The Mountain West took a long time to hammer this out yesterday, but the league finally opted for the “8 + 2” model for the 2020 football season, as anticipated. That means eight conference games and two nonconference matchups. Not quite as expected was a delay in the start of the season—to September 26. For flexibility’s sake, the conference says the Mountain West championship game could be played on any of the first three Saturdays in December. The plan wipes out the Broncos’ season opener against Georgia Southern, and the September 12 game at Air Force will have to be re-scheduled. Theoretically, the new opener would be at Marshall on September 25 or 26. Will the Broncos go? This setup also would seem to allow Boise State to keep BYU on the slate on the blue turf. Everything’s firmly etched in pencil.
The Mountain West says “various scheduling models for the 2020 MW football season are under consideration and a final version will be announced once completed.” One alert Twitterer came up with what seems like a simple solution for the Air Force game. He said you could move the Boise State-BYU game on November 6 to October 10 (open date for the Cougars). Then Air Force could move its November 7 matchup with Army to October 31 (open date for both teams). And voila! The Falcons and Broncos meet on November 6 or 7.
We have new dates for many, many things. Boise State’s fall camp, which was to begin Friday, has been moved back to August 17 (although KTIK’s Mike Prater reports it could be as late as August 21). The latest in the year a Boise State football season has ever started is September 21. That was back in 1968, the Broncos’ first season as a four-year school. As for other sports, the conference is allowing only women’s volleyball, women’s soccer and cross country to participate this fall, and all competition will be within the Mountain West.
NO FBS/FCS CLARITY FROM THE NCAA
The NCAA Board of Governors left it up to its three divisions to decide the status of their fall sports seasons and championships Wednesday. And after the announcement, Divisions II and III said there will be none. If Division I (including FBS and FCS football) were to somehow still follow suit, the deadline is August 21. There are lots of moving parts between now and then. So, there was this: Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic retweeted a graphic that read, “NCAA Can Kicking Championship, July-September, 2020.” The NCAA has also tabled a decision on whether to pull Boise’s host spot in the 2021 NCAA Tournament over Idaho’s new law banning transgender women from female sports. They’ll discuss it again in October.
INDEPENDENCE + PANDEMIC = TROUBLE
I don’t expect this to happen to BYU, but UConn’s first season as an independent will be no season at all. The Huskies have become the first FBS team to cancel its season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It was a perfect storm. To the university’s credit, it cited the concerns of players over their safety and well-being. But UConn’s status as an independent had to weigh heavy in the decision. The Huskies have seen games against Illinois, Ole Miss, Indiana and Maine go by the wayside, with matchups against Virginia and North Carolina of the ACC likely to disappear. BYU has only six games on its schedule at this time—none of them against the Power 5. Three of the games are against Mountain West schools (Boise State, Utah State and San Diego State).
READING THE HARDING PARK TEA LEAVES
It’s been a mild summer by San Francisco standards—a lot of days in the 70s instead of the 60s. But Harding Park is closer to the ocean than the bay, and conditions change a lot between morning fog and afternoon sun and breezes. After eight straight weeks of competition in heat and humidity, It’ll be an adjustment for Meridian’s Troy Merritt (and his colleagues) at the PGA Championship beginning this morning. The good news for Merritt right now: he’s in great shape to roll on with a 2020-21 PGA Tour card. He’s 74th in FedExCup standings after his second-place finish last week at the Barracuda Championship.
STEELIES SEASON ICED FOR SEVEN WEEKS
The ice at CenturyLink Arena will be quiet until at least December, as the start of the Idaho Steelheads’ 2020-21 season has been pushed back. The ECHL Board of Governors has approved a new timeline that would have games beginning on December 4. The league anticipates a full 72-game schedule, with dates and matchups to be announced later. The ECHL season was originally scheduled to start October 16, with the Steelies hosting the Utah Grizzlies.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!
August 6, 2010, 10 years ago today: Boise State lands its highest preseason ranking ever in the USA Today Coaches Poll, coming in at No. 5 behind Alabama, Ohio State, Florida and Texas. It was also the highest preseason spot in history for a non-BCS school. The Broncos had finished the previous season with their highest ranking of any kind: No. 4 after going undefeated and beating TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. Just as significant that day was where the Broncos’ season-opening opponent was ranked—Virginia Tech was No. 6. But, as any coach will tell you, “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.” Boise State finished a respectable No. 7 the following January.
(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.)