The brave new sportswriting world

After 14 years at the Idaho Press and Idaho Statesman, Dave Southorn has made the bold and visionary move of joining The Athletic, where he’ll continue to be a Boise State football beat writer.  The Athletic, one of the fastest-growing sources for customized sports news in the country, is adding 10 new schools to its regular beat coverage (the Broncos are the only new Group of 5 team—and only the second to be part of the website’s 33-school beat roster).  Longtime Sports Illustrated writer Stewart Mandel, now the editor-in-chief for college football at The Athletic, made the official announcement Monday while welcoming another prominent former SI scribe to the fold, Andy Staples.  This is good news for Boise State fans,  And for Southorn.

So, as a congratulatory gesture, let’s delve into Southorn’s first piece for The Athletic: “Handicapping the horses of Boise State’s most wide-open QB race in years.”  The party line as fall camp approaches has been that if sophomore Chase Cord has recovered from the ACL tear he suffered last October, he’s probably the guy come August 31 in Jacksonville.  Southorn concurs, writing, “Cord knows the offense well, and his mobility at 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds matches the skill set the staff has continued to recruit toward in recent years.”  The experience in the program is the differentiator between Cord and true freshman Hank Bachmeier right now.  “It would not be stunning for (Bachmeier) to start right away, but history indicates the Broncos may go with someone who has more time in the system,” writes Southorn.

PLENTY OF GOOD SEATS AVAILABLE, SPORTS FANS

Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat reported Friday that Florida State has currently sold only about 30,000 tickets for the season opener in 67,174-seat TIAA Stadium, home of the Jaguars in Jacksonville.  Certainly it’s a symptom of the Seminoles going off the rails last year with their 5-7 season.  And the Broncos don’t create the national buzz they did 10 years ago (it’s impossible to replicate that).  As much as anything, though, it’s a measure of the way things are in attendance for all sports.  There’s a lot more to come on this subject, but Chris Vannini of The Athletic points out that attendance has fallen in the FBS as a whole seven times in the past eight years, and it is currently at the lowest average mark since 1996.

WATCH THIS LIST

Watch list season in college football began in earnest yesterday when Boise State’s Curtis Weaver was on the docket for the Bednarik Award that goes to the nation’s top defensive player.  Weaver, the junior STUD (stand-up defensive end/linebacker), was one of eight Mountain West players on the list.  He has already been named a second-team preseason All-American by Sporting News and a fourth-teamer by Athlon Sports.  There’ll be more Bronco watch list mentions to come, but most of them will probably belong to Weaver.  Longshots to join him might be wide receivers John Hightower and CT Thomas for the Biletnikoff Award or offensive linemen Ezra Cleveland and John Molchon for the Outland Award.

A PASSING GLANCE AT PORTLAND STATE

Unlike most of the college football preview magazines, Street & Smith’s features a decent section on the FCS. So how about we check out Portland State, who visits Boise State on September 14 as Boise State’s first FCS opponent since Idaho State in 2015.  The publication picks the Vikings to finish eighth in the Big Sky this season after being picked last in 2018 and managing to go 4-7.  Street & Smith’s notes that Rutgers transfer Jalen Chatman could challenge returning starter Davis Alexander at quarterback.  There’s another guy named Davis you’ll want to take note of: Davis Koetter, a sophomore wide receiver from Tampa.  Yes, he’s Dirk Koetter’s son.  He made four catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns last fall.

JURY STILL OUT ON HUTCH’S SUMMER

Only the Chicago Bulls know how seriously to take Chandler Hutchison’s Las Vegas Summer League stats.  The former Boise State first-rounder wrapped up his summer session Saturday night with a double-double—13 points and 10 rebounds—in an 85-73 loss to Orlando.  But Hutchison was just 3-for-10 from the field, par for the inconsistent course in Vegas.  In four games, he averaged 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds but shot just 29 percent. The asterisk is is that Hutchison was coming off a 5½-month rehab of a troublesome broken toe.  He was on a minutes limit during summer league and may not have found a rhythm.  And he does get high marks from coach Jim Boylen for facilitating in transition.

OF FORMER HAWKS AND CURRENT HAWKS

The weekend began with one of the great stories of the 2019 big league season, and a former Boise Hawk was part of it. The L.A. Angels returned to Anaheim Friday night for the first time since the unexpected death of popular pitcher Tyler Skaggs.  All of the Angels were decked out in Skaggs’ No. 45 uniform, and his mother threw out the first pitch (a perfect strike).  Then the Halos proceeded to no-hit Seattle 13-0.  Taylor Cole was the opener for L.A. and tossed two innings. Then Felix Pena threw the final seven and got the win.  The Angels ended the night by emotionally draping their No. 45 jerseys on the mound. Pena was a starter for the Hawks during the 2012 season and went 4-2 with a 3.43 ERA.

Andrew Cashner was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles by Boston on Saturday, and the Red Sox will start the former Boise Hawk tonight against Toronto.  Cashner might be the biggest pre-deadline acquisition in the majors. The 32-year-old righthander was 9-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 17 starts for the Orioles this season.  Think about that.  Baltimore’s record is 28-65.  Now re-read Cashner’s stats.  He’s been hot since before the hot weather began, posting a 1.41 ERA in five starts since the onset of June.  Cashner was a first-round draft pick of the Cubs out of TCU in 2008 and pitched for Boise that summer.  As for the current Hawks, they beat Eugene 4-2 Monday night at Memorial Stadium. The difference was a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning by the Hawks’ Zach Hall.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by COMMERCIAL TIRE…keeping you and your family on the road.

July 16, 2009, 10 years ago today:  The most successful coach in Idaho Stampede history resigns to take an assistant’s spot with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.  Bryan Gates, who didn’t play basketball as a student at Boise State, rose from a job as an unpaid intern under Bobby Dye during the Stampede’s first season in 1997-98 to become the team’s head coach in 2006. Gates had a three-year regular season record of 100-50 and won the D-League Coach of the Year award in his first two seasons.  More importantly, he guided the Stampede to their only D-League championship in 2008.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK.  He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)