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Junker will debunk the conspiracy theory ‘til the frogs come home

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on December 14, 2009 at 8:23 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 14 at 12:22 PM


Monday, December 14, 2009.
John Junker’s getting tired of being asked about this. I get asked about it every day. All those letters to the sports editor in the Statesman claim it was a fix—that the BCS put TCU and Boise State against each other to keep them from getting to any big boys. Did the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl sacrifice itself for the sake of its BCS brethren by taking both non-BCS schools on January 4? Ray Buck wrote extensively about it in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and he got this out of Junker, the Fiesta Bowl CEO: "That’s absolutely ludicrous," Junker said. "What do we get for taking one for the team?  What’s our quid pro quo?  What we did in selecting TCU-Boise State was to act in our own enlightened self-interest.  This will be only the 20th time in the history of college football that two undefeated teams will meet in a bowl.  I mean, what am I missing here?"
So now that a week’s gone by, how are they feeling about the situation in Horned Frog land? Randy Galloway of the Star-Telegram writes, “What the Fiesta honchos did was line up the best football game possible under the circumstances. I know that’s shocking to believe about a bowl game, but give the Fiesta people credit.  They didn’t want an Iowa.  Iowa is boring.  They didn’t want a Cincinnati.  The Fiesta wanted TCU.  And then the Fiesta also went with Boise.  Was I disappointed?  Yes.  Truth be told, was everyone at TCU disappointed?  Probably.  OK, we all wanted to see both schools against BCS teams.”
Galloway continues: “We all wanted some football hate in the mix.  Nobody, of course, can hate on Boise State. That’s un-American.  Boise was football cool before TCU was.  So we will see the best bowl game—that’s not just me saying it, it’s national opinion—of all, except for Texas-Alabama.  And the BCS had nothing to do with what the Fiesta did.  After a few days to think about it, even I have to limit my whining.  Even I have to defend the BCS in this one case.”
Boise State coach Chris Petersen gave injury updates Friday as only he can. If players are out for the Fiesta Bowl, he’ll tell you. Richie Brockel and Daron Mackey are out. If guys have a chance to make it back, he’ll give you an emphatic, “We’ll see.” Austin Pettis is the big question mark—Petersen will only say that the star wide receiver is “making progress.” Same for linebacker Derrell Acrey, while Pete acknowledges that wideout Tyler Shoemaker will be ready to play. There was another injury from the regular season finale against New Mexico State that enters into things. Petersen puts senior receiver and special teamer Michael Choate in the “maybe” category. I asked about a contingency plan at holder if Pettis and Choate don’t make it back. Petersen said, “We’re working on that right now,” although he appeared unconcerned.
A followup to Friday’s discussion: If Kellen Moore replicates his 2009 season in 2010, who knows what could happen? It was amazing amidst all the hoopla of Saturday night’s Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York to see the graphic showing the final vote—and have the Boise State quarterback’s name right below the “big five” and Clemson’s C.J. Spiller. Moore’s seventh-place finish in the balloting eclipsed Ian Johnson, who was eighth in 2006. As emotional as Alabama’s Mark Ingram was in his acceptance speech, picture Kellen in the same spot someday. Of course, like Moore, Ingram is only a sophomore. But don’t bet on the Crimson Tide stalwart still being around when he’s a senior.
Excellent move by Idaho to move its exhibition basketball game against Lewis-Clark State to Qwest Arena December 29. It was originally scheduled for Memorial Gym in Moscow, but the campus will be absolutely deserted, even more than usual because the Vandals will be playing in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl the next day against Bowling Green. The Idaho infrastructure will be in place—band, cheerleaders and fans. Call it an experiment for future holiday seasons, perhaps?
This is not the way you want to start off a five-game homestand, especially when your fan base is as fragile as it is for Boise State men’s basketball. The Broncos suffered a 59-56 loss Saturday night to San Diego, a middle-of-the-pack West Coast Conference team. It’s a definite setback when BSU is trying to rebuild at the gate. The Broncos need to beat the teams they’re supposed to beat at Taco Bell Arena. Instead, they let the Toreros dictate the tempo and watched the visitors make plays at the end. Only 2,359 watched it—now Boise State has to hope for some bodies in the seats when it hosts Houston Baptist this Saturday afternoon.
In their first road trip of the season, the Idaho Stampede got a split with the L.A. D-Fenders over the weekend. Scoring was down by current Stampede standards, a 105-95 win Friday night and a 123-112 loss last night. The Stamps experienced two entirely different atmospheres, playing at Staples Center Friday before a smattering of fans in a prelim to the Lakers’ win over Minnesota. Yesterday the Stampede served as the D-Fenders’ first-ever opponent in the Toyota Sports Center, the team’s (and the Lakers’) practice facility in El Segundo. The TSC holds all of 300 people, and the game story reports a “full house” last night. The Stampede play at Utah tonight.
The Idaho Steelheads are realizing that 2-0 leads are not safe in the ECHL, even with their blistering start to the 2009-10 season. For the second time in three games Saturday night, they went up two goals on Ontario only to see the Reign rally for victory. This time the Steelies tallied twice in the first four minutes of the game but collapsed under the weight of four second period goals by Ontario. It was a rare off-night for Steelheads goalie Rejean Beauchemin, who had been supreme in a 2-1 win Friday night. Beauchemin’s record dropped to 9-3-1 and his goals-against average rose over the 2½ per game mark. The Steelies are back on Qwest Arena ice Wednesday night against Utah.
This Day In Sports…December 14, 1995:
Nevada plays in the first overtime game in Division I-A history, falling to Toledo in the Las Vegas Bowl, 40-37. Overtime was instituted at college football’s highest level for the 1995 bowl season, then became standard during the 1996 regular season. But it wasn’t the Wolf Pack’s first foray into overtime, which had been played at the lower levels since the late 1980’s. In fact, two of Nevada’s games in the 1990 Division I-AA playoffs went three overtimes, including the classic in the semi-finals that ended in a 59-52 victory over Boise State.
(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 handles color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football.)