Voting kicks off today for Boise State’s 30-year All-Blue Team, a nine-week process that will culminate with the team being announced on August 3. Voting kicks off today for Boise State’s 30-year All-Blue Team, the best to play on the blue turf, a nine-week process that will culminate with the team being announced on August 3 and honored at the Washington State game on September 10. The first week is devoted to defensive backs. It’ll be a streamlined group—only four DBs will make the grade. Where do you begin? There are all those NFL guys from the Golden Era, from Quintin Mikell to Chris Carr to Gabe Franklin to Gerald Alexander to Orlando Scandrick to Kyle Wilson to Brandyn Thompson to George Iloka to Jeron Johnson to Jamar Taylor to Darian Thompson. Good luck with that.
The first 10 years of the blue turf were the last 10 years of Boise State’s Division I-AA era (1986-95). So my role is to remind you of some players from that era before you automatically punch the ballot for the stars of the new century (not that you ultimately shouldn’t). There are two guys especially worthy of consideration. Frank Robinson was a skilled cornerback from 1988-91 who was a I-AA AP All-American his senior year. Robinson, believe it or not, logged more career interceptions than Darian Thompson, amassing 22 total. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Denver Broncos in 1992 and played three seasons in the NFL. Robinson also moonlighted as a Bronco basketball player when the team was shorthanded in 1989-90.
Rashid Gayle played corner at Boise State from 1992-95. Perhaps Gayle’s two biggest moments came as a junior in 1994, both of them marking turning points in the Broncos’ remarkable 13-2 season. Nevada was the only Division I-A team BSU faced that season, and the Broncos beat the Las Vegas Bowl-bound Wolf Pack 37-27 in September, helped by Gayle’s 87-yard first-quarter interception return. (It was, uh, the longest non-scoring return of a pick in school history.) In November, Gayle set the tone in a showdown with Montana, Division I-AA’s top-ranked team at the time. His leaping first-quarter interception took the wind out of All-Big Sky quarterback Dave Dickenson’s sails, and the Broncos won 38-14. Gayle made the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996.
As June hits, the 2016 college football predictions are rolling out. VegasInsider.com has released its over/unders on the number of wins for each of the 128 teams in the FBS (we’d like to thank Chip Patterson of CBSSports.com for organizing them by conference). Today we can touch on the Mountain West, where Boise State is projected at 10.5 wins, followed by San Diego State at 8.5. Who are the Broncos’ Mountain Division rivals? Two years ago it would have been Colorado State and Utah State. Oddsmakers now say Air Force and New Mexico. That makes sense, since both teams shocked Boise State on the blue turf last fall. VegasInsider has the Falcons at 8.0 and the Lobos, who surged back into the bowl picture last season after years of futility, at 7.0.
Also of interest, CSU is projected at 5.5 wins, in a struggle to reach bowl-eligibility this year. UNLV, also at 5.5, is on the rise (especially with an anonymous $2 million donation to the football program announced by the Rebels over the weekend, do you think?). The shocker: Fresno State at 3.5. Wow. No progress foreseen in the San Joaquin Valley. After an 11-2 record and a Mountain West championship in Derek Carr’s senior year in 2013, the Bulldogs have gone 6-8 and 3-9.
Former Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton never faced Boise State on the field, but he saw plenty of the Broncos on the sidelines. Turns out he will again in September as he moves into coaching, joining Gary Andersen’s staff at Oregon State last week. Keeton was injured for USU’s games against Boise State the last three seasons, and those various maladies affected his considerable skill set. He had a tryout with the Houston Texans earlier this month but wasn’t signed. Still, Keeton finished his Aggies career with 7,393 yards and 62 touchdowns through the air and added 1,415 yards and 18 TDs on the ground.
Former Boise State star James Webb III was one of six players the Philadelphia 76ers worked out on Memorial Day in their third pre-draft tryout. KTVB reports it’s the sixth NBA workout for Webb, who’s a bubble draft prospect. He needs to find a place he fits, and the Sixers are looking for guys like Webb. “We always look at what are the definable skills, unique skills,” said Brandon D. Williams, Philly’s recently-promoted Vice President of Basketball Administration. “You look at the group of players we brought in (Monday), and we’re looking to see who can stretch the floor, particularly as we think about building around our bigs.”
It might still be painful as the Idaho Steelheads look back at what might have been. After a 7-1 rout of the Allen Americans in Game 5 of their first-round series, the Steelheads took a three games-to-two lead back to Boise. But the Americans won Game 6—then rallied from a 2-1 deficit and won a gut-wrenching Game 7 over the Steelheads five weeks ago, and now Allen is in the Kelly Cup Finals against the Wheeling Nailers. Game 3 of the series is tonight in Wheeling, with the two teams tied at a game apiece. Former Steelie Tristan King is the one who beat his old teammates with an OT goal in that Game 7 on April 27, and he’s still a force, tallying twice in the Americans’ Game 1 win in the Finals.
On the heels of State Cup soccer comes this Saturday night’s USL game between Portland’s Timbers 2 and the Swope Park Rangers of Kansas City. More than 4,000 tickets have been sold for the regular season clash at Rocky Mountain High. That’s a good count as the Boise market tries to get attention as a soccer hub. Last summer’s Basque Soccer Friendly was a one-of-a-kind event on the temporarily green turf of Albertsons Stadium—the game between Athletic Bilbao and Club Tijuana drew 21,948 fans.
This Day In Sports…June 1, 1979:
The Seattle Supersonics, led by Jack Sikma, Gus Williams, and Downtown Fred Brown off the bench, beat Washington, 97-93, to win the NBA Finals in five games. The Bullets were coached by Dick Motta, the pride of Fish Haven, Idaho, who guided Grace High School to the 1959 Idaho Class AA championship. It was the only NBA championship for Seattle, which watched the Sonics become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.
(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.)