TThe suggestion that Colorado State should “proceed with caution” in Big 12 dreams elicited a response of note. I wrote the other day about Colorado State’s football season ticket sales (7,800 so far) and its athletic department deficit the past fiscal year ($3.2 million). And because of that, I said that as CSU throws its hat in the ring when Big 12 rumor rumblings surface, “proceed with caution.” Well, that elicited a response from a Scott Slant reader who doubles as a Colorado State graduate—and a Boise State season ticket holder. It was full of well-stated counterpoints in relation to the Rams. So, here goes: “Academics: CSU is a top 100 National University. It has the largest endowment of any school (that doesn’t have a medical school) other than Georgia Tech. You are talking about a 150-year-old land grant institution with comparable academics to Michigan State, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Washington State, Arizona, etc.”
His No. 2 point: “TV Market. The Denver and Northern Colorado market is crazy, one of the highest growth markets in the country. It is highly affluent and is super-high on the cable/satellite subscriptions vs antenna (I think you know Boise is one of the highest antenna-only TV markets in the country). Do you think the Big 12 (Longhorn Network) or Big 10 Network or Pac 12 Network would like a piece of the Boise market? Why do you think Rutgers is in the Big 10? Yes, the New York City market. Not because they are all watching Rutgers football obviously, but because they can add the Big 10 Network to the NYC package.”
His No. 3 point: “Demographics/Alumni. Colorado State is the top school in Colorado for graduates. Yes, ahead of the University of Colorado for the number of in-state graduates every year. Denver (and the state) is packed with us, but here is the other thing: the state of Colorado is the No. 2 state for alumni from the University of Texas, for example. So, the Big 12 sees a great opportunity to not only hit a high-growth, affluent, sports-oriented demographic, they also see a way to reach a lot of Big 12 alumni (and eyes and market share) in the process. Colorado State is also a big school—over 30,000 students (traditional age, not commuters), growing to 35,000 within five years.”
His No. 4 point is compatibility. “What about all the things that make a conference a conference? Similar schools, similar alumni, similar experiences and interests, and cohesiveness. Presidents with similar missions and objectives for their institutions. Bob Kustra is a rock star, but BSU is not UCLA or Washington, and never will be, and he knows it. Kustra knows that BSU is more similar to Portland State, or maybe UNLV (not even Nevada). Ultimately, I think these things matter—‘academic brand’ if you will.” So there you go. I left out some more caustic comments about Boise State’s academic standing. I do think BSU is making huge strides academically, and that its national brand trumps its small TV market size. A football resume is crucially important in these expansion musings, and there’s none better than that of the Broncos. But whatever the conference future holds, it is indeed about more than football.
One note from last night’s Boise State scrimmage (closed to the public and the media): there will be no starting quarterback named until at least after the open scrimmage a week from tonight. Coach Bryan Harsin told reporters the challengers, Tommy Stuart, Alex Ogle and Brett Rypien, have closed the gap on presumed starter Ryan Finley. Kickoff against Washington is three weeks from tonight.
Kellen Moore was first off the bench after Matthew Stafford”s obligatory appearance in Detroit’s preseason opener last night. The former Boise State star was fairly ordinary, though, going 9-for-17 for just 67 yards with one red-zone interception. Moore also fumbled once (he recovered it). The guy he’s battling for the Lions’ No. 2 job, Dan Orlovsky, was 5-for-11 for 96 yards and a 20-yard touchdown pass to former Hawaii standout Greg Salas in Detroit’s 23-3 win. Not much of significance to report elsewhere—Austin Pettis, playing for San Diego for the first time, had one catch for nine yards against Dallas.
Tonight, Matt Paradis from Council, Idaho, may get to snap the ball to Denver Broncos great Peyton Manning at CenturyLink Field. The former Boise State center is listed as a starter as Denver visits Seattle. George Iloka, one of the fast-risers among safeties in the NFL, takes the field for Cincinnati against the New York Giants. Richie Brockel, assuming the foot injury that ended his season early last fall doesn’t get in the way, goes for the Carolina Panthers at Buffalo. And tomorrow, Doug Martin’s first work under new Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will be in the forefront when the Buccaneers go to Minnesota. Blake Renaud, who got a lot of playing time at fullback in the Hall of Fame Game last Sunday, will represent the Vikings.
Idaho holds its first scrimmage of fall camp tomorrow morning in Moscow. It’s always fun to follow Idahoans at the in-state schools. David Ungerer doesn’t qualify as an Idaho kid, but he’s definitely a local. Ungerer’s a 5-8 wide receiver from Pullman, and he’s poised to make a big contribution to the Vandals this season. He replaces star wideout Dezmon Epps in a lot of Idaho’s personnel groups, and he knows the offense well enough to line up inside or out. Ungerer became familiar on special teams last season, returning 10 punts for 65 yards. This year he’s expected to hit serious double-digits in receptions. Ungerer had eight catches for 96 yards in 2014—four of them were against Ohio, the team that visits the Kibbie Dome for the season opener September 3.
Troy Merritt’s first round in the first major of his career started with a birdie on the first hole. Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, WI, was not quite as nice to the Boise State product from there. Merritt framed seven pars on the back nine with bogeys on Nos. 10 and 18. He shot a two-over 74 yesterday to open the PGA Championship and is tied for 71st—on the bubble to make the cut today. Merritt is $402 away from the $2 million mark in season earnings.
The Boise Hawks snapped their longest losing streak in five years in style last night, delivering their first shutout of the season in a 4-0 victory at Tri-City. Javier Palacios started it, allowing just two hits over five innings to notch the win. Craig Schlitter, Salvador Justo and Alec Kenilvort finished it. The Hawks offense was highlighted by Kevin Padlo’s seventh home run of the season. The five-game series against the Dust Devils hits the mid-point tonight.
Two other notes on the local minor league front—new Idaho Steelheads coach Neil Graham has signed his first new player, defenseman Corbin Baldwin. He’s an imposing 6-5, 220-pounder who played last season for the rival Alaska Aces. Baldwin also has 84 games of AHL experience under his belt. And former Idaho Stampede coach Mike Peck has landed a job in college basketball, joining the staff of Kerry Keating at Santa Clara. That makes Peck a Bronco. He guided the Stampede to a 24-26 record in 2013-14 after a 19-31 mark his first season.
Our final KTVB.com Mountain West Nugget of the Day: The league is always under the microscope in matchups against Power 5 conference teams. The MW has 22 such games scheduled this season. Last year the results weren’t very favorable, as the Mountain West was just 5-18 versus the Power 5. There’ll be two tell-tale tilts against the Pac-12 on the first two Friday nights of the season—the Broncos and Huskies at Albertsons Stadium September 4, and Utah State at Utah September 11.
This Day In Sports…August 14, 1971:
Future Hall of Famer Bob Gibson throws the only no-hitter of his legendary career as the St. Louis Cardinals rout the Pittsburgh Pirates, 11-0. Gibson recorded the final out by striking out another future Hall of Famer, Willie Stargell. It was Gibson’s 201st career win—he’d finish with 251. But his greatest achievement came in 1968, when he posted a remarkable 1.12 ERA, a modern baseball record.
(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.)