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The Bronco Nation travel question

The Bronco Nation travel question

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on December 11, 2012 at 8:35 AM

Tuesday, December 11, 2012.

There were an estimated 15,000 Boise State fans in the stands at the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas last year, yet Boise State athletic director Mark Coyle noted only about 4,100 of those tickets were sold through the university ticket office.  That makes it really hard to gauge how big the blue-and-orange turnout will be a week from Saturday when the Broncos take on Washington in their third straight bowl game in Vegas.  Coyle says the school is in the neighborhood of 3,100 in ticket sales for this year’s venture.  Who knows what the secondary ticket market is doing?  The Boise State fan contingent will be understandably smaller this year without the star power and the BCS near-misses of the last two years, but it still likes its 10-2 team, and it still sees Washington as a marquee opponent.  Let’s say maybe 9,000 this time?

Coyle was asked yesterday if he had any information about coach Chris Petersen perhaps wandering off to Madison, WI, for an interview.  “I don’t, other than he was at practice this morning,” said Coyle, who added he hasn’t been contacted by another school about Petersen.  “He and I have a very good relationship and a very open relationship,” Coyle said.  Just like the Arkansas rumblings a week ago, the Wisconsin rumors have been basically all blogs and no substance.  A headline last night on one of the Badgers fan sites cracked, “Chris Petersen still in Boise in SHOCKING DEVELOPMENT!”

Forbes Magazine doesn’t know football per se, but it professes to know a good investment.  And leads its “Five Best Bowl Games For The Buck” with the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.  I don’t know how convincing this is, though.  Pasadena’s Rose Bowl may get all the attention out West, but it’s this game that presents annual intrigue,” Forbes writes.  “It’s not just the David vs. Goliath undertones (this year’s contest pits Mountain West giant-killer and bowl defending champ Boise State against the Pac-12’s Washington) that are so gravitating.  While the Tournament of Roses Parade marches on, party people will be celebrating at the Fremont Street Experience Pep Rally and at a Blue Man Group show (bowl game ticket holders get 25 percent off admission) in Vegas.  Lower level tickets on StubHub as of Dec. 7: $60.”  Oops—buy them through the school!

The hockey player side of Joe Southwick is coming out—at least in terms of superstition.  Southwick and the other three Boise State quarterbacks decided to grow mustaches before the Colorado State game last month.  Southwick still has his.  “It’s here to stay for the bowl game,” he said at yesterday’s press conference.  “I’ve taken some grief for it.”  Southwick’s three QB colleagues have shaved theirs off.  “Parents got involved,” he quipped.  He’s in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mode after solid performances in the wins over CSU and Nevada.

Toledo arrived last night and Utah State comes in today to ramp up for this Saturday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.  The Aggies’ pedigree is more familiar around here, but the Rockets have their own.  Toledo compiled an eight-game winning streak at one point this season in cracking the BCS Top 25 for the first time.  The Rockets tend to do well in bowls—they’re 9-3 all-time and defeated Air Force in a 42-41 thriller in last year’s Military Bowl.  The No. 18 Aggies, however, will be the highest-ranked team Toledo has ever played in the postseason.  As good as USU’s defense is, it’ll get a test from Doug Fluellen, the nation’s sixth-leading rusher at 132.7 yards per game. 

Mike McIntyre will try to succeed where Dan Hawkins couldn’t.  The San Jose State coach has taken the Colorado job, succeeding the fired Jon Embree, the Hawkins replacement who was a woeful 4-21 at CU.  Hawkins, the former Boise State coach who compiled a 53-11 record with the Broncos, couldn’t rub it off on the Buffaloes, who went 19-39 during his six-year tenure.  McIntyre will have a lot more money to do it with than Hawkins did, getting a reported $2 million a year for five years.  He’s done a tremendous job with the Spartans, who improved to 10-2 this season and were invited to the Military Bowl.  Former BSU athletic director Gene Bleymaier took the AD post at San Jose State in time to enjoy it, but now he has to make his first major hire in the South Bay.

More NFL wrap from the weekend: Quintin Mikell is having a big year in this, his 10th NFL season.  The one-time WAC Defensive player of the Year had eight tackles, two for loss, to lead St. Louis in its 15-12 win at Buffalo Sunday.  For the season, Mikell has logged 76 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles.  Also in that game, former Bronco Austin Pettis made five catches for 33 yards and returned two punts for 23 yards.  And Jeron Johnson had a sack and a forced fumble in Seattle’s record-shattering 58-0 shutout of Arizona Sunday.

Kael Mouillierat may be toiling in the AHL again now, but the Idaho Steelheads still have other players dotting the ECHL leaderboards.  Adrian Foster tops the ECHL in plus/minus rating at plus-14, which means the Steelheads play pretty darn well when he’s on the ice.  Justin Dowling is second in the ECHL in assists with 25—he’s notched at least one assist in seven straight games.  And Austin Smith, who’s developing quite a buzz among Steelies fans, is fifth in the ECHL with 14 goals.  Thing is, he’s done it in only 15 games, far fewer than anyone else among the league leaders. 

Let’s check in on LSU basketball as the game against Boise State approaches Friday night in Taco Bell Arena.  Going into tonight’s game against Chattanooga in Baton Rouge, the Tigers are 6-0 under new coach Johnny Jones, who replaced former Bronco player Trent Johnson.  They have not played a road game yet this season—Friday’s will be their first.  LSU’s best win was probably a 72-67 decision over Seton Hall a week and a half ago.  Jones has since suspended sophomore guard Anthony Hickey for a violation of team rules.  Hickey had started three of the Tigers’ six games and was averaging 10.2 points.  LSU and Boise State do have one common opponent, UC Santa Barbara, and the results were similar.  The Broncos topped the Gauchos 72-56, and the Tigers downed UCSB 77-63.

Boise State men’s tennis coach Greg Patton is coming home with more international hardware.  Patton coached the U.S. team to the championship of the Master’U BNP Paribas Tournament with a 5-2 win over Germany Sunday.  The U.S. had defeated Belgium 7-0 in the quarterfinals before routing Russia in the semifinals, 6-1.  Patton says the event is the equivalent of the “World Team Intercollegiate Championships.”  It is the third time in four years that Patton has coached the American team to the title. 

PGA is passing the time by unveiling bit-by-bit its list of the Top 100 Players To Watch in 2013, and former Boise State star Graham DeLaet was plugged in at No. 79.  Writes Helen Ross: “Maybe it was the newly minted beard, but DeLaet was at his best when the pressure was highest during the FedExCup Playoffs.  He entered the series ranked 106th and finished three events ranked a career-high 53rd—thanks in large part to a tie for fifth at The Barclays where he played the final four holes in four-under.”  DeLaet bounced back from an all-but-idle 2011 due to back surgery to play 23 events and win a career-high $1,051,951 this year, easily securing fully exempt status on his 2012 medical exemption  He also finished 13th on the tour in distance from the tee, averaging 304 yards per drive.

This Day In Sports…December 11, 1981:

Refusing to listen to those who say he should retire, 39-year-old Muhammad Ali fights Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas.  The youthful Berbick, 18 pounds lighter than Ali, won a unanimous 10-round decision.  Coming to grips with reality, that would be it for Ali, who retired with a record of 56-5.

(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.)