The NCAA Division I Council has approved what amounts to a tectonic shift in athletics eligibility. Players will no longer have to get permission from the institutions they’re departing to talk to this school or that. Beginning October 15, athletes can inform teams of their intention to transfer, and those schools are required to get the players’ names into a database within two business days. Then all’s fair in love and sports. This webpage will be bookmarked on every college coach’s laptop, do ya think? It’s free agency, although conferences can still enact rules on transferring within those leagues. In the future, on Senior Night, a fifth-year senior who’s been at the same school throughout his or her career will deserve a standing ovation.
The second major decision allows redshirting football players to play four games without sacrificing any eligibility. It’s a change Boise State coach Bryan Harsin has long trumpeted, pointing to late-season injuries. Last year’s Las Vegas Bowl is an example. With 1,000-yard rusher Alexander Mattison limited to three carries by a leg injury, the Broncos were shorthanded in the backfield. Under the new rule, they could have used the redshirting Drake Beasley that day without costing him a year of eligibility. And who knows? Maybe it would have been rewarding enough to Beasley that he wouldn’t have sought a transfer after spring football. This season, for example, Harsin can sprinkle in true freshmen Andrew Van Buren and Danny Smith in September without worry. Then he can assess the situation at the end of the month.
The new guideline is sure to make it easier for career records to fall. Take Thomas Sperbeck. He was good enough to play as a true freshman at Boise State in 2013, but he didn’t see much action at wide receiver. Sperbeck made just five catches that season—but he ended up with 224 for his career, 20 short of Bronco career record-holder Matt Miller. Sperbeck would have been a perfect candidate for this new rule. How many receptions could he have finished with? Sperbeck did set the school career receiving yards record with 3,601. Five thousand yards, anyone? Perhaps wide receivers Octavius Evans and CT Thomas could have just played four games last season and still have had four years left to build some big numbers.
A big commitment yesterday for Boise State football, and I do mean big. Jacob Golden, a 6-6, 285-pound (soon to be 300, no doubt) offensive lineman from Peoria, AZ, tweeted that he has chosen the Broncos. Golden is not just a plodder who takes up space in the trenches. 247Sports.com reports that Golden is a one-time tight end who also plays basketball for Peoria High. And he’s another one of those brainy guys who held offers from Ivy League schools (Harvard and Brown), as well as Washington State and much of the Mountain West. Boise State now has four verbals for the 2019 recruiting class—two four-stars (quarterback Hank Bachmeier and “athlete” Casey Kline), and two three-stars (Golden and linebacker Alec Pell). All four were offered by the Ivy League.
Brett McMurphy, the accomplished freelancing college football writer, caused a stir yesterday by reporting that three new bowls are poised to join the postseason lineup this year. One would be at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, one in Myrtle Beach on Coastal Carolina’s teal turf, and another to be determined. McMurphy also says the NCAA has reset each conference’s maximum number of bowl tie-ins—for the Mountain West it’s six. “If there is one surprise, they got to 43 (bowls),” said Famous Idaho Potato Bowl executive director Kevin McDonald yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk, noting that the new bowls still have to be certified. This makes the Pac-12’s ban on its 5-7 teams playing in bowl games more important. I wish “winning record” was the criteria, but there are way too many vacancies to fill.
The Boise Hawks have arrived for the 2018 season, getting settled and squeezing in a couple of practices before heading up to Spokane for Opening Night tomorrow. For the first time, the Colorado Rockies have sent a pair of first-round draft picks to Boise, but they both come with extenuating circumstances. Pitcher Riley Pint, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2016 MLB Draft, went just 3-16 in his first two minor league seasons—and lost his only start this spring at long-season Class A Asheville. The Rockies obviously hope this stint will restore Pint’s confidence. Fellow righthander Mike Nikorak, Colorado’s first-round choice and the 27th overall pick in 2015, is getting back into baseball shape after missing last season due to Tommy John surgery.
Former Boise Hawk Gleyber Torres’ chances at American League Rookie of the Year honors have increased, but it has come at the expense of baseball. Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani is, at best, out for at least a month with an elbow sprain. At worst, Ohtani could be headed toward Tommy John surgery, which would probably take him out all the way through the 2019 season. It’s a downer for fans, who haven’t seen anything like Ohtani, the first two-way player in most of their lifetimes. He’s batting .289 with six home runs and 20 runs batted in, and on the mound he’s 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA. As for Torres, he’s hitting .296 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs in his first 44 games with the Yankees.
It’s time for North Fork Championship VII, the event they call “extreme competitive kayaking” down the wild stretch of the Payette River north of Banks today through Saturday. This morning the Expert race down S-Turn rapid weeds out competitors in advance of Saturday’s Elite race. The top 10 finishers today get wild card spots in the big enchilada, joining world class kayakers down Jacob’s Ladder and Golf Course. Tomorrow’s BoaterX event is also on S-Turn rapid, featuring heats of six paddlers at a time. Find a spot—safely—aside Highway 55.
This Day In Sports…June 14, 2010:
Trumping conventional wisdom in what had been the wildest week and a half in college sports history, Texas announces it is not moving to the Pac-10 after all, and the Big 12 is saved. Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State immediately announced they were staying as well, allowing the Big 12 to continue with 10 teams after the loss of Colorado to the Pac-10 and Nebraska to the Big Ten. Little did the Big 12 know that A&M and Missouri would ultimately bolt for the SEC. The downside for the Mountain West and newly-invited member Boise State was the resulting departure of Utah to the Pac-10, which would come two days later.
(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.)