Monday, January 9, 2012.
Boise State is waiting on offensive coordinator Brent Pease, and Pease is waiting for the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. We don’t know which is which, but one figure could be saying, “Stay with the Broncos—it will only become a better springboard to a head coaching job.” The other might be saying, “Alabama or Florida—what have you got to lose?” Pease reportedly has his choice of O-coordinators’ posts but isn’t ruling out staying with Boise State. He’s the most Idahoan of the assistants on Chris Petersen’s staff. Pease was born in Moscow and graduated from Mountain Home High, where his dad Rich was head coach. And he’s been right at home with the Broncos the past six years. Pease is said to have met with Florida Friday and could meet with Alabama coach Nick Saban tomorrow, on the heels of tonight’s BCS Championship game.
Robert Prince, the one-time Dan Hawkins assistant who rejoined the Boise State staff when Pease was promoted to offensive coordinator a year ago, is a logical in-house candidate to replace Pease should it come to that. Consider what Prince was faced with this season as wide receivers coach. He was charged with reconstructing the Bronco wideout corps upon the departure of the two most prolific pass-catchers in school history, Austin Pettis and Titus Young.
Instead of moving Tyler Shoemaker outside to fill Pettis’ role, Prince left Shoe primarily in the slot and was rewarded with a school-record 16 touchdown catches. Prince took Matt Miller, untested after missing his redshirt season with an Achilles injury, and had him in midseason form when the bell rung against Georgia in September. Miller tied Shoemaker for the team lead with 62 catches, shattering Boise State’s freshman record. Prince didn’t have a deep threat like Young this season, but he still coaxed 49 receptions out of Mitch Burroughs.
Now Eagle High grad Taylor Kelly will find out if he’s Todd Graham’s kind of quarterback. Brock Osweiler has announced he’s forgoing his senior year at Arizona State to enter the NFL Draft, so the QB spot will be wide open at ASU this spring. In addition to Kelly, the Sun Devils have another sophomore, Mike Bercovici, and redshirt freshman Michael Eubank. Graham, who bolted Pittsburgh last month to become Dennis Erickson’s successor, says he’ll give all three of them a look Kelly got into two games for the Sun Devils in the 2011 season, going 4-of-4 for 31 yards against UC Davis and rushing one time for 24 yards versus Colorado. He did not play in Arizona State’s 56-24 loss to Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
Titus Young’s Wild Card Weekend started loudly and ended quietly. The former Boise State star’s first touch at New Orleans Saturday night was on a reverse that gained eight yards during Detroit’s first possession. Young then made first down catches on back-to-back plays netting 26 yards, and the Lions went on to score the game’s first touchdown. But he had only two receptions for seven yards the rest of the way, as the Saints rolled, 45-28. Titus just missed a couple times on what would have been big catches—he was targeted 10 times by Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The Idaho Steelheads’ six-game winning streak seems like a mirage now, as the Steelheads are now saddled with a four-game skid. Adding insult, all four losses have been at home, and in the two over the weekend, the Steelies were outscored 10-1 by Ontario. Goalie Jerry Kuhn, who has been under siege all season by an extraordinary number of opposing shots on goal, finally blew a tire in Saturday night’s 5-0 loss to the Reign. After allowing three goals, Kuhn was pulled in favor of Thomas Speer less than four minutes into the second period. Speer allowed the final two Ontario goals while making 11 saves. Ironically, Idaho yielded only 24 shots on goal for the night. The Steelheads find themselves back in last place in the ECHL Mountain Division, one point behind Utah.
The highlight of the weekend for the Steelheads was the announcement that the Dallas Stars training camp is coming to town this September. The Stars will set up shop in CenturyLink Arena and cap their stay with an exhibition game against the Minnesota Wild September 25. That will be 15 years and a day after the first hockey game ever in the Downtown Boise building, an exhibition between the L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks when it was known as the Bank Of America Centre. This will be a very different environment for the Stars—Dallas has held its past two training camps in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
What did the Boise State basketball team do for its winter vacation? Practice, practice, practice. The Broncos had an extremely rare January weekend off as they wait for their Mountain West debut this Saturday against Air Force. The schedule wasn’t left blank intentionally, but coach Leon Rice says that’s okay. “It’s good for this team—we’ve got a lot we have to work on,” said Rice. “Sometimes it’s hard to do when you’re always playing games.” Boise State is coming off what Rice feels was perhaps its most disheartening effort of the season, the 72-59 loss last Monday night at Fresno State. After starting the season on an offensive tear, the Broncos have now gone six straight games without scoring 80 points.
Luke Babbitt was no doubt starving for action, and he got a full meal deal with the Idaho Stampede over the weekend. The former Nevada star had played all of two minutes for the Portland Trailblazers before being assigned to the Stampede late last week. Babbitt played 73 minutes in the two games at Bakersfield, and Saturday night he poured in 35 points as the Stamps won 114-104 to split the series. Babbitt hit five three-pointers and added 11 rebounds and six assists. Now he and Stampede teammate Armon Johnson head to Reno, where they played together for the Wolf Pack. It’s the annual NBA D-League Showcase, which begins this morning with the Stamps facing the Erie BayHawks.
This Day In Sports…January 9, 1977:
The Oakland Raiders overwhelm the Minnesota Vikings, 32-14, in Super Bowl XI, played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. For the Vikings, it was their fourth consecutive Super Bowl loss. For the Raiders, it was the crowning moment of John Madden’s coaching career, with the lasting memory being Willie Brown’s 75-yard return of a Fran Tarkenton interception. In slo-mo.
(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.)