There it is on the NCAA Football homepage at ESPN.com. “Blue skies: Why Boise State is a CFP sleeper.” K.C. Joyner lists the Broncos as one of his five sleepers to make the Final Four come New Year’s Eve. What year is this, 2010? “The Broncos are the highest ranked non-Power 5 team in ESPN’s Football Power Index,” writes Joyner. “The FPI has Boise State favored to win every game, a claim only six FBS teams can make.” Joyner likes the Broncos’ Fiesta Bowl track record, their scoring potential with Brett Rypien, Thomas Sperbeck and Jeremy McNichols, and kicker Tyler Rausa’s 25 field goals last season.
Joyner also likes Boise State’s schedule, which ESPN Analytics says should see the Broncos win by an average of 17 points per game in Mountain West play. “This is the second-highest predicted scoring margin in conference games of any team in the nation,” Joyner writes. What’s wrong with this picture? The moment the Broncos start believing such press clippings, they’ll experience epic toe-stubbings like those last season versus Utah State, New Mexico and Air Force. The team would be the first to tell you we’re way ahead of ourselves here. Boise State players and coaches have always been good at what they call “blocking out the noise,” and they’ve got some noise.
The Bronco Football Summer Classic, the softball game between the Boise State offense and defense, went missing the past two years. But it’s back, set for Wednesday, July 20, at Memorial Stadium. The event will begin with a home run derby at 6 p.m., with the game’s first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. The extravaganza was originally former Bronco quarterback Bush Hamdan’s creation, and over a period of six years it grew into a summer staple. Hamdan founded the event as a community service project for Boise State going into his senior year in 2008.
But publicizing the event became a struggle three years ago. The university’s compliance department was erring on the side of caution when it came to eligible athletes having any kind of perceived association with a commercial venture, even the Boise Hawks. The Hawks weren’t been able to do so much as a public address announcement or poster promoting the game at their stadium. The game seemed to die a natural death without the buzz. The guidelines are more clear now—and offensive captain Thomas Sperbeck and defensive captain Ben Weaver have met the media to pump things up. No word yet on who the beneficiary of this year’s game will be (in the past it was The First Tee of Idaho).
Sometimes high school players commit to college football programs, sign their National Letters of Intent, and go on LDS missions for two years. Happens at BYU all the time. Occasionally it happens at Boise State. And sometimes we forget about them. Former Rocky Mountain star Kekoa Nawahine signed with the Broncos in February, 2014, and left for his mission two years ago, which was part of his plan. Now, via Twitter, we know Nawahine has returned. And there’s no reason to believe he is not still in the Boise State fold. Nawahine was listed as a safety when he signed, but he is also a capable wide receiver.
The thrill of victory was short-lived for the Boise Hawks, as they got racked 13-1 by Everett last night. It was a rough outing for Hawks starter Stephen Zimmerman, who allowed eight earned runs in 3 2/3 innings and fell to 0-3 on the season. The AquaSox plated six runs in the fourth inning to put it out of reach. The Hawks are now 3-9 as they return home tonight to begin a three-game series against the Eugene Emeralds. That means Gary Van Tol will get to spend some time at home. Van Tol, a Boisean who managed the Hawks in 2013-14, skippered the Emeralds last year when the Eugene picked up the Cubs’ Northwest League affiliation. This year he’s a bench coach for the Ems. Van Tol’s wife, Christina, is the senior women’s administrator in the Boise State athletic department.
Former Boise Hawk Kris Bryant, who was playing at Memorial Stadium just three years ago, broke more new ground last night for the Chicago Cubs. Bryant became the youngest Cub ever to hit three home runs in a game in an 11-8 win over Cincinnati. Legendary Hall of Famer Ernie Banks was 10 days older when he first accomplished the feat 61 years ago. Bryant went 5-for-5 with six RBIs in the game. All five of his hits went for extra bases, the most by a Cub since 1885 (that’s right, 1885). The 24-year-old third baseman is now tied for the National League lead in homers with 21 and has driven in 57 runs this season.
Brian Scott is enjoying life on the Sprint Cup Series this year, but not the results. The Boise High grad started in the No. 22 spot in the Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Sunday—and he finished 33rd. Scott remains in 30th place in NASCAR standings, and right now he’s being pursued by Tony Stewart, who won the Sonoma race. Stewart missed the season’s first eight races after breaking his lower back at the end of January in an off-road vehicle accident. NASCAR issued a waiver allowing him to qualify for the Chase championship without attempting to make the field for every race, but he must also rise to the top 30 in the standings. The motivated Stewart has moved into 32nd.
It’s confirmed that Boise State’s Allie Ostrander will compete at the U.S Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene next week. Ostrander, the true freshman phenom who missed the outdoor season after suffering an injury during the NCAA Indoor Championships, will run the first round of the 5,000-meters a week from Thursday at Hayward Field. The finals are Sunday, July 10. Ostrander is currently the only college athlete who is declared in the field. Meanwhile, at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha last night, Boise State’s Sam Wicks finished 58th in the women’s 100-meter backstroke.
This Day In Sports…June 28, 2003:
It’s the Subway Series in the Big Apple—literally. The New York Yankees and New York Mets played an unusual day-night doubleheader, with the first game at Yankee Stadium and the nightcap at Shea Stadium. The teams agreed to the unusual setup after a game between the two at Shea was rained out a week earlier. The Yanks won both contests, 7-1 in the Bronx and 9-8 in Queens. It was just the second two-park twin bill in modern major league history.
(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.)