Mountain West Media Days starts tomorrow in Las Vegas. At his “State of the Conference” address, will commissioner Craig Thompson shed any light on television rights? Discussions have been going for more than two months now as the league tries to find a solution beginning in 2020. The Mountain West has been tight-lipped. CBS Sports Network had first dibs, followed by ESPN. But anything can happen in the new world of “viewing on devices.” ESPN+, Fox, NBC, NFL Network, Stadium, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook—or something no one has thought of—could be factors. CBS Sports Network, which doesn’t currently have an online component, is not a popular choice, as it dictates those infamous late kickoff times. Yet it delivers fewer households than any of the ESPN networks (even ESPNU).
The Mountain West has to decide what it wants to gamble on: a little less money and less exposure by leaning on streaming and restoring decent start times, or wave the white flag on attendance and go for as much exposure as it can. Millennials and Gen X are not into the live stadium experience like previous generations, so slippage in the stands is going to continue. The conference averaged 23,862 fans per game last year, the worst in its history. And it’s in dire straits at the bottom of the league. The top six Mountain West schools in attendance all averaged more than 25,000 in 2018, led by Boise State’s 33,068. The bottom six were under 19,000. Yikes.
WATCH LIST SEASON ADDITIONS
When I speculated on Boise State watch list guys beyond Curtis Weaver, I did not include tight end John Bates nor center Garrett Larson. Woe is me. Bates was a candidate for the John Mackey Award a year ago but made only 10 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown during the season. It was slim pickins after a solid four-catch, 49-yard performance at Oklahoma State. The Mackey Award people still see the potential we all saw in Bates leading into 2018, however, and he’s on the watch list again.
As for Larson, the former Fruitland Grizzly is on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy. More evidence that the Broncos have got it goin’ on the offensive line. Larson started all 13 games last season and handled virtually every snap that helped Alexander Mattison become Boise State’s 10th straight 1,000-yard rusher. The middle and left side (John Molchon and Ezra Cleveland) of the Broncos’ O-line are getting their accolades. The right side (Eric Quevedo and John Ojukwu) consists of returning starters as well, and there’s no reason to think it won’t hold up its end of the bargain.
GOLF – FROM BANBURY TO KENTUCKY
It was wire-to-wire for Eagle’s Carson Barry at the Idaho Men’s Amateur. The Oregon State sophomore shot 65-65-67, taming BanBury and winning by five strokes over Notre Dame senior Hunter Ostrom of Meridian. On the PGA Tour, while the British Open (Open Championship) was wowing Irish audiences, the Barasol Championship was playing stateside in Kentucky. That’s the tournament Meridian’s Troy Merritt won last year, but it wasn’t in the cards this time. Merritt opened with a one-over 73 on Thursday and missed the cut after a 70 on Friday.
TURNS OUT PARRA WAS PROMOTED
Records aren’t as important as advancement in minor league baseball. This wasn’t officially announced, but the Boise Hawks’ hottest pitcher in recent memory, Frederis Parra, was promoted to long-season Class A Asheville by the Colorado Rockies last Wednesday. Parra had thrown 29 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run, three innings short of the 54-year-old Northwest League record. In six starts for the Hawks, he was 4-0 with a ridiculous 0.56 ERA. In Parra’s first start for Asheville last Thursday, he threw six innings and yielded one earned run. The teammates he left behind haven’t won since he departed. The Hawks took Salem-Keizer to 12 innings Sunday evening but fell 4-3. It was Boise’s sixth loss in a row and its 12th in the past 15 games.
I hope you’ll indulge me for a moment here. But today is my 50th anniversary in broadcasting. I could pull the old “I was two when I started” routine, but I was actually 17, a disc jockey on a midnight-2 a.m. show on KFXD. I’m proud to say that all 50 years have been in Boise, and it’s been a blast to grow along with the city. My favorite moment from a sports perspective, as I mentioned on Sunday Sports Extra: doing color with Mark Johnson on the Boise State-Oregon telecast from Autzen Stadium in 2008. It was awesome to be in the booth during a defining moment for the program—and for Kellen Moore. And I dearly appreciate everything I do now: the five daily Scott Slant segments on KTIK, plus one on KBOI, KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra during the football season, and (of course) writing this column. Thank you.
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July 22, 1979, 40 years ago today: Having shot a 67 two days earlier at the Quad Cities Open, 67-year-old Sam Snead fires a 66 in the final round to become the first player on the PGA Tour ever to finish a round with a score lower than his age. Wearing his familiar straw hat and using his trademark “croquet” putting style, Snead stole the show from eventual winner D.A. Weibring and runner-up Calvin Peete.
(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.)