Let’s set aside the Huskies for a moment. In his Big 12 preview, ESPN’s Bill Connelly suggests that the UCF Knights, Boise State’s first guest of the season on September 9, could make a run for the title in their first year in the conference. Going into his third season, coach Gus Malzahn has zestfully raided the transfer portal, including three quarterbacks, three receivers, four offensive linemen (including two all-conference Group of 5 performers and former Alabama blue-chipper Amari Kight), plus former Georgia linebacker Rian Davis and five DBs for a secondary that was shaky down the stretch. UCF still has John Rhys Plumlee at QB and a veteran front seven. Writes Connelly, “This is a power-conference roster; top to bottom. I think it’s the best of the four Big 12 newbies.” It’ll be the Game of the Year on The Blue.
MEANWHILE, ABOVE THE BLUE
Believe it or not, running the upper deck at Albertsons Stadium is a team-building activity. The Boise State football summer tradition goes back to the 1990s, and it’s gone through a number of strength and conditioning coaches. Now it’s under the purview of Sports Performance Director Benjamin Hilgart, who arrived from Virginia Tech in December, and the more things change, the more things stay the same. The running of the decks began in early June, and last week the Broncos got it up to 15 reps. Think about that. One player told me he figures they’ll end up at somewhere between 20 and 22 later this month. With the increase in decks come an increase in temperatures, with the mid to upper-90s on the horizon for the next week. Last year? I don’t have to remind you that there were 14 100-degree days in July.
KEEPING UP WITH COMMITS
Catching up on the recruiting world (and it ain’t easy around the Bleymaier Football Center right now), Boise State has picked up three more verbals in the past week. Following linebacker Clay Martineau of Oregon City, OR, late last week, the Broncos picked up defensive lineman Connor Warkentin of Bakersfield, CA, and safety Tice Williams of Conroe, TX, on Monday. Warkentin, a 6-5, 250-pounder, also had offers from Fresno State, Army and Air Force (among others), according to 247 Sports. Williams is 6-1, 190, and chose Boise State over Oregon State, Army, Air Force and Brown. Seven of the Broncos’ eight commits so far are on the defensive side of the ball.
YOUR MOVE, MOUNTAIN WEST
San Diego State says it is staying in the Mountain West—and unless it pays a ton of money it says it doesn’t have, SDSU will be in the conference through the 2024-25 athletic year. But there appears to be a catch. Mountain West commissioner Gloria Navarez is playing hardball and sticking to the notion that the letter the Aztecs sent the league about three weeks ago was indeed a notice of resignation. It’s hard to fathom that something won’t work out, but the Mountain West does have some leverage here and is requesting San Diego State’s exit fee of about $17 million. The Aztecs are a ship without a port right now.
There’s also the remote possibility that there won’t be much left of the Pac-12 once it invites San Diego State. If some kind of attractive media deal for the conference doesn’t come together soon, the four-corner schools, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah, will see the Big 12 as pretty darn attractive. There are so many ways this can go.
MATTISON BACK IN THE VALLEY
Alexander Mattison’s free football camp for grades 1-12 is set for Kuna High this Saturday. The former Boise State star and current Minnesota Vikings running back is conducting three #IAMGIFTED camps in conjunction with Greg Bell’s Athletes For Life Foundation this summer to give back to the three communities that mean the most to him: Minneapolis-St, Paul, San Bernardino and Boise. Mattison will intersperse football skills with life skills as he works with valley kids, many of whom would not have the financial means to attend a football camp.
CAN YOU SAY, ‘JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED?’
It’s been a season full of frustration for Troy Merritt, but he got some major mojo back last weekend at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. Merritt, who tees of Thursday at the John Deere Classic near Chicago, tied for 17th in the Rocket and earned $129,800. The former Boise State star had missed the cut in 14 straight traditionally-formatted tournaments dating back to January. After dropping in a long chip from the fringe to end the first round last Thursday, Merritt tweeted, “Moments like these have been missing this year! Golf is so much more fun when stuff like this happens! As in life, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and good things are bound to happen!”
JORGENSON ON THE TOUGHEST TREK
There’s a lot of cycling left in the Tour de France, but no question: Boise’s Matteo Jorgenson has a ton of ground to make up. Going into today’s 101-mile fifth stage that heads for Laruns, France, Jorgenson is 151st in the overall standings and his Movistar Team is 21st. There are 17 stages to go. This is the 24-year-old Boise High grad’s second Tour de France—he finished 21st last year and was fourth in the Stage 10 race. Now Jorgenson’s competing with one pro win under his belt, having taken the Tour de Oman in February. Meanwhile, back at home, the 36th Boise Twilight Criterium will take over downtown streets Saturday night. The combined purse for the series of races is $500,000, split evenly between the men’s and women’s divisions.
HARD TIMES FOR THE HAWKS
After a hot start this season, the Boise Hawks are slipping closer to .500 after a 12-6 loss to the Grand Junction Jackalopes on the 4th of July in Colorado. The Hawks, who began the season 6-1, are now 20-18. They’re still in second place in the Pioneer League South Division but are 3½ games behind first-place Ogden after losing seven of their last 10 games. The struggles are reflected in the stats—Boise is eighth in both batting average and ERA in the 10-team PBL. The Hawks will be back at Memorial Stadium next Monday.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…payroll, process and prosperity for your business.
July 5, 2015: Avenging a painful loss to Japan in the 2011 final, the U.S. women’s soccer team races out to a 4-0 lead and routs the Japanese 5-2 to win the World Cup. While the Americans were becoming the first team to win three World Cup championships, Carli Lloyd was becoming the first player ever to record a hat trick in a World Cup final. And she did it barely 15 minutes into the game. It was the first title for the U.S. Women since their memorable 1999 triumph in the Rose Bowl.
(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.)