Thursday, February 14, 2013.
This time it’s not the Mountain West that’s the problem. One of the new NCAA football rules proposed for 2013 is a ban on teams wearing jerseys and pants that are both the same color as the field. It seems that this rule is targeting Boise State—the Broncos were not permitted to wear all blue on the blue turf when they joined the Mountain West in 2011. That stipulation was removed, in writing, when Boise State agreed to remain in the Mountain West on New Year’s Eve. Now that traditional Bronco color combo would be gone forever. Of course, Oregon and Michigan State, for example, would be barred from donning all-green on their green turf. But have you ever seen a photo or video of Eastern Washington wearing all-red uniforms on its eye-numbing red turf up in Cheney? I think that’s the biggest issue of all.
Stewart Mandel’s College Football Mailbag this week could help quell the relentless Chris Petersen rumor mill that will inevitably resurface late this year. “Daniel of Washington, D.C.” asks if people can just pencil Petersen in at Boise State for the next 10 years. Mandel points out that Oregon just hired somebody else (Mark Helfrich) “who could well hold down the position for the next 10 years.” Mandel also says the Mountain West “may be at its strongest point in league history” and cites the “sweetheart deal” the Broncos got with the Mountain West’s new TV structure and BCS payment scale. “Simply put, there's far less reason for Petersen to leave in 2013 than there was in any year since he's been there,” writes Mandel. “But don't pencil in anything for 10 years in this sport. The Big East may have expanded to Mars by that point.”
Now that Boise State knows what its home schedule is going to be in 2013, we can look at the marketability of the slate as the Mountain West and the Broncos try to peddle it to a network. The two non-conference matchups are not especially rousing. Tennessee-Martin will be Boise State’s first FCS foe since UC Davis in 2009. ESPN, for example, won’t be showing that one. Southern Miss looked like a worthy opponent until it ran into a shocking 0-12 season last year. Of the Mountain West home games, Nevada and Air Force have some cache—New Mexico and Wyoming not so much. It’s going to be interesting.
True, Boise State drew the short straw in the Mountain West cross-division rotation the next two years. The Broncos play Fresno State, Nevada and San Diego State, while other Mountain Division teams get some combination of San Jose State, UNLV and Hawaii. But there is a distinct advantage (other than continuing rivalries with the Bulldogs, Wolf Pack and Aztecs). What have the Broncos been hammered on regularly for the past 10 years? Strength of schedule. And, all things considered, this is as good as Boise State could possibly hope for if it’s going to have a shot at building a BCS resume this year.
Former Boise State star Joe O’Brien has been out to restore his good name for more than six years now since leaving federal prison. The desired end result was a legit coaching job, and Tuesday night the school board in Simms, MT, a small town about 25 miles west of Great Falls, voted to hire O’Brien as head coach at Simms High School. It didn’t come without a fight, as numerous community members spoke against hiring “a felon” at a public forum last week. While he was defensive line coach at Montana State, O’Brien was arrested in 2003 for dealing meth and was later convicted, spending 28 months in federal prison until his September, 2006, release. He told the story of his life’s turnaround in a gritty autobiography called “Busted Bronco,” co-authored by Boise’s Bob Evancho.
Boise State knows what it’s in for when it goes to The Pit in Albuquerque Saturday. But New Mexico wasn’t in The Pit last night. Has anybody mentioned there’s no margin for error in Mountain West basketball? Very little, anyway. The 19th-ranked Lobos scored only 20 points in the first half at Fresno State last night and trailed by 11 at the break. New Mexico went on a 25-10 run after the intermission, but then went into another lull midway through the second half. It was all the Lobos could do to beat the Bulldogs, 54-48. We’re talking about a 21-4 team against an 8-15 club. Elsewhere, home teams held serve. Air Force pummeled UNLV 71-56, Wyoming did the same to Nevada 68-48, and Colorado State won its first game as a ranked team in 59 years, edging San Diego State 66-60.
The Idaho Steelheads could have clinched a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs last night, and they looked like they were on their way with a 3-1 second-period lead over San Francisco in CenturyLink Arena. But, for the first time this season, the Steelheads lost a game they led after two periods in a 6-3 loss to the Bulls. San Francisco scored five unanswered goals, including four in the third period, to hand the Steelies only their fourth home loss in regulation this season. The turning point came on a game-tying goal from the Bulls’ Rob Kwiet during a 5-on-3 power play goal just over a minute into the third period. Idaho now regroups for a Las Vegas-Ontario-Las Vegas road trip on Presidents Day Weekend.
U.S. Tennis Association Senior Director of Team Events Jeff Ryan was in Boise for Davis Cup prep yesterday and said Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 player in the world, has committed to play against the United States in Taco Bell Arena April 5-7. So, why Boise for this event? “Boise is situated in a certain elevation that was attractive to our captain (Jim Courier),” said Ryan on Idaho SportsTalk. “You get home-court advantage.” The U.S. will be led by America’s top player, John Isner, who with a 6-9 frame gets a lot out of his serve. The thinking is he could summon some extra velocity at 2700 feet. Isner’s most renowned career victories came about a year ago—one over Roger Federer in Davis Cup play and the other over Djokovic at the Indian Wells Masters.
So again, why Boise for the Davis Cup? “Part of this is about bringing tennis to cities that don’t normally get to see high-level players,” Ryan said. “We’re not shy about coming to markets that open their arms and say, ‘We’d love to have you here.’” Boise State tennis coach Greg Patton was instrumental in assembling the group that made the pitch to the NCAA. And it didn’t take much for Patton to convince his old friend Courier. Ryan thinks the Boise event could sell out within hours when tickets go on sale later this month.
Jason Chamberlain made Boise State wrestling’s Senior Night count last night in Taco Bell Arena, recording his 100th career victory as the Broncos’ rolled over Utah Valley, 29-10. It was the All-American’s 21st victory in a row at 149 pounds. Maybe Chamberlain and his teammates had a little extra adrenalin going following the International Olympic Committee’s recommendation to drop wrestling after the 2016 Summer Games.
This Day In Sports…February 14, 2007:
The next step in the evolution of Boise State football is marked by the groundbreaking on the $36 million sky suite/press box addition to Bronco Stadium. The project included 38 luxury suites, 44 loge boxes and 750 club seats, with all but about 200 of the club seats already sold before the first dirt was turned. If not the biggest milestone in Bronco Stadium history, it was certainly the most expensive. The entire original facility, with a capacity of 14,500, was constructed at a cost of only $2.2 million in 1970.
(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.)