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Suddenly and swiftly, a three-decade era comes to an end

Suddenly and swiftly, a three-decade era comes to an end

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 11, 2011 at 7:25 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 6:10 PM

 

Thursday, August 11, 2011.
 
As might be deemed appropriate at Boise State, it was out of the blue. Late yesterday afternoon, the announcement came that Gene Bleymaier was done after 29½ years as BSU’s director of athletics. The Broncos and Boise were his life. Bleymaier graduated from Borah High in 1971, then went on to star as a tight end at UCLA and later earned his law degree there. He returned to Boise in 1981 as Boise State’s assistant athletic director and was promoted to AD a year later—ironically when the school fired Mike Mullally. Why would Bleymaier be fired? Directly or indirectly, it had to do with the NCAA sanctions the Broncos were facing. The move came two months to the day after Boise State went before the NCAA Committee on Infractions, and the decision on additional penalties for the school, if any, is due at any moment.
 
The Boise State athletic program that Bleymaier took over in 1982 is hardly recognizable today. It was Division I-AA in football, a little more than one year removed from the national championship, and Jim Criner was still the coach. It was finishing its final basketball season in 3600-seat Bronco Gym. Boise State was in its 14th year as a four-year school. From there, Bleymaier saw the grand opening of what is now Taco Bell Arena, masterminded the installation of the blue turf in Bronco Stadium in 1986, guided the Broncos through their move to Division I-A and the Big West in 1996 at the same time coach Pokey Allen was dying of cancer, and—through a series of coaching hires—presided over Boise State’s rise to the top 10 ranks in college football, a story that will not be repeated.
 
Boise State’s two marquee sports, football and men’s basketball, were ships passing in the night during the Bleymaier era. The first major coaching hire Bleymaier made was in the spring of 1983, when he brought in basketball coach Bobby Dye from Cal State Bakersfield. Dye did the unthinkable at BSU—made hoops as popular as football for a period of time. And a lot more successful, with three trips to the NCAA Tournament. When the basketball program started to slide, the always-solid but then-struggling football program started breaking new ground. Bleymaier hired Houston Nutt after Allen resigned just before his death. Then when Nutt bolted for Arkansas, Bleymaier introduced Dirk Koetter as the new coach. The brotherhood that started in 1998 continues to this day, extending through Dan Hawkins and now Chris Petersen.
 
Bleymaier is a vastly misunderstood person, primarily (in my opinion) because he’s an introvert. When some see him as aloof and distant, it’s really reticence at work. Some want a good ol’ boy, back-slapping athletic director. That wasn’t Bleymaier. But because he never became exceedingly close with most fans and donors and media, he was always able to keep his eye on the ball. And the result was an athletic director’s tenure that was the second-longest in Division I-A next to DeLoss Dodds of Texas.
 
Southern Mississippi is busy booking trips to the West, while Boise State is not booking trips north—nor is Idaho booking trips south. After securing a home-and-home series with BYU three weeks ago, Southern Miss did the same with BSU yesterday. Boise State goes to Hattiesburg in 2012, and the Golden Eagles come to Bronco Stadium in 2013. The Broncos swept a home-and-home set versus Southern Miss in 2007 and 2008. Meanwhile, the Boise State-Idaho scheduling impasse rolls on. It appears that both schools have an opening remaining in 2013. And the Broncos need one more home game that season. But both schools have been filling their calendars as they can. Now, such decisions will be left to a new athletic director at Boise State.
 
Derek Schouman is getting another NFL shot, this time in Washington. The former Boise State tight end signed as a free agent with the Redskins yesterday. The first thing Schouman has to do is combat the “injury-prone” label he’s had attached to him through his days in Buffalo and St. Louis. His acquisition is seen as insurance for ‘Skins standout Chris Cooley’s ailing left knee. In 24 NFL games, Schouman has 27 receptions for 275 yards and a touchdown. The Eagle High grad joins another former Bronco in D.C., Brandyn Thompson, the Redskins’ seventh-round draft pick who came to Boise State the year after Schouman left.
 
The Mountain West has released its men’s basketball schedule for next winter, and for Boise State it looks a lot different than what the Broncos have been accustomed to. There’s a much bigger gap between the MW and WAC in hoops than there is in football. At least BSU eases into it, making its league debut versus Air Force January 14 in Taco Bell Arena. The circle-your-calendar home dates are January 25 against UNLV, February 4 versus New Mexico, and February 29 against San Diego State. All 14 of Boise State’s conference games will be televised on either The Mtn., NBC Sports Network or CBS Sports Network. 
 
Boise Hawks pitchers allowed just eight runs in the series at Tri-City this week but lost all three games. Hawks hurlers did their part again last night, but this time the offense participated as Boise returned home with a 4-2 win over Eugene at Memorial Stadium. Dustin Harrington was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, knocking in the ultimate winning run in the fourth inning. Harrington also drove in an eighth-inning insurance run and upped his season average to .339. Paul Hoilman had the night off. Hoilman hasn’t hit a home run in a week—he has 11 on the season and needs six in the final 23 games to break the Hawks’ five-year-old single season record.
 
It would have been nice to think that former Idaho Stampede standout Lance Allred, whose NBA career spans three games with the Cleveland Cavaliers three years ago, would be able to play out his pro career in Boise, where he’s a popular figure. But that’s not the way the D-League works—and certainly not the way Allred works. The NBA's first legally deaf player is negotiating with the Kyoto Hannaryz in Japan and is expected to sign a contract, sources say. Allred played last season for the Otago Nuggets in New Zealand. His book, "Longshot: The Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA,” effectively got its launch in Boise, where he played four seasons with the Stampede from 2006-10. Now his second book is out, “Basketball Gods: The Transformation of the Enlightened Jock.”
 
This Day In Sports…August 11, 1986, 25 years ago today:
 
In a 13-4 loss to San Francisco, the Cincinnati Reds’ 45-year-old player-manager Pete Rose, already baseball’s all-time hits leader, gets a double and four singles to break the National League record with his 10th five-hit game. Rose had been tied with Hall of Famers Max Carey and Fred Clarke, who each had nine five-hit games. Three nights later, Rose would collect his final major league hit, ending with 4,256.
 
(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.)

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