Last week’s BoiseDev.com interview with Boise State president Marlene Tromp was a good one. From a sports standpoint, we learned that the university expects full attendance to be permitted at football games this fall. But we didn’t learn anything about the renovation of the east side of Albertsons Stadium, and that’s a big deal. Tromp was non-committal on plans to revamp the east side, which includes a cramped concourse, insufficient and outdated restrooms (“outdated” is putting it kindly) and limited concessions. The Broncos were a Division II program when the east side upper deck was added in 1975. It was fine then. But not now. There haven’t been any major upgrades to the stadium in eight years, and let’s just say the Joneses are keeping up with Boise State now.
With all these unfounded (so far) rumors of Boise State looking into the American Athletic Conference again, well, who’s intervewing who? Most AAC schools have facilities equal to or better than the Broncos. That conference is not looking at anybody who’s treading water. It wants vision. Remember the words of Boise State athletic director Jeremiah Dickey at his introductory press conference in January.“I don’t know that there’s a quick fix on the revenue side,” said Dickey. “I can assure you this: (fundraising) is a big part of who I am.” He appears to be the right guy at the right time.
WEAVER AWAITS HIS SHOT
Anthony Poisal of ClevelandBrowns.com posted an informative profile of Curtis Weaver last Friday, with gruesome detail on what caused the former Boise State star to miss his rookie NFL season. Weaver, Miami’s fifth-round pick in 2020, was just beginning his second week of training camp with the Dolphins when he felt his toe snap. “It just felt nasty,” Weaver said. “The toe got caught under me and it just bent all the way back, as if someone broke your finger and snapped it all the way back.” Miami followed up by cutting him the next day on with a waived/injured designation. Cleveland claimed Weaver with the expectation he’d compete for a roster spot this year, and the Browns didn’t use a pick on a defensive end in the 2021 draft. “I feel like I’m gonna be on a roll,” Weaver said. “I’m ready to hit the road running.”
THE GROUP OF 5 QUEST, FROM ONE WHO SHOULD KNOW
Jeff Caves had former WAC and Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson as a guest on his latest “Bleav in Boise State Football—Kingdom of POD” podcast. Benson, now retired, no longer has to spin things with a Group of 5 tint when he’s asked about the College Football Playoff. If the CFP field expands to eight, which is the most likely scenario, Benson predicts that in the post-COVID economic environment, the Power 5 athletic directors are going to get every dollar they can. “As we’ve seen the evolution of BCS to CFP, the Group of 5 did not provide any additional value,” Benson told Caves. That’s especially true in ESPN’s view, he said.
“It could be a matter of ESPN saying, ‘If it’s strictly the eight best teams, we will give you X hundred million dollars,’” Benson said. “If it’s five champions and three at-large, it may not be as much. And if it’s the five champions along with a guaranteed spot for a Group of 5, without any performance standard (in the rankings), ESPN may offer less for that model than the others.” If it’s formatted to pit the No. 8 seed against No. 1, Benson notes, the Group of 5 will almost always be eighth. And how excited would ESPN be about Alabama against Boise State or Cincinnati or Coastal Carolina on that first weekend? Of course, if the Group of 5 was left out, the political outcry would be rather high-decibel.
STRONG IS THE MW QB TO BEAT
ESPN’s Bill Connelly profiles the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Can you guess which Mountain West QB is on the list? It’s Nevada’s Carson Strong, the reigning conference Offensive Player of the Year. He’s not projected as a first-rounder, but he’s expected to be drafted. “Strong certainly looks the part,” writes Connelly. “He’s a safe decision-maker in a pass-happy offense. Nevada lulls you to sleep with sideline-to-sideline passing, then hits you deep when you’re flat-footed. It’s a simple but effective approach, albeit one that doesn’t allow Strong to display a large range of potential throws. With all of last year’s skill corps returning and only one projected top-40 defense on the schedule (San Diego State), Strong should again post big numbers.” Boise State will see him on the blue turf on October 2.
If Strong is the current standard in the Mountain West, let’s call Boise State’s Hank Bachmeier and Jack Sears above-average after they combined to go 26-of-46 for 304 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions in the Broncos’ spring game. Who’s got work to do? San Diego State. In the Aztecs’ spring game 10 days ago, Lucas Johnson, Jordon Brookshire and Jalen Mayden combined to go 14-of-37 for 226 yards. SDSU has really been a quarterback-challenged program since the Ryan Lindley days. A 38 percent completion rate? Yikes.
D.A. ON THE DRAFT BOARD
The much-discussed future of Boise State’s Derrick Alston Jr. in the NBA is starting to take shape. Sam Vecenie of TheAthletic.com has unveiled his Mock Draft 4.0, and he has Alston going in the second round to the Charlotte Hornets, the 58th of the 60 players to be chosen on July 29. We wonder which Alston is influencing NBA scouts’ evaluations—the one that averaged less than 12 points and 33 percent from the field over the final five games this past season, or the one that was utterly dominant much of February, capped by a 29-point outing at San Diego State? The only other Mountain West player in Vecenie’s mock is Utah State’s Neemias Queta, going two spots before Alston to Oklahoma City.
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May 11, 2016, five years ago today: Washington’s Max Scherzer ties the major league record for strikeouts in a game by fanning 20 batters in a 3-2 win over Detroit. Scherzer had a chance at 21, but the Tigers’ final hitter in the ninth inning grounded out on his first pitch. Scherzer became just the fourth pitcher in history—and the first in 15 years—to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning outing, joining Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson.
(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.)