Who doesn’t perk up around here when nice things are said about Kellen Moore? We hear them often about the former Boise State great from Dallas offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, even as the Internet know-it-alls say Moore is too small and slow to be an NFL quarterback, in particular the backup to the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott. But it’s something else to hear it from a player. “He’s exceptional,” veteran wide receiver Cole Beasley said recently in the Dallas Morning News. “A lot of guys wrote him off because of his size. They tend to do that in this league. But you can’t just find a gamer that knows how to go out there and play football. He’s one of those guys.”
And how many different ways can Linehan say he believes in Moore? Here’s another. “He’s like a machine,” Linehan said. “A lot of guys get it done different ways, but guys don’t last long if they can’t hit moving targets on the run. That’s what he does best.” Linehan doesn’t worry about Kellen’s style being entirely unlike that of Prescott, adding, “It might be a little bit different than Dak would do it, but he knows what he can do and he doesn’t let what he can’t do get in his way.”
There’s been a lot of talk out of the American Athletic Conference about the “Power 6.” It’s a term the AAC made up as it lobbies to join the college football elite. But nobody’s buying it. Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth would like to test the hypothesis. It is pointed out by Chris Murray in the Reno Gazette-Journal that, despite nine years remaining on the current College Football Playoff system contract, AAC teams put “P6” stickers on their jerseys last fall—then went 2-5 in bowl games, including Houston’s 34-10 loss to San Diego State. Well, you’ve heard of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge in basketball (which has lost its luster). Knuth suggests a Mountain West-AAC Challenge in hoops—and in football. The Wolf Pack AD says, in effect, “bring it on.” I like the idea.
The Mountain West and AAC don’t often face off. The conferences played each other four times in football last year, splitting those games. In hoops, there have been just 13 meetings in 17 years between the leagues, dating back to the Big East days, with the MW leading 8-5. Some kind of arrangement between the two conferences would allow for the elimination of some of the pointless non-league games in both sports in favor of some sizzle. Boise State has relatively recent experience against the AAC, winning at UConn 38-21 in football in 2014, and upending SMU 71-62 in hoops last season in Taco Bell Arena, one of only five losses the Mustangs suffered all season.
A story in USA Today profiles the living arrangements of Desiree Reed-Francois, the new athletic director at UNLV. Reed-Francois has been living in the Tonopah North dormitory on campus since beginning her job on June 1. She says she’ll be there until mid-July, when she moves into a permanent home with her husband and teenage son. Reed-Francois is simply trying to get to know UNLV campus life and students. “When I met with a couple of recruits and their guardians, I was able to speak first-hand about what it’s like to live in a dorm,” Reed-Francois said. She’s working 16-hour days while trying to meet individually with all 246 staff members in the Rebels’ athletic department (which USA Today calls “beleaguered”).
It may have been Joe Martarano’s best game as a professional baseball player. In fact, he hasn’t looked this good since his one-handed interception for Boise State at San Jose State on Thanksgiving weekend in 2015. The Fruitland High grad and now former middle linebacker went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs for Eugene last night while serving as a guest for the Boise Hawks’ home opener at Memorial Stadium. Martarano brought in two runs with a weird infield single in the seventh to give the Ems a 6-5 lead. However, the Hawks tied it in the bottom of the ninth—then Avery Romero delivered a walk-off run-scoring single with two outs in the 10th, and Boise came away a 7-6 winner. Martarano’s hot night, by the way, jumped his batting average more than 100 points to .375.
Today we salute a former Boise Hawk, Justin Bour. The Miami first baseman contributed rather mightily to the Marlins’ cause Monday night. Miami had dug itself a 6-0 hole by the third inning, but Bour tied the game in the bottom of the third with a grand slam, and the Marlins went on to win 8-7 in a ninth-inning walk-off. Bour is fresh off the 10-day disabled list due to an ankle injury. In his first game back last Friday, he also homered. The 6-5, 265-pounder is having a stellar year, currently batting .301 with 18 home runs and 48 RBIs. Bour’s first season as a pro was in Boise in 2009, when he hit .258 with a pair of homers.
Variety has become the spice of life in the ECHL. The league has approved the tweaks to its divisional lineups, with two new Mountain Division members in, and two others out. The newcomers are the Wichita Thunder and the Tulsa Oilers, who move from the Central Division. The Kansas City Mavericks, formerly the Missouri Mavericks, head back to the Central. The Alaska Aces became extinct at the end of this past season—the franchise was actually purchased and relocated to Portland, ME, where it’ll begin play in October, 2018.
This Day In Sports…June 21, 2012, five years ago today:
LeBron James collects a triple-double as the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 121-106, to win the NBA Finals four games-to-one. It was James’ first NBA championship, two years after the much-criticized “Decision” TV special that announced his departure from Cleveland to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. James, who added the Finals MVP award to his regular season MVP honor, averaged more than 30 points a game in the postseason.
(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.)