Friday, December 6, 2013.
Well, it wasn’t going to last forever. Everybody and his dog are reporting this morning that Chris Petersen is headed to Washington, with the official announcement coming as early as today. The chat-o-sphere exploded last night with word that Washington athletic director Scott Woodward flew to Boise to interview the Boise State coach. The Seattle Times reports that the Huskies are prepared to make Petersen one of the highest-paid coaches in the Pac-12. All this with the Broncos’ bowl practices set to start tomorrow. Now the biggest issue might be who will be the interim coach? Kevin McGuire of NBCSports.com put it succinctly last night: “If Washington can manage to lure Petersen away from Boise, the Huskies would make the biggest coaching change this off-season. It may really be now or never for Petersen.”
If this all comes to pass later today, Boise State did what it could to keep Petersen. Numerous times. There was the Steuckle Sky Center, and—after he turned down overtures from Stanford three years ago—the new football complex at the north end of Bronco Stadium that opened in August. But the Broncos have finally been trumped by deep pockets out of their financial league. Petersen will have everything he needs to succeed in Seattle. The Washington roster is flush with talent from a team that went 8-4 during the regular season and was capaple of more. The shiny new object called Husky Stadium had to impress Petersen three-plus months ago, and there’s plenty more where that came from. The Pac-12 is flush with money thanks to the TV deals brokered by commissioner Larry Scott.
This will be debated: has Petersen taken Boise State as far as he could? Maybe, considering the changing landscape of college football. There’s a much bigger gap between the haves and the have-nots now than there was even four years ago when the Broncos won their second Fiesta Bowl. The Mountain West is locked in as a mid-major, and the case it has tried to make as the league bubbling under the power conferences has taken a major hit via a terrible performance in non-conference games this year.
The wait for the bowl announcement is almost over. Boise State will know its postseason destination once and for all Sunday night. Will it be the New Mexico Bowl against Washington State or Arizona? And will the biggest issue out of the gate be who will serve as the Broncos’ interim coach? (You probably don’t want to think about that.) After its stunning win over Oregon two weeks ago, the perception is that the Wildcats are far more worthy opponents. But at 7-5, Arizona is only one game better than WSU. And both teams are 4-5 in Pac-12 play. Wazzu would be a lot more passionate about playing in Albuquerque—the Wildcats played there last year, while the Cougs haven’t been to a bowl game in 10 years.
When the point spread was revealed for tomorrow’s Mountain West championship game, Fresno State by three over Utah State, there were lots of eyebrows raised. The Bulldogs only a three-point favorite? When they lead the nation in passing and are second behind Baylor in total offense? But if defense wins championships, then the spread could be on target. The Aggies are seventh in the nation in scoring defense and will have a chance is they can bend but not break. On the other side of the ball, Chuckie Keeton is gone for the season, of course. But true freshman Darrell Garretson has settled in at quarterback since taking over in the second half of USU’s October loss to Boise State. Garretson has won all five of his starts since.
Eagle High grad Taylor Kelly plays the biggest game of his career tomorrow, trying to lead No. 13 Arizona State to a Rose Bowl berth as the Sun Devils host No. 8 Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game Saturday. Kelly’s last game was right up there, as he keyed a 58-21 rout of rival Arizona in the Territorial Cup by throwing for 274 yards and two touchdowns. He’s had an outstanding junior season, passing for 3,337 yards and 27 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Add 437 yards rushing, and Kelly is 15th in the nation in total offense. Kelly was named to the All-Pac 12 second team this week behind first-teamer Marcus Mariota of Oregon. ASU hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl since another Treasure Valley native, former Capital High star Jake Plummer, led them there on New Year’s Day, 1997.
It was a semi-lackluster Boise State effort on the basketball court last night. Maybe you can blame the next game that loomed five days away. Maybe it was just because Carroll College was playing harder. And hey, Anthony Drmic had the flu and missed the game. But it took a long time for the Broncos to shake the Saints. Carroll scored the first seven points of the second half to pull to within eight at 39-31 before Boise State used a 24-4 run to get separation and roll to a 80-52 victory. The Broncos’ apparent goal was to get their three-point stroke back, and at least Jeff Elorriaga and Thomas Bropleh did. Elorriaga nailed six treys and Bropleh three while tying for team-high honors with 18 points. Carroll’s Dennis Mikelonis, a senior out of Borah High, poured in a game-high 26 points.
