SCOTT SLANT: Significance of the big stage

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Friday, May 17, 2019.

Why didn’t the ACC Network choose to air Boise State-Florida State on its debut weekend? Because that game’s going to be on the Mothership. In prime time in the East, no less. The Broncos and Seminoles will kick off at 7 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Mountain, Saturday, August 31 on ESPN. There’s no better way for Boise State to start the year if it wants to reassure the country that it’s 21st century success will be sustained for yet another season. ESPN.com ranks the Broncos and FSU No. 7 on its list of this season’s best non-conference games. “Boise State is looking for a New Year’s Six bid, while Willie Taggart needs a big year for the Seminoles,” says the narrative. Both of those things are, um, obviously true.

This harkens back to opening nights of seasons past. In five out of six years from 2009-14, Boise State debuted on ESPN against major opponents. The first three matchups were all Kellen Moore games, landmark victories over Oregon on the blue turf, Virginia Tech in Landover, MD, and Georgia in Atlanta. Then there were losses at Michigan State in 2012 and to Ole Miss back in the Georgia Dome in 2014. (The other opener in that stretch was the first college football game ever telecast on FS1, at Washington in 2013.) The game against the Seminoles isn’t exactly like the made-for-TV events a decade ago, but now it becomes a monstrous table-setter for the perpetuation of Boise State’s brand.

JUST CALL IT THE “LVEFC”

I’m thinking this will fill up quickly. Everett Sports Marketing has announced the first Leighton Vander Esch Football Camp on Saturday, June 22, at Boise State’s Caven-Williams Sports Complex. There are 250 spots available for campers aged 6-16. And oh by the way, Pro Football Focus posted this week that the Dallas Cowboys star was its highest-graded rookie linebacker of 2018, higher than NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts. In fact, Vander Esch had the highest PFF rookie LB grade since San Francisco’s Chris Borland in 2014—and the fifth-highest rookie grade at the position since PFF started posting the data in 2006.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN IN DALLAS

On the one hand, you’d think the Dallas Cowboys are counting on Tyrone Crawford’s recent “incident” being an aberration. After all, Crawford’s been a team captain since 2017. It remains to be seen if or how the NFL will weigh in with its own independent discipline. But many think there’s a suspension coming—two or even four games. They feel there’s a hint in the fact that Dallas took a defensive lineman, Trysten Hill, with its first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft (second round). It was clarified this week that Crawford faces a misdemeanor charge of unlawful assembly a month and a half after an altercation outside a Panama City Beach, FL, nightclub. The former Boise State defensive lineman pleaded not guilty last month after a TMZ video showed him throwing punches in a bar fight. The scene went viral

BAD TIME FOR BOGEYS

The good news: Troy Merritt is tied with Tiger Woods, the much-celebrated Master champion and rejuvenated person, at the PGA Championship. The bad news: both are in a group tied for 55th after struggling at two-over 72 Thursday in the first round. It was not a beneficial day for bogeys at Bethpage. Merritt birdied the first hole but double-bogeyed the second, and that kind of set the tone for his day. The capper was a bogey on No. 18. The Meridian resident and Boise State product is hanging near the cut line—he’ll need a solid round today. Tiger will, too.

QUALITY WINS PAVE THE PATH FOR THE BRONCOS

Boise State women’s softball got into the NCAA Tournament thanks to a non-conference schedule that included a 17-game winning streak, with none of those games played at home. The Broncos notched wins over Boston College, Ole Miss and Michigan State, as well as Loyola-Marymount and Long Beach State when both programs were receiving votes in the Top 25. You could argue that Boise State’s opponent in Gainesville today, Stanford, got in the same way. The Cardinal have wins over LSU, Michigan, Northwestern and UCLA.

A LARGE SACRAMENTO CONTINGENT

There’ll be 18 Boise State representatives, the most in six years, at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminary Round next week in Sacramento. One Bronco is ranked first in her event in the West Region—it will come as no surprise that it’s in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with Allie Ostrander, the two-time defending national champion. Ostrander, Addison Dehaven and Clare O’Brien will be all be running multiple events at regionals.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!

May 17, 1979, 40 years ago today: I remember running highlights of this game on my Channel 6 sportscast—it took awhile. The wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field that day, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs 23-22 in 10 innings. Eventual Boisean Bill Buckner hit a grand slam and had seven RBIs for the Cubs, and Dave Kingman hit three home runs. Mike Schmidt hit two homers for the Phillies. The two teams combined for 11 round-trippers and 97 total bases.

(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.)

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