Wednesday, February 1, 2012.
Stewart Mandel’s “Inside College Football” yesterday was headlined, “Boise's gridiron success hasn't translated into recruiting bump.” And it was on the homepage of SI.com, right alongside the Super Bowl. “Each of the past three years, Boise has opened the season with nationally televised wins over ranked opponents,” writes Mandel. “The Broncos have gone 73-6 under Chris Petersen, won two BCS bowls, hosted ESPN's GameDay, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and produced a Heisman Trophy finalist in Kellen Moore. Yet for all that success and exposure, Boise still can't attract the same caliber recruiting class as most BCS-conference programs. On the eve of Signing Day, the Broncos are nowhere to be found among Rivals.com's Top 50 classes.”
The most important observation of the column is buried near the bottom. “What would happen if Boise State started getting four- and five-star guys?" said SuperPrep publisher Allen Wallace. "I don't think it would automatically make them a better team. They'd have to start dealing with the various complexities and egos that if they're not handled right can derail chemistry. They almost need two- and three-star players to continue being who they are."
Just remember this: after each Fiesta Bowl victory, Petersen was asked how it would change the way he recruits. And each time he answered, “I hope not at all.” Petersen’s staff screens every recruit to the nth degree. It doesn’t matter how many “stars” are next to a player’s name. It matters if he fits the system and the culture. As Boise State has rung up its wins at a 92 percent clip during Petersen’s tenure, the recruiting classes have indeed ratcheted up. They may not be top 50 according to the recruiting services, but a funny thing happens when they mesh on the blue turf.
D.J. Harper will be around for a sixth season at Boise State. The NCAA has granted Harper his expected medical hardship after both his 2009 and 2010 seasons were cut short by knee injuries after three games. Center Cory Yriarte is expected to get a sixth year as well, while two more players also listed as seniors last fall, Dan Paul and Jerrell Gavins, were able to use redshirt years in order to return in 2012. This won’t be the last time I mention this, but it’s a classic factoid. The first time Harper touched the ball as a Bronco, in the 2007 opener against Weber State, he scored a touchdown on a 10-yard run. How long ago was that? Ian Johnson was a junior.
While National Letter of Intent Day will stock Boise State for the future today, the 2012 Bronco roster as we know it now is a week into winter conditioning under strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha. It’s a different kind of session for Socha this time around, with a legion of newcomers populating the weight room. Socha says the new campers have to start from the beginning. “The biggest thing we do with our newcomers is make sure they are sound in the techniques of the lifts that we are doing,” says Socha. “They need to be technically sound before we can progress them into anything that is too demanding. Now, that being said, because of where they are when they enter the program, the first initial week or two into the program can seem very difficult to them even though we are just touching the tip of the iceburg.”
There’s really no “good” time to lose an assistant coach. But two days before signing day is less desirable than most. Idaho offensive line coach John McDonell resigned Monday after just one season to take the same position at Tulane. McDonell is the third coach to leave the Vandals since the end of the season. He was hired by new Green Wave coach Curtis Johnson, a Vandal wide receiver in the early 1980’s who started his college coaching career on John L. Smith’s staff at Idaho in 1987-88. The Vandals, by the way, have not made an announcement on their new offensive coordinator, widely reported to be former Washington State assistant Mike Levenseller. Come to think of it, Boise State hasn’t announced the hiring of Andy Avalos as an assistant either.
Since Boise State and San Diego State haven’t played in over 35 years, here’s a little Aztecs 101 for you going into tonight’s game at Viejas Arena. Let’s start with this: San Diego State is ranked 17th in both polls and features the Mountain West’s leading scorer, Chase Tapley, at 16.1 points per game. The Aztecs have been on quite a run—since the beginning of last season, they rank second in the nation in win percentage, just a shade under 90 percent. They’re tied for second with Kansas for most wins during that stretch with 52. And then there’s coach Steve Fisher, who’s won 434 games in 21 seasons as a head coach. Fisher, of course, won a national title with Michigan in 1989 after taking over for Bill Frieder. Fisher was an assistant the year before when the Wolverines edged the Broncos 63-58 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
A theory has been advanced that Boise State freshman Anthony Drmic, who’s been struggling of late, could be fatigued. He’s played a ton of basketball the last 12 months, including a whirlwind summer that saw him go through nine intense games for Australia in the FIBA U19 World Championship, to say nothing of the practice and the travel. Drmic was the Aussies’ second-leading scorer for the tournament at 15.4 points per game. Then he came to America and jumped right into Division I hoops. Since his 26-point effort against Idaho on New Year’s Eve, Drmic has been in double figures only once. He’s shot less than 25 percent from the field in the new year and is just 7-of-38 from three-point range.
Fellow Bronco freshman Igor Hadziomerovic also represented Australia in the U19 world tournament, but he’s been out since the second week of December with a broken foot. Hadziomerovic had played too many games to redshirt, so he will return this season for Boise State. And maybe the blessing in disguise is that he’ll be rested, albeit rusty. Hadziomerovic was averaging seven points a game at the time of his injury.
This Day In Sports…February 1, 2004:
The New England Patriots win their second Super Bowl in three years, beating the Carolina Panthers, 32-29, on Adam Vinatieri’s 41-yard field goal with four seconds left. The two teams combined for a record 37 points in a wild fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium in Houston. But the Patriots prevailed behind MVP Tom Brady, who was 32-of-42 for 354 yards and three touchdowns.
(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.)