Wrestling community digs in

Former Boise State wrestler Kevin Wood is among those who have launched petitions to save Bronco wrestling after the sport was cut on Tuesday. Chances are slim and none unless a booster with buckets of money materializes. But Wood’s passionate Facebook post yesterday explained that he’s “been involved in wrestling for 50 years, 30 of them as a coach.” He wrestled at Boise State from 1979-82—and the Broncos won three Big Sky championships in that time. Wood coached at Mountain View, Eagle, Centennial, and Meridian High Schools, and he was inducted in the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger local advocate of the sport. Wood says he’ll deliver his petition to Boise State president Bob Kustra, athletic director Curt Apsey, and the State Board of Education.

As we look at Boise State moving toward reinstating baseball, here’s a little-know fact. The legendary Lyle Smith, who’s now 101 years young, ended his football coaching career with the Broncos’ final season as a junior college in 1967. But Smith kept coaching baseball through Boise State’s first six seasons as a four-year school, finally leaving the dugout in 1973. Karl Benson, the former WAC commissioner who’s now leading the Sun Belt, was one of Lyle’s players at the end. The baseball program would continue in the Big Sky through 1980, and it was Smith, as BSU athletic director, who had to make the call to discontinue it.

This is noteworthy only because you never know when the Arizona Bowl might come into play for Boise State. CBS Sports Network and the bowl have announced a multi-year deal to televise the Mountain West-Sun Belt matchup, beginning with the third annual event on December 30. The game will now gain some legitimacy as it finally appears on national TV, albeit not on a major platform. But Air Force’s 45-21 win over South Alabama in last year’s Arizona Bowl was available only in spots on the piecemeal footprint of American Sports Network and online at CampusInsiders.com. The inaugural game in 2015, a much-maligned Mountain West matchup between Colorado State and Nevada (won by the Wolf Pack 28-23) was available only on ASN.

Did Shea McClellin join the New England Patriots at the White House yesterday to celebrate February’s Super Bowl championship? It appears the former Boise State star did. Prior to the visit, six Patriots players had announced they were not going. Four of them, Martellus Bennett, LeGarrette Blount, Devin McCourty and Chris Long, directly or indirectly gave the presence of President Donald Trump as their reason. Tom Brady, a reported supporter of Trump, was missing, too, but he said it was due to a “family matter.”

Dirk Koetter and “Hard Knocks” don’t seem like a match. But believe it or not, the former Boise State coach is excited about it. Koetter and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers will appear on the HBO series for the 2017 season, and Koetter—not a fan of distractions—says the show won’t be one. “I don’t buy that,” Koetter said. “I think it will not only be good for Bucs fans but for NFL fans around the country. We’ve got some great young guys here. I think there are some good stories there.” Koetter appeared on “Hard Knocks” when he was offensive coordinator in Atlanta. So did his current defensive coordinator, Mike Smith, who was then the Falcons’ head coach. We can only hope Doug Martin will star in the show—that would mean the former Bronco is still on the Bucs roster.

Every time the Idaho Steelheads climbed back into the game last night, Colorado had an answer. As a result, the Eagles captured a huge 4-2 win in CenturyLink Arena to take a two games-to-one lead in the ECHL Mountain Division semifinals. When Jefferson Dahl tied the game 1-1 late in the first period, the Eagles got a tally back five minutes later (Dahl later left the game with a head injury). Kellen Lain narrowed Idaho’s deficit to 3-2 with a goal five minutes into the second period, but Colorado’s Alex Belzile, a former Steelhead, popped in a demoralizing score with one second left in the period. The Eagles got to one of the ECHL’s top goalies, Landon Bow, who made 36 saves in 40 attempts. The Steelies managed only 21 shots on goal—and just four in the first period. The series resumes tomorrow night.

The news of Rylan Bergersen committing to BYU makes you wonder when the next Division I-worthy Treasure Valley star will stay home. While Bergersen may not have been a D-I prospect when he finished high school at Borah, he developed into one after honing his craft at Link Prep in Branson, MO. He would have seemed like a natural in blue and orange, as his dad Roberto was one of the best players in Boise State history. But there are reasons for everything.

Bergersen’s friend Kolby Lee from Rocky Mountain is also BYU-bound when he finishes an LDS mission. Borah teammate Isaiah Wright opted for Utah out of high school but didn’t play much and is now at the University of San Diego. The Broncos do have one former in-state prep star on the roster and another on the way. Malek Harwell, from Century High in Pocatello, played a total of 39 minutes this past season. Casdon Jardine, the Twin Falls High product who went on to College of Southern Idaho, joins the program this season.

Graham DeLaet is off this week after his disappointing but lucrative finish last week at the RBC Heritage. DeLaet’s sixth-place result did bump him up to No. 56 in the FedExCup standings. This week on the PGA Tour it’s the Valero Texas Open, and Troy Merritt will give it a go today in San Antonio. Since the first of the year, Merritt has made three cuts and missed seven, one of them last week at Hilton Head.

This Day In Sports…April 20, 1997, 20 years ago today:

In the nightcap of a doubleheader, the Chicago Cubs beat the New York Mets 4-3, ending the longest season-opening losing streak in National League history at 14 games. The Cubs would go on to finish last in the NL Central, ending the season 26 games below .500. On this day in 1988, the Baltimore Orioles lost their 14th straight game to start the season. The O’s would set the big league record for season-opening losing streaks by dropping 21 in a row.

(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.)