Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
In December of 2008, Ian Johnson came in to do a spot on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra right after Boise State’s annual awards banquet. We asked him who had won what, such as Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year. “Bacon,” said Johnson. The “Canadian Bacon” moniker was already alive and well in Bronco practices. That, of course, was Michael Atkinson, the baby-faced 320-pound defensive lineman from Windsor, Ontario. Atkinson was poised for a solid start as a redshirt freshman but a DUI in the summer of 2009 impeded his standing with the team, and four games into 2010 he was suspended for the rest of the year. It was a much more mature Atkinson who took the field this season as a senior starter and leader, but now his career is over after a torn ACL suffered in the loss to San Diego State.
We never got to see a sequel to the 2009 Spring Game, when Atkinson lined up at fullback, a position he played in high school, and rumbled 25 yards with a handoff. Maybe that play was still in the Bronco playbook for the home stretch. But the 36-yard score on an interception to beat BYU was better. It remains one of the highlights of this college football season, having gone viral as a “Fat Guy Touchdown.” Coach Chris Petersen lamented the loss of Bacon at his Monday press conference. “He’s been through some hard things, grown a lot, and figured some things out,” said Petersen. “Bump in the road, that’s the way he has to approach it.” Rehab on an ACL typically takes a year, but it may position him for the Canadian Football League in 2014. Atkinson was chosen in the third round of the CFL Draft last May by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
If you think about it, this is only the fifth time in his eight seasons as a head coach Petersen has had a Monday press conference after a loss. The defeat at Hawaii in 2007 ended the regular season, and the losses to East Carolina a month later and to TCU in 2008 were in bowl games. So yesterday’s session promised to be strange, but it really wasn’t. Petersen was not down in the dumps, nor was he abrupt. He was as matter-of-fact about the Saturday night loss as any game. “The closest games are going to be decided by the smallest details, and that sure showed up,” said Petersen. The Broncos’ number was up against the Aztecs. “It’s just a matter of time before you’re going to get beat,” he said. “I feel like a lot of times we’ve played with fire throughout the years, and somehow we’ve pulled games out.”
Boise State’s goal is always to win a conference championship, but Petersen said he “didn’t even really want to go there” right now. “Our goals should be all about Hawaii. Period. That’s it,” said Petersen. “This game is about this week. The focus needs to be on ourselves and playing our best football of the year. If it’s on a Mountain West championship, they’re looking at the wrong stuff.” Senior wide receiver Chris Potter understands the concept. “Since I’ve been here for five years, in my mind you can’t always focus on the big picture, because it’s not always what you expect,” said Potter. “We need to get a new chip on our shoulder.”
The Jake Van Ginkel saga is over at Boise State. The redshirt freshman kicker has been dismissed from the team, having never seen the field in a game. Continually in the Boise State coaching staff’s doghouse, Van Ginkel was suspended for the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas last December, was not allowed to participate in fall camp, and was suspended again last week. We called him “an occasional YouTube sensation” when he committed to Boise State in January of 2011. It never went beyond that.
The cause may have been helped by various ticket specials, but there were 36,000 in the stands again for that 8:30 kickoff Saturday night. There may be more where that came from in the Big East. If the conference lands a primary deal with ESPN and a secondary deal with, say, NBC Sports Network, the Big East may use its “spanning four time zones” mantra to create quadruple-headers. And guess which time zones come last? Compounding the late start was CBS Sports Network’s format. That was one busy redcap policing the timeouts on the sidelines in the San Diego State game. CBS SN has longer breaks (and generally more of them) than the other networks.
Back to the Mountain West race: Boise State is one of four teams with one conference loss, sharing that distinction with San Diego State, Fresno State and Air Force. The Broncos have beaten the Bulldogs and lost to the Aztecs, and they don’t face Air Force this year. Fresno State has already beaten San Diego State. Air Force has to face both the Aztecs and Bulldogs on the road the next two games, so the Falcons may be eliminated this week or next (or they could do some eliminating). Nevada will have something to say about all this. The Wolf Pack has two Mountain West losses, but it hosts Fresno State this week and, of course, Boise State in the grand finale December 1.
Luck, RG3, or the Muscle Hamster? Doug Martin has thrust himself into the NFL Rookie of the Year race with his epic 251-yard, four-touchdown game for the Buccaneers against the Raiders Sunday. The Colts’ Andrew Luck and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III have been the frontrunners all season, but the L.A. Times’ Chuck Schilken has written a story about the former Boise State star’s candidacy and is running a poll involving the three players. Luck leads, but Martin is second, far ahead of Griffin. By the way, did you know? Martin’s performance in Oakland came five years to the day after Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson set the NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards.
It was shaping up to be the worst television schedule for Boise State men’s basketball in more than a quarter century. It may still be, but Learfield Sports and DIRECTV Sports Networks, parent companies of Root Sports, have struck a deal with the regional network to telecast four more Bronco basketball games. The road games at Wyoming January 9 and New Mexico February 16 and the game versus the Lobos in Taco Bell Arena January 16 will be on Root. The fourth date will be announced next month. The Broncos open the regular season this Sunday afternoon at home against Texas Southern.
The Idaho Stampede are tweaking ahead of training camp. The Stampede have picked up former Michigan State star Durrell Summers in a trade with the Santa Cruz Warriors (formerly the Dakota Wizards). Summers played briefly in the D-League last season with the Maine Red Claws, averaging 10.8 points and 3.2 rebounds. The rights to eighth-round D-League draft pick Harouna Mutombo, Dikembe’s son, have been sent to Santa Cruz by the Stamps.
This Day In Sports…November 6, 1971:
Dan Hawkins and Chris Petersen were too young to think about playing for UC Davis, but Mike Bellotti, future head coach at Oregon, was already there. It’s called the Aggies’ “Miracle Minute” game. Trailing Cal State Hayward 29-14 in the final minute of the contest, Davis got a touchdown and two-point conversion to get within seven. Then the Aggies recovered an onside kick with 15 seconds left, and Bellotti scored a TD on the final play from scrimmage to make it 29-28. UC Davis went for two and got it, winning 30-29.
(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.)