BOISE, Idaho — Friday, May 8, 2020.
Another Friday, and another item in my earlybird celebration of Albertson Stadium’s 50th anniversary. Today we go to Boise State’s first bowl game, the 1999 Humanitarian Bowl, emotional on many levels, as the Broncos won a see-saw game against Louisville 34-31. It was less than 36 hours before Y2K and, well, Broncos fans partied like it was 1999. John L. Smith came in as coach of the Cardinals a year after leaving Idaho and tried to organize some “Vandals for the ‘Ville.” Didn’t work very well. An 80-yard pick-six by Shaunard Harts helped turn the game, and (as I mentioned the other day), Brock Forsey dominated the day on offense. It was an amazing day for Boise State’s seniors, including current coach Bryan Harsin, who had been freshmen during the 2-10 season in 1996 while coach Pokey Allen was fighting cancer.
THIS WILL SOUND GOOD ON THE RADIO
The Mountain West championship games were nice, but Saturday’s Bronco Football Classics broadcast will be hard to beat. It’s the made-for-ESPN 2010 season opener between No. 3 Boise State and No. 10 Virginia Tech at FedEx Field outside Washington, D.C. There were 86,587 fans, and about 60,000 of them were Hokies faithful. The noise when Tech entered the field to the strains of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” was deafening. Then, the Broncos burst out to a 17-0 lead behind Kellen Moore. Virginia Tech clawed its way back and led at the end of the third quarter. But Moore hit Austin Pettis with on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 1:09 left to give Boise State a signature 33-30 win.
NEW WAYS IN THE RECRUITING WORLD
The recruitment of quarterback Cade Fennegan turned out to be very good practice for the Boise State staff. Dave Southorn of TheAthletic.com snagged the first interview with Fennegan following his LDS mission, which ended prematurely on March 29 due to coronavirus concerns. Boise State had to court him through cyberspace, but Eric Kiesau and Kent Riddle were able to visit Fennegan’s family in Dallas in January even though Cade was in Argentina on his mission. You can’t do that right now, but all of the direct contact with Fennegan came via email, unwittingly preparing Broncos coaches for the creative communicating they’ve had to do since the onset of the pandemic.
Fennegan gave his verbal to Boise State on January 13 and signed in February. He originally committed to North Texas before his mission after being recruited by Graham Harrell. In the time since, Harrell has landed at USC. And wouldn’t you know it, the Trojans floated him an offer just before National Letter of Intent Day. “Some of my buddies were like, ‘Man, it’s USC, Reggie Bush, USC!’” Fennegan told Southorn. “I had to sit back and take a minute, like, ‘I’ve got to think about this.’ I have a great relationship with coach Harrell. I prayed on it, I thought a lot about it, but I never changed my mind.”
WHAT OTHER SHOES WILL DROP?
A big potential domino Thursday from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. She declared that there will be no live sporting events with large crowds in the state through the end of September. What’s that mean over there? Oh, just that there’ll be no Ohio State-Oregon game in Autzen Stadium on September 12, unless they want to play it before no fans. Closer to home, not only is Boise State watching this closely, what are the Boise Hawks to do? All three of their Southern Division opponents in the Northwest League are in Oregon (Eugene, Salem-Keizer and Hillsboro).
MORE BRONCOS NFL DEBUTS (WE HOPE)
If the season starts on time, Boise State’s three new draft picks know their first official NFL opponents. The schedule was released Thursday night with fingers seriously crossed. Ezra Cleveland and Curtis Weaver could hardly hope for more. Cleveland and the Minnesota Vikings host the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, while Weaver and the Miami Dolphins visit the New England Patriots. John Hightower, who looks like he’ll be wearing No. 82 for Philadelphia, is jazzed for another reason. The Eagles open against Washington in Hightower’s hometown of Landover, MD.
ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST NODS
Due to the shortened 2020 season, the All-Mountain West baseball squad consists of three players from each conference team. After 40 years of dormancy, Boise State is happy to be included. The Broncos’ honorees were redshirt freshman pitcher Wesley Harper, redshirt senior outfielder Michael Hicks and true freshman infielder Torin Montgomery. Hicks, who batted .386 as Boise State compiled an unexpectedly good 9-5 record in late February and early March, has elected to return to the Broncos in 2021 to use the “makegood” senior season granted by the NCAA.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…May 8, 1968:
One month after the A’s debut in the Oakland Coliseum following their move from Kansas City, they give their new fans an historic thrill. Jim “Catfish” Hunter threw a perfect game—the first in the American League in 46 years—as the A’s beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-0. Hunter would remain the heart of the Oakland pitching staff as the A’s would win three straight world championships in the early 70’s. He’d become baseball’s first big-money free agent when he signed with the Yankees in 1975.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)
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