The Big 12 presidents and chancellors could decide this week whether the conference will expand, but don’t hold your breath. The Big 12 presidents and chancellors could decide whether the conference will expand during their annual spring meetings beginning today in Irving, TX, or they could just talk it over and postpone a decision until later in the year. Or they could decide there’s no need to expand at all, which many see as an increasingly likely prospect. “For the Group of Five schools eager to move up in expansion, the Big 12 represents the last flight out,” writes Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com. Will it ever take off? Dodd lists a theoretical Big 16, “in the interest of relieving stress, calming nerves, starting more speculation and just having some fun.” The six supposed additions to the Big 12 in Dodd’s mind would be BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut and Houston. Not a tiny TV market in the bunch.
I like this quote from Sports on Earth writer David Ubben, who recently summed up conference shuffling perfectly: “Every move of the last five years of college sports conference realignment has adhered to the golden rule: If it makes cents, it makes sense.” Aye, there’s the rub in the Big 12. How is expansion going to increase the take? With the possible exception of BYU, none of the candidates in larger TV markets have a command on them. Boise State does, but it brings a minuscule number of TV households to the table (its national football brand notwithstanding), and the Broncos don’t have a mega-supportive local corporation capable of offering up tens of millions of dollars to help upgrade facilities to a Power Five level.
As Colorado State garners most of the Mountain West headlines in Big 12 expansion speculation, there’s one school in the conference that’s been ignored. In Las Vegas they wonder why UNLV wouldn’t be considered for a Power Five spot if the city’s new 65,000-seat domed stadium gets built to house the unhappy Oakland Raiders. The Rebels reside in the No. 42 TV market in the country, one that is growing like crazy (as always). Academics? UNLV is adding a new medical school to open next year. The Rebels, however, have no football equity, and the conversation doesn’t start without that.
According to Scout.com, Chase Cord had 16 scholarship offers, 12 of them from FBS programs. On Memorial Day, the quarterback from Peoria, AZ, chose Boise State. Cord, a 6-3, 185-pounder sure to be greeted warmly by Bronco strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman, completed 71 percent of his passes last year for 3,173 yards and 52 touchdowns against only six interceptions. Those are great numbers, but they also come with this: 1,059 rushing yards and 13 more TDs on the ground. You can do the math—if Cord redshirts in 2017, he’ll be a redshirt freshman when Brett Rypien is a senior.
We have massive wrapping up to do from Memorial Day weekend, starting on the PGA Tour. Troy Merritt and Tyler Aldridge had nice showings in the Dean & Deluca Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth. Merritt fired a final-round two-under 68 on Sunday to finish in a tie for 27th and a payday of $93,800 (it would be more if not for a bogey on No. 18). Aldridge cruised to a three-under 67 in the final round to earn $53,433.
There’s a tragic footnote now to the Idaho Stampede’s final season in Boise. Bryce Dejean-Jones, who was impressive for the Stampede early in the season, was shot and killed in Dallas early Saturday morning while trying to break down the door of an apartment he thought was his girlfriend’s. Dejean-Jones, a 6-6 rookie guard out of Iowa State, also played two seasons for UNLV (and against Boise State). He appeared in nine games for the Stampede and averaged 19.2 points per game, earning a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans in mid-January. He spent the rest of the season with the Pelicans, averaging 5.6 points. Dejean-Jones was 23 years old.
Kristin Armstrong is on the bubble for her fourth Summer Olympics berth after finishing third Friday in the U.S. Time Trial Championships. “But I feel confident still,” said the 42-year-old Boisean, who’s on her second comeback after two Olympic gold medals. “I really came back for one day: August 10 (the Olympic time trial in Rio). I’m looking forward to it.” The U.S. Women’s Olympic cycling team will be selected June 24. It will be comprised of four members—Megan Guarnier, who finished third in the road race at the World Championships, is already in. Of the team members still to be decided, two will compete in the Olympic time trial, while the third will be dedicated solely to the road race.
Boise’s Brian Scott was back on the track Sunday night after NASCAR’s version of the All-Star break. Scott started in a hole—in the No. 30 position at the Coca-Cola 600. He finished one spot better, in 29th. That after a scary moment on Lap 114, when he spun coming out of Turn 2, nearly colliding with Kyle Larson entering the backstretch at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Tom Jensen of Fox Sports notes it could have been a lot worse: “Despite going hard around, Scott managed to somehow keep his car off the wall and avoid contact with his fellow competitors as well.”
Boise State’s two active distance stars came through in the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminary Round in Lawrence, KS. After qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the 10,000-meters, Brenna Peloquin also made it to nationals in the 5,000 meters, the only freshman out of the West Region to do so in that event. On the men’s side, David Elliott advanced to the national meet at Hayward Field in Eugene when he nosed out Stanford’s Justin Brinkley by seven-thousands of a second in the 1500-meters.
Elsewhere, three Treasure Valley athletes took home national titles at the NAIA Outdoor Championships in Gulf Shores, AL. Middleton’s Tiana Thomas won the women’s 400-meter hurdles for College of Idaho, becoming the first Lady Coyote to break one minute in the event and the first C of I non-distance runner to capture an NAIA national title. Mountain View grad Eric England won the men’s triple jump crown, and Fruitland’s Talitha Fagen took the women’s pole vault championship. Both England and Fagen compete for Eastern Oregon. And new Rocky Mountain High grad Michael Skagowski finished fourth among an elite national field in the mile run at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene. In the process, the Penn State-bound Slagowski ran his second sub-four minute, mile, clocking a 3:59.78.
The Boise Nationals club won eight championships at the Idaho State Cup yesterday, including all six boys crowns and two girls title. Two of the other championships on the girls side went to FC Nova of Meridan, and the third was captured by Indie Chicas of Nampa, giving the Treasure Valley a sweep of state titles. The 11 winners advance to Far West Regionals, which will also be played at the Simplot Sports Complex June 20-26.
This Day In Sports…May 31, 2000:
DiamondSports announces the sale of its flagship franchise, the Boise Hawks, to the Horizon Broadcast Group of Bainbridge Island, Washington. Diamond had owned the team for all 13 years of its existence—the last 11 extremely successful ones under the ownership group headed by Bill Pereira and Peter Gray. The sale also included the Hawks ballpark, Memorial Stadium.
(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.)