Before Bronco Nation gets envious of Washington State upon hearing that Pac-12 revenues have topped $500 million for the first time—and that the payout to each conference school will be $30.9 million—check this out. Pac-12 windfalls haven’t helped stem the red tide in Pullman in recent years. The Cougars’ athletic department deficit is reported at $67 million. Not $6.7 million, but $67 million. An internal audit has found extensive mismanagement in the WSU athletic department, covering everything from contract management to possible inflation of home football attendance to the improper distribution of free tickets to football games.
Example: the 2016 Apple Cup game against Washington was reported as a sellout, when scanned attendance was only around 27,000. Twenty-seven thousand for the Apple Cup? A lot of money was left on the table…somehow, somewhere. New Washington State athletic Patrick Chun is charged with fixing what former AD Bill Moos, now at Nebraska, left behind. Wazzu has spent a lot of money in an effort to stay relevant in the Pac-12, and—even with the conference’s influx of dollars—it’s money the Cougs don’t have.
Boise State got by without using a true freshman running back last season. The Broncos may be able to again this season, but the chances that we’ll see either Andrew Van Buren or Danny Smith, their two incoming backs, increased last Friday with Drake Beasley’s decision to transfer. The Boise State backup job appears to be all Robert Mahone’s now, unless Skyler Siebold can pull a Ryan Wolpin. But the talent of Van Buren, in particular, will be hard to ignore. He signed with the Broncos in February over offers from Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC schools. Van Buren had a 312-yard game for Southern California’s Chaminade High last fall against respected rival Serra High. Meanwhile, Beasley’s only hope of avoiding three straight years on the sideline is to transfer to an FCS school or a junior college, where he can play immediately.
It’s hard to come by news out of the weekend’s NFL rookie minicamps, but there’s this. Center Marcus Henry, who is two years removed from a Boise State career that saw him earn back-to-back first-team All-Mountain West honors, was invited to Seattle’s minicamp over the weekend and has now been signed to a free agent contract by the Seahawks. Since he’s not technically a rookie, Henry is immediately eligible to join Seattle’s organized team activities (OTAs). He was in camp with New Orleans in 2016 but didn’t make the roster. This is cool for Henry. He’s from Bellevue, and ironically, he was cooking pot roast at home with former Bronco teammate Rees Odhiambo when the latter got the call from the Seahawks that he was being drafted in the third round in 2016.
Enjoyed Dave Southorn’s Statesman story Sunday on Boise State’s one-handed cornerback a quarter-century ago, DaWuan Miller, and his genuine excitement over UCF’s Shaquem Griffith being drafted by the Seahawks. He’s been following Griffith for a couple years. It brought to mind the biggest interception of Miller’s career in the opening round of the 1994 Division I-AA Playoffs. The Broncos, trailing North Texas by 10 points entering the fourth quarter on the blue turf, had rallied to within three midway through the final period. With six minutes left, Miller stepped in front of an Eagles pass and returned it 25 yards to the UNT six-yard line. On the next play, Willie Bowens ran it in for the winning touchdown in a 24-20 victory that kept alive Boise State’s march to the national championship game. Quite a memory.
Can’t wait to see what finally happens in this Oregon State-Hawaii flap. Friday morning, Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich released a tweet showing Oregon State recruiting envelopes and OSU spring game invitations that were mailed to current members of his football team. One of the enclosed brochures touted “203 years coaching experience” on the Beavers’ staff. Rolovich was quick to respond: “My apologies for our players not being able to attend your Spring game. Ours was the same day, bad timing. Quick question, in the 203 years of coaching, none of you realized you couldn’t actively recruit another school’s players?” A column by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Ferd Lewis Sunday was headlined, “Hawaii coach Rolovich won’t be Mr. Nice Guy in Oregon State fiasco.”
According to the Oregonian, it remains a possibility that the Beavers self-report the incident. In a statement after the boondoggle was exposed, OSU said, “Oregon State Athletics and head coach Jonathan Smith became aware of unintentional mailings directed at a University of Hawaii student-athlete this morning. We are committed to following NCAA rules and are looking into this matter fully.” The Beavers have plenty of Hawaiians in their database. Last year, for example, OSU had 11 players from Hawaii on its opening day roster, the most of any FBS team other than the Rainbow Warriors. Making it more fun: Oregon State plays at Aloha Stadium next year, and Hawaii visits Corvallis in 2021.
Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Gary Stevens’ first career win in the Kentucky Derby aboard Winning Colors. Stevens turned 55 in March, but Caldwell native keeps on tickin’. He didn’t have a mount in the Kentucky Derby Saturday, but he did finish sixth in the Kentucky Oaks last Friday, the major precursor to the Run For The Roses. Stevens got the most out of Sassy Sienna, which went into the race a 37-to-1 longshot in the country’s premier race for three-year-old fillies. It’s the female counterpart to the Derby. In racing of a different sort, Boise State’s Sadi Henderson pulled away down the stretch to win the Oregon Twilight last Friday night at Hayward Field in Eugene. Henderson’s kick put away the home track favorite, Jessica Hull of Oregon.
Gleyber Torres is the definite favorite as “Former Boise Hawk Rookie of the Year” in the majors (if there was such a thing). Torres’ walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Yankees past Cleveland 7-4 Sunday still has the Big Apple buzzing. At 21 years old, he became the youngest player to hit a walk-off dinger in the Yankees’ storied history. The Yanks are 14-1 since Torres made his big league debut on April 22—they open what promises to be an intense three-game series against the Boston Red Sox tonight in New York. Torres is batting .327 with two home runs and 11 RBIs.
This Day In Sports…May 8, 1968, 50 years ago:
One month after the A’s debut in the Oakland Coliseum following their move from Kansas City, they give their new fans an historic thrill. Jim “Catfish” Hunter threw a perfect game—the first in the American League in 46 years—as the A’s beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-0. Hunter would remain the heart of the Oakland pitching staff as the A’s would win three straight world championships in the early 70’s.
(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.)