Friday, December 13, 2013.
Bryan Harsin literally comes home this morning to hold his first press conference as Boise State’s new head football coach. It’ll be a festive atmosphere at the Allen Noble Hall of Fame Gallery. Then Harsin has to get after it in a hurry. For those who wonder about a 37-year-old guy who’s been a head coach for just one year and couldn’t quite get the Texas offense to the promised land (his hands were tied), I would say this. When Dan Hawkins was announced as Dirk Koetter’s replacement 13 years ago, there were those saying, “Seriously, Boise State? The special teams coach? Whose only head coaching experience was at an NAIA school?” Well, Hawk worked out okay, to the tune of 53-11 and four WAC championships. See how this thing plays out. Harsin is a driven guy, and he knows what this job is all about.
Harsin has agreed to a five-year, $6.5 million contract to lead Boise State. More importantly, he’ll have a pool of $2.2 million for his staff, almost as much as Chris Petersen had last year and almost $700,000 more than any other team in the Mountain West. That will allow Harsin to pay his defensive coordinator, for example, handsomely. It’ll be interesting to see if that’ll be current linebackers coach Bob Gregory. A weird dynamic presents itself there. Gregory was the Broncos’ D-coordinator in 2001 when Harsin was a 24-year-old graduate assistant. Would he work for the “youngster” now? Gregory has been known as one who checks his ego at the door.
Despite the viral photo of Boise State quarterback recruit Jalen Greene posing with Petersen and his Washington Husky recruiting coordinator Keith Bhonopha, Greene remains a BSU commit—for now. Brandon Huffman of Scout.com was on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday and said he expects Greene to stay in the Bronco fold, at least through the dead period in FBS recruiting that starts Sunday. But Greene is testing the waters now that Petersen is at UW, as are several on the Boise State list. Examples of how recruits commit to the face of the program as much as the program itself, and some may follow the face.
The Walter Camp Foundation 2013 All-America teams were released yesterday, and Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence was named to the second team at defensive end. Lawrence’s 10.5 sacks this season are tied for 10th in the country and are the fifth-most in Bronco history. Only one non-BCS player made the first team. It was Idaho freshman punter Austin Rehkow, who led the nation in punting this season with a 47.8-yard average. And last night, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best wide receiver. Boise State will meet Cooks on Christmas Eve in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
This is a cool story: 87-year-old Tom Ables, billed by some as “the greatest college football fan in America,” will attend the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl a week from tomorrow to root for San Diego State. It will be Able’s 744th Aztec game, dating back 68 seasons to 1946, when Able was a freshman at San Diego State. That first season ended with a game against Pacific. The Tigers' coach was Amos Alonzo Stagg, and that would be the last game the legend ever coached. Since then, Able has missed just two Aztec games, home or away. He still stands on the sidelines at every road game—and that remains his plan, even in Boise on December 21.
Undefeated Saint Mary’s comes to Taco Bell Arena tomorrow for a de facto Australian all-star game. Aussie Matthew Dellavedova, who received a ton of national exposure as a four-year sparkplug guard for the Gaels and became the school’s career scoring leader, is off with the Cleveland Cavaliers now. Thus Boise State’s Anthony Drmic, Igor Hadziomerovic and Nick Duncan missed Dellavedova by one season, but they still get to face two other Saint Mary’s Australians, Matt Hodgson and Dane Pineau. Hodgson, a senior center, and Pineau, a freshman forward, are Gaels reserves. The St. Mary’s player to watch is 6-9 forward Brad Waldow, a very American guy who’s averaging 18½ points and seven rebounds per game.
He may not be an NBA prospect like Dellavedova, but Boise State has its own security blanket on the floor. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas noted during the telecast of the Kentucky game Tuesday night that Bronco coach Leon Rice calls senior Jeff Elorriaga “our binky.” I don’t think I had heard that one before. I always thought Elorriaga was the “glue guy.” Elorriaga does keep the team together, but he’d like to get back in the scoring column against a quality opponent like Saint Mary’s. The senior guard has become a focal point of opposing defenses—he’s scored a total of 13 points against Boise State’s last five Division I foes and his season average has dropped to 12.0 points per game.
If you look back a year ago, you have to pinch yourself if you’re among the Idaho Stampede faithful. Things just keep getting better for Boise’s D-League franchise, which routed Delaware on the road last night, 115-88, to improve to 7-0. The same potent trio spurred the effort, as Richard Howell put up 18 points and a season-high 17 rebounds, Pierre Jackson had his usual 27 points, and Dee Bost added 22 points. The Stampede and Rio Grande Valley remain the only two unbeaten teams left in the D-League. The Vipers beat Austin 111-100 yesterday for their 19th consecutive regular season victory dating back to last season. The streak establishes a new D-League record, breaking the mark set of 18 by the Stampede during their championship season in 2007-08. The Stamps play at Fort Wayne tomorrow night.
The Idaho Steelheads are now halfway through their season-long 11-game homestand. So far, so good, as the Steelheads have gone 4-1-1 going into tonight’s game against Alaska in CenturyLink Arena. Special teams continue to play a key roll for the Steelies. In Wednesday night’s 4-1 over the Aces, Idaho’s penalty-kill unit was 6-for-6, with one sequence in the first period crucial to the victory. With Alaska on the power play midway through the period, Tyler Elbrecht blocked a shot that appeared to be a certain goal to protect a two-goal lead. On the same penalty-kill a minute later, David deKastrozza scored short-handed to record his first goal of the season and turn what could have been a 2-1 lead into a 3-0 advantage.
Former Boise State star Graham DeLaet is part of a 24-player, 12-team field for the 25th Franklin Templeton Shootout, which tees off today. The Shootout has been know as one of the longest-running and premier post-season PGA Tour events—now it’s an early feature of what is the 2013-14 season under the tour’s new structure. DeLaet will team with fellow Canadian Mike Weir at the Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, FL. DeLaet has top 10 finishes in two of the three events he’s played in the young season, collecting $449,667. He hasn’t played in a tournament since the World Golf Championships six weeks ago.
This Day In Sports…December 13, 1983, 30 years ago today:
Detroit edges Denver 186-184 in triple overtime, making it the highest-scoring game in NBA history. Isiah Thomas scored 47 points and John Long added 41 for the Pistons. Kiki Vandeweghe led the Nuggets with 51 points, followed by Alex English with 47. Seven years later, Denver also lost the NBA’s highest-scoring regulation game, 162-158 to the Golden State Warriors.
(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.)