Boise State is in the No. 107 TV market in the country, right? Well, that’s not really what it’s all about, and I trust Big 12 presidents will recognize that as they go through this muddy expansion process. TV isn’t going get get the Broncos over the hump, but Brad Rock of the Deseret News hit the nail on the head on the TV market issue. Rock goes back to the ill-fated WAC expansion to 16 schools in 1996, when the conference added San Jose State to get the San Francisco market, and Rice to get the Houston market, and TCU and SMU to get the Dallas market. That was a mirage, of course, and three years later the old WAC mutineers had broken away to form the Mountain West.
That TV scheme didn’t work, but the WAC learned that another approach would once Boise State got into the league. The Broncos were winning bowls and cracking the national rankings—in a creative way—and fans started tuning in across the country. “Boise State certainly didn’t have the market size, but it delivered the market,” former WAC commissioner Karl Benson told Rock this week. “On the other hand, San Jose State was in the fifth-largest market but there wasn’t any penetration,” added Benson, now the Sun Belt commish. When WAC membership expanded to 16, ESPN still only paid $1 million for TV rights. Once Boise State started rolling, the contract grew to $4 million. “It was all based on the size of the audience,” Benson said, “not market size.” Does that make any difference for the long-shot Broncos?
If you’re a Doug Martin fan (and why wouldn’t you be?), you’ll like this headline at ESPN.com: “All signs point to Doug Martin having back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.” The former Boise State star hasn’t taken his new five-year, $35.75 million contract for granted and is having a great training camp with Tampa Bay. Writes Jenna Laine, “The only concern that impacts the running backs is the offensive line—Pro Bowler Logan Mankins has retired and his replacement, J.R. Sweezy, still hasn’t practiced due to a back injury.” ESPN’s “Fantasy Projection” has Martin going for 1,208 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns this season, with another 244.7 receiving yards and one receiving TD. I think he’ll score more.
In NFL preseason action last night involving former Broncos, George Iloka started at free safety for Cincinnati in its 30-14 win over Detroit—no stats for Iloka. Jamar Taylor came off the bench for Cleveland in a 24-13 loss to Atlanta, making two tackles and adding a pass deflection. Shea McClellin didn’t play for New England last night in the Patriots’ 23-22 win over Chicago. Charles Leno Jr. started at left tackle for the Bears. And Rees Odhiambo played at offensive guard for Seattle in an 18-11 loss to Minnesota at CenturyLink Field. Two former Idaho Vandals stood out last night—Aaron Grymes led Philadelphia with four tackles and had an interception in a 17-0 blanking of Pittsburgh, and Korey Toomer made three stops in Oakland’s 20-12 loss at Green Bay.
How about a top 10 finish for Kurt Felix at the Olympics? The former Boise State star placed ninth in the decathlon yesterday in Rio. Felix, representing Grenada, fell to 12th overall after finishing last in the pole vault but rallied in the javelin and 1500-meters. The last of six former Bronco athletes to compete in the 2016 Summer Games is on the docket today. George Ivanov will wrestle for Bulgaria at 74 kilograms and will face Georgia’s Jakob Makarashvili this morning in the opening round. Ivanov secured his spot in Rio with a silver medal at the World Olympic Qualifier in Mongolia in April. The only other Bronco wrestler ever to make the Olympics was Charles Burton, who placed fifth for the U.S. in the 85-kilogram class at the Sydney Games in 2000.
Former Middleton High standout Carlos Trujillo, a multi-time state champion distance runner for the Vikings and a Pac-10 10,000-meter champion at Oregon, wraps up the Rio Games Sunday in the marathon. Trujillo won the Eugene Marathon this spring, eclipsing the Olympic qualifying standard with seven seconds to spare. He’ll be representing Guatemala. One Olympics postscript: the city of Boise has finalized its plans for a Kristin Armstrong celebration. The event honoring the three-time cycling gold medalist will be called “Kristin’s Gold Games–A Community Celebration,” and will be held Sunday, August 28, from 1-4 p.m. at Municipal Park.
Troy Merritt opened the Wyndham Championship with a sparkling four-under 66 yesterday in Greensboro, NC, and is tied for ninth after the first round. Graham DeLaet struggled with a six-over 76 to begin the final event of the regular season on the PGA Tour. Even with a missed cut, an analysis at PGATour.com shows that DeLaet is “likely” to make The Barclays next week, the first leg of the FedExCup Playoffs. But only the top 100 are guaranteed spots in the second playoff tournament, the Deutsche Bank Championship, and he’s essentially toast if he doesn’t have a big performance at The Barclays. Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge is on the bubble for the cut at the Wyndham after an even-par 70—Aldridge is likely headed for the Web.com Tour Finals and a spot in the Albertsons Boise Open next month.
The Boise Hawks wasted an outstanding start by Erick Julio last night as they fell 1-0 to Eugene at PK Park. Julio went 7 1/3 innings, scattering seven hits, but an Emeralds RBI double in the bottom of the eighth was enough to drop his record to 3-5. The Hawks offense couldn’t answer, as it went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Consider this: Eugene has now won 14 games in a row, and in the first two games of this five-game series, the Hawks were right there. Nevertheless, the one-run losses have left Boise with a 24-35 season ledger.
It was all Kris Bryant all the time yesterday for the Chicago Cubs. In a 9-6 win over Milwaukee, the former Boise Hawk went 5-for-5, scored four runs, hit two homers, and drove in five runs. Bryant hit the 30-home run plateau while lifting his average to .296 and upping his RBI total to 78. He’s tied with another ex-Hawk, Toronto’s Josh Donaldson, and Boston’s Mookie Betts for the major league lead with 96 runs scored. The multi-homer game was Bryant’s third of the season and the sixth of his career.
As Boise State women’s soccer coach Jim Thomas says, “We get to play somebody else now.” The somebody else is Idaho State, as the Broncos open the season today at the Boas Soccer Complex. Boise State loses All-Mountain West performer and leading scorer Brooke Heidemann but returns nine of 11 starters. Thomas is also excited about his recruiting class, particularly 5-2 dynamo Raimee Sherle from Rocky Mountain High.
The first week of College of Idaho’s fall camp will be capped by the Purple and Gold Scrimmage Sunday evening. The Coyotes have a three-way quarterback battle going—coach Mike Moroski says he won’t name a starter heading into the season opener against Montana Western September 3, and all three may play. The contestants are Vallivue High grad and one-time Utah Ute J.J. Hyde, Boise High grad Tyler Cox, and new arrival Darius-James Peterson from Marin Catholic High in Kentfield, CA. James-Peterson has been making plays, such as a connection with senior receiver Terrence Young on a sliding 55-yard completion during a 7-on-7 drill this week.
This Day In Sports…August 19, 1951, 65 years ago today:
One of the most famous promotional stunts in major league history (though it was just another day at the office for Bill Veeck). The St. Louis Browns owner, who would later mastermind several infamous stunts with the Chicago White Sox, sent 3-foot-7-inch Eddie Gaedel to the plate in a game against the Detroit Tigers. Detroit pitcher Bob Cain understandably had trouble finding the strike zone and walked Gaedel on four pitches.
(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.)