Wednesday, February 3, 2010.
On the day that college football prospects across the country can sign on the dotted line, Boise State is seeing one of its most respected coaches about to be recruited away to the SEC. It’s defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who less than three weeks ago withdrew his name from consideration for the same job at Texas A&M. Nothing was official as of this writing, but Tennessee appears to be too much to resist for Wilcox. New Volunteers coach Derek Dooley, who as Louisiana Tech’s head man had his fill of Wilcox in three losses to the Broncos, is set to hire him as the new D-coordinator in Knoxville.
If you’re only as good as your last game, then Wilcox will forever be remembered for the defining calling card he left on a stunned bunch of Horned Frogs a month ago, the masterful defensive game plan that brought down TCU in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. In a month’s time, he redesigned the Boise State defense, and it held the Frogs to just 308 yards—and a 1-of-12 performance on third down. It was a tribute to the trust Bronco players had in Wilcox that they would buy into a change that essentially changed three positions, not the least of which was Kyle Wilson’s (from cornerback to safety).
It’s amazing that Boise State has made it three years without a change on Chris Petersen’s staff. The only move during Petersen’s tenure has been that of offensive line coach Sean Kugler to the Buffalo Bills after the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Wilcox and offensive colleague Bryan Harsin were two of the nation’s youngest Division I-A coordinators when Petersen hired them in December of 2005. They’re both still only 33. Wilcox has his whole football life ahead of him—and already it’s been pretty good.
If Wilcox is gone, there’ll be a little nervousness about the 2010 season opener now. Because ESPN’s got its showcase game for Labor Day Night. The Washington Redskins officially announced the move of the Boise State-Virginia Tech game from October 2 to September 6 yesterday. Kickoff will be 6PM Mountain Time at Fed Ex Field in Washington, DC. To make it happen, the Broncos’ September 11 home game against Toledo has been switched to October 9. With BSU set to play at Wyoming September 18, that means the Broncos’ home opener this season won’t be until September 25 against Oregon State. That also means a WAC game will be plugged in October 2.
Virginia Tech 101: the Hokies were 10-3 last season, capped by a 37-14 rout of, coincidentally, Tennessee at the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. Va Tech finished No. 10 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. I mentioned last week that the Hokies have to replace six starters on defense, including three of the four on the D-line. But they have quarterback Tyrod Taylor returning for his senior year. And they’ll have a super sophomore at running back. Ryan Williams rushed for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman last year.
The Idaho Stampede roster has been roundly raided the past month, which is the whole point of the D-League. But the Stamps have restocked in time for tonight’s game against the Sioux Falls Skyforce in Qwest Arena. Idaho has picked up forward Joe Dabbert from the Maine Red Claws in a trade for Cory Underwood. Dabbert spent last season with the D-League champion Colorado 14ers under current Stampede head coach Bob MacKinnon. The Stampede have also added former NBA guard Joe Barrett.
Between the NBA and the lure of overseas dollars, the Idaho Stampede have seen what almost amounts to a D-League all-star team depart the franchise this season. Two of the exited players, Sundiata Gaines and Anthony Tolliver, have been named to the NBA D-League All-Star Game a week from Saturday during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in Dallas. But players selected must be on an active D-League roster to compete in the game. Gaines has been signed for the rest of the season by the Utah Jazz, so he’s out. Tolliver would be a possibility—but only if he’s not signed to another contract by the Golden State Warriors between now and then.
Now that Boise State has broken its longest Taco Bell Arena losing streak since before it was called Taco Bell Arena, the Broncos can focus on positives. And it would be very positive for them to offset one of last year’s negatives, the 56-54 homecourt loss to Idaho. That was the night that saw what is an extreme rarity in the new century, a crowd that topped 10,000. BSU blasted out to an early 15-point lead but was unable to function against the Vandals’ zone in the second half. The Broncos never recovered from that night, losing six of their final eight games. Idaho pays another visit Saturday night in Taco Bell Arena. Tonight, meanwhile, the Vandals play at Utah State. It’s a 9PM start, but that won’t matter in Logan. It’s on ESPN2, and Aggie fans will come out for the show.
Idaho Steelheads forward Mark Derlago made his Bakersfield homecoming count last weekend. Derlago has been named ECHL Player of the Week after a career-high four assists last Friday and two power-play goals, including the game-winner, last Saturday against his former Condors teammates. Derlago finished January with 24 points in just 11 games. He’s scored a point in each of the last nine games—in fact, he’s tallied two or more points in all but one of them. Derlago and the Steelies open a three-game series tomorrow night at Las Vegas.
This Day In Sports…February 3, 1990, 20 years ago today:
At age 58, Willie Shoemaker retires from horse racing after amassing 8,833 wins during his career as a jockey. In 1986, the 4-foot-11 Shoemaker became the oldest jockey every to win the Kentucky Derby, taking the Run For The Roses aboard Ferdinand. That was his fifth victory in the Derby—he also won five times at the Belmont Stakes and three times at the Preakness. Shoemaker was the first jockey in history to reach $100 million in winnings.
(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 1350 KTIK/The Ticket. He also handles color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football.)