Trying to remember who’s up next for Boise State hoops. Oh yeah, Kentucky. The Wildcats are merely ranked No. 3 in the AP Poll and No. 4 in the Coaches Poll with a record of 7-1. This will be one of the biggest games in Bronco history, only because they feel they can compete at this level for the first time. We’ll find out next Tuesday night whether that’s true. UK is certainly not thinking about Boise State right now. The Wildcats have a tough tussle ahead at No. 20 Baylor tonight before getting to the Broncos.
Idaho hosts Washington State in the first Cowan Spectrum game of the season tomorrow night. The Vandals have been anxious to play on their true home floor, but they’d best not get used to it, though. It’s Idaho’s first home game in three weeks—and its last for another three weeks. This is the 268th basketball version of the Battle of the Palouse in a series that dates back to 1906. The Vandals are looking to go over the .500 mark, as they evened their record at 4-4 with an 80-76 win at UC Davis last Saturday. The Cougars are 3-4 and have lost four of their last five games. It’s understandable, though. The defeats have been at the hands of Gonzaga, TCU, Butler and Saint Joseph’s; the victory was over Purdue. This will be the first time Rod Jensen has faced the Vandals in a long time. The former Boise State and College of Idaho coach is now on the WSU staff.
Can the Idaho Stampede sustain their hot start? The Stampede are 3-0, but all three games have been in the friendly confines of CenturyLink Arena. Now they embark on the first road trip of the season, and it’s a doozy. The Stamps are in Massachusetts tonight to face the Springfield Armor before visiting Maine tomorrow night and Delaware for a pair of games next week. Update on former Boise State standout Jason Ellis: he’s averaging just 0.7 points in 23 minutes of floor time per game. But coach Mike Peck sticks with him because of his commitment to rebounding. Ellis is pulling down eight boards a night.
Anthony Nigro has been making an impact for the Idaho Steelheads since their home-opening victory six weeks ago. Nigro scored two goals against San Francisco in a 4-3 overtime thriller, including the game-tying and game-winning tallies. The 23-year-old forward put up two more goals Wednesday night in the Steelheads’ 6-3 win over Stockton. Nigro now leads the Steelheads with 10 goals, and his total of 23 points has moved him into a tie for fourth in the ECHL in scoring. The Steelies and the Thunder meet up again tonight and tomorrow night in CenturyLink Arena. Idaho is now three points behind the surprising Colorado Eagles in the ECHL Mountain Division (don’t look now, but the Alaska Aces have lost three games in a row and have slipped to third).
If Maddie Sheils can keep on keepin’ on this weekend, she’ll have an LPGA Tour card when it’s over. The Bishop Kelly grad has climbed into a tie for 16th in the final stage of LPGA Tour qualifying in Daytona Beach, FL, after another one-under 71 yesterday. It won’t easy—there are two rounds down and three to go. Elsewhere, Boise State had 10 wrestlers enterd in the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational today and tomorrow in Las Vegas. There are 33 teams competing in the 32nd edition of the tournament—the Broncos finished sixth last year. And the College of Idaho basketball team plays its first games as a ranked team in seven years when the Coyotes open Cascade Conference play this weekend at Northwest and Evergreen. The Yotes are No. 20 in the NAIA Division II Coaches Poll.
This Day In Sports…December 6, 1969:
With national title implications on the line, No. 1 Texas beats No. 2 Arkansas 15-14 in the “Big Shootout” in Fayetteville before President Richard Nixon, future President George H.W. Bush, Rev. Billy Graham, Henry Kissinger and worldwide dignitaries. Longhorn quarterback James Street connected with Randy Peschel for 44 yards on a daring 4th-and-3 play from the Razorbacks’ 45-yard line late in the fourth quarter, leading to the winning touchdown and spoiling the Razorbacks’ hopes of a national championship. (Courtesy: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame)
(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.)