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Boise State football: I remember my extremities

There was a night 5½ years ago that saw Boise State fans wearing every piece of skiing or snowmobiling clothing they had. At the end: a feeling of accomplishment.
Credit: Otto Kitsinger AP Images
Boise State fans throw snow in the air after a touchdown against San Diego State during an NCAA game in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. Boise State won 38-29.

BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, May 7, 2020.

The “Croix de Candlestick” was an award pin that was given out to San Francisco Giants fans in the 1980’s. To get one, you had to stay until the conclusion of a night game that went extra innings. It was a badge of honor for those who survived the infamously chilly late-night winds of Candlestick. After the Boise State-San Diego State game in 2014, I honestly wished there was something like the Croix for those of us who stayed until the end of the Broncos’ 38-29 win. That game will be shown as tonight’s Bronco Throwback Classic on the Boise State Football Facebook page. I don’t have to tell you how amazing it was—by far the coldest game in the history of Albertsons Stadium, with a kickoff temperature of 9 degrees. The warm-weather Aztecs were unfazed, busting out to a 20-0 lead before the roof caved in.

Nine days earlier, the high was 69 degrees. But a freak November storm came in two days before the game and deposited seven inches of snow. It was followed by an Arctic blast. A game that would have normally drawn 35,000 was limited to 27,478 by the frigid conditions. It was an interesting dynamic. The temperature dropped a couple degrees by halftime, but more than half of the fans were back in their seats for the third quarter, and most of those stayed until the bitterly-cold end. The thing about a crowd like that in conditions like that: they were the hard-cores, and they brought as much energy to the blue turf (frosted in this case) as any other game. It was like they were all in it together, and they wanted to make up for those who weren’t there.

CARR IS 2-FOR-2 IN LIFE’S QUEST

Chris Carr is a two-pronged Boise State success story. Carr was on Idaho SportsTalk Wednesday in a “Bronco Flashback” segment, and he was great. Carr is currently an immigration law attorney in Washington, D.C., where he’s been since his NFL career ended in 2013. He said he knew that would be his end-game after taking a constitutional law class at Boise State his junior year. On the field, I talked last week about his resolve as an undrafted free agent and parlaying that into a nine-year run in the NFL. And Carr wasn’t just a utility man returning kicks. “It was my defensive skills that got me into the league,” he told Caves & Prater. And they were on full display with the Raiders during a 2006 game against the Steelers, when he returned a Ben Roethlisberger interception 100 yards for a touchdown.

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

The Blue & Orange Store is one of the few shops open right now at Boise Towne Square. I suppose you could order your new Curtis Weaver and Ezra Cleveland jerseys there (in person or online) now that they’ve been assigned uniform numbers. We learned Wednesday that Weaver is going to wear No. 96 for Miami, and last week we found out that Cleveland will don No. 72 for Minnesota (they wore Nos. 99 and 76, respectively, at Boise State). We’ve seen a No. 16 Philadelphia jersey photoshopped onto John Hightower, but he’s not listed on the Eagles roster yet.

ALL OR NOTHING? OR PARTIAL PARTICIPATION? 

Penn State coach James Franklin created a lot of water cooler buzz Wednesday when he said, “I don't see a conference—any conference—penalizing 80% or 75% of the schools because 25% of them can't open.” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson has been wrestling with this. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Boise State, for example, green-lighted for football well before the California schools in the conference. There are 12 football schools in the Mountain West. Do they stagger the start of the season if only eight of them are cleared to play? Different dates for different schools? Do they just go with eight?

Tommy Ahlquist, whose leadership during the pandemic has been phenomenal, wants a football season as much as anyone. But he’s skeptical it will start on time, if at all. “We can’t figure out testing in the USA, let alone allowing crowds like this again before a vaccine,” Ahlquist tweeted Wednesday. It was accompanied by photos of packed stands during football and basketball games at his alma mater, Utah.

NCAA RELENTS A BIT 

Thompson and other Group of 5 commissioners asked last month for relief from some NCAA requirements, including the minimum number of sports required to compete in Division I. That idea was nixed, but the NCAA did approve a waiver that will allow schools to spend below the minimum level on athletic scholarships required to compete in Division I. Theoretically that will help decrease the need to cut sports.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…May 7, 1988: 

Caldwell native Gary Stevens, who got his horse racing start at Les Bois Park while a student at Capital High in the late 70’s, rides Winning Colors to victory in the 114th running of the Kentucky Derby. It was the first of three victories for Stevens in the Run For The Roses, as Winning Colors became only the third filly ever to win the Derby. Stevens gave a shout-out to Boise on ABC cameras immediately following the race.

(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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