Kickoff times have now been set for Boise State’s first three games of the season in September, including the home opener versus Connecticut. The Broncos’ 2018 debut on the blue on September 8 will have the dreaded 8:15 p.m. start time. That’s 10:15 p.m. Eastern for UConn fans watching back home. Boise State bills it as “avoiding the Treasure Valley summer heat.” Broncos fans received one exception to the modern late-night rule last season, with one afternoon kickoff. That was placed on Labor Day weekend, and the high temperature that day was 97. So, half of Boise State’s six home games have start times now—all of them 7 p.m. or later. We still await news on the San Diego State, BYU and Utah State contests. What are the odds one of those will be a day game?
Boise State’s opener at Troy will start at 4 p.m. our time, and Game 3 at Oklahoma State will kick off at 1:30 p.m. Good for them. The other info released yesterday has to do with on which network the games will be shown. A big deal is made of the ESPN Family of Networks. Well, the Troy game will be shown on ESPNEWS, which is a notch below ESPNU. The UConn game will air on ESPN2 or ESPNU, and there’s a huge difference between those two. The possibilities for the matchup at Oklahoma State span the globe: ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. If it ends up on the latter, the Broncos will have probably laid an egg in their first two games. You can see that right off the top, Boise State’s level of TV exposure this season will be performance-based.
Alex Guerrero has been busy since his days as a star defensive lineman at Boise State. Not only does he run his own brand management company for athletes, he also heads up Gridiron Dreams. The 9th annual Gridiron Dreams Football Academy is set for tomorrow and Sunday at East Junior High, and Guerrero is bringing in an all-star team of instructors. Get a load of this list, starting with 2007 Fiesta Bowl stars Jared Zabransky, Drisan James, Jerard Rabb, Ryan Clady, Kyle Wilson and Marty Tadman. Also appearing will be Jeremy Avery, Michael Lose, Austin Pettis, Thomas Sperbeck, Gabe Linehan, Ryan Putnam, Chuck Hayes, Sam McCaskill, Jarrell Root, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Aaron Tevis, Brian Smith and Ellis Powers. Oh, and a guy named DeMarcus Lawrence.
There are also three current prominent Boise State players helping out (all of them cleared by university compliance, by the way). The Gridiron Dreams Academy is a non-padded instructional youth football camp that’s open to all levels. That means girls, too—Guerrero says there are a few registered. People who use the code “DreamAchieve25” can get 25 percent off registration fees if they sign up online by 5 p.m. today. There will also be walk-up registration before each of the three sessions.
Now that the smoke has cleared from all the guys withdrawing from the NBA Draft, we’re left with Nevada’s daunting lineup. Makes you wonder why the Mountain West wouldn’t just cancel the conference season next winter and award the trophy to the Wolf Pack. With the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline returning, Nevada’s roster will include eight fifth-year seniors, seven players who have won all-conference honors at some point, 10 players who have logged at least 30 minutes a game over a college season and nine who have averaged at least 12 points per game over a college campaign. And that’s before you even bring the Pack’s five-star recruit, McDonald’s All-American Jordan Brown, into the conversation.
There are already some “post-draft-decision” top 25’s out there—ESPN and CBS Sports both have Nevada at No. 6. The bottom line is, it’s “Final Four or bust” for the Wolf Pack next season. The expectations are that high (and even higher in Reno). The Pack currently has 15 players on scholarship, two more than are allowed by the NCAA. Somebody’s gotta go. How will coach Eric Musselman handle that? Somehow he will. We do know that Boise State will have a guaranteed game against a team that could be the highest-ranked squad to come into Taco Bell Arena in almost 20 years (since No. 3 Cincinnati in 1999).
Time to correct an omission from yesterday’s column. It didn’t take long watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals for me to realize that there’s another Mountain West product in the series beyond Golden State’s Patrick McCaw. In my mind, Larry Nance Jr. was still a Laker. But the former Wyoming star was, of course, part of the midseason trade that retooled the Cleveland roster. Nance produced a solid first half, with eight points and eight rebounds (four of them on the offensive end) in 12 minutes. He put up nine points and 11 boards for the game in the Cavaliers’ agonizing 124-114 overtime defeat. (The Warriors’ JaVale McGee played at Nevada, but that was back in the WAC days.)
On the upside and the downside at the University of Idaho—the upside has Sophie Hausmann as the first Vandal ever to play in the U.S. Women’s Open. The junior from Germany opened with a six-over 78 yesterday, with Idaho coach Lisa Johnson serving as her caddy in Shoal Creek, AL. Hausmann finished the round on the upside with a birdie on No. 18. On the downside, the administrative leave of Idaho athletic director Rob Spear has been extended indefinitely as the university continues an external review into how the Athletics Department handled past allegations of sexual assault. Spear’s original leave was to expire this weekend. It will be revisited when the report has been reviewed and a decision is made on Spear’s employment status.
A 20-year anniversary quietly slipped by last weekend. It was on May 26, 1998, that BYU, Utah, Colorado State, Wyoming, Air Force, New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV announced that they would break away from the WAC and form a new conference, soon to be named the Mountain West. Two seasons of a bloated, unmanageable 16-team WAC were more than enough for administrators of those eight schools, who cited financial concerns and the erosion of rivalries. Hawaii had been in the WAC since 1979 and Fresno State since 1992, and both were left behind. The first expansion came in 2004, when the MW chose TCU over Boise State. The nationwide conference dominoes that began falling in 2010 got the Broncos into the Mountain West. There’s been a lot of chaos the past two decades.
This Day In Sports…June 1, 1979:
The Seattle Supersonics, led by Jack Sikma, Gus Williams, and Downtown Fred Brown off the bench, beat Washington, 97-93, to win the NBA Finals in five games. The Bullets were coached by Dick Motta, the pride of Fish Haven, Idaho, who guided Grace High School to the 1959 Idaho Class AA championship. It was the only NBA championship for Seattle, which watched the Sonics become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008. Incidentally, the only two active players remaining from the Sonics’ final season in Seattle are both in the NBA Finals—the Warriors’ Kevin Durant and the Cavaliers’ Jeff Green.
(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.)