Wednesday, October 13, 2010.
To say that Boise State’s transition in defensive coordinators has been seamless would be an understatement. The moment Justin Wilcox accepted the D-coordinator’s job at Tennessee last February, coach Chris Petersen elevated Pete Kwiakowski to the top defensive post. There are certainly no regrets. “There was no question that Pete was the guy to carry on and move forward,” said Petersen. “Not only the job he’s done with the D-line, just what he brings to the meeting rooms—his football mind. Really creative guy.” Kwiatkowki’s defense is No. 2 in the nation behind TCU, allowing just 236 yards a game.
Kwiatkowski, who played for the Broncos 25 years ago and whose coaching experience with Boise State dates back to 1988, has not skipped a beat in his area of expertise. He retained his duties coaching the defensive line, and that unit has emerged as the strength of a dominating D. I don’t remember Dick Tomey putting it this way when he handled color on the Bronco-New Mexico State telecast, but he laid it out for the Tuscon Citizen. “I think (Boise State’s) defensive front is as good as anybody’s, including Alabama or whoever, and that’s where you start on defense. That’s the biggest difference in their team now and their team four years ago. Four years ago, they were not nearly as strong in the defensive line.” And you remember what happened four years ago. And hey, the Broncos were only 14th nationally in total defense then.
There are two intriguing numbers on the Boise State defensive line so far this season. You have the two touchdowns by junior Shea McClellin. It’s the first time a Bronco has scored on a fumble recovery and interception in the same season since Kareen Williams in 1999. And, amazingly, you have zero sacks from All-WAC senior Ryan Winterswyk, the only D-line starter without one. The “Swyk sack watch” continues Saturday night at San Jose State.
Is Kellen Moore’s stay at No. 1 in the Heisman race as temporary as Boise State’s perch atop the mock BCS standings allegedly is? Moore has moved into the top spot on ESPN.com’s “Heisman Watch,” attracting eight first place votes from the panel of 15 experts. Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor is second and Oregon’s LaMichael James is third. Here’s Ted Miller’s observation on the latest poll: “There is no case against Moore. Not to be mean, but anyone who has any other candidate ahead of Moore is being ridiculous. Moore is the No. 1-rated QB in all of college football.” What’s important to remember is this is the national media speaking—it is not the result of any lobbying by Boise State. There is no active Heisman campaign for Kellen right now.
In his “Forde Yard Dash” this week, ESPN.com’s Pat Forde decries the makeup of the rankings following last week’s action, during which Boise State beat Toledo by 43 points, TCU topped Wyoming by 45, Ohio State clipped Indiana by 28, and Oregon got past Washington State by 20. “The (BCS conference) loyalists either decided there simply was no way the sudden Alabama power vacuum at the top was going to be filled by outsiders or decided beating Washington State and Indiana was more impressive than beating Toledo and Wyoming,” writes Forde. “The latter possibility overlooks the fact that neither Indiana nor Washington State has accomplished anything this year. Average computer rankings for those four, as of this week: Toledo 57.2, Wyoming 68, Indiana 83.2, Washington State 94.8.”
There’s a blockbuster special report in the new Sports Illustrated: “Confessions Of An Agent,” Josh Luchs’ story of payment to players as told to SI’s George Dohrmann. There are lots of players and schools identified by name. One guy played for one season at Idaho. “We paid quarterback Ryan Fien while he was at UCLA, and when he transferred to Idaho in 1996 we kept paying him,” said Luchs. Fien told SI he did not receive money from Luchs. Another name tabbed is John Rushing of Washington State, who would spend two years as a Boise State graduate assistant in 1998 and 1999. Rushing wouldn’t comment to SI. Luchs also said he met with Fresno State defensive lineman Alan Harper in 2002 in violation of NCAA rules. We’ll see what kind of legs this exposé has.
There’s an emotional sidebar to Saturday night’s Hawaii-Nevada game in Honolulu, where the Star-Advertiser reports that Nevada and Fresno State have begun negotiations with the WAC over their departure date from the conference and the penalty fees they’ll have to pay. My guess is that both schools will stay until 2012 in exchange for a big reduction in the $5 million exit fees demanded by the WAC. The feelings on this issue run deep on the Islands.
Here’s a take from Star-Advertiser columnist Ferd Lewis: “Whether the Warriors and Bulldogs ever meet in a WAC game again or not, maybe the UH fans got the last word (with Hawaii’s 49-27 win in Fresno last week),” writes Lewis. “It was their turn to tell an opposing team ‘you aren't in our league’ and ‘don't let the door hit you on your way out.’ You hope the Warriors remember how much they enjoyed the feeling. The wish is that what happened in Fresno doesn't stay there. Because the Warriors get the opportunity to do it all over again this week at Aloha Stadium when another deserter, Nevada, saunters into town.”
This sentiment seems to be going around. The Salt Lake Tribune surmises that the same type of thing is going through TCU’s collective mind as the Horned Frogs prepare for BYU this week. “This time, TCU isn’t just looking for a win any way it can get it over BYU,” writes Jay Drew. “The Frogs are talking about a shutout, which would be their third straight after they blanked Colorado State and Wyoming in successive weeks. And judging by how much coach Gary Patterson reacted when news broke that the Cougars were leaving the Mountain West for football independence a few months ago, it is a given he would like to lay a colossal beatdown on the visitors—and not just for style points to impress the pollsters.” Wow. The Horned Frogs have clobbered the Cougars by a combined 70-14 the past two years.
An interesting “where are they now” today. Former Boise State tight end Jeb Putzier is back in football this fall after his NFL career ended two years ago. The Eagle High grad is playing for the Omaha Nighthawks in the five-team United Football League. Through Week 4, Putzier has five catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. His quarterback is Jeff Garcia, and one of Omaha’s running backs is none other than Maurice Clarett, formerly of Ohio State and the Ohio legal system. Putzier played in the NFL for Denver, Houston and Seattle after being drafted in the sixth round by the Broncos in 2002.
This Day In Sports…October 13, 1960, 50 years ago today:
One of the all-time great World Series moments—Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 to beat the New York Yankees, 10-9, for the world championship. The image of Mazeroski jumping up and down as he rounded third and then leaping into a sea of Pirates has lasted through the ages. Now a copy of the long-lost TV broadcast of that game has been found in the one-time wine cellar of Bing Crosby, and MLB Network plans to show the game on December 15.
(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.)