The Broncos ride the teeter-totter

You have the step-up, the lateral move, and the one-level-down. In the quest for balance in football scheduling, you have the step-up, the lateral move, and the one-level-down. Boise State has plenty of the step-ups in the next nine years, with home-and-home series against Washington, Virginia, Washington State, Oregon State, Oklahoma State, Florida State and Michigan State. Yesterday the Broncos added two laterals, setting home-and-home engagements with Conference USA foes (and one-time WAC opponents) UTEP and Rice. Both schools visit the blue turf first. The Miners are here in 2021 and home in El Paso in 2022, while the Owls are here in 2023 and home in Houston in 2024.

A scheduling announcement can’t go without Bronco-Vandal water cooler talk. Assuming the Mountain West schedule remains at eight games per season, Boise State’s non-conference slate was already full anyway through 2018 (and again in 2021 and 2022). So the next chance for the Broncos to add Idaho to the fold is 2019—unless they take advantage of the Hawaii 13th-game exemption when they play the Warriors on the road next year. It’s still the rock-and-a-hard spot thing, with the Vandals not wanting to play in Boise without a return game in Moscow, and the Broncos not willing to play in a 16,000-seat facility. And it’s unfortunate. It’s a game that needs to be played. This season will mark the fifth straight year of hiatus for the Boise State-Idaho rivalry that was the feature attraction on the state’s sports calendar for 40 consecutive years.

It’s a no-go in Denver for a most revered Bronco. Matt Miller finished his college career prematurely in the state of Colorado last September, and the former Boise State great was back there over the weekend for his first rookie mini-camp with the NFL’s Broncos as an undrafted—but signed—free agent. And Miller was waived by Denver yesterday. He worked tirelessly to get back on the field after the ankle injury that finally debilitated him at Air Force. But the ankle apparently wasn’t ready for prime time, and in the NFL there’s no room for what-ifs. So does Miller keep trying now? Or does he take advantage of a secure fall-back plan, cattle ranching in his home state of Montana?

Imagine the emotion on Senior Night last November had Miller played out his senior year instead of having it end so abruptly in September. Not to say that Miller was forgotten by the time November 29 rolled around, but so much had changed by then. Boise State was on a six-game winning streak since the loss at Air Force and had tweaked the offense with Miller gone so guys like Thomas Sperbeck and Jeremy McNichols could flourish. What would Miller’s numbers have looked like without the injury? He had already broken the Broncos’ career receptions record, ending with 244, and he had 3,049 receiving yards, 15 short of breaking the school record there. Hopefully Miller will be fully appreciated as the years go by.

Boise State’s Ty Travis saw his college career come to an end with a 15th-place finish at the Mountain West Championships nine days ago. Now the Eagle High grad has successfully turned the page with a win yesterday in US Open Local Qualifying at the Club at SpurWing. Travis fired a three-under 69 to win the event by one stroke and advance to Sectional Qualifying at Tumble Creek in Cle Elum, WA, on June 8. Eric Ansett of Spokane and Chris Killmer of Bellingham, WA, tied for the second qualifying spot at two-under 70 and went to a playoff, won by Killmer with a birdie on the fourth extra hole.

The Basque Soccer Friendly in Albertsons Stadium this summer may be at the mercy of the National Court of Spain, although local officials remain confident the event will go on as planned. Spanish players, including those of Athletic Bilbao, are planning to strike before the final two rounds of the season, and the court has summoned officials of La Liga and the Spanish players’ union to hear arguments tomorrow before ruling on the league’s request that the strike be temporarily suspended. One of Spain’s premier events, Copa del Rey (the “King’s Cup”) could be affected by a strike. Bilbao is set to play in the Copa del Rey final on May 30 versus the famed FC Barcelona. The issue is a proposed government law that would centralize the sale of TV rights.

Bilbao is scheduled to face Club Tijuana on temporarily green turf in Boise on July 29, and this morning the kickoff time for the match was announced as 7 p.m. That should ensure there’s a run on tickets on the west side of Albertsons Stadium—in the shade (the average high that day is 93). Ticket sales currently stand at 16,000 in the 36,500-seat facility.

Was the Idaho Steelheads’ first-round loss to the Utah Grizzlies in the Kelly Cup Playoffs weird, or what? Here’s some supporting data, and it’s all about Utah goalie Igor Bobkov. It was Bobkov who stunningly and almost single-handedly sunk the Steelheads, going 4-2 with a .941 save percentage and a 2.12 goals-against average—and shutting out Idaho in the finale. That was a ton of momentum going into the Pacific Division semifinals, right? Bobkov went 1-3 versus Ontario with a save percentage of just .833 and a bloated 3.99 goals-against average. He was pulled in two of the Grizzlies’ losses and was benched for the deciding Game 5. The Steelies were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ontario is currently awaiting the Western Conference Finals against the winner of the Allen-Rapid City series.

Jeff Samardzija returned to the mound for the White Sox last night after a five-game suspension, and the welcome wasn’t very warm in Milwaukee. The Brewers knocked the former Boise Hawk around to the tune of seven runs (five of them earned) in six innings in a 10-7 victory. Samardzija’s record dropped to 2-3, with his ERA ballooning to 4.80. He was coming off a strong start last Tuesday, a win over Detroit when he yielded two runs on seven hits in seven innings of work. Samardzija then began serving the suspension, which is no big deal for a starting pitcher. At best, it just pushed back his next assignment by a day. The one-time Notre Dame wide receiver’s two best outings (and both of his victories) this season have come against one of the American League’s best teams. He also beat the Tigers April 17 at Commerica Park.

This Day In Sports…May 12, 1925:

The birthday of one of the most quoted players in major league history. Yogi Berra distinguished himself during an 18-year playing career, virtually all of it with the New York Yankees. He was especially effective in the World Series. But it’s Yogi’s famous sayings that will live forever. “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.” “It’s déjà vu all over again.” “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.” Yogi Berra…90 years old today.

(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.)