Monday, Aug 2 at 9:06 AM
Monday, August 2, 2010.
It was posted Friday. But it’s still one of the two features this morning on the college football homepage at SI.com. Andy Staples has taken Boise State president Bob Kustra’s “nasty, inebriated culture” tag on rival Idaho last week and run with it. “Spoiled by success,” reads the headline. Undoubtedly you’ve seen it, but in case you haven’t, Staples’ premise is that the Broncos are saying they’re “too good to play Idaho.” That’s not what this is about, of course. But across the nation, perception will become reality. How did you think Kustra’s remark would be received nationally? Boise State football has all-in-all been treated very kindly since at least the first Fiesta Bowl. Kind of a little-guy reverence. Now the gloves will be off.
Staples drags coach Chris Petersen down into the fray. The column is led by a photo of Petersen holding up the Fiesta Bowl trophy, splashed on the college football page. It has this caption: “After winning the Fiesta Bowl, Chris Petersen and Boise State seem to have forgotten the small school it once was.” If you didn’t take the time to click on the story, that’s all you would see. You’d think Pete was at the root of this. Right or wrong, methinks this thing has become big enough to merit a little damage control.
Here’s a leftover from Media Days—this from the SEC gathering. I thought this was really interesting from Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, who was at Boise State in 1997. He was asked about the possibility of moving the Rebels’ game against the Broncos next year to Atlanta, and then about his role in making the Boise State football program what it is today. “I appreciate Gene Bleymaier, the athletic director that gave me a chance,” said Nutt. “I was at Murray State. They had just moved up to Division I. When I went out there for the interview, I knew they had real passion. The people, the fans, they love football in Boise, Idaho. Beautiful place, mountains, everything. Yes, they do have blue turf. It was an awesome experience.”
Nutt continues: “But as far as us having that much to do with it, Boise State, if you check the record, they've won a lot of games, even when they were in 1-AA. I don't know if we had that much to do with it. I think we did maybe help with a few things. I just had one year there. Pokey Allen did a very good job. He had passed away when I got there. They had a bad season the year before. Then they make that move to Division I. Gene Bleymaier added seats to the stadium. So the atmosphere was just awesome. You could see it. You could really see this thing is going to be very special. You could see it coming. Coach Petersen has just done an awesome job.”
This has been my perspective on Nutt: he was a stabilizing force at a time when Boise State was at a low point. The Broncos had gone 2-10 in their first year in Division I-A while Pokey Allen was away for most of the season battling the cancer that took his life right after Nutt was hired. Nutt was on the short side of some routs in 1997, but he always seemed to be able to pull the team up by the bootstraps. After a 63-23 home loss to Cal State Northridge, Boise State came within 49 seconds of upsetting Wisconsin in Madison the next week. After a 58-0 defeat at Washington State, the worst in BSU history, the Broncos played pretty well the rest of the season and ended a 16-year Kibbie Dome drought with an overtime win against Idaho to end the campaign. Yes, Nutt was in on the barest of ground floors of the Golden Era, but I will always believe he played a part.
Nutt has himself another quarterback today at Ole Miss, and the name is noteworthy. Dismissed Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has settled on the Rebels for his final season of eligibility, electing to walk on. Nutt says he did his due diligence in clearing Masoli as a good fit for his team, and the former Duck says he is grateful for the second chance. The Ole Miss starting job will be between redshirt sophomore Nathan Stanley and Masoli when fall camp opens this Sunday.
Training camp has become even more important for former Boise State star Kyle Wilson. Not because he’s now a millionaire, having agreed to a five-year, $13 million deal with the New York Jets. But because he’ll be getting even more reps than expected now that All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is holding out from training camp. It sounds like Revis and the Jets are miles apart, so Wilson will be assigned with learning a lot more than the nickel corner position most expect him to occupy.
It was an unlikely way to end an eight-game losing streak, and maybe it has re-launched the Boise Hawks. Down 4-0 to Vancouver in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday night, the Hawks scored four dramatic runs to tie it—and then won it in the 12th, 5-4. Boise started quickly last night, forging a 3-0 lead after two innings. But the Canadians rebounded for a 5-3 lead after eight. Then, Vancouver gaffes in the field handed it to the Hawks from there. In the bottom of the ninth, Elliot Soto singled into rightfield, and Dustin Harrington was waved in from third base by manager Jody Davis. Bad move, but it worked out, as Harrington was a sitting duck but scored when the Canadians catcher dropped the ball. The Hawks won, 6-5, and they’re now 2-3 in the second half.
If you ever want to zero in on the worst major league inning ever involving former Boise Hawks, you need go no further than the eighth inning of Friday night’s Cubs-Reds game in Denver. Hawks alum Sean Marshall was on the mound with two outs and two strikes—then Colorado incredibly unleashed 11 straight hits, scoring 12 times in the inning to bulldoze the Cubbies, 17-2. Marshall allowed the first five runs and former Hawk Andrew Cashner the next six. Cashner, the Cubs’ first round draft pick out of TCU in 2008, did not retire a batter. He’s allowed 12 earned runs in his last two outings covering 1 1/3 innings, causing his ERA to balloon from 2.42 to 6.26.
An interesting weekend in golf as it pertains to local ties. At the U.S. Senior Open outside Seattle, Indian Lakes pro Jeff Thomsen made the cut Friday by two strokes and tied for 48th at 15-over-par. Only four golfers at Sahalee finished under par. Former Plantation pro Ron Ptacek missed the cut by one stroke, following his first-round 72 with a 77 on Friday. Of the players below the cut line, 52 had at least one round in the 80’s—and four were in the 90’s. That makes Ptacek’s performance look pretty decent.
Boise State product Graham DeLaet put together a solid and consistent four rounds at the Greenbrier Classic, finishing at 10-under-par. But with the course in White Sulphur Springs, WV, being torched, DeLaet tied for 45th in the tournament. Former Bronco Troy Merritt got stuck with that odd designation “MDF,” meaning “made cut, didn’t finish.” The PGA Tour took the bottom eight players after the third round and eliminated them to keep the Sunday field manageable. Merritt was sunk by his three-over-73 Saturday. He did make $10,380 for his troubles, though.
This Day In Sports…August 2, 1961:
On the heels of Frank McGuire’s resignation, North Carolina promotes Dean Smith to head basketball coach of the Tarheels. Smith would go 8-9 in his first season—but it would be the only losing campaign in 36 years of college coaching in Chapel Hill. Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982, Smith would step down after the 1996-97 season with 879 career victories—the most in college basketball history. And better than a 96 percent graduation rate for his lettermen.
(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’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)