Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: The rash of realignment angles

It’s all about controlling the controllables for Boise State right now, and there’s a lot that’s out of the Broncos’ control on the realignment carousel. With Dennis Dodd’s report Tuesday that the Big 12 “is in deep discussions to add up to six Pac-12 teams,” the Pac-12 would have four teams left and would probably fold before adding, say, six Mountain West teams. In this worst-case scenario, you could see Oregon State and Washington State moving to the Mountain West (if their state legislatures allow it) and the door closing on any more Group of 5 teams getting into the Power 5. Who knows what Cal and Stanford would do. Boise State would have to look at the bright side in what could be a 14-team Mountain West: the Beavers and the Cougars as conference rivals.

“This won’t be the last change we see. The big guys are getting bigger and the distance between the haves and have-nots will get farther apart,” former Washington State coach Mike Price said in a text to the Seattle Times. “We are all Cougs and we are proud of our record in the Pac-12 and our football history. WSU will always be our team and we will support them and cheer for them no matter what league we will be in. I don’t think the sky is falling, but just a change of weather.”

EYEBALLS COUNT

If Boise State manages to remain a candidate for the Pac-12 or Big 12 after the realignment smoke clears, there are those making a case for them. Example: Zach Miller of Medium.com, who points out that the TV appeal argument is not about market size but actual TV viewership. Miller studied available viewership data from the five-year span of 2015-19, leaving out the 2020 COVID year. Boise State was 64th with 476,000 average viewers, more than double that of any other Mountain West school and tops among those who’ll be in the Group of 5 after next year.

Then came 2021, with the Broncos at 675,000 average viewers. San Diego State had 198,000 and Fresno State 45,000. In an article headlined “What’s next for college football realignment?” The Athletic had this: “Boise State moves the TV needle more than anyone left in the Group of 5. TV value, more than anything else, drives realignment now, and Boise State still has some.” I would say this is the key reason: the Broncos have a streak of 24 consecutive winning seasons, more than any other program in the country.

DOUBLE DIGITS ON THE COMMIT BOARD

Boise State kicked of the 4th of July weekend with its ninth commit and bookended it with No. 10 on Tuesday. Both are tight ends. First came Cayden Dawson from University City High in San Diego. Dawson is 6-4, 230 pounds and chose the Broncos over Oregon State and Nevada (he also had an offer from San Diego State). Then it was Oliver Fisher, a 6-5, 225 pounder from Sherwood, OR. Fisher gets a three-star grade from 247 Sports despite only having offers from Big Sky schools. He did tell 247 he “was starting to get some Pac-12 interest.”

TRAGIC LOSS IN SACRAMENTO

A pall hung over the Boise State program on the 4th with word that former defensive lineman Greg Grimes was shot and killed in Sacramento. Grimes, an educator and coach who played for the Broncos from 2009-12, was a backup on Boise State teams that had some of the best defensive lines in school history, registering 45 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his career. His real value was in the locker room and on the practice field. Tweeted Dallas Cowboys star DeMarcus Lawrence Tuesday: “We lost my brother Greg Grimes this past weekend to an act of senseless gun violence. My family and I hurt for his family and son Ace, for his friends & former teammates, & especially for the young men he no longer gets to mentor like he mentored me when I got to Boise.”

RAUSA’S USFL SPRING

Wrapping up Tyler Rausa’s season in the USFL. The former Boise State kicker was fifth in the league in kick-scoring with 42 points, going 9-for-14 on field goals and 15-for-16 on extra points. No one has worked harder than Rausa to catch an NFL eye, with a plethora of videos of him hitting 60-yard field goals while working out. It’s going to be tough, though—in USFL game action, Rausa was 1-for-5 from 40 yards and beyond. But there is some forever consolation, as Rausa is the proud papa of a bouncing baby boy, Brooks, and he’s back in Boise now enjoying every minute of it (and helping budding young kickers at his camps).

JESSUP’S SUMMER: NO VACATION

Former Boise State standout Justinian Jessup has finished his first audition with the Golden State Warriors in the California Classic at Chase Center in San Francisco. In losses to the Kings, Lakers and Heat, Jessup averaged 8.3 points, going 10-for-24 from the field and 3-for-13 from three-point range. Regarding his pro hoops journey, Jessup pointed out on Idaho SportsTalk that he had already signed to play two years in Australia before being selected by the Warriors in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft. The Warriors own his “training camp rights,” and if he doesn’t make camp this fall, he’s a free agent. Jessup said that’s he’s not going back to Australia. If it’s not the Warriors, he’ll look at the G League or overseas options.

STEFANIC’S STERLING STORY

Timberline High grad Michael Stefanic was already a great story when he was called up to the L.A. Angels over the weekend. Stefanic’s journey from lightly-recruited college prospect to undrafted pro prospect was enough. When he was signed by the Angels, that merely meant that he’d half to be twice as good as all the draft picks the Halos were invested in. But Stefanic tore it up in the minors. Then KTVB’s Jay Tust pointed out this: “Stefanic becomes the first Idaho-born position player who also graduated from an Idaho high school to play in the majors since…HARMON KILLEBREW!” In his debut Sunday, Stefanic went 0-for-3 in a 4-2 loss to Houston. But Tuesday night, Stefanic picked up his first big league hit on a pinch-single in the ninth inning in Miami. He then scored the Angels’ only run in a 2-1 loss to the Marlins.

CLICKIN’ THROUGH THE TURNSTILES

The Boise Hawks are happy to get the Missoula Paddleheads out of town. The Hawks were swept in three games against the visitors, capped by a 7-4 loss before a packed house on the 4th. Boise has now fallen 10 games under .500 at 13-23. But fans attend these games for a good time on a beautiful summer evening. And, bolstered by fireworks shows each night, the Hawks drew 13,759 fans for the weekend, the most in at least 15 years. (Former Hawks play-by-play man Mike Safford Jr. suggests it’s the most since Memorial Stadium was reconfigured back in 2001.) The Hawks travel to Billings (again) to open a five-game series against the Mustangs tonight.

WILL IT LIVE UP TO THE HYPE?

The Idaho Steelheads having been hyping a press conference to be held today, calling it “a major announcement regarding hockey in Boise.” The Steelies have been inviting fans to guess what it is—“wrong answers only,” as in the team is moving to the Pac-12. But are they moving to the AHL? Are they switching their NHL affiliation from the Dallas Stars? Is Derek Laxdal returning as head coach? Are they blowing the roof off Idaho Central Arena to add another deck (they sure seem like they could use the seats). We wait with bated breath.

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July 6, 2014: In a battle of long-time tennis titans, Novak Djokovic wins his second Wimbledon crown by outlasting seven-time champion Roger Federer in five sets. Djokovic, who had lost to Andy Murray in the final the year before when Great Britain’s 77-year Wimbledon men’s title drought ended, had fallen in five of his previous six Grand Slam finals. Djokovic had endeared himself to Boise fans when he led Serbia past the U.S. in the 2013 Davis Cup quarterfinals 15 months earlier in Taco Bell Arena.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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