Now that Name-Image-Likeness is a thing, let’s look at the Mountain West. Which athletes are best-positioned to take advantage of these new opportunities? It has to be the Boise State football program. Boise is the most isolated metropolitan area in the country, and in this case, that’s a good thing. So successful athletes in Boise command attention—and there’s a lot of them (because there’s a lot of success). The top Broncos are celebrities here. Besides, Boise State has been proactive in this process and is ready to help its athletes explore.
It could be that way in Honolulu, Albuquerque or Reno, but Hawaii, New Mexico and Nevada are lacking in the success quotient. Same for Fresno, although Fresno State is overshadowed by major pro sports in California. San Diego and San Jose are too big to pay attention to Aztecs and Spartans. Fort Collins and Logan are too small for athletes to get any traction in the shadow of Denver and Salt Lake City. UNLV is not only short on success, there are way too many distractions for the populace in Las Vegas. And Air Force? I’d be surprised if the Falcon are allowed to participate in NIL.
SOME PERSPECTIVE FROM HANK
The most prominent athletes on Day 1 of NIL were Haley and Hanna Cavinder, the Fresno State twins and Bulldogs basketball stars. They have signed with Boost Mobile and Six Star Pro Nutrition. The twins have a combined 645,000 followers between TikTok and Instagram and held a live media event in New York’s Times Square. But the best NIL tweet I saw Thursday was from Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier: “Don’t get it twisted. Ball over Brand.” At some point, players are going to have to balance their priorities between marketing and team.
BLEYMAIER TALKS 25TH ANNIVERSARY
Great interview with former Boise State athletic director Gene Blaymaier Thursday on the 25th anniversary of the Broncos moving to Division I-A. Did Bleymaier expect the unprecedented success the program has enjoyed the past quarter-century? “You could tell there was a trajectory—we felt like we had the potential to compete at the highest level,” Bleymaier said. “To have those dreams come true is another thing, and we were thrilled to have the support of the university and the community to help make it a reality.” But Bleymaier did point to Boise State’s fabric. “There’s always been an expectation of winning—and winning championships,” he said. “Everybody knows that, and everybody believes that.” Bleymaier was there for 30 years of it. He’ll be inducted into the Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame in October.
IT’S A BOISE STATE-NEVADA KIND OF YEAR
ESPN’s Football Power Index rating of No. 78 for Boise State is sticking in many a craw. But it appears to be the exception and not the rule going into the 2021 season. Two traditional preseason college football magazines hot off the rack, Lindy’s and Athlon, look at it a bit differently. Lindy’s has the Broncos at No. 32, albeit one spot behind No. 31 Nevada, which is picked to win the Mountain West title. Reno writer Chris Murray handles the Lindy’s capsules, and writes, “There’s been a shift in power in the Mountain West.” October 2 here we come. Athlon ranks Boise State No. 31 and has the Wolf Pack down at No. 50 (still the second-best Mountain West placing). And the Broncos are the pick to beat Nevada in the MW championship game.
A SOLID MID-MAJOR MATCHUP
Everybody wants those big power conference names coming into ExtraMile Arena to face Boise State men’s basketball. But those occasions have become extremely rare and will get ever rarer. Power conference teams don’t roll that way. So this news from B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press has to be appreciated. Rains reports that the Broncos will host Saint Louis University on November 30. The Billikens were No. 52 in the NCAA’s NET rankings last season. Plenty of power programs don’t come close to touching that number. Saint Louis was also a No. 1 seed in the NIT. Put it on the calendar.
MERRITT MOTORS IN THE MOTOR CITY
Another nice blast out of the gate for Troy Merritt on the PGA Tour. Merritt fired a five-under 67 Thursday and is tied for seventh, four shots off the lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. And he did it with a round that included two bogeys. You can do the math: the former Boise State star clocked seven birdies, including four in a row sandwiched around the turn.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…we’re payroll, we’re risk, we’re HR, we’re business.
July 2, 2016, five years ago today: Novak Djokovic’s dominant run of four straight Grand Slam tournament titles and 30 consecutive victories in Grand Slam matches comes to a crashing halt at the hands of American Sam Querrey at Wimbledon. The 28th-seeded Querrey had his power game working and stunned Djokovic in four sets in a third-round match that was played over two days due to rain delays. Djokovic had not exited before the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event since the 2009 French Open. He had easily defeated Querrey in the 2013 Davis Cup quarterfinals between the U.S. and Serbia at Boise’s Taco Bell Arena.
(TOM SCOTT’S COLUMN WILL RETURN TUESDAY, JULY 13.)
(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.)