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Tuesday, July 2, 2019.
Yesterday was July 1, so it was the first official day on the job for new Boise State University president Dr. Marlene Tromp. How will Tromp be in relation to athletics? So far she’s been saying all the right things. Tromp comes from UC Santa Cruz (she’s not a Banana Slug anymore). Sports were low-key there. But she spent six years as a vice provost at Arizona State, and she understands growing universities. Tromp inherits a football program with 21 straight winning seasons, the longest streak in the country. Men’s basketball is coming off what most people expect to be a hiccup, and the women’s basketball team has been to the NCAA Tournament three of the past four years. Most of the Olympic sports are in great shape.
On Tromp’s first day in office, it was announced that—for the second straight year—Boise State was the top-ranked Group of 5 school in the final 2018-19 standings for the Learfield IMG Directors’ Cup. The Broncos finished 59th overall nationally in the all-sports rating system with a total of 416.75 points. Since the inception of the College Football Playoff in 2014, Boise State has been one of only three schools to finish in the top 10 among Group of 5 institutions every year. The other two are fellow Mountain West members Air Force and New Mexico. So Tromp’s mandate is simple. Give the athletic department the tools and the support to succeed, and all will continue to be well.
SPECIAL TEAMS RANKING DOESN’T ADD UP…YET
Please allow me to visit Phil Steele’s College Football Preview one more time, because this is where eyebrows are raised. Steele has Boise State’s special teams ranked 40th out of 130 FBS teams. This after last year, when according to Steele, “Overall this unit was a massive disappointment and fell to No. 105 in our Special Teams Rankings. The return men and the long-snapper return, but both the kicker and punter are gone. They may actually improve at both kicker and punter and can only move up in the Special Teams Rankings.” But is that enough to jump this Broncos unit all the way to No. 40? Only Phil knows. Because Boise State’s last memory of special teams is the botched extra point that basically cost them the Mountain West championship last December. Still tough to swallow.
21ST CENTURY BODY OF WORK
Believe it not, after this season, we’ll be one-fifth of the way through the new millennium. So Brad Crawford of 247 Sports has used a point system to create the “top 10 plus 1 superpowers of the 21st century.” And Boise State ranks fourth. Third is Ohio State, second is Alabama, and first is Oklahoma. Let that sink in. It’s a measure of the Broncos’ body of work that’s never talked about enough. Crawford’s rationale: “College football’s winningest program since 2000, Boise State has been a model of consistency, recording 15 seasons with at least 10 wins while carrying the torch for the non-Power 5. Two unbeaten seasons, including the No. 4 final ranking in 2009. I had a hard time placing the Broncos inside the ‘Top 5 superpowers’ list due to their level of competition annually, but you can’t argue with the results.”
THE VANDALS’ ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
July 1st is the day new conference affiliations officially go into effect, so it’s been one year now since Idaho officially rejoined the FCS and the Big Sky in football. The first season didn’t go so well, with a 4-7 record (compared to 4-8 in the Vandals’ final year in the FBS). The program has had two winning seasons in the 21st century, and it’s time for another. It’s hard to take the temperature on fan support. Idaho averaged 10,533 per game in 2017, and 11,280 last season, the 15th-best number in the FCS. If Vandals faithful haven’t embraced renewed Big Sky rivalries yet, some opponents seem to have. The Kibbie Dome season-high last fall was the crowd of 14,571 that attended the Idaho-Montana game. The facility was populated impressively by Grizzlies fans.
ALLIE O’S EVOLVING FUTURE
Allie Ostrander’s performance at the Prefontaine Classic at Stanford Sunday makes you wonder if she may forego her senior track and field season at Boise State. Despite a personal best in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Ostrander finished 13th in a world-class field. The Pre Classic demonstrated that she has some ground to make up in the year preceding the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. By the same token, Ostrander is close—and she really needs to run races at this level to improve. She was the fourth-fastest American in the event behind a trio of 2016 Olympians. Here’s another race “at this level”: Ostrander will be part of the USA team for the 2019 Pan American Games in August in Lima, Peru.
RICE’S BENCH IS FULL AGAIN
B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press reports that Boise State coach Leon Rice has found his replacement for assistant Chris Acker, who left for San Diego State a month ago. Rice has hired RJay Barsh, the head coach at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL. Barsh led Southeastern to NAIA Division II National Tournament three times in seven years, including a trip to the semifinals in 2014. He does, however, have solid recruiting ties in the Northwest, dating back to his days as an assistant at Tacoma Community College.
THE DIRTY ROTTEN ROAD
The Boise Hawks just ended a 5-1 homestand. Monday night they found themselves in a bad place. The road. The Hawks fell to Everett 6-2 and are now 0-8 away from Memorial Stadium. They were hoping it was an omen when Rockies first-round draft pick Michael Toglia cracked a solo home run in the top of the first inning. It was Toglia’s second homer of the season. But the AquaSox answered with a run in the bottom of the first and three more in the second and won going away.
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July 2, 2016: Novak Djokovic’s dominant run of four straight Grand Slam tournament titles and 30 consecutive victories in Grand Slam matches comes to a crashing halt at the hands of American Sam Querrey at Wimbledon. The 28th-seeded Querrey had has power game working and stunned Djokovic in four sets in a third-round match that was played over two days due to rain delays. Djokovic had not exited before the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event since the 2009 French Open. He had easily defeated Querrey in the 2013 Davis Cup quarterfinals between the U.S. and Serbia at Boise’s Taco Bell Arena.
(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.)