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Boise State football: The call-out and the response

Only one thing could pre-empt COVID-19 over the weekend, even in the sports world. Coaches have been compelled to speak, and Boise State’s did.
Credit: Matt Cilley / AP Images
Boise State's Orlando Scandrick celebrates his interception with Jason Robinson during an NCAA game against New Mexico State on Sunday, October 7, 2007 in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 58-0.

BOISE, Idaho — Monday, June 1, 2020.

Former Boise State safety Jason Robinson posted a Twitter video Saturday morning that was almost 15 minutes long, calling out coach Bryan Harsin for not making a statement about the unrest in America following the George Floyd killing. Robinson questioned Harsin’s support of his black players and suggested those players look at the transfer portal if they don’t feel that support. 

Harsin released a statement later in the day. It didn’t mention Floyd, nor race. But it was good, ending with: “The hate, the discord, the belief that voices are falling on deaf ears—it needs to change. Now. There is no place for it in our program, and it shouldn’t have a place in our society. We all need to be better, and it starts with each and every one of us caring for all we encounter regardless of color, politics or any other differences we might have.”

Robinson contends that the success and growth of the city of Boise is “large in part due to the exposure that was given to the city by its football program,” pointing to the 2007 Fiesta Bowl as the flashpoint. “We’re talking about a football program that has had many, many, many African Americans come through and lend their talents to the Boise State brand,” said Robinson, naming a slew of black Broncos stars over the years. 

Their role in the rise of Boise State football is undeniable. Also undeniable is the fact that, although Bronco Nation appreciates and cares about these players, many fans don’t understand the challenges they’ve faced throughout their lives. It’s time to start.

RELATED: Idaho Black History Museum director speaks out on George Floyd's death, local police and growing up black

RICE CONTRIBUTES TO THE CONVERSATION

Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice released a statement Sunday night, and he drilled it down well. “We met this morning as a program, along with our families,” said Rice. “We are angry and sad,” Rice said. “There is no place in our communities for hatred or racism. The world is watching as each of us chooses how to respond in words and in actions. Rice finished with: “We can make a meaningful difference, and we are going to. Please join us in honoring the legacy of George Floyd and commit to action in your local communities.”

CROWDED GROUP OF FIVE FIELD

CBSSports.com rolled out its preseason top 25 (actually preseason top 130) over the weekend, and Boise State checks in at No. 22. The Broncos are one spot ahead of Air Force, the same way the two teams ended last season in the Coaches Poll. The CBS list is Group of Five-heavy, with Memphis tops at No. 16. Appalachian State is No. 19, Navy No. 20, and Cincinnati No. 21. Strength of schedule is as key as ever in the race for a New Year’s Six bowl. Five of the Mountain West’s 12 schools are ranked No. 101 or below: San Jose State, Colorado State, Fresno State, UNLV and New Mexico. The Broncos are scheduled to play four of them this season.

RELATED: Boise State football: Albertsons Stadium 50th anniversary, Part X

JUSTINIAN BEFORE DERRICK

The weekend started with ESPN updating its “Top 100 Best Available” list for the NBA Draft. Boise State proudly notes it is one of just 17 schools nationwide with multiple players on the list, including the only Mountain West program. But the players’ rankings don’t bode well for the NBA Draft. Justinian Jessup, at No. 92, is actually rated ahead of Derrick Alston’s No. 95. Jessup seems ticketed for overseas, while Alston is in Boise and participating in team activities despite declaring early for the draft. It’s looking more and more like Alston will be back.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…June 1, 1979:

The Seattle Supersonics, led by Jack Sikma, Gus Williams, and Downtown Fred Brown off the bench, beat Washington, 97-93, to win the NBA Finals in five games. The Bullets were coached by Dick Motta, the pride of Fish Haven, Idaho, who guided Grace High School to the 1959 Idaho Class AA championship. It was the only NBA title for Seattle, which watched the Sonics become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.

(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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