If it’s not going to happen now, it never will. Not for Kellen Moore—not for anybody. Boise State will honor Moore this Saturday in Albertsons Stadium, right before the Blue & Orange Game. Appropriately enough, the ceremony will begin at 5:11 p.m. Inappropriately enough, Moore’s No. 11 jersey will not be retired by the school. Maybe there’s something else in the works, though. A statue? A giant mural visible somewhere above the blue turf? I suppose those would be worthy alternatives.
The two chief reasons for Boise State’s long-standing moratorium on retiring numbers: where to draw the line, and a shortage of numerals with full rosters usually containing over 100 players. Understood. I won’t belabor my point on retiring the jersey, except to repeat this. We’re talking the winningest quarterback in college football history. Kellen Moore was a once-in-a-lifetime player. He was historic. Maybe the Broncos can retire a number only once every generation. Heck, it wouldn’t have to happen again for another 35 years. They have the guy for this generation.
Five impressions of Friday’s Boise State practice, which was open to the media. 1) Local high school football coaches were also invited, and there was a great turnout of staffs absorbing the Broncos’ regimen. 2) The grass practice field speaks to one of Boise State’s advantages in the Mountain West: facilities. The surface at DeChevrieux Field is as smooth and as nicely-cropped as a golf fairway. 3) Coach Bryan Harsin spent a lot of time with the quarterbacks. The group didn’t show a lot scheme-wise, of course, but Ryan Finley sure looked good on the QB draw.
Continuing with: 4) To this naked eye, Devan Demas looked to be the best performer among the running backs. Cory Young looks the part, though. Jeremy McNichols was suited up but was padless and didn’t participate in drills. 5) Nate Potter was very involved in coaching the offensive line. If I was a bettin’ man, I’d say Potter, the former Arizona Cardinal and All-America left tackle at BSU, is bound to replace Thomas Byrd as a Bronco graduate assistant (there’s been no official announcement yet).
For the second straight season, a Boise State non-conference opponent is in the NCAA Tournament championship game tonight. Wisconsin, whose 71-64 triumph Saturday night ended Kentucky’s undefeated season, will take on Duke for the crown. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos are picking the Badgers in this one. Wisconsin stifled Boise State 78-54 in Madison in December, with AP Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky doing to BSU what he did to virtually everybody else this season, scoring 26 points while stepping out to hit four three-pointers. Last season the Broncos lost 70-55 to national title game participant Kentucky. Over the past three seasons, Boise State played three of this year’s Final Four (the other was Michigan State).
The worst season in Idaho Stampede franchise history is over, but at least the club went out on a high note. The Stampede have had trouble finishing all year, but they got it done Saturday night in holding off the Texas Legends 131-125. Jared Cunningham ended the season by topping 20 points in seven straight games, scoring 31 in the finale to go with nine rebounds and eight assists. Jerrell Benimon was his reliable self, adding 27 points and 12 boards. It’s the end of an era for the Stampede. The next six months are going to be interesting for the Stamps as they transition to their new Utah Jazz ownership.
If the Idaho Steelheads stay the course, they could be hoisting the Kelly Cup in about eight weeks. Over the weekend, the course took the Steelheads to the ECHL Pacific Division title as they split a pair of games with the Colorado Eagles. The Steelies reached 100 points in the standings for only the second time since joining the ECHL 11 seasons ago. After being stunned Friday night by a Colorado goal with eight seconds left in a 4-3 loss Friday night, Idaho goalie Olivier Roy persevered through a shootout victory Saturday night to improve to 24-10-3. There’s one more game left in the regular season—that’s Wednesday night against the Utah Grizzlies in CenturyLink Arena.
So close, yet so far for Graham DeLaet. The former Boise State star was en fuego during the second round of the Shell Houston Open Friday, leading the field by as many as two strokes at one point en route to a five-under 67. At the end of the day DeLaet was two shots back. Then at the end of the day Saturday he was seven strokes off the lead after ballooning to a 75. DeLaet finished with a one-over 73 yesterday and tied for 42nd in the tournament, earning $21,236. That initial victory on the PGA Tour is ever-elusive.
One of the great stories of the 2014 MLB season was former Boise Hawk Josh Harrison and his rise to stardom in Pittsburgh. As the big league season begins in earnest today, expectations are high for Harrison, who’s considered the best utility player in baseball. Last season he made 72 appearances at third base, 26 each in right field and left field, 17 at second base and eight at shortstop. All the while he finished second in the National League in batting with a .315 average and was ninth in NL Most Valuable Player voting.
The devil’s advocate on the Harrison front is Sports Illustrated’s Joe Sheehan, who suggests the spike in his batting average could be a fluke. “Harrison has enormous roster value; he can play five positions and is good defensively,” writes Sheehan. “He has enough speed to pinch-run, and he stole a career-high 18 bases last year. But as an everyday third baseman—and leadoff man, his role this spring—his lack of on-base skills will be a drag on the lineup. The Pirates are better off seeing what Korean import Jung Ho Kang, a shortstop by trade, can do at the hot corner.”
On the campus check: the heartbreak continues at NCAA Regionals for the Boise State gymnastics team, who finished fourth in Berkeley and again missed a first-ever berth in nationals. Kelsey Morris will represent the Broncos individually at the NCAA Championships. The BSU men’s tennis team fell to New Mexico 4-1 Friday before recording back-to-back 7-0 shutouts of Lewis-Clark State and Air Force yesterday. The College of Idaho baseball team split a four-game home-and-home series with in-state rival L-C State. The Coyotes’ Thursday and Friday wins were their first back-to-back victories against the Warriors in 17 seasons. Also, spring football begins today for the Yotes, and the C of I’s Scott Garson won the Red Auerbach Award as the nation’s top Jewish college basketball coach Saturday.
This Day In Sports… April 6, 1987:
At Caesar’s Palace, in his first fight in three years, 30-year-old Sugar Ray Leonard goes into his WBC middleweight title bout against “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler as a 3-1 underdog. But Leonard was declared the winner of the 12-round event on a split decision, upping his record to 34-1. Hagler suffered his first loss in 11 years and angrily protested the judges’ decision.
(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.)