College football’s preseason magazines seem to come out earlier every year, so we may as well get the chatter going before July arrives. Let’s look at Lindy’s, one of the oldest preview publications but one that has fallen off the radar a bit. Where does Lindy’s rank Boise State? At No. 29, with a shout-out to the Broncos’ “talented skill trio,” quarterback Brett Rypien, running back Jeremy McNichols, and wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck. Lindy’s Player Ratings are rather orderly as far as Boise State is concerned—Rypien is the No. 16 QB in the nation, McNichols the No 17 running back, and Sperbeck the No. 18 wideout.
No surprise that Lindy’s tabs Houston as its top Group of 5 team at No. 12. But the magazine has a second mid-major in its Top 25, and it’s San Diego State, all the way up at No. 19. The capsule: “Boise State is still the brand name in the Mountain West, but San Diego State is the league’s most balanced outfit. And perhaps you didn’t know that the Aztecs ended last season with a 10-game winning streak.” It is duly noted that San Diego State swept all the major Mountain West awards last season: running back Donell Pumphrey on offense, cornerback Damontae Kazee on defense, and return man Rashaad Penny on special teams—and all three are back. Don’t you wish the Broncos and Aztecs played in the regular season this year?
In picking Boise State second behind San Diego State, Lindy’s biggest concern is the Broncos’ depth behind the aforementioned big three on offense. Is there a backup quarterback? A backup running back? A third (and fourth and fifth) wide receiver behind Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson? Along those lines, how about this choice for BSU’s top newcomer: Bubba Ogbebor. “The Broncos were in desperate need of a dynamic player at wide receiver, and they held off late interest from Oklahoma to sign the 6-1 Ogbebor out of Frisco, TX.” The most interesting observation is the importance Lindy’s places on the effect of coach Bryan Harsin returning to play-calling duties this season. Indeed, that’s going to be a sidebar worth watching.
The rule instituted yesterday by the NCAA’s Division I Council seems like common sense—all bowl-eligible teams with 6-6 records must be chosen for a bowl game before any schools with a 5-7 record can be considered. But two of the three 5-7 teams that made bowl games last year, Nebraska and Minnesota, were placed into games before 6-6 Nevada was matched with 7-5 Colorado State in the all-Mountain West Arizona Bowl. Hopefully this new rule will eliminate that mess. I mean, 5-7 teams shouldn’t be in the postseason to begin with, but all three of them won last year: the Cornhuskers, Golden Gophers and San Jose State.
A player dismissed from a college football team for misconduct is hardly earth-shaking anymore, but Hawaii’s roster took a hit this week when Kennedy Tulimasealii was booted from the squad. Tulimasealii was a first-team All-Mountain West defensive end last season and was third in the conference in tackles on the D-line. He pleaded no contest two weeks ago to six criminal charges resulting from four incidents involving his 20-year-old former girlfriend. The Warriors are taking some heat for not addressing domestic violence in their official release announcing the dismissal. The statement cited Tulimasealii’s violation of the UH Student Conduct Code. “Intended or not, it comes off sounding a lot like, ‘Well, the book said we had to do it, so that’s what we did,’” writes Ferd Lewis of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
It was Eugene’s turn to rack up the runs last night at Memorial Stadium (not that the Boise Hawks didn’t), as the Emeralds out-slugged the Hawks, 9-7. The Emeralds’ broke the game open with a four-run seventh inning. The hitting standout for the Hawks was Anthony Brito, who had been struggling at the plate this season. Brito went 3-for-5 with five runs batted in, his first multi-hit game of the summer. His average is still only .190, but consider that it was .083 five days ago. The Hawks wrap up their three-game series against the Ems tonight.
There always seems to be something newsworthy about former Boise Hawk Kris Bryant, like his historic three-homer, two-double game Monday night. Today let’s touch on the non-Bryants on the Cubs roster. On Tuesday night, Javier Baez uncorked a 15th-inning grand slam as Chicago beat Cincinnati 7-2 (Baez was 0-for-6 going into that at-bat). Albert Almora blasted a solo homer in yesterday’s 9-2 rout of the Reds, while Willson Contreras doubled in a run and Matt Szczur also contributed an RBI. John Lackey gets the start tonight as the Cubs open a four-game series against the Mets in New York. Lackey, now 7-4 with a 3.29 ERA, has been a great addition to the rotation. But he is coming off his worst outing of the season—seven runs allowed in 4 1/3 innings of a loss at Miami last Saturday.
Graham DeLaet, hopefully rejuvenated, returns to the PGA Tour today after sitting out all of June to deal with what he called “anxiety while chipping/pitching.” DeLaet, who withdrew just before the Memorial Tournament started four weeks ago, tees off this morning at the Barracuda Championship in Reno. It’s a good tournament for DeLaet to ease his way back in, as the world’s top golfers will be playing at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The former Boise State star also reiterates his desire to represent Canada at the Summer Olympics in Rio at a time when many tour players are bowing out. DeLaet’s in good position to make the Games, as he’s one of Canada’s three top-ranked golfers.
Well, we’ll know today. But yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk Nick Symmonds sure sounded like a guy who won’t be running in the 800-meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials tomorrow evening in Eugene. It has nothing to do with the protest Symmonds is organizing this week over personal sponsorship suppression. It’s about his 32-year-old ankles. “The (ligaments and tendons are) more like noodles at this point in my career,” the former Bishop Kelly athlete told IST. Symmonds will decide after a workout this morning at Hayward Field. “I’m going to do everything I can to race on Friday,” he said. But: “Having made two Olympic Games already, I’m really thinking of my long-term health.” He gives himself a 10 percent chance.
This Day In Sports…June 30, 1995:
Eddie Murray of the Cleveland Indians becomes only the second switch-hitter in baseball history to reach 3,000 hits when he singles in the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins. Murray joined Pete Rose, who to this day is the career hits leader with 4,256. Murray, who spent most of his career as a Baltimore Oriole, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003.
(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.)