Friday, Oct 15 at 6:34 AM
Friday, October 15, 2010.
It’ll be a long, long time before Boise State ever sees San Jose State on the football field again. If it’s never, it may be because the Spartan program doesn’t exist. Perish the thought, but San Jose State is at a crossroads. First, the Spartans have taken a step back since peaking under Dick Tomey in 2006 with a New Mexico Bowl win. Second, the California financial crisis has turned all state schools into bare bones operations. Even those with tradition, like Fresno State, struggle to keep their heads above water. Third, SJSU is waiting to see if the WAC will be relevant two years from now.
A chronic lack of support compounds San Jose State’s troubles. The Spartans are a distant No. 5 in the Bay Area football pecking order behind the 49ers, Raiders, Cal and Stanford (not necessarily in that order). They struggle to get exposure even in their hometown. Hopefully, San Jose State doesn’t go the way of other state schools 20 years or so ago, when Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State dropped football altogether.
As the Broncos hit the Bay Area, they’re an attractive subject in local papers. Center Thomas Byrd will be playing 45 minutes from his high school home at McClymonds in Oakland, and the Oakland Tribune profiled the guy who’s been snapping the ball to Kellen Moore for 2½ seasons. Yes, Byrd was one of those guys overlooked by the Pac-10, but as a 5-11 offensive lineman, Byrd says he understands. "But I knew what kind of player I was,” said Byrd. “And I knew what type of heart I had." Little-known fact: Byrd was tagged with a nickname he hated in high school, “Barney” (like the purple dinosaur). But Byrd struck a deal with his high school coach to drop the nickname when he outgrew it, and it ended the day he signed his Boise State letter of intent. "I think he still wants to call me that," Byrd said, "but he's stopped doing it."
There are overdue slips inside the Boise State stat book this week. George Iloka and Jamar Taylor are overdue for their first interceptions of the season (Taylor almost had one last week). Ryan Winterswyk hasn’t recorded a sack yet this year after notching 19 his first three seasons. It’s time for a rushing touchdown from Titus Young—he scored seven on the ground his first three years with the Broncos. And Young is also overdue for a long kickoff return, as in, one that goes to the house. Titus had two TDs on runbacks last season; his longest return this year is 45 yards.
It won’t be just a two-way competition for the starting placekicker’s job next year when Kyle Brotzman departs Boise State, as the Statesman’s Chadd Cripe reports the Broncos have a verbal commitment from Matt Goudis of Calabasas, CA. Goudis becomes the 13th commitment in Boise State’s 2011 recruiting class. Trevor Harman and Jimmy Pavel are already in the Bronco program, with Harman the kickoff specialist this season. Goudis is also a punter, and Boise State also needs one of those to replace Brotzman and backup Brad Elkin.
If there’s one thing Idaho isn’t going to be tomorrow, it’s complacent. The Vandals visit Louisiana Tech, one of the victims of Idaho’s four wins by four points or less last season, carrying it to a winning season and the Humanitarian Bowl. The Vandals won that one 35-34 in the Kibbie Dome—but the season before they got drilled in Ruston, 46-14. La Tech seemed to find itself last week in a surprising 24-6 victory over Utah State. Here’s the rub, though: it’s the Bulldogs’ homecoming game. Idaho was also Western Michigan’s homecoming opponent two weeks ago, a designation that rankled coach Robb Akey and saw the Vandals roll to a 33-13 victory.
Elsewhere in the WAC, it’s all conference games tomorrow, with Utah State taking the weekend off to figure out which team will show up next week. The easy Game of the Week is Nevada at Hawaii. One writer in Honolulu calls it “Son-of-a-Gun Saturday as the pistol meets the run-and-shoot.” The Wolf Pack’s defensive downfall in recent years has been defending the pass. Last season, for example, the Pack was second-to-last in the country in that department, but new defensive coordinator Andy Buh has rejuvenated the Nevada D. Still, the Pack is 82nd in the nation in the FBS in pass defense, and it faces the nation’s No. 1 throwing outfit in the Warriors, who are averaging a whopping 422 yards a game. Nevada will try to live up to its No. 19 ranking tomorrow night.
Hardy Sauter, who this summer became the fifth coach in Idaho Steelheads franchise history, makes his official debut tonight when the Steelheads drop the puck against the Victoria Salmon Kings in Qwest Arena. You’d think that a new coach would bring in a new regiment of players, but the Opening Night roster unveiled yesterday by the Steelheads include 14 guys who have donned Idaho sweaters before. Sauter has two big pair of shoes to fill—John Olver and Derek Laxdal each spent five seasons behind the Steelies bench and each won a Kelly Cup championship.
For four years, the centerpiece of the Victoria Salmon Kings was Wes Goldie. The star left wing played every single game all four seasons for the Salmon Kings and scored 175 regular season goals. But Goldie was replaced as captain during the offseason, and he took off for the Frozen North, signing with Alaska. One of his Aces teammates will be popular former Idaho Steelhead Scott Burt. At any rate, it’ll be a new-look Victoria club that takes the ice tonight in Qwest Arena to serve as the Steelies’ Opening Night guest. One guy the Salmon Kings will be counting on for scoring punch is Rick Cleaver, a forward who led Kalamazoo in goals last season with 32.
New Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice gathers his players on the court for the first time today as practice officially begins for the 2010-11 season. At media day yesterday, new uniforms were unveiled, and they look good. They’re bright white, with “Boise State” across the front in the font from the school’s familiar logo. Someone put some thought into this. Now the Broncos have to play as good as they look.
You never know what you might find at the Idaho Stampede’s open player tryouts. The Stampede have already conducted sessions in Portland and Denver and hold their final tryout tomorrow in the team practice facility at the Boys & Girls Club of Garden City. One of the hopefuls signed up is Jesse Childs, the son of former Boise State star Chris Childs. Jesse played high school hoops at both Borah and Timberline before going on to Mesa Community College and Fresno Pacific. As a senior at FPU last season, Childs averaged 9.6 points per game. Jesse (and everybody else tomorrow, for that matter) would like to follow Ira Newble’s path. Newble attended a Stampede open player tryout in 1997 and made the team, eventually finding his way to the NBA.
This Day In Sports…October 15, 1994:
Idaho State rallies in the final seconds to upset Boise State, 32-31, at Holt Arena in Pocatello. The Broncos had gone into the game 6-0, and it would be the only blemish on their magical 1994 season until falling to Youngstown State two months later in the Division I-AA national championship game.
(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 served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)