There’s a huge, unexpected intangible developing in Boise State’s season opener, now just 12 days away at Louisiana-Lafayette. The ravaging floods in that region have bonded the Ragin’ Cajuns with their community, and the Broncos’ visit is being seen as the first step in healing for an area that has experienced what is being called a 1,000-year flood, forcing more than 100,000 people to seek federal help. On KTIK’s Morning Grind last Friday, Ian Johnson and I talked with Ryan Baniewicz of ESPN 1420 in Lafayette about the devastation of the floods and the ULL football team’s efforts to help with flood relief. It was a sobering conversation. There will be powerful emotions at work on September 3.
Almost as soon as the ink dried on the final AP rankings for the 2015 season, the “Way Too Early” Top 25 lists for 2016 starting hitting us right and left. Now the AP’s preseason poll is out and, uh, it’s still way too early. Boise State was in some rankings, out of others during the offseason. The Broncos are bubbling under in this one, fifth in line to get in the Top 25 (the equivalent of No. 30). The AP did this season’s hype machine a favor—Washington State is one notch up on Boise State, and San Diego State is one spot below. Wazzu plays on the blue turf on September 10, while a Broncos-Aztecs game isn’t scheduled, but it’s one everybody would like to see on December 3.
Speaking of the hype machine, Washington and Coach Pete can’t stay away from it. The Huskies are No. 14. The polls have thrown down the gauntlet despite coach Chris Petersen’s best efforts at keeping expectations in check. There’s only one Group of 5 team ahead of Boise State in AP voting, and it comes as no surprise. Houston starts all the way up at No. 15.
Boise State has a four-star recruit now in its 2017 class. The Broncos got a commitment yesterday from Jermani Brown of Midlothian, VA. The 5-11, 170-pound Brown is listed as an “athlete” (he can do many things), but he told Scout.com he’s developed a bond with Bronco cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose. A clue, perhaps. Brown settled on Boise State out of a final three that also included North Carolina and Utah. He originally played for Calabasas High in California (nobody better ask him if he knows a Kardashian), and he originally committed to Arizona State last year before re-opening his recruitment this spring.
If there was a “most encouraging weekend” among former Boise State players in the NFL, it would belong to Billy Winn. In Denver’s 31-24 preseason loss to San Francisco, Winn logged three tackles and recovered a fumble. The 2012 sixth-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns was a late signee by the Broncos and is hoping to catch on after not re-upping with Indianapolis, for whom he played last season. Donte Deayon’s stats look encouraging in the New York Giants’ 21-0 loss to Buffalo—a tackle and two pass breakups. But right after one of the incompletions Deayon forced, he was burned on a 19-yard touchdown pass from E.J. Manuel to Greg Little. Hang in there, Donte.
Idaho’s season opener against Montana State in the Kibbie Dome is just 10 days away now, and quarterbacks coach Charley Molnar says starter Matt Linehan should be 100 percent just in time. A story by Theo Lawson in the Lewiston Tribune talks about Linehan’s ordeal in recovering from a foot injury that sidelined him for seven months—and the support he got from an unlikely source, a guy who works for his dad, Scott, in Dallas. That would be former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. “It’s something he didn’t need to do, but he did anyway,” Linehan said. “He was always very supportive, very positive. Always checking in, seeing how my process, my rehab process, was going, how I was improving each week. He’s a great guy, I love everything he’s done for me and I wish him the best.”
Before the Rio Olympics wrapped up yesterday with the United States’ men’s basketball gold medal, there was the marathon, and Middleton High grad Carlos Trujillo in finished 67th. Trujillo, who ran a 2:20.24, was in the top half of the 155-runner field. George Ivanov was the final Boise State representative in the Rio Games. Ivanov, wrestling for Bulgaria, lost Friday in the first round of the 74-kilogram division to Georgia’s Jakob Makarashvili.
A promising start turned into a tepid weekend for former Boise State star Troy Merritt at the Wyndham Championship. Merritt began the tournament with a 66 and was tied for ninth but trudged through a 75 on Saturday. He settled down yesterday with a final-round 68, but he finished second-to-last among those who made the cut. Graham DeLaet missed the cut but finished 119th in the FedExCup standings and will advance to the FedExCup Playoffs this week at the Barclays. Tyler Aldridge, who also missed the cut at the Wyndham, ended up at No. 140 in the standings and is headed for the Web.com Tour Finals, including a spot in the Albertsons Boise Open.
After being swept at Eugene and watching the Emeralds extend their winning streak to a Northwest League record 15 games, the Boise Hawks got well in a hurry in Vancouver. They’ve taken the first two games of a five-game series against the Canadians, winning 7-0 yesterday. Hawks starter Antonio Santo produced a masterpiece, throwing no-hit ball into the fifth inning. Santos went seven, allowing just three singles as he improved his record to 5-4. He was helped by his defense, too. Boise did not commit an error and got a running, fence-crashing catch in the seventh from centerfielder Steven Linkous. It was the third shutout of the season for the Hawks pitching staff.
It’s a rarity (if it’s even happened before)—two former Boise Hawks making their Major League debuts in the same game. It happened Friday night for Felix Pena and Rob Zastryzny with the Chicago Cubs. In an extra-innings loss to Colorado, Pena was first up, pitching a perfect ninth inning to extend the game. Zastryzny came on in the 10th, loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, and came out unscathed. He threw 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief yesterday after one-time TVCC Chukar Jason Hammel was rifled by the Rockies—the Cubs lost 11-4. Zastryzny played for Boise three years ago, starting seven games without recording a decision with an ERA of 3.14. Pena was a Hawk in 2012, when he made 15 appearances and went 4-2 with a 3.43 ERA. They are the 121st and 122nd Hawks alums to make the majors.
Raimee Sherle out of Rocky Mountain High had already been tabbed a potential true freshman phenom for Boise State women’s soccer. On Friday, the 5-2 Sherle scored the first goal of the season for BSU, keying a 2-1 victory over Idaho State in the opener at the Boas Complex. The Broncos also announced a foreign tour of Spain in May, 2017. The team will visit Barcelona and San Sebastián to “train with world-class soccer clubs, explore a new culture and provide service opportunities with those less fortunate.”
This Day In Sports…August 22, 2007:
The Baltimore Orioles take a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards. Then all history breaks loose. The Rangers scored 30 unanswered runs to set a modern Major League record for scoring in a game, the first time in 110 years any team had reached that plateau. Texas had a nine-run inning and a 10-run inning, and Travis Metcalf and Marlon Byrd both hit grand slams. The Rangers scored more runs in that game than in its previous nine combined. Again, Rangers 30, Orioles 3. And it was the first game of a doubleheader.
(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.)