Thursday, March 2, 2017.
We wondered aloud about this last week when word of Chris Strausser’s departure from Washington leaked out. Would Huskies coach Chris Petersen entertain bringing aboard another old Boise State colleague as offensive line coach when Strausser moves on to Denver and the NFL? Well, yes. Scott Huff has been hired away by Coach Pete after a 11 years as a member of the Bronco staff. “There are few that have been as loyal to the Boise State program as Scott Huff, both as a player and coach,” said Bryan Harsin in a statement yesterday. Petersen has to be impressed with Huff’s growth in the profession. It was Coach Pete who switched Huff’s responsibilities to the tight ends in 2010 with the Broncos, moving Strausser into the O-line post.
This had to be harder for Huff than he lets on. He played at Boise State from 1999-2002, honored as an All-WAC center in his final season. Huff was a Bronco during the “launching pad years,” playing in the school’s first bowl game as a freshman and helping the team to its first Top 25 ranking as a senior. “As a former player, then having the privilege to coach at my alma mater, I can’t thank Bronco Nation enough for the support throughout the years,” Huff said in his corresponding statement. Recruiting, particularly in Huff’s home state of Arizona, will need a re-boot. “Scooter” has an infectious personality and relates uncommonly well with humans of all ages.
Who will replace Huff? The only possibility currently on staff would be Nate Potter, who’s a graduate assistant. The former Boise State All-American and Timberline High product is probably over-qualified as a grad assistant, but is Potter ready to become a full-time position coach at an upper-echelon Group of Five school? Only coach Bryan Harsin knows for sure. But Potter is certainly suited to at least bridge the gap during spring football with the offensive line, a group that will be under a lot of scrutiny.
It’s been a long time since Idaho had six home football games, but that’s where the buzz begins as the Vandals’ 2017 schedule was unveiled yesterday. The 2016 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl champs will open their final FBS season in the Kibbie Dome Thursday, August 31, against future Big Sky opponent Sacramento State. The Vandals also host UNLV, Louisiana-Lafayette, Appalachian State, Louisiana-Monroe and Coastal Carolina. Among the road games is a date at Missouri, who Idaho last faced in 1963. And there will be a Bronco-Vandal game this year—the Vandals visit the Western Michigan Broncos in September.
Mopup from Boise State’s 74-67 loss to Fresno State Tuesday night: Chandler Hutchison is due for a bounce-back Saturday at Air Force. I mean, how often does Hutchison have to bounce back from anything? The junior standout was held to a season-low seven points, only the second time in 28 games this season Hutchison has been in single digits—and the first time since November 28 at Oregon. More shocking than his 2-for-6 night from the field was his inability to take care of the ball, as he was the victim of six turnovers. Hutchison doesn’t take that lightly.
Last night in the Mountain West, Nevada did its part in making sure the Mountain West caps its regular season with a dead heat in first place. The Wolf Pack cruised past San Jose State 82-67 to set up Saturday night’s winner-take-all title game against Colorado State in Reno. Air Force goes into its matchup with Boise State Saturday as an offensively-challenged team. The Falcons shot just 25 percent from the field in a 51-38 loss at the hands of San Diego State last night. And UNLV snapped its school-record nine-game losing streak with a 66-59 victory over Utah State.
College of Idaho insiders felt like there was a 99 percent chance the Coyotes would earn an at-large berth in the NAIA Division II National Championships. That one percent thing always gnaws at you until it’s official. But the Yotes are in. They’ll face Dakota Wesleyan in the late game next Wednesday night in Point Lookout, MO. Like C of I, the Tigers are 23-9 on the season. The Yotes will be taking the Cascade Conference Defensive Player of the Year with them. Point guard Emanuel Morgan was honored yesterday after leading the CCC with 71 steals while also averaging nine points and six assists. Melba’s Joey Nebeker joins Morgan as an All-Cascade Conference selection.
There’s a lot on the line this week for the University of Idaho. The Vandals are assured a first-round bye in the Big Sky Tournament if they can pull off a road sweep at Northern Arizona tonight and Southern Utah Saturday night—and they could get the bye with one win depending on what happens elsewhere. A victory over the 10th-place Lumberjacks tonight in Flagstaff would also give Idaho a second consecutive winning season for the first time in five years.
For the second time in three games, Idaho Steelheads goalie Landon Bow posted a masterful 1-0 shutout last night. Rapid City was the victim this time, watching Bow reject all 27 of its shots on goal. All he needed was Kyle Jean’s goal 7½ minutes into the game—and a 4-for-4 performance by the Steelies’ penalty kill unit. Jean, by the way, was celebrating his 27th birthday as Idaho won for the seventh time in the last nine games. The last-place Rush had been causing some problems in the Mountain Division, winning five of their previous six games, two of them over the Allen Americans.
In women’s gymnastics tonight, No. 10 Boise State returns to Taco Bell Arena to take on Utah State in the Broncos’ “Pink Meet” to promote cancer awareness. Boise State has won the last 14 meetings versus USU but the Aggies lead the all-time series 55-40. Of course, it’s all about the team score right now as the Broncos try to position themselves for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Regionals. In indoor track and field, individual entries have been set for the NCAA Championships next week at Texas A&M. Boise State will be represented by Sadi Henderson, who has the 11th-best time in the country this season. The Broncos also send Brittany Aoyama, Emma Chard and Katelyn Martin—and all five of their relay teams—to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships March 15-18 in Indianapolis.
This Day In Sports…March 2, 1982:
The birthday of Big Ben. Coming out of Miami of Ohio, Ben Roethlisberger was the 11th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, going to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’d be the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year his first season. And in his second, he became the youngest starting quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl when the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL at the age of 23. Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh won another three years later, 27-23 over the Arizona Cardinals. Ben Roethlisberger…35 years old today.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)