Sunday, April 26, 2009

Big Sky May be Backing Off on $ Saving Plans

When the Big Sky Conference presidents meet in May, they'll still be discussing money-saving ideas for athletics -- but not as many, and not two of the most offensive. According to Jon Kasper, the assistant commissioner for media relations, the conference has taken off the table for now the idea of reducing the men's and women's basketball tournaments from six teams to four, and the prospect of playing Friday and Saturday night conference games.

Also taken off the table, according to Kasper, is the idea of going to a double round-robin conference soccer schedule, in lieu of playing a conference tournament. Cost-saving ideas that have been approved already include having volleyball go to a Friday-Saturday conference schedule, except for road trips involving Flagstaff, Ariz.; and shelving the annual conference football kick-off meetings in Park City this summer.

Kasper said there seems to be a growing sense that, instead of mandating specific cost-savings ideas for every school, it might be better to let individual schools determine how to either shave expenses in the face of the current economic crisis, or raise funds in new ways to offset declining revenues elsewhere. With each school facing its own particular economic climate and possessing its own spending priorities and fundraising capabilities, that approach makes a lot of sense to me.

The conference will still consider a number of cost-cutting proposals at its May meeting, including limiting the size of travel parties for football and basketball, but thankfully they have at least temporarily shelved the idea of Friday-Saturday road trips for basketball, and reducing the number of teams in the post-season tournaments. Both would contribute, in my view, to lowering the caliber of competition in conference play.

Two Idaho Players Drafted

Two football players with Idaho ties were drafted into the National Football League this weekend -- and neither were Boise State players. Weber State linebacker J.D. Folsom, a Salmon native, was taken in the 7th and final round by the Miami Dolphins, as the 214th player selected in the draft; seven picks later, Idaho tight end Eddie Williams was taken by the Washington Redskins. Meanwhile, none of Boise State's stars, including running back Ian Johnson and wide receiver Jeremy Childs, were taken.

Update: Kelvin Ang from the Journal is reporting that ISU's D.J. Clark, a defensive back, has signed a free agent deal with the Carolina Panthers and tackle Evan Dietrich-Smith has a deal with the Green Bay Packers. Five BSU players got free agent deals, including Johnson, with Minnesota, and Childs with San Diego.

Cal Poly wide receiver Ramses Barden, who caught 14 passes for four touchdowns against the Bengals the last two seasons, was taken in the third round by the New York Giants.

No More Printing of Press Guides

I was a little wistful when Frank Mercogliano announced on Earth Day last week that Idaho State will no longer print media guides. In this age of computers and the Internet, the glossy-covered press guides have become something of an anachronism, and no longer printing and mailing out hundreds of football and basketball guides to sports writers who have already down-loaded most of the information off the web makes a lot of economic and environmental sense. But there is still something magical about the first peek into that professionally printed tome full of statistics, player profiles and program history. It just won't be the same carting around a ratted collection of printer stock stapled at the upper left hand corner.

Farewell Merle Harmon

While we're on the nostalgic bent, I was sad to see that former sportscaster Merle Harmon passed away on April 16. Harmon was most noted for his baseball broadcasting (he did the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers), and he also served as the voice of the New York Jets. But I knew him best from his days of broadcasting the Big 10 basketball game of the week when I was back in the Midwest in the 1970s. I actually got to meet Merle in 1995, when he was doing play-by-play for North Texas State and the Bengals took on the Mean Green in Denton that season. His broadcast partner was former Dallas Cowboy player personnel legend Gil Brandt, who is still providing analysis of the NFL draft these days. Harmon and Brandt, two legends in their professions, could not have been more gracious to a rookie college broadcaster from Idaho.

I'll miss you, Merle, you were a pro.

Bone Adds Hironaka to Staff

I notice in Ryan Collingwood's blog from the Morning News that new Washington State head basketball coach Ken Bone has added former Idaho State assistant coach Jeff Hironaka to his staff. Hironaka, who worked for Jim Boutin from 1987-1990 at ISU, was also the head coach at Blackfoot High School.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being a Bengal fan, it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.

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