Friday, November 4, 2011.
Well, is it just a formality now? Is it just a matter of finalizing a home for Boise State’s non-football sports? The State Board of Education yesterday gave BSU president Bob Kustra the go-ahead to move the Broncos’ football program to the Big East should he want to. Sure sounds like Kustra wants to—and he told the board a decision could come as early as next week. Air Force could hang things up. The academy initially was jumping at the opportunity to go the Big East, but now it says it’s going to evaluate things. Kustra says he insisted to the Big East that there be a partner school in the West. If the academy back out, does that swing things toward San Diego State? Can’t wait ‘til this is over.
ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski conducted an interesting interview with former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, and Kramer had an interesting observation. Kramer presided over the SEC’s expansion that created a 12-team conference 20 years ago by adding Arkansas and South Carolina. He’s skeptical of the proposed football merger between the Mountain West and Conference USA. "You're not going to have a conference in that relationship," Kramer told Wojciechowski. "You might have a consortium, or whatever you want to call it. The strength of a conference—and this is one of the things you need to look at long and hard—is built on the relationships with a limited number of institutions. When you lose that, I think you've gone outside of what you want to do.” Ah, all common sense is already lost in the thing anyway.
Tomorrow night’s Boise State-UNLV game will be the first one between the Broncos and Rebels that does not feature Tony Knap on one of the sidelines. Knap, who passed away in September at the age of 96, had a 2-2 record against UNLV as head coach at Boise State. He then headed for Las Vegas in 1976 and went 1-1 against his former Broncos, losing 45-14 on the green turf of Bronco Stadium the last time the two teams played in 1977. Knap built BSU’s program as a four-year school from its beginning in 1968, and he guided the Rebels from Division II to Division I-A in 1978. Knap is the winningest coach in the history of each university—he was 71-19-1 at Boise State and 47-20-2 at UNLV. That’s appropriate as Kellen Moore attempts to become college football’s all-time winningest quarterback tomorrow night.
What a fascinating new lifestyle Bobby Hauck has chosen. He was king at Montana, compiling an overall record of 80-17 with three FCS national championship game appearances. Hauck is the winningest coach in Big Sky history and earned at least a share of the league's championship all seven years with the Grizzlies. UNLV figured Hauck could work his magic in Vegas, even if it is a culture 180 degrees opposite that of Missoula. Hauck can get it done—but man, it’s going to take time. He’s 4-16 in his second season with UNLV. Hauck writes a weekly column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and this week’s entry is headlined, “Boise State brings in program we aspire to build at UNLV.” A lot of coaches say that. Hauck means it. But he will need the patience of Job.
What did Bronco coaches do for their autumn vacation during the bye last weekend? You know it: hit the recruiting trail. When asked about what it’s like out there these days, coach Chris Petersen was unusually open and enthused about it. “We get a great reception,” Petersen said of high school coaches around the country. “They treat us very well—they have a lot of respect for our program.” But, he says, the staff has to work harder than ever. “We’re living in the fast lane, and it doesn’t get any easier,” said Petersen. “The guys we’re looking at, everybody’s looking at.”
There are two Games of the Week in the Mountain West tomorrow. The obvious one is Army at Air Force, as the Falcons try to clinch the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for a second consecutive year. Air Force-Army ended up on the full CBS network as the lead-in to tomorrow night’s showdown between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama. "It's a very easy channel to find," Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said (was that a potshot at the Mountain West’s TV deal?). The not-so-obvious feature matchup is TCU at Wyoming. The Cowboys are 5-2 and are the conference’s surprise team this season after upending San Diego State on the road last week. But, good luck against the Horned Frogs.
Here’s one thing to consider when Idaho goes to San Jose State tomorrow. How big is this game for the Spartans, who are much improved in their second season under coach Mike McIntyre? San Jose State is 3-5 and needs three wins in its final four games to become bowl eligible. The Spartans have Utah State, Navy and Fresno State after the Vandals but have the moxie to get it done. SJSU can exceed its combined victory total of 2009 and 2010 with a win tomorrow. One Idaho note: punter Bobby Cowan was added to the Ray Guy Award watch list on Wednesday, and why not? You can’t miss Cowan this season. Besides his 47.4 yards per boot, the fourth-best average in the nation, Cowan has punted 66 times, second only to Tom Hornsey of Memphis. Hornsey’s leg has to be falling off—he has a staggering 72 punts.
The Idaho Steelheads take a red-hot Kael Mouillierat into the final two games of their series against Las Vegas tonight and tomorrow night. He’s even hotter than they thought after a stat sheet change in Wednesday night’s 6-2 win. A first-period goal originally credited to David Fredriksson has been switched to Mouillierat’s line, giving him his second career hat trick. Mouillierat’s first was almost exactly a year ago at Victoria. The one Wrangler the Steelies couldn’t keep under wraps Wednesday was forward Eric Lampe, who notched a goal and an assist. Lampe was last week’s ECHL Player of the Week—now he’s been named Player of the Month for October as well.
The NBA Development League Draft is a different animal, as former players in the league are able to go back in the draft pool. Example: with the 23rd overall selection, the Idaho Stampede took former Boise State standout Jason Ellis, a gritty rebounder who played for the Stamps’ D-League championship team four seasons ago. And with the No. 1 overall pick, the L.A. D-Fenders chose former Iowa State star Jamaal Tinsley, who has eight seasons of NBA experience. Tinsley didn’t play in the NBA, so he’s unaffected by the lockout. Stampede coach Randy Livingston said the other day that point guard was the team’s “most immediate need” in the draft. He got one with his second pick, 6-7 Kevin Galloway, who played at Texas Southern Kentucky, and USC (as well as College of Southern Idaho).
College basketball hits at the height of football season these days, and it starts for real tonight for the College of Idaho. The Coyotes face Walla Walla to open the Quinn Classic, hosted by Eastern Oregon in LaGrande. C of I begins the campaign in the NAIA Division II Top 25 in the No. 25 spot, despite a 13-17 record last season under former Boise State coach Rod Jensen. The Yotes have some firepower led by Skyview High grad Matt Ballenger, the 6-5 guard who earned honorable mention All-America honors last season. Ballenger averaged 15½ points and 4½ rebounds per game and hit 74 three-pointers in his second season after giving up his football career as a quarterback at Colorado.
This Day In Sports…November 4, 1995:
Boise State wins the highest-scoring game in the history of Bronco Stadium at the time (107 points), beating Eastern Washington in a Big Sky game, 63-44. BSU rolled up a then-school record 664 yards of total offense. The record has since been broken three times, most recently in the 63-13 win at Colorado State last month that saw the Broncos pile up 742 yards. Oh—and the scoring record, of course, was eclipsed by Boise State’s 69-67 quadruple-overtime win over Nevada in 2007.
(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.)