Another Friday, another early-bird celebration of Albertsons Stadium’s 50th anniversary. We’ve arrived at 2009, and there’s only one way to go here. In what was rightfully billed at the time as the biggest home game in Boise State history, the 14th-ranked Broncos smothered 16th-ranked Oregon, 19-8, before a raucous then-record crowd of 34,127 and a national audience on ESPN. The night belonged to the Boise State defense, as the Ducks didn’t register a first down until midway through the third quarter and had only 152 yards for the game in the debut of new head coach Chip Kelly. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: the single loudest moment in stadium history came when the Broncos’ Billy Winn dragged down Oregon’s LeGarrette Blount in the end zone for a safety.
But it was the aftermath of the game that is still remembered—marred when Blount sucker-punched the Broncos’ Byron Hout after Hout trash-talked him. The incident was shown over and over all night long (and the next day) on ESPN, and many were clamoring for Kelly to boot Blount off the team. The incident also became an instant YouTube sensation. It finally resulted in a season-long suspension for Blount (though he was reinstated by Kelly that November).
APPRECIATING THE BLUE TURF SCHEDULE
You’ll see Mark Coyle’s name in today’s “This Day In Sports” item below. One piece of news we saw this week was a reminder of how effective Coyle was while he was athletic director at Boise State. He was pretty good at football scheduling. When Washington State’s home-and-home series with Mississippi State was announced, it was pointed out that WSU hasn’t hosted a home non-conference game against a Power 5 school since 1998. But with the Bulldogs aboard, the Cougars have four P5’s coming to Pullman over the next 11 years: Wisconsin, Kansas State, Kansas and MSU.
The Broncos have hosted nine Power 5 programs since 1998 (not counting a Humanitarian Bowl and an MPC Computers Bowl). Of course, eight of them were Pac-12 schools—and six of those were Washington State and Oregon State. But Coyle was responsible for Boise State’s 2017 home game versus Virginia, as well as this year’s matchup with Florida State and upcoming dates with Oklahoma State and Michigan State. By the way, former WSU coach Mike Leach, now at Mississippi State, would be 69 when the Bulldogs are slated to visit Martin Stadium in 2031. Methinks he won’t still be there.
REMEMBERING RICKS COLLEGE
I noticed that Sunday will mark the 20-year anniversary since the LDS Church announced it would change the name of Ricks College in Rexburg to BYU-Idaho, converting it to a four-year school and phasing out its athletics program. Certainly fans in Eastern Idaho miss the Ricks College Vikings. They had a solid football program and were a major feeder source for BYU. In fact, Ricks posted a 10-1 record in its final season in 2001. Alums include 1986 Outland Trophy winner Jason Buck of BYU, current Utah State coach Gary Andersen and current BYU quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick. BYU-Idaho said out of the gate that it wouldn’t play intercollegiate sports. Twenty years later, that has not changed.
HAWKS’ HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL
While Major League Baseball players wait for the “when and where” from owners, Boise Hawks general manager Mike Van Hise remains hopeful that his team will have a 2020 season. Van Hise stresses that this is “just me talkin’”, but he could envision a full 76-game campaign that would begin in late July or early August. A 76-game slate that begins on August 1—without a day off—would last until October 15 (earlier if a bunch of doubleheaders are part of the equation). Weather-wise, that works in Boise. Van Hise and the Hawks would have to have an answer soon, though. The minor leagues would need to get players assigned and trained well beforehand. Fingers crossed, y’all.
MERRITT MAY PLAY THE WEEKEND
Troy Merritt’s first round this week was better than last week. At the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, SC, the former Boise State star started on No. 10 and logged two bogeys before the turn. But he rallied with an Eagle on No. 2, and he finished with a one-under 70. Merritt is in the middle of the pack, tied for 66th. If he plays well today, he’ll make the cut. If he doesn’t he won’t.
ONE LESS FOE FOR BOISE STATE GYMNASTICS
There has been no hint of any sports being cut at Boise State in the wake of the coronavirus budget crisis, women’s gymnastics included. But this has to be sad news for the Broncos gymnasts: Seattle Pacific dropped its women’s gymnastics effective immediately Monday without even discussing it with coach Sarah Jean Marshall. She said she was “shocked and devastated.” Marshall competed against Boise State during her student-athlete days and was Division II Gymnast of the Year in 2007. The Falcons had been regular opponents of Boise State for three decades.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!
June 19, 2015, five years ago today: After 3½ years at the helm at Boise State, athletic director Mark Coyle is announced as the new AD at Syracuse. Coyle had replaced the man who had been in the chair for 29 years, Gene Bleymaier, and was credited for keeping the Bronco ship on track. Coyle’s one major hire was football coach Bryan Harsin, the Boise native who would go on to lead the Broncos to a Fiesta Bowl championship in his first season. Just four days later, Curt Apsey, Boise State’s senior associate athletic director from 1998-2014, returned after an 8½-month stint as AD at Carroll College in Montana to replace Coyle. Apsey, a renowned fundraiser, was key to a number of BSU facilities upgrades, including the Steuckle Sky Center.
(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.)