Before Justin Wilcox was hired as a 29-year-old defensive coordinator by Boise State’s Chris Petersen in late 2005, he spent four seasons on Jeff Tedford’s staff at Cal. During that time, a quarterback named Aaron Rodgers came through. He liked Wilcox (not to mention Tedford). Rodgers was flabbergasted when Tedford was fired, and he did not like the direction of the Bears program under Sonny Dykes (not many did). Rodgers distanced himself from Berkeley. He even said “Butte College” during NFL player introductions on TV. But with Wilcox now coaching Cal—and having success—Rodgers feels like a Bear again, and Tuesday he announced a seven-figure donation for the renovation of Cal’s locker room and a football scholarship dedicated to junior college transfers like himself.
AIR FORCE MISSING ONE OF ITS PATENTED RUNNERS
Air Force is trying to work its way back to winning seasons and bowl bids, but there’s a bump in the road at the Academy. The Falcons have removed last year’s leading rusher, Cole Fagan, from their roster “pending an invesitigaton,” according to a statement from the athletic depoartment. Fagan ran for 997 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018, including 260 yards against Colorado State in the season finale, the third-most in Air Force history. He had 67 yards and a TD in the Falcons’ 48-38 loss to Boise State last October. Air Force has missed the postseason the past two years.
VANDALS TRY TO CLIMB BACK WITH TALENT
Idaho didn’t make much of a dent in the Big Sky as it returned to the FCS last season, going 4-7 overall and 3-5 in conference. But the Vandals are poised for bigger things this year, as they have two players on the Athlon Sports Preseason FCS All-America team. Senior offensive lineman Noah Johnson and junior punter Cade Coffey are both first-teamers. Johnson was first-team All-Big Sky last season and was second-team All-Sun Belt in 2017. Coffey was also first-team All-Big Sky last year after averaging 44.1 yards per punt, the fifth-best mark in the FCS. He was USA Today’s Freshman All-America punter at the FBS level in 2017.
OSTRANDER A ‘HEISMAN SEMIFINALIST’ OF SORTS
Allie Ostrander, coming off her historic third straight national championship in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, is up for collegiate track and field’s highest honor. Boise State’s distance-running superstar has been announced as a semifinalist for The Bowerman, the award that goes to the top male and female athlete in the sport. Ostrander is the first Bronco in history to be named a Bowerman semifinalist (also the first from the state of Alaska). She earned three first-team All-America honors during the 2019 indoor and outdoor seasons.
BOISE HAWKS HISTORY CLIFF NOTES
Believe it or not, the Boise Hawks begin their 33rd season tomorrow night when the visit the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes along I-5. It’s been a long time—15 years—since the Hawks won a Northwest League championship. Their glory days were in the early 1990’s, when they won four titles in five years under Tom Kotchman. Boise is going into its fifth season of affiliation with the Colorado Rockies. Interestingly enough, only three former Hawks during the Rockies era have made the majors so far. This is also the team’s 31st season in Memorial Stadium, and it looks like they have at least a couple years left there as the new downtown stadium project is still up in the air.
MARK YOUR HOCKEY CALENDAR
Now that the St. Louis Blues have won their first Stanley Cup, Idaho Steelheads fans can make hockey plans for the 2019-20 season. The Steelheads released their schedule Wednesday—Opening Night on home ice will be Friday, October 18, versus Wichita. The Steelies will play 29 of their 36 home games against Mountain Division foes. The other seven contests will bring some newness to CenturyLink Arena. Idaho will be playing the Fort Wayne Komets for the first time ever, and the Orlando Solar Bears for the first time in Boise. Also visiting will be the South Carolina Stingrays, who were last here in the 2003-04 season, the Steelheads’ first in the ECHL.
EARNING IT ON THE RIVER
Conditions are shaping up to be perfect for the eighth annual North Fork Championship today through Saturday on the wild stretch of the Payette River north of Banks. This year it doubles as the Extreme Kayak World Championship, so there’s a lot at stake. Competition begins this morning with the qualifier down S-Turn rapid. The rub this year is that there are no byes for big-time racers. So all the returning champions have to go through every stage. The men’s champs including two-time winners Dane Jackson of the U.S. and Aniol Serrasolses of Spain. The women’s favorite is Marianne Seather of Norway. And there are lots of worthy challlengers this year with the world title on the line.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…we’re payroll, we’re risk, we’re HR, we’re business!
June 13, 2014, five years ago today: Kyle Schwarber, who eight days earlier was the fourth overall pick in the major league draft by the Chicago Cubs, makes his professional debut in a Boise Hawks uniform. Schwarber blasted a three-run homer in the seventh inning to give the Hawks a 4-2 Opening Night win over the Tri-City Dust Devils. For the night he went 3-for-4, picking up where he left off as a star catcher for the Indiana Hoosiers. Schwarber, by the way, hit his 14th home run of the 2019 season yesterday to key the Cubs’ 10-1 romp over the Colorado Rockies.
(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.)