Public lobbying—and private lobbying?

Reports say officials from Houston, Memphis, Central Florida and Colorado State have been lobbying the Big 12. ESPN.com’s Jake Trotter reported yesterday the network had obtained documents showing that officials from Houston, Memphis, Central Florida and Colorado State “have been lobbying members of the Big 12’s composition committee.” West Virginia president Gordon Gee, one of three Big 12 presidents on the committee, apparently went on a junket to Houston’s campus last November. Remember Gee? The one-time “Little Sisters of the Poor” AD who dissed Boise State and TCU while he was at Ohio State? Don’t blame Houston. Gee was a captive audience, and the Cougars program was able to do its song-and-dance.

Memphis is trying to buy its way in, though, like the guy who hands the maitre d’ cash under the counter to get a better table. The university sent a letter to Gee pledging a $500 million investment in academic and athletic infrastructure over the next five years. (So getting into the Big 12 is going to be like buying into an NFL franchise?) Also in the pitch was a letter from FedEx chairman Fred Smith, who said the Memphis-based delivery behemoth will support the Tigers’ bid to the point of becoming a major conference supporter—and the sponsor of the Big 12 Championship game when it finally happens.

Colorado State is touting its sparkling new 41,000-seat stadium and its academic compatibility with the Big 12. CSU doesn’t bring a football tradition to the table, but neither does Memphis. The Rams figure if they build it, the fans will come, and so will the wins. So is Boise State,who has 64 football victories this decade to CSU’s 35, just sitting on its hands? As I said yesterday, “one should never presume to know what’s going on behind the scenes.”

The Kansas City Chiefs signed three tryout players from their rookie minicamp last weekend, and former Boise State and Mountain View High standout Tyler Horn was not among them. Horn, a defensive lineman for the Broncos, was getting a look as a tight end in KC. One other tryout guy with in-state ties was signed elsewhere, though. Elijhaa Penny, who last season became Idaho’s first 1,000-yard rusher in eight years, was inked by the Arizona Cardinals.

From a combined salary standpoint, Boise State overachieved in the NFL Draft this year, as it often does. A website called Spotrac.com took the contract value of all of last weekend’s draft picks and ranked schools based on the totals. The Broncos, with Kamalei Correa, Darian Thompson and Rees Odhiambo combining for $12,287,635 in projected contract value, were No. 29. Among those immediately following BSU on the list are Power 5 schools Nebraska, Illinois, Maryland, Indiana, North Carolina State, Auburn, Texas Tech, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina.

Former Boise State linebackers coach Jeff Choate, assisted by former Broncos Gerald Alexander, Byron Hout and Matt Miller, is looking forward to his first head coaching job at Montana State. And he’s no doubt excited about his Bobcats debut September 1 at Idaho, not far from where he served as athletic director and head coach at Post Falls High 15 years ago. He’d just like to know who his AD is. Kyle Brennan, the deputy athletic director at Utah, was introduced at a festive press conference in Bozeman just nine days ago. Monday night, he backed out of the job, saying “it didn’t feel right.” A stunned MSU president Waded Cruzado said, “It would be an understatement to say I am disappointed.”

There must be more to this. Former Boise State star Anthony Drmic tweeted yesterday, “BSU tried to make me pay for my senior night framed jersey ‘gift’. How does this rule make sense. NCAA plz.” Is there really an NCAA rule against schools giving players free momentos like that on Senior Night to show their appreciation? Bob Behler and I interviewed Drmic on KTIK’s Bob & Chris Show last Friday after he signed with the Adelaide 36ers of Australia’s National Basketball League. It didn’t come up then. Maybe Drmic just received the invoice. Somebody build him a GoFundMe page.

Former Boise Hawk Chris Rusin made his third start since moving back into the Colorado Rockies rotation in a Coors Field matchup against Arizona last night, and it was a rough go. Rusin allowed 10 hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks, dropping his record to 1-1 and jumping his ERA to 4.85. Hopefully it’s not a trend for the 29-year-old leftie. After four straight scoreless appearances, Rusin was tagged by the Giants last Thursday in San Francisco. He gave up seven runs and 13 hits in 4 1/3 innings and couldn’t record the win despite a large lead. Rusin is in his fifth big league season—he pitched for the Hawks in 2009, going 0-4 despite a serviceable 3.48 ERA.

Has an Idaho high school ever boasted the No. 1 team in the nation in any sport? Methinks not. In fact, the Statesman notes it has never happened. But, after being ranked second in the country most of April, the Eagle High girls softball team claimed the top spot yesterday in the CBS MaxPreps Xcellent 25. The Mustangs improved to 25-0 with a 17-0 win over Mountain View yesterday in the District III semifinals. The memory of Doug Corta is helping propel Eagle this year. Corta, the Mustang’s longtime coach, died last November of a brain tumor. He led the squad to the state 5A championship last May in his final season.

This Day In Sports…May 11, 1972:

One more Willie Mays item if I may, as this is the day he was traded from the San Francisco Giants to the New York Mets at the age of 41. It may have been better if he had retired. Mays hit just 14 home runs over his final two seasons and batted in the low .200’s. The last image we had of him was in the 1973 World Series against the Oakland A’s, badly misplaying several balls in centerfield. Mays was still the best ever, though.

(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.)