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‘Twas a week before Christmas, and on the blue turf…

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on April 9, 2010 at 7:21 AM

Updated Friday, Apr 9 at 7:23 AM


Friday, April 9, 2010.
Try as they might, the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl people couldn’t crack the BCS conference hierarchy in the bowl system. Therefore, the H-Bowl will feature teams from the WAC and the MAC the next four years, a conference matchup that first occurred with Idaho’s 43-42 win over Bowling Green last December. The WAC team, as usual, will be the best fit available; the MAC will send its No. 3 bowl-eligible team. The most striking development is the date. For the first time, the H-Bowl will be played before Christmas, on December 18. That’s the first day of the bowl season, and it’s a Saturday, so there’s some benefit there. It looks to me like the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl, scheduled for December 30 at Yankee Stadium, is one of the key reasons the Humanitarian Bowl was bumped from its traditional pre-New Year’s Eve slot.
Chris Petersen spent a surprising amount of time at his press conference yesterday talking about Boise State’s opener against Virginia Tech September 6, not deflecting the numerous questions from the media. Petersen said he hadn’t really talked with the team about the 2010 schedule and how it starts. “They know,” he said. Since this game is on Labor Day weekend, essentially on the road, in a humid, 90,000-seat stadium, it’s going to draw the inevitable comparisons to the Broncos’ opener at Georgia five years ago. That, of course, was a 48-13 shellacking at the hands of the Bulldogs that saw Jared Zabransky throw four interceptions and lose two fumbles—in the first half.
“Our quarterback had such a poor game in 2005, he just did not give us a chance,” said Petersen. “It was really hard to tell how we would have stacked up with Georgia if he had even played ‘okay.’” Pete said the tape showed the rest of the Broncos’ performance was pretty good that day, but they never got started. “The lesson learned is: we know what kind of opponent we’re going to get. (Virginia Tech) is a top, top program, so the margin for error is very, very small.” Petersen said BSU is going to have to pick up where it left off in the Fiesta Bowl. “I don’t know if that’s possible to do,” he said. “I know—and our coaches know—exactly how this has to go for us to have a chance.”
Idaho received more exposure in the 24 hours following the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl than it’s had in its entire Division I-A era combined. The Vandals hope (and expect) that the change in fortunes is reflected in their 2010 recruiting class. The first place it will show is in the ranks of junior college transfers who are expected to contribute right away. Exhibit No. 1 is Armauni Johnson, a 6-4, 210-pound wide receiver out of West Los Angeles College. At tomorrow’s second Idaho scrimmage of the spring, Johnson will try to build on his momentum from the first one last week. His stats may have been pedestrian—two receptions for 39 yards—but both were athletic catches, one of them a 20-yard touchdown from Brian Reader.
One guard out, another one in at Boise State, as Nick Jezierny reports in the Statesman that new coach Leon Rice has a verbal commitment from Tre Nichols out of McLennan Community College in Texas. Tre is a great name for a point guard, no? Nichols played at Texas State as a freshman before transferring to McLennan. To become a Bronco, he is having to reneg on a commitment to Montana State. He averaged 13 points a game this season and shot 88 percent from the free throw line.
Todd Ford of the South Carolina Stingrays was named ECHL Goaltender of the Year yesterday, with the Idaho Steelheads’ Richard Bachman the runnerup. Not a big surprise since that’s how they finished in All-ECHL voting. But Steelheads fans will note that with great performances down the stretch, Bachman and teammate Rejean Beauchemin finished the regular season one-two in the ECHL in goals-against average. The Steelies still have a week before they open the Kelly Cup Playoffs. They await the winner of the first round series between Utah and Las Vegas—the Grizzlies and Wranglers are currently tied at a game apiece.
One of baseball’s great stories in spring training was a great story again yesterday. Former Boise Hawk Tyler Colvin, who unexpectedly played his way onto the Cubs roster, hit his first major league home run in Chicago’s 2-0 win over the Braves. That helped former Hawks alum Randy Wells win his first start of the season. Colvin made his mark in Boise with a home run spree in August of 2006—he hit six homers in five games, including an extremely rare inside-the-park grand slam. Elsewhere, former Hawk Dontrelle Willis and the Tigers all breathe sighs of relief after the D-Train made his season debut yesterday with six strong innings in Detroit’s 7-3 win over the Royals. Willis scattered seven hits and allowed just two runs, but the big news was that he walked only two batters.
J.R. Celski, winner of two bronze medals at the Vancouver Olympics, will lace up his speedskates tomorrow at Idaho IceWorld. Celski will share his amazing story in a benefit appearance for the Idaho Foodbank, the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund, and Protect Idaho The 19-year-old short-tracker took bronze in the 1500 meters and the men’s 5000-meter relay at the Winter Games after suffering a horrific cut on his leg at the U.S. Olympic Trials last September. Celski credits nutritional products from Nampa’s AIM Companies with speeding his recovery (AIM is sponsoring his visit). 
Things sometime move along at the speed of light in the springtime, and Boise State men’s tennis is already facing Senior Day. The Broncos host New Mexico State tomorrow morning and Nevada tomorrow afternoon at 5PM. They’ll honor seniors Vicente Joli and Harry Skinner before the match against the Wolf Pack. It’s now you see him, now you don’t for Skinner, the London native who transferred in when Arizona State dropped its program. Skinner has been solid in the No. 3 and No. 4 singles slots. Elsewhere tomorrow, the 19th-ranked Boise State gymnastics team competes in the NCAA Salt Lake City Regional.
This Day In Sports…April 9, 1993:
An Opening Day crowd of 80,227 at Mile High Stadium greets the Colorado Rockies, as big league baseball comes to Denver with an 11-4 Rockies rout of Montreal. But the big story was the crowd—as it would be all season. The Rockies drew almost 4½ million fans that year, a major league record, averaging 56,751 a game.
(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.)