July 1 is the day changes in conference affiliation go into effect every year. July 1 is the day changes in conference affiliation go into effect every year. All was quiet on that FBS front yesterday. But how about a few years from now? Ever since Oklahoma President David Boren floated out his wish for Big 12 expansion last week, the chat rooms have been going at it. Locally, of course, it’s all about Boise State’s chances of being included—even though beyond Boren there’s been no inkling of Big 12 movement. “David Boren doesn’t say a lot of things just to say them,” said USA Today’s George Schroder on a FoxSports.com chat. “I do think it means something that he is firing it out there.” Added Schroeder, “The key is it has to be the right two schools. I don’t think he was trying to say it was imminent at all.”
Would Boise State be one of the “right two schools?” You won’t find many prominent national writers who’ll say it is. Look hard enough and you’ll find the familiar arguments, like, “Boise is in the No. 109 TV market,” and, “As a relatively young university, its academics haven’t reached maturity.” There’s not much Boise State can do about that, even if the Broncos’ TV footprint goes far beyond the Treasure Valley (making the market ranking deceiving), and even if BSU is constantly in academic ramp-up mode. The FoxSports.com chat also included Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman, and he ranked Central Florida as the No. 1 option for Big 12 expansion, followed by Cincinnati, Memphis and BYU.
Someday—maybe yet this decade—the Big 12 may have to expand by four just to increase by two. Boren’s comments are taken by some to mean that Oklahoma and Texas may choose to go their own way at some point and are checking mileage charts to SEC country. If that happened, the Big 12 would have to add four if it was to expand at all. “Big 12 expansion is not just a possibility, but an inevitability,” reads a headline at ESPN.com. And indeed there is a Mountain West school mentioned in Jake Trotter’s article. It’s Colorado State, which is about to embark on construction for a new $200 million on-campus stadium. We have learned this, though: never pretend to know what’s going on behind closed doors in the Boise State war room.
Boise State ‘s Nick Duncan is ready to represent Australia at the World University Games beginning tomorrow in South Korea. Duncan broke out last season, averaging 9.4 points per game and shooting 38 percent from three-point range. One of his teammates is former Bronco foe Hugh Greenwood, who starred at New Mexico. The Aussies are in Pool C, grouped with Lithuania, Finland, Japan, France and Chinese Taipei. There’s a quirk this year, as the Kansas Jayhawks will be representing the USA in this event. The current USA squad is committed to the Pan-American Games. Former Bronco Igor Hadziomerovic helped Australia to a silver medal in the 2013 World University Games. The runner-up finish was the best in Australia’s history at the event.
Graham DeLaet and Troy Merritt are in the field today as the Greenbrier Classic tees off in White Sulphur Springs, WV. In post-tournament interviews after the Travelers Championship last Sunday, DeLaet opened up about his 2014-15 season. Even with the $307,000 he pocketed with a fourth-place finish at the Travelers, DeLaet has made less than half of what he had at this time last year. The culprit? The bad back that dates back half a decade and forced him to miss almost all of the 2011 season. “I think about it every single day,” said the former Boise State star. “It still is a lingering problem that I’m always working on. I haven’t been super healthy this year. But the last couple months I’ve been moving really well and feeling a lot better.” A ton better now that he has qualified for the British Open 2½ weeks from now.
The Boise Hawks saw another one get away in the late going last night, losing to Salem-Keizer, 7-5. A three-run sixth inning off Boise reliever Drasen Johnson did it for the Volcanoes (and a season-high four errors on the night didn’t help). Yonathan Daza did his level-best for the Hawks, going 2-for-5 and helping the team build a 4-0 lead with a two-run double in a four-run third inning. Daza took over the Northwest League batting lead Tuesday night and is now hitting .396. The loss was the third straight for the Hawks, who host Salem-Keizer again tonight and tomorrow night at Memorial Stadium.
It was probably the biggest moment yet in former Boise Hawk Justin Bour’s career. Last night, Bour smashed a walk-off three-run homer to give the Miami Marlins a stunning 6-5 win over the defending word champion San Francisco Giants. The homer was the eight of the season for Bour, who’s now hitting .261 with 17 runs batted in. The 27-year-old first baseman played for the Hawks in 2009, batting .258 with 27 RBIs.
The Idaho Steelheads announced qualifying contract offers to the ECHL-maximum eight players yesterday: forwards Wade MacLeod, Jason Bast, Colton Beck, Rob Linsmayer, Alex Belzile and Jefferson Dahl, defenseman Charlie Dodero and goalie Olivier Roy. MacLeod and Bast have already agreed to contracts in Europe—this allows the Steelies to hold their rights if they return to North America. Roy gets an offer despite word that the Dallas Stars want to send 19-year-old phenom Phillipe Desrosiers to Boise to get playing time next season. Elsewhere, NHL free agency is underway, and three former Steelheads have found new homes so far. Goalie Richard Bachman goes from Edmonton to Vancouver, forward Kael Mouillierat from the New York Islanders to Pittsburgh, and defenseman Steve Oleksy from Washington to the Penguins.
Two of the biggest races of the season, the Stars & Stripes Stakes and the Bitterroot Futurity Finals, highlight the 4th of July card Saturday at Les Bois Park. The track’s leading jockey going into the holiday is J. Luis Torres with 18 wins. Nikeela Black and Jose Antonio Figueroa are knotted in second with 13 victories apiece. Black dominated jockey standings last year with 60 wins, with Torres a distant second at 33. Black has fewer starts this year—she’s still in the money in 69 percent of her rides, far more than any other jockey. She’ll be aboard Is There More in the Bitterroot, which has a purse of more than $171,000.
Final standings are out for the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup that goes to the nation’s strongest overall college athletic program. Stanford was the 2014-15 winner. Boise State was 64th in the country and third in the Mountain West behind New Mexico and San Diego State. One other Mountain West program, Air Force, also made the top 100 at No. 77. Idaho placed 198th. There were 289 schools that qualified for the standings.
This Day In Sports…July 2, 1963:
San Francisco’s Willie Mays (never miss an opportunity to plug this guy) hits a home run in the 16th inning to break up an incredible scoreless pitchers’ duel between Juan Marichal of the Giants and Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves. I’d call that a quality start by both Marichal and Spahn, as major league clubs are happy to get six innings out of a starter today.
(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.)