Tuesday, February 4, 2014.
It’s a good time to check out Boise State at the gate this winter. The Broncos are on track for their best men’s basketball attendance in at least 13 years, even with the cold water thrown on their parade at UNLV Saturday night. BSU is averaging 6,427 fans per game, bettering last year’s figure of 6,394. And the Mountain West’s three marquee teams are still to come in Taco Bell Arena, beginning with San Diego State tomorrow night. The Broncos were on a roll last March when they drew 10,455 for the Aztecs on a Saturday afternoon. The momentum is not so much this year, but the crowd should exceed this season’s to-date high of 8,234 against Saint Mary’s in mid-December. Keep in mind that Boise State is just four years removed from the BSU Pavilion/Taco Bell Arena all-time low of 3,061 fans per game at the end of the Greg Graham era.
In its third season in the Mountain West, Boise State is sixth in attendance, smack-dab in the middle of the 11-team conference. Fresno State is just ahead of the Broncos (and many question the validity of the Bulldogs’ 6,768 per game figure). But Boise State has a long way to go to match the home court atmosphere of the league’s top four, New Mexico, UNLV, San Diego State and Utah State. The Lobos’ Pit is legendary; the Broncos played before just under 14,000 Saturday in Las Vegas; San Diego State sells out every game at 12,414; and we all know about the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan. It’s a process, but the Broncos are getting there. These final four home games are going to be interesting.
San Diego State didn’t move in the polls yesterday, but that doesn’t make its visit to the City of Trees any less formidable for Boise State. The Aztecs remain No. 5 after their 18th win in a row, a 65-56 decision over Colorado State. SDSU goes for its 20th victory of the season tomorrow night. San Diego State’s issue right now is Josh Davis, or the lack thereof. Davis, the Aztecs’ top rebounder, sat out the CSU win due to a bruised knee he suffered in practice last week and is day-to-day. An MRI ruled out any serious damage. Davis had 10 rebounds in SDSU’s 69-66 win over the Broncos at Viejas Arena last month.
San Diego State will be the second highest-ranked team ever to play the Broncos in Boise, topped only by No. 3 Cincinnati more than 14 years ago. How have things changed since December of 1999? The contest against the Aztecs is a conference game. There was no chance of anything like this when the Bearcats came in. Big West teams seldom even received votes after UNLV left. The Cincinnati game happened only because the Bearcats offered up a Boise State home game against their perennially powerful basketball team as part of their successful quest to land a berth for the Cincy football team in the first Humanitarian Bowl in 1997.
Neither of the major recruiting websites has listed Edmund Faimalo as committed yet. But some reports say the Sacramento City College defensive tackle gave his verbal to Boise State during his official visit over the weekend. Faimalo is a 6-2, 285-pounder. More information to follow, I hope. Faimalo had no stats at Sac City last season—in fact, he isn’t listed on the Panthers’ 2013 roster. He played at Sacramento State in 2012 and recorded eight tackles, one for loss. National Letter Of Intent Day is tomorrow.
Former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins was the subject of the seventh annual Loaves And Fishes Gala & Roast for Catholic Charities of Idaho Saturday night. Emcee Mark Johnson was in rare form (you had to be there). But Hawkins recited—no kidding—about 50 “Hawkisms” or philosophical statements. It was impressive. Here’s one directed at Bronco Nation: “Boise State has won with Lyle, Tony, Jim, Pokey, Dirk, Hawk and Pete. They’ll win with Harsin, and the guy after him. Relax—tradition never leaves.”
Football signing works differently in the NAIA, and the College of Idaho is able to announce some more. Now just seven months ahead of its rebirth, the Coyotes program has brought aboard five more transfers. Highlights include quarterback Teejay Gordon out of Modesto Junior College and Manteca, CA, the old stomping grounds of C of I great RC Owens. The Yotes also welcome Caldwell native Andy Forse, a tight end out of Santa Barbara City College, and offensive lineman Greg Dohmen, who walked on at Boise State last season.
The Idaho Steelheads have picked up their first refugee from the now-defunct San Francisco Bulls, signing forward Luke Judson. In his first pro season, Judson scored four goals and picked up 50 penalty minutes in 31 games before the Bulls folded last week. He’ll join the Steelies for tomorrow night’s home game against Utah. The Grizzlies are hot, going 13-2-4 in their last 19 games.
The Idaho Stampede have a couple pieces of news to hang their hats on as they prepare to host the Texas Legends tonight in CenturyLink Arena. The Stampede’s Kevin Murphy has been named the D-League Performer of the Week, riding his league-high 51 points Saturday night to the honor. Murphy is now averaging 23.5 points per game. Also, Stamps star Pierre Jackson has been selected to play in the eighth annual D-League All-Star Game a week from Saturday in New Orleans during NBA All-Star Weekend. Jackson continues to lead the league in scoring at 29.1 points per game. He’s hit the 40-point mark six times this season.
Tonight’s Stampede game brings former North Carolina star P.J. Hairston to town. Hairston began the season as a Tar Heel but was forced to sit out after being suspended and investigated by the NCAA for a possible violation of the organization’s amateurism rules. When UNC decided not to seek his reinstatement, Hairston headed off to the D-League last month. In seven games with Texas, he’s averaging 27.4 points per game and has already gone over 40 twice. Hairston will be eligible for the NBA Draft in June and is projected as a first-rounder.
This Day In Sports…February 4, 1969:
At 33 years old, John Madden becomes the youngest head coach in pro football when Oakland’s Al Davis taps him to take over the Raiders. Madden would lead the team for 10 glorious years, compiling a 103-32-7 regular-season record and, of course, a 32-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. He’s best known, though, for his NFL broadcasting career that spanned three decades, from 1979-2008.
(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.)