Friday, January 4, 2013.
Now that Oregon’s Chip Kelly is done with the Fiesta Bowl, is there any drama on the horizon? If Kelly indeed bolts for the NFL after last night’s 35-17 romp over Kansas State, widespread reports continue to say that Duck offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, a one-time Boise State assistant under Dirk Koetter, is a layup as Oregon’s heir-apparent. Bronco Nation has fingers tightly crossed that these reports are correct, as UO has long been seen as a place that could lure away Boise State coach Chris Petersen. It was with the Ducks that Petersen cut his teeth as an offensive guru, and it was Eugene that rallied around Petersen and his family in 1999 when his son Sam was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Helfrich appears to be Oregon’s man. For Bronco fans, though, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
A year ago, the Touchdown Club of Columbus named its quarterback award after Boise State’s Kellen Moore, last season’s winner. So I thought you’d like to know who this year’s Kellen Moore Award honoree will be at the TDC’s 58th annual banquet on February 9. It’s Collin Klein of Kansas State. Klein had a tremendous career at KSU despite the fact the Fiesta Bowl didn’t go so well last night. If you’re wondering about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner, well, there’s a separate “Chic Harley Player of the Year” award, and Johnny Football did get that. Moore won what has become his award from the TDC in 2010 and 2011.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is another beneficiary of Boise State’s New Year’s Eve announcement that it’s staying put. With WAC football extinct, the bowl struck a deal with the Mountain West last month beginning with the 2013 game. Now the conference remains relevant locally. The bowl has the No. 6 selection from the Mountain West. The league won’t always be able to fill that spot (it wouldn’t have this season), but that would give the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl options.
This may seem like an odd time for some Famous Potato Bowl Trivia, but bear with me. Who was Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator in the bowl’s first edition 15 years ago? The Bearcats put the kibosh on Utah State’s offense for three quarters in their 35-19 victory that day on the blue turf. The answer: Rex Ryan, who, in one of the biggest upsets of the week, was retained Monday as head coach of the New York Jets. Ryan left Rick Minter’s staff at Cincinnati after that season to join John Blake for the final year of his ill-fated stint at Oklahoma (just before Bob Stoops took over).
Our former Bronco NFLer of the Day is Titus Young of (for now) the Detroit Lions. Young’s fall from grace in Motown would be shocking had we not seen it before at Boise State. He recovered here—now can he do it in Detroit? The Lions sent him home three times during the 2012 season. They had an out the last time, when severe tendinitis in Young’s knee allowed the team to place him on season-ending injured reserve. Young was at Detroit’s practice facility Wednesday for his exit physical and a meeting with coach Jim Schwartz. The rest of the Lions were in on Monday, but the team pushed Young’s appointment back to a time when nobody else would be around.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew longs for the 2011 version of Young and hasn’t completely given up on him, but the ball is clearly in the second-year wide receiver’s court. "There's a lot of time between now and when he has to come back,” Mayhew told Anwar Richardson of mlive.com. “I think there's a lot that needs to happen between now and then.” Mayhew would like to have Young’s future—or lack thereof—with the team settled by the NFL Draft in April. Before he was shelved for good, Young had 33 catches for 383 yards and four touchdowns this season. It remains to be seen if there will be more.
In terms of basketball, Boise State is still an event town. That’s just the way it is—for now, anyway. The season opener against Texas Southern in November was not seen as an event and drew less than 2,000. The LSU game three weeks ago was—and it attracted more than 11,000. The Broncos’ final non-confernce game tomorrow night against Walla Walla in Taco Bell Arena is, well, not an event. But the turnout of 3,785 versus Corban last Sunday indicates that fans are warming up to this 11-2 Bronco squad, off to its best start in 18 years. That was a Sunday afternoon, while the Walla Walla tilt is on a Saturday night. The turnstiles could be tell-tale.
Maybe there’s something going on with the Idaho Stampede. The Stamps won their second game in a row for the first time this season yesterday, downing the defending D-League champion Austin Toros 109-107 on the road. It was the Stampede’s first victory away from CenturyLink Arena under coach Mike Peck, and it was clinched on a four-point play by Justin Harper with 16 seconds left. Shooting seems to be coming around for the Stampede, who hit a season-high 50 percent from the floor and connected in 12-of-26 three-pointers. The Stampede play at Tulsa tonight.
The Idaho Steelheads, after a frustrating 2-1 loss that went deep into sudden death in a shootout at Bakersfield Wednesday night, return to CenturyLink Arena to face the Condors tonight and tomorrow night. Home ice promises to be sweet for the Steelheads, especially considering Bakersfield comes in with an 8-23-3 record (did I mention the Steelies’ frustration the other night?). Idaho has the ECHL's best home record at 12-2-2 and has outscored opponents 66-38 in Downtown Boise this season.
Gary Stevens was 16 years old and a Capital High student when he started his successful career as a jockey at Les Bois Park in 1979. Eight Triple Crown race victories later, suffering from chronic knee pain, Stevens retired at the age of 42 in 2005 and eventually prospered as a TV analyst. But the allure of the track has returned, and Sunday he’ll be back in the saddle at Santa Anita. Stevens, who turns 50 in March, stresses it’s not a full-blown “five days a week, nine races a day” comeback—his focus is helping develop racehorses with winner’s circle potential.
This Day In Sports…January 4, 2006:
The night the BCS gets it right, as USC and Texas—ranked first and second all season long—meet in the Rose Bowl for the national championship. The Trojans led 38-26 with less than five minutes left before Longhorns quarterback Vince Young scored two touchdowns, the last one with 19 seconds left, to win the game, 41-38. Young turned in probably the best pressure performance in college football history, rushing for 200 yards and throwing for 267 more. That kept USC from a national title three-peat and broke its 34-game winning streak.
(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.)