Tuesday, January 19, 2010.
Talk about an interested onlooker on January 4. It was Ian Johnson, currently helping Minnesota prepare for the NFC Championship Game as a member of the Vikings practice squad. The guy who beat Oklahoma with the Statue of Liberty three years ago addressed his former teammates’ 2010 Fiesta Bowl win in a recent Minneapolis Star-Tribune interview. What has Boise State become? Says Johnson, “It's really been just what we were promised when we got there. Come out and work, buy into schemes and good things happen. It doesn't necessarily take the best, on paper, athletes. We would do anything for the team, and when you get a bunch of guys who want to win, good things can happen.”
Is he okay with the Broncos not playing for a national championship? Johnson replies, “It's tough to say (BSU) should be in the championship game, but it's tough to say they shouldn't. Something needs to be done so you don't have excuses as to ‘why not.’” The Ian and Chrissy story has resurfaced the past few weeks. They had been essentially out of the spotlight until a five-page spread in Sports Illustrated’s “Best of the Decade” issue during the holidays.
Former Boise State star Korey Hall was on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday, talking about his future in Green Bay. Hall goes into the offseason as one of three fullbacks on the Packers roster—that’s a lot for an NFL club. And that’s a lot of competition. But, as Hall points out, “You’re not just competing against the guys on your team.” He knows NFL front offices are also watching other teams to see who’s performing well and who may come available. The Glenns Ferry Pilot has one year left on his contract; that’s the good news. His injury-interrupted 2009 season included five catches for 41 yards, but his productivity as a blocker peaked at the end of the season, and that’s his main task.
The Sporting News this week presents its “All-Bowl Team.” That’s elite company, as there are just 26 players named in that group. Boise State had two representatives: Brandyn Thompson, whose adventurous Fiesta Bowl ended with Defensive MVP honors, and Kyle Brotzman, honored for triggering one of the defining moments of the bowl season. Idaho had another defining moment—the two-point conversion that beat Bowling Green in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl. The defining player in the game, Vandal guard Mike Iupati, is also on SN’s All-Bowl team.
The focus at Idaho has been on the 2010 season since the riveting 43-42 win over Bowling Green in the H-Bowl. Hard to believe that was less than three weeks ago. The Vandals got a head start on next season during the holidays, addressing immediate needs with four junior college transfers. Joining the team for second semester this week (and ultimately for spring football) are wide receiver Armauni Johnson of West L.A. College, offensive lineman Sam Tupua from Palomar College, defensive tackle Ben Swarts of Arizona Western and safety Thaad Thompson out of Ellsworth Community College.
Now that the “Lane Kiffin Era” is underway at USC, you may be wondering: against whom does the wonderkid make his debut with the Trojans? Why, it’s at Aloha Stadium versus Hawaii this September. The Warriors are going to want to make this one count, as their other non-conference home games are against Charleston Southern and UNLV. Look for the USC-Hawaii game to be devoured by ESPN as an Opening Night late-night treat on Thursday, September 2. The last time the Trojans visited Oahu, they were at their peak, coming off back-to-back national championships. They came in riding Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and a 22-game winning streak, and they waxed the Warriors, 63-17.
The Idaho Stampede roster has been in a state of flux this season—even more than usual. It’s in that phase right now, as yet another new face has been added to the club. With Anthony Tolliver having been called up to the Golden State Warriors, the Stampede have added forward Cory Underwood, who spent the last three seasons with the D-League’s Albuquerque Thunderbirds. Underwood played seven games with the T-Birds this season, averaging 8.3 points and 4.4 rebounds. The Stamps, therefore, have picked up four new players in the past week. They’ll take Underwood, Patty Mills, Coby Karl and Lance Allred to Orem tonight to face the Utah Flash.
For some reason, Boise State just hit the wall at the dawn of the new year. And the Broncos haven’t been able to climb over it or get through it since. BSU went into conference play with a four-game winning streak—now it’s lost a well-documented six in a row in the WAC. In almost every key statistical category, the Broncos have taken a dive. Their scoring is down six points a game, their points allowed are up eight points a game, their shooting accuracy has dropped from 47 percent to 42, and they’re allowing WAC opponents to shoot over 50 percent, last in the WAC by far and up from 42½ percent in the non-conference season. It’s not a good time to be facing perennial WAC power Nevada, which comes into Taco Bell Arena tomorrow night.
Turns out the Idaho Steelheads didn’t have to play a game without goalie Rejean Beauchemin, who was called up by the Manitoba Moose late last week. Beauchemin was returned by the Moose yesterday and presumably will be available when the Steelheads return to action Friday night in Qwest Arena. The Steelies have also picked up defenseman Steve Oleksy from the IHL. Ace Steelheads spokesman Will Hoenike points out that Idaho has had only two players whose last names begin with “O” since joining the ECHL, and both currently play for the club (the other is Michael Olson). That’s good filler during the All-Star break this week.
Idaho doesn’t have the hearty roster of Winter Olympians it produced for the Salt Lake and Torino Games. But it does have a third tie headed for Vancouver, joining aerial skier Jeret Petersen and biathlete Sara Studebaker. Former Boise State sprinter Nick Cunningham will use his speed to anchor one of the three U.S. bobsled teams next month. Cunningham qualified Sunday as the brakeman on driver Mike Kohn’s team at St. Moritz, Switzerland, Sunday. Kohn and crew finished sixth in Sunday’s World Cup bobsled to secure the final Olympic berth.
The success of the new Boise Sports Council, the brainchild of downtown developer Mark Rivers designed to bring major sporting events to the Treasure Valley, will depend upon the involvement of its members. They are all busy people. But if they’re really committed to this, big things could result. This community has a track record. The first target, according to Rivers, is the 2011 USA Cycling Championships. That quest will get more than a modicum of credibility from council co-chairman Kristin Armstrong.
This Day In Sports…January 19, 1974:
Notre Dame beats UCLA, 71-70, to snap the Bruins’ record 88-game winning streak. The deciding bucket comes on a jumper from the corner by Dwight Clay with 21 seconds remaining. Notre Dame had been the last team to beat UCLA four years earlier. However, it would be the only loss of the season for John Wooden’s Bruins, who go on to win their seventh national championship in eight years.
(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.)