The inevitable demise of a coveted tie-in

As feared, the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl will apparently be the last for the Mountain West. Longtime college football scribe Brett McMurphy wrote via Twitter yesterday, “Sources: Las Vegas Bowl will pit Pac-12 vs. another Power 5 league (SEC most intriguing possibility) in 2020 in Vegas’ new NFL stadium. This will end the bowl’s 19-year relationship w/Mountain West. In 2020, MWC could send its champ to Arizona Bowl.” It makes sense for Vegas. The city will have a sparkling new football jewel and an attractive holiday destination. So down there, it’s go big or go home. The Mountain West just isn’t big enough, further magnifying the growing crevasse between the Power 5 and Group of 5.

The Mountain West bowl situation is stuck in no man’s land. Sure, the conference could make the Arizona Bowl its feature game. Tucson is a nice December landing spot. Or the MW could be the catalyst for a new bowl in San Diego that could be played in San Diego State’s new stadium, whatever it turns out to be, now that the Poinsettia Bowl has been dead for a year. McMurphy suggests there could be a new Mountain West bowl created in Tempe, AZ. But anything the league comes up with will be marginal without its champion facing a Power 5 opponent. Conference USA? The MAC? Even the American conference? They’re just not going to move the needle like a game against Oregon. Even a 7-5 Ducks squad.

The Mountain West isn’t going to say boo about this until the Las Vegas Bowl makes it official, and that could be awhile. And the bowl itself says this kind of talk is “premature.” But the conference will do everything it can to retain some kind of bowl tie-in with a power conference. Sure, the Pac-12 sends one its middling teams to Vegas, but it creates a rare opportunity for the Mountain West against the Power 5. The Pac-12 has supplied the opponent in 14 of the 19 seasons the Mountain West has been affiliated with the Las Vegas Bowl and has a 6-8 record.

This new job for Winston Venable is a good fit. The former Boise State nickel and one-time Chicago Bear has moved from his assistant strength and conditioning coach’s post into a new one as the Broncos’ player development coordinator. Venable’s outgoing persona will help him in his dual role as community outreach coordinator. Andrew Woodruff, like Venable a former All-WAC Bronco, has joined Boise State as a strength and conditioning intern. Woodruff played for the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL from 2009-13.

Boise State yesterday announced a marquee men’s hoops opponent for the 2018-19 season. It’s not at home, but it’s not on the road, either. It’s in one of the elite early-season tournaments, where wins can carry weight with the NCAA Tournament selection committee. The Broncos will face Creighton in the first round of the second annual Cayman Islands Classic on November 19. Other first-day matchups include Clemson-Akron, Georgia-Illinois State and St. Bonaventure-Georgia State. The Blue Jays were 21-12 last season and received an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, their fifth trip to the Big Dance in seven years. Boise State’s only other matchup with Creighton produced a landmark 83-70 win in Omaha in 2012. The No.11 Blue Jays were the highest-ranked team the Broncos have ever beaten.

Boise State’s Allie Ostrander didn’t have to win the semifinals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase yesterday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. But she did anyway. Ostrander breezed to a 3½-second victory at Hayward Field, carrying her into a defense of her 2017 national title tomorrow night. Among the other Bronco women competing last night, Kristie Schoffield and Sadi Henderson fell short of qualifying for the finals in their 800-meter semifinal heat—same for Alexis Fuller in the 1,500-meter semifinal. Clare O’Brien finished 12th in the final of the 10,000-meters, earning second-team All-America honors. Now it’s all about Ostrander tomorrow night in Eugene, as she follows the 3,000 steeplechase with the 5,000-meter final about an hour and a half later.

I mentioned yesterday that the FedEx St. Jude Classic was the site of one of Troy Merritt’s greatest PGA Tour performances, a second-place finish in 2012. Well, whataya know, Merritt sits in a tie for second after the first round of the 2018 tournament in Memphis. The former Boise State star fired a four-under 66 yesterday, and only a bogey on the 18th hole kept him from sharing the lead with Seamus Power. There’s a long way to go, though, as nine other players are deadlocked with Merritt (including Phil Mickelson). One other note: the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team beat China 1-0 in an international friendly last night in Sandy, UT. Centennial High grad Sofia Huerta did not play.

The new Boise State baseball program has its first great baseball name. Well, at least the guy’s last name is Posey. Cole Posey—no relation to Buster, as far as we know—has committed to the Broncos, who begin play in 2020. Posey, a 5-10, 175-pound shortstop, is going into his senior year In Georgetown, TX. He tweeted that he was “proud and humbled” to announce his commitment to the Broncos. Posey will be one of the team’s charter members. Georgetown High went 16-0 in winning its league this season and was 25-7-1 overall.

This Day In Sports…June 8, 1966:

The National Football League, founded in the early 1920’s, and the American Football League, which began play in 1960, announce a merger. Although the two leagues would continue to play separate schedules until 1970, there would be a common draft—and a title game pitting the champions of the two leagues beginning in January, 1967. That would become Super Bowl I.

(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.)