Lead story: a small picture and big picture

We continue to bide our time until college football rolls around. ESPN.com included. The lead story yesterday on its NCAA Football homepage was, “Who is the biggest opposing headache for each Top 25 team?” Boise State qualifies for this compilation, as the Broncos are No. 24 in ESPN.com’s post-spring rankings. Theyre talking individual headaches here. For Boise State, Kyle Bonagura writes, “Washington State quarterback Luke Falk put the NFL on hold for a final year on the Palouse, where he has thrown for 10,888 yards and 89 touchdowns in two-plus seasons as the Cougars’ starter. In a loss in Boise last year, Falk threw for 480 yards and four touchdowns (on 71 attempts).” Well, I don’t know on this one. Maybe it should be anybody wearing an Air Force uniform.

Now, the big picture regarding that ESPN.com snippet. Two Group of 5 teams get exposure out of this, the Broncos and No. 19 South Florida. There’s value in that, demonstrated by the fact that—since the initiation of the College Football Playoff system and the introduction of the “Power 5” conference moniker—so little attention is paid to the mid-majors, it’s stunning. Under that lead story at ESPN.com, you have to scroll through 31 stories (count ‘em, 31) to get to any reference to the Group of 5. And that is in the form of a feature on Central Florida kicker Donald De La Hoya and his YouTube channel controversy; it’s not really about football. The status the Group of 5, in terms of not only the money gap but awareness, has really eroded the past five years.

The Treasure Valley is well-stocked with football camps. The Magic Valley is not. So several former Boise State Broncos have zeroed in on Twin Falls to fill a need. Shane Williams-Rhodes, Armand Nance and Chaz Anderson lead a group conducting what they call a “GoodEatz Camp” at Canyon Ridge High today and Friday. The camp is being conducted in conjunction with St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center, with 25 percent of all proceeds going to the St. Luke’s Cancer Patient Emergency Fund. A story in the Twin Falls Times-News says the term “GoodEatz” was branded during the former Broncos’ time on the blue turf as a synonym for good job: “You get a good grade on a test? Good eats. You jump a route and intercept a pass? Good eats.” And so on.

It makes you dizzy trying to follow the San Diego State stadium situation. The FS Investors group that’s trying to build “SoccerCity,” a stadium and real estate development on the Qualcomm Stadium site in order to attract a Major League Soccer franchise, wanted a public vote on its proposal this November. Instead, the San Diego City Council voted Monday to place it on the November, 2018, ballot. Supporters are afraid the MLS window of opportunity will pass by then—San Diego is one of 12 cities currently vying for a total of four MLS expansion slots. Nick Stone, FS Investors spokesman, predicted that a decade or more will go by before the Qualcomm land is developed. But, despite having no other future home field alternative, San Diego State does not like SoccerCity and is glad the vote was delayed.

Did I say Qualcomm Stadium? According to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Logan Jenkins, the facility’s naming-rights contract expired last week. “We can now call the neglected, but beautifully structured, stadium anything we like,” writes Jenkins. “San Diego State University at least has skin in the game, a stadium lease through 2018. ‘Aztec Stadium’ it is unless someone pays for the privilege.” Boise State and San Diego State—Mountain West showdown—Saturday, October 14, at Aztec Stadium.

Where to now for Troy Merritt? The former Boise State star needs something good to happen the next two months, lest he lose his PGA Tour card for the 2017-18 season. Of course, all it takes is one monster tournament to turn around things on the money list (like two years ago, when he notched his first and only tour victory). Merritt is coming off monster frustration last Friday at the US Open. He was finally in a rhythm down the stretch at Erin Hills—and then came the 15th hole and a three-putt bogey. The ultimate insult was on No. 18. Merritt needed a birdie to make the cut in his first US Open—and produced a double-bogey seven. “I need to stop making seven on the 36th hole to miss the cut. That’s two weeks in a row I’ve done that.” Amen. He’ll try to right the ship today at the Travelers Championship in Hartford, CT.

The Boise Hawks climbed back over .500 last night with a 4-1 win over Eugene at Memorial Stadium. Hawks starter John Valek scattered five hits over the first five innings to pick up his first victory of the season. Leftfielder Jonathan Piron didn’t hit a home run last night, but he was a factor, knocking in Boise’s first run of the night. Piron has three homers over the Hawks’ first seven games. The Joe Martarano watch shows the former Boise State linebacker and Fruitland Grizzly going 1-for-3—his batting average is now .368.

This is a big night for Sadi Henderson. The Boise State runner makes her debut at the US Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, competing in the first round of the 800-meters. Henderson keeps slicing into her personal best—she ran a 2:02.33 at the Portland Twilight two weeks ago to make the field. Two former Broncos are also competing. Marisa Howard will run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase semifinals tonight, and David Elliott goes in the 5,000-meter final tomorrow night. Meanwhile, Bishop Kelly High grad and former Olympian Nick Symmonds will be running at nationals for the final time. The six-time 800-meter national champion is retiring at the end of the 2017 outdoor season.

This Day In Sports…June 22, 1994:

Hakeem Olajuwon leads the Houston Rockets to their first NBA championship with a 90-84 Game 7 win over the New York Knicks. The Rockets had rallied from a three games-to-two deficit in a matchup of centers who played for the NCAA championship 10 years earlier. The Knicks’ Patrick Ewing had prevailed in college as the Georgetown Hoyas knocked off the Houston Cougars in 1984. But Olajuwon outplayed Ewing for the NBA title, averaging 26.9 points per game. It was the first championship in a major sport for the city of Houston.

(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.)