Veteran writer Pete Thamel posted this story Tuesday at Yahoo! Sports: “Which college football coaches will get plucked for bigger jobs next year?” Boise State’s Bryan Harsin always pops up in pieces like this, and Thamel has him as the third-hottest Group of 5 coach. Thamel’s synopsis of Harsin: “He’s a remarkable 52-15 at Boise with two conference titles. Harsin is the most accomplished coach on this list, but he’s been picky. This season, not much in his presumed geographic sweet spot (Pac-12 or Big 12) appears likely to open. He has been hurt a bit by being judged through the prism of Chris Petersen’s ridiculous 92-12 run at Boise.” Bingo. Harsin’s been hurt by that locally. Some people just can’t understand why the Broncos aren’t at least 12-1 every year and actually call for a change.
I received a comment some time ago from a fan who complained that Bronco football is stale, and that there are empty seats at Albertsons Stadium, and said, “We need a new coach.” That always blows me away. Some thoughts: 1) the Coach Pete era was a once-in-history experience and will never be repeated—at Boise State or at any other Group of 5 school. 2) Empty seats are a problem throughout college football…an increasing one. Boise State is in much better shape than the vast majority across the country, especially the rest of the Mountain West. Sellouts in the Group of 5 are extremely rare anymore. 3) Bryan Harsin has that 52-15 record in five seasons. The fact that he has been able to sustain success is impressive, and his recruiting is tops in the Group of 5. Name someone who’s going to come in here and top that.
WEAVER WORKING HIS WAY UP
ESPN’s Todd McShay has released his early list of the top 32 prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s not necessarily a reflection of the draft order, but you have to like Curtis Weaver’s chances of going in the first round. McShay has the Boise State star, classified as a defensive end, as No. 27, writing: “Weaver uses his power to be effective as a pass-rusher. He extends his arms against tackles to find the quarterback. Weaver also has the ability to make plays in the backfield as a run defender and can set the edge when his technique is sound. But there’s some room for improvement when it comes to getting off his blocks.” Okay then. Weaver is the only Group of 5 player on McShay’s list.
MUST HAVE MISSED THE REAL JUSTIN HERBERT
Before we let this week’s Sports Illustrated College Football Preview go, we have to note that the cover features Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert. SI calls him “a lock to be a top 10 (draft) pick” and “the most polished QB in the country.” On his ESPN list, McShay has Herbert as his No. 7 prospect in 2020. Which makes Boise State’s performance against him in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl all the more impressive. Through three quarters, the Leighton Vander Esch-led Broncos defense limited Herbert to 92 yards passing with two interceptions and sacked him three times. The Ducks had not scored an offensive touchdown at that point. Precisely the type of effort this year’s Boise State squad needs on August 31.
ELLISS GETTING NOTICE IN NEW ORLEANS
Amie Just of Nola.com is high on former Idaho star Kaden Elliss sticking in New Orleans. Just notes that “no Saints special teamer played more (last) Friday than Elliss, the Saints’ final pick in the NFL Draft.” Elliss was on the field for 77 percent of the Saints’ special teams opportunities, logging 20 snaps. After watching the game tape, Saints coach Sean Payton said he was encouraged with some of Elliss’ special teams play, reported Just. “He had some good plays and then some plays that you want to learn from,” Payton said. “You see those flashes and get encouraged. A little bit more up and down, but encouraged with what you saw when he was doing it right.” Elliss is soaking it all in. “Everything’s a different speed,” Elliss said. “But it’s been fun. You know, it’s exciting.”
GUSTS WON’T FAZE MERRITT
There’s a chance of thunderstorms through the weekend at Medinah Country Club in Illinois as the BMW Championship tees off today. Meridian’s Troy Merritt probably wouldn’t mind some wind to go with it. During his course-record 62 to open The Northern Trust last Thursday, Merritt hit a 12-foot putt that missed the cup by a few inches. While he was walking over to tap in, the strong wind blew the ball right in the hole. The big picture this week: Merritt is ranked 59th in points going into the second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs. Now that he’s made it this far, everything is really gravy (and money) for the former Boise State star. Merritt’s wrapping up the best season of his career—seven months after surgery to have a rib removed.
A FULL DUGOUT FOR VAN TOL
The plan for Boise State’s first baseball squad in 40 years: a 32-player roster, with 15 pitchers and 17 position players. About six months ahead of the first pitch, it is done with the addition of right-handed pitcher Jake Nelson out of College of Southern Idaho. Nelson pitched in eight games for the Golden Eagles in 2016 and did not give up a run in six of his final seven outings. He battled back from injury to make eight appearances this summer for the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox in the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League. In those stints, all in relief, he struck out 8.64 batters per nine innings. It took 20 months for Broncos coach Gary Van Tol to complete his first roster. “We can’t wait to get on the field with these guys,” said Van Tol.
THE HAWKS’ ARMS ANSWER IN HILLSBORO
Pitching has been spotty for the Boise Hawks this summer, but it represented Wednesday night in Hillsboro. The Hawks got a great start by Jeffri Ocando, who went five innings, scattered three hits and allowed just one run—on a wild pitch. For a while it looked like Ocando’s effort might be wasted, as the Hops nursed a 1-0 lead into the seventh. Then the Hawks manufactured a run in each of the next two innings and won 2-1. Yorvis Torrealba scored the game-winner. He went 3-for-4 on the night and was a home run away from the cycle.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…we’re payroll, we’re risk, we’re HR, we’re business!
August 15, 2012: Felix Hernandez, with his hat slightly askew as usual, pitches the first perfect game in Seattle Mariners history, blanking the Tampa Bay Rays, 1-0. While it was only the 23rd perfect game in big league history, it was the third perfecto of the season in the majors, an all-time record. It was also the second perfect game of the year at Safeco Field—Chicago White Sox hurler Philip Humber had tossed one in April. Furthermore, it was the second no-hitter of the season thrown by the Mariners, as six Seattle pitchers had combined to no-hit the Dodgers in June.
(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.)