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Well, the WAC’s ESPN contract is good most of the time

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on October 29, 2009 at 8:18 AM


Thursday, October 29, 2009.
I say this not because I won’t be announcing the Boise State-Idaho game. It’s too bad, but I don’t give a diddly about that. This is about fans around the state of Idaho being denied a tradition. To the best of my recollection, the Bronco-Vandal clash has been shown on local television every year since 1980, when we did it while I was at KIVI. Through all the years KTVB, KIVI and KBCI have had the BSU TV rights, the state’s biggest rivalry was a given. Now ESPN has exercised its option to carry the game, which would be great if it were on ESPN or ESPN2. But this is ESPNU, “available in 55 million homes,” they say. You’d better find one of them and make friends. Fans in the WAC laugh at the Mountain West and its invisible TV deal with “the mtn.” Now they know how Mountain West fans feel.
I suppose for Idaho, the national exposure (such as it is) outweighs the statewide inconvenience to its fans. The Vandals haven’t been on ESPN or ESPN2 since 1998 and just got their first shot on ESPNU this year against Colorado State. But Boise State has been on national TV 41 times in the past 10 years and is going to be on ESPN2 the week before and each of the two weeks after the Idaho game. With that said, the thing that doesn’t bother Boise State is the enhanced chance that maybe, just maybe, ESPN GameDay would visit Boise that day.
Now here’s some real-for-real exposure, but Boise State is taking a pass on it. The Daily Press of Hampton Roads, VA, reported yesterday that the Boise State-Virginia Tech game next season, originally scheduled for October 2, would be moved to prime time on Labor Day. ESPN requested the move for the possible Top 20 showdown that’ll be played at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins. But Chadd Cripe reports in the Statesman that the Broncos want to leave the game in October to avoid a five-day turnaround for their September 11 game versus Toledo.
So what kind of role will Matt Kaiserman play for Boise State against San Jose State Saturday after debuting with 122 yards and a touchdown last week at Hawaii? Doug Martin will presumably be back versus the Spartans after appearing on the field for just one play while nursing a pulled muscle at Aloha Stadium. And Jeremy Avery had a solid night on the ground before Kaiserman got the call. But think about the running backs stable next year. Avery, Martin, Kaiserman, D.J. Harper, and redshirt Malcomb Johnson? And don’t forget Jarvis Hodge. Can anyone besides Martin play defense?
It was interesting at the beginning of the Hawaii game when we announced that backup center Bronson Durrant was the only Boise State player who didn’t make the trip because of the flu. Didn’t seem like a big issue. Then the center snaps started flying toward Diamond Head, and Durrant’s absence loomed larger. Starting center Thomas Byrd and Garrett Pendergast, a part-time center who moved over from tackle, shared the pain. It almost makes you wonder about BSU’s long snappers, Chris Roberson and James Crawford. Well, Roberson weighs in at only 222 pounds, and Crawford is 207. The Broncos have to dance with who brung ‘em.
Dave Curtis in the Sporting News Daily online edition calls Oregon coach Chip Kelly a “coach of the year candidate” now and says the Ducks could sneak into the national championship game conversation if they beat USC Saturday night. Wouldn’t that stoke some fires? Yes, Oregon has rebounded remarkably from its 19-8 loss to Boise State on Opening Night. And Kelly deserves a ton of credit for keeping everyone together. But the fact remains, the Broncos dominated that game and left a lot of points on the field. It could have been worse. They held the Ducks to 152 total yards, and it was no fluke. Maybe this is what the BCS needs to get blown up—Oregon to run the table and somehow get into the BCS title game, while the one team it lost to goes undefeated and is shut out of BCS bowl games altogether.
Idaho faces another running team this week when Louisiana Tech comes to the Kibbie Dome. That wouldn’t seem to be good news after the Vandals dropped from 14th in the nation to 67th in rush defense after allowing 484 on the ground at Nevada last Saturday. But the Bulldogs are becoming increasingly one-dimensional with the departure of yet another wide receiver.  Sophomore Adrian Linwood left the team Monday, joining Houston Tuminello, who bolted several weeks ago. Both cited “personal reasons,” but there’s speculation in Louisiana that there’s unrest in coach Derek Dooley’s offense, which has been unable to get an effective passing game going.
Everybody’s trying to figure out what’s going on at Colorado—coach Dan Hawkins included. Hawkins spent 23 minutes at his weekly news conference this week talking about what ails his Buffaloes, who are 2-5 after a demoralizing 20-6 loss at Kansas State. Hawk went from soul-searcher to his eternal optimist mode, pledging that he’s still going to get it done at CU. 
Tyler Hansen, who has replaced Cody Hawkins as starting quarterback, had an odd take on the Kansas State game. "It was such a high to such a low," Hansen said.  "It was kind of weird, against Kansas we gained so much confidence.  It's like, 'Yeah, we're finally there.'  But during that whole week, it wasn't really like that, though.  It wasn't really like that Kansas game ever happened.  The attitude of the team was kind of different, and wasn't like we were that confident. It was kind of bizarre." It just doesn’t sound like a Dan Hawkins-type atmosphere.
It’ll be Richard Bachman’s job between the pipes this weekend when the Idaho Steelheads go to Alaska. Starting goalie Rejean Beauchemin has been loaned to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, and he earned the callup. Beauchemin has been no small part of the Steelheads’ 5-0 start, going 3-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average, the sixth-best mark in the ECHL. Bachman has the Steelies’ other two victories and sports a goals-against average of 2.50. He may have some help in Anchorage, though, as the Steelies are expected to announce the signing of veteran netminder Kevin Nastiuk today. 
This Day In Sports…October 29, 2004, five years ago today:
In a record fourth regular season appearance on ESPN from Bronco Stadium, Boise State destroys Hawaii, 69-3, for its 19th straight victory (and 13th straight on the ESPN family of networks). BSU also kept Warrior quarterback Timmy Chang from breaking college football’s career passing yardage record, intercepting him four times and leaving him 14 yards short. The biggest Bronco highlight was a school-record 85-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jared Zabransky.
(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 handles color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football.)