. “That’s what I’m doing next week.”
An under-the-radar item from the NFL Draft: Western Michigan’s Corey Davis became the 20th alumnus of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to be selected in the first round. Davis played on the blue turf as a sophomore when the “other” Broncos were starting their ascension under coach P.J. Fleck, making eight catches for 176 yards and three touchdowns in WMU’s 38-24 loss to Air Force in 2014. The TD grabs covered 47, 35 and 51 yards. Davis went on to become the NCAA’s career receiving yards leader and was drafted fifth overall last Thursday by the Tennessee Titans. Some NFL analysts were surprised he went that high, but man, he’s a good player.
Josh Osich wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire in Triple-A, but the San Francisco Giants are searching for answers in their bullpen. So they called up the Bishop Kelly grad yesterday despite a 7.71 ERA in Sacramento, where he was sent at the end of spring training. Osich made his 2017 debut last night at Dodger Stadium, throwing a perfect seventh inning in a 13-5 loss to L.A. He spent most of the last two seasons with the Giants, compiling a 2.20 ERA as a rookie in 2015 before slipping to 4.71 last year. Osich is one of only four native Boiseans ever to post a major league victory.
If there’s one trait that’s common among wrestlers, it’s that they never give up. It’s in their DNA. Supporters of the shuttered Boise State wrestling program are like the guy whose shoulder blade is three inches from the mat, struggling to avoid a pin—and exerting every ounce of strength he has to keep the match alive. Do the “Save Boise State wrestling” tweets from UFC president Dana White and the visit to a Boise rally by UFC star Meisha Tate help buy any time? Supporters reportedly have more than 15,000 petition signatures, and a GoFundMe page seeking to raise the money needed to save the program is trending. But as of last night, it had raised less than $4,000 of its $500,000 goal.
This Day In Sports…May 3, 1997, 20 years ago today:
Idaho native and former Les Bois Park jockey Gary Stevens wins his third and final Kentucky Derby, riding Silver Charm to victory at Churchill Downs. The one-time Capital High wrestler would take the Preakness Stakes two weeks later, one of three times he won two legs of the Triple Crown in the same year. Stevens is, in effect, an alternate in this Saturday’s Run For The Roses. He’ll be aboard Royal Mo—if that horse gets in the field.
(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.)