It was going to feel almost normal to be talking today about quarterbacks and tight ends and offensive possibilities. Jack Sears and John Bates and the evolving tight ends room. But hanging over our heads was what happened to Boise State last week—and when it happened. Today the Broