Thursday, December 12, 2013.
Following Chris Petersen as coach is going to be like following Kellen Moore as quarterback at Boise State. It can’t really be done. But who better to try than the guy who was Moore’s quarterback mentor during the first four years of his five years in the program? Bryan Harsin is about as trusted a coach on the offensive side of the ball as the Broncos have ever had. He schemed with Petersen when the latter was offensive coordinator, and Petersen thought so highly of Harsin that he was elevated to O-coordinator as soon as Pete was named head coach. There’s still a page in the Boise State media guide headlined, “Three Plays That Shocked The World”—the hook-and-lateral, halfback pass and Statue of Liberty that won the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Essentially they were Harsin’s plays. Safe to say he is woven into the fabric of Bronco football.
The way Harsin is wired, he’s sensitive to not only the pain his Arkansas State players are feeling after being jilted for the third straight year, but to the Boise State players who had put all of their stock into Petersen. Harsin can relate his Boise State playing days to the current crop of Broncos—and maybe they won’t feel so badly. Harsin was a backup quarterback from 1995-99 and played for four different coaches in that time: Pokey Allen (who died after Harsin’s second season), interim coach Tom Mason, Houston Nutt and Dirk Koetter. Harsin experienced the 2-10 season in 1996, and then was part of the senior class that emerged from the darkness and won Boise State’s first Division I-A conference championship in 1999. He took the final snaps in the Broncos’ title-clinching 45-14 win over Idaho at Martin Stadium in Pullman.
Harsin’s statistics during his playing career at Boise State are certainly not the point right now. What he absorbed playing under all those coaches—and behind Tony Hilde, Nate Sparks and Bart Hendricks—is. Harsin experienced a wide variety of personalities and philosophies, shaping the offensive coordinator he would become. But he obviously learned the most from his combined 10 years working alongside Petersen. For the record, Harsin was 11-of-39 for 131 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He did throw Boise State’s first touchdown pass of what is now the Golden Era—in the Rose Bowl against UCLA in the 1999 season opener.
Now the staff shuffle begins in earnest. Harsin’s staff could have a decided Boise State flavor, be it with current Bronco assistants or those he brings from Arkansas State. The most important choice will be defensive coordinator with reports that Pete Kwiatkowski will follow Petersen to Washington. Offense wins fans and sells tickets. Defense wins, well, you know. Defense was the sometimes unheralded difference in the Coach Pete era. It improved dramatically in those years and fueled a lot of routs. If Bob Gregory wants to stay and maintain his Boise lifestyle—and get a raise—he’d seem like a seamless choice as D-coordinator.
The Statesman’s Chadd Cripe reports that in addition to Kwiatkowski and running backs coach and recruiting wiz Keith Bhonopha (who’s already gone), the likely new Huskies staffers are offensive line coach Chris Strausser and secondary coach Jimmy Lake. Those with Boise State ties on the active ASU staff are co-offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan, cornerbacks coach Julius Brown, and special teams coach Kent Riddle. Gerald Alexander and Thomas Byrd are also there as graduate assistants. And Lee Marks is on the staff of former Boise State strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman in Jonesboro.
Derek Carr is not one of the six Heisman Trophy finalists invited to Saturday night’s ceremony in New York City. That chafes some people in Fresno. “According to the Heisman Trophy voters, Derek Carr isn't one of the top six players in the country,” writes Fresno Bee columnist Marek Warszawski. “College football's most famous award has never been a bigger joke. Carr's omission from Saturday's ceremony in New York is even more glaring than big brother David's in 2001. That year, there were only four finalists.” Warszawski continues: “Tim Tebow, Troy Smith, Eric Crouch...and now Jordan Lynch. Heisman voters sure have a thing for running quarterbacks who can barely throw a spiral.” Even though neither team made the BCS, Fresno State followers are still mad at Northern Illinois.
As the Boise State basketball roster has matured over the past year, one of its strengths has been ball movement. The Broncos whipped the ball around the perimeter at Kentucky Tuesday night, but with the taller, quicker Wildcats hounding them they couldn’t find that last guy to put the ol’ sphere in the cylinder. The result was five assists as a team, the fewest in almost eight years. For the first time in 12 years, no Bronco had more than one assist. Boise State has to get that part of its game back when undefeated Saint Mary’s comes to Taco Bell Arena Saturday afternoon. This is a big game. And oh by the way, Harsin is probably going to be introduced at halftime.
Pierre Jackson played a complete game last night for the Idaho Stampede, and that has become the norm for the former Baylor star. Jackson scored 28 points with seven rebounds and seven assists as the Stampede rolled to a 128-109 win in their first game ever against the Delaware 87ers. Dee Bost added 14 points and a whopping 15 assists and Richard Howell recorded his sixth straight double-double as the Stamps improved to 6-0. Idaho and Rio Grande Valley (8-0) are the only two undefeated teams left in the D-League. The Stampede face the 87ers again tonight in Newark, DE.
It’s rare that an ECHL team gashes Alaska by a 4-1 count. The Steelheads got the Aces last night but good, though, in CenturyLink Arena. It was another sterling performance by goalie Josh Robinson, who had a shutout going until 1:53 remained in the game. Robinson made 26 saves in improving to 7-1-1 on the season. The scoring outburst was impressive against an Alaska team that came to Boise allowing the fewest goals in the league, an average of 1.58 per game. And all four goals came in the first period. The Steelies’ Mitch Wahl came one game short of tying the team ECHL-era record 15-game point streak as he was kept off the scoring sheet last night. Wahl’s 14-game streak is the longest in the league this season. Idaho and Alaska resume their series tomorrow night.
It was probably tough for Ernie Hoidal to keep from sneaking a peek at the Boise State-Kentucky game ESPN Tuesday night, but he was busy. Hoidal was one of five recipients of the 2013 Chapter Leadership Awards from the National Football Foundation at the 56th annual NFF Dinner in New York City. Hoidal, a Boise attorney and long-time Bronco supporter, has been chairman of the NFF’s Southern Idaho Chapter since 1997. He was the honoree representing the Western Region. The most visible event Hoidal oversees is the annual Scholar Awards Banquet every April honoring the region’s top high school seniors and a couple college standouts. Congrats to Ernie.
This Day In Sports…December 12, 1985:
One of the greatest two-sport athletes in history wins the Heisman Trophy. Auburn tailback Bo Jackson took the award by just 45 votes over Iowa quarterback Chuck Long in the closest Heisman vote ever. Jackson would go on to star for the Los Angeles Raiders and in baseball for three different big league teams before his career was derailed by a hip injury in the 1991 AFC Playoffs. He is the only athlete to be named an All-Star in two major American sports.
(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.)