Cattle call in the Big 12 conference room

Well, I guess you’ve got to hand it to the Big 12 for doing its due diligence. But 18 auditions? Of the most-Googled opinions out there on which schools have the best shot, Terry Johnson of Comeback.com has a ranking that local fans can only hope would apply. Writes Johnson, “If–and it’s still a big if–the Big 12 decides to expand, it’s likely that off-the-field factors will come into play. The teams that add the most value (e.g. revenue) will be the ones that ultimately end up joining the conference. Although I would never fault any organization for doing something that’s in its best financial interests, I wish that the Big 12 would add teams that would make the conference better.” With that, Johnson named BYU and Boise State as the two most worthy candidates.

There’s so much more that goes into this, though. And, again, you’re not finding Boise State on many lists of contenders. The university will, however, is trying to emphasize its football present and its academic future in trying to sway Big 12 presidents. The presentation begins: “’Here at Boise State you have a culture of innovation.’ President Barack Obama.” What’s noticeable about the BSU submission is its positioning as a university of the future. It spotlights Boise State’s success with its Venture College and its new College of Innovation and Design. Along those lines, the pitch talks about “Boise’s history of entrepreneurship.” Kind of the right-place-at-the-right-time approach.

Only six of the 23 pages in the presentation are devoted to football. Then again, it doesn’t take much to make a case for that part of the Bronco resume. You know, winningest program in the country in the new century, highest-scoring team in that stretch, Fiesta Bowls and such. But the national brand, TV and otherwise, was also hammered home—Boise State’s average rank in collegiate licensing sales over the past 10 years is 43.6, with a high of No. 36 in 2012.

The inclusion of the Albertsons Stadium expansion renderings are interesting. They were first unveiled in August, 2010, when Boise State was coming off a Fiesta Bowl win over TCU, Kellen Moore was going into his junior year, and the Broncos were about to present the best team in their history. Not much has happened with it since, as athletic director Curt Apsey had said on many occasions that stadium expansion won’t be on the table until the facility regularly sells out again. But that is seen as a possibility if the stars aligned and the Broncos got into the Big 12. The original renderings had future capacity at 53,000—the presentation to the Big 12 sets it at 48,000.

The first full weekend of NFL preseason football is in the books, and we were hoping the Miami Dolphins-New York Giants game would tell us a lot. On the Dolphins side, it did not. Former Boise State star Jay Ajayi got the start with Arian Foster held out of the game, but the Dolphins’ first-team offense didn’t record a first down before the unit was pulled. Ajayi got only two carries as a result, gaining six yards. Side note: Ex-Bronco linebacker Tyler Gray, a long-shot to make the Miami roster as an undrafted free agent, logged one tackle in what turned out to be a 27-10 win.

On the other sideline, Darian Thompson started for the Giants and got extended playing time after the rest of the first unit departed. Thompson had one tackle but received high marks for his 28 snaps. He also had 10 snaps on special teams. Undrafted free agent Donte Deayon got a good look in the game and made the most of it. Deayon played 31 snaps and made three tackles, one of them for loss.

In terms of experience, Boise State got a tremendous jump on the men’s basketball season with its tour of Costa Rica. The Broncos went 3-1 on the trip, avenging their only loss with a 73-49 domination in a rematch yesterday with the University of Ottawa. They also notched 20-point wins over Canada’s Brock University and the Costa Rican national team. Coach Leon Rice spread out the floor time to get a look at everybody—nobody averaged more than 22 minutes. Experience? The leading scorer for Boise State over the four contests was 6-11 sophomore post man Zach Haney with 13.5 points and 4.5 boards per game. A couple of newcomers showed prowess from beyond the arc, as senior James Reid was 5-for-9 and freshman Justinian Jessup was 5-for-10.

At the Summer Olympics, former Boise State standout Jordin Andrade is on the start list today in the first round of the men’s 400-meter hurdles. Andrade will be representing the country of Cape Verde. He qualified for the Rio Games with his NCAA runner-up finish in the event at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships, clocking a time of 49.24 to beat the Olympic qualifying time by 0.16 of a second. That performance earned Andrade first-team All-America honors. He’s a two-time Mountain West champion in the event.

Graham DeLaet didn’t earn the medal he craved for Canada, but the Meridian resident acquitted himself well at the Rio Games. The Boise State product fell out of contention with a three-over 74 Saturday, but he closed with a 69 yesterday to finish 20th in his Olympic debut. On the PGA Tour, two more Treasure Valley golfers played the weekend at the John Deere Classic outside Chicago. Troy Merritt tied for 56th after a consistent but unspectacular four rounds. Tyler Aldridge was hot Saturday with a four-under 67, but he faded with a 76 yesterday to finish tied for 67th.

The Boise Hawks scored in every inning except one in an 11-4 romp past Tri-City last night at Memorial Stadium. Willie Abreu hit a solo home run to lead off the second (homers are a rarity for the Hawks these days), and that set the tone. Daniel Suero had the hottest bat, singling three times and adding a double while driving in five runs for the Hawks. It could have been an out-and-out rout, but the Hawks’ 13-hit attack included 13 runners left on base. Still, Boise was able to emphatically snap its four-game losing streak. The middle game of the five-game series with the Dust Devils is tonight.

Former Boise Hawk Blake Parker is on the New York Yankees roster, and Alex Rodriguez is no longer. Parker was picked up on waivers from Seattle last week and overlapped the last few days of A-Rod’s career (New York career, anyway), which ended with an RBI double Friday night in the Yankees’ 6-3 win over Tampa Bay. Parker made his second appearance with the Yanks yesterday and was one of only two New York pitchers to not allow a run in a 12-3 Rays rout. He threw 1 1/3 innings and yielded one hit while striking out two.

This Day In Sports…August 15, 2011, five years ago today:

Just short of his 41st birthday, the Minnesota Twins’ Jim Thome hits the 600th home run of his career—and his second of the game—in a 9-6 win at Detroit. The sports world made sure the event was celebrated. Thome became only the eighth player ever to reach the 600 threshold, but three of the sluggers ahead of him were all tainted by the Steroid Era (Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, and all-time leader Barry Bonds). In Thome you had no suspicion of PEDs, no oversized ego. Just a blue-collar guy, great teammate and family man working hard to reach a pinnacle.

(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.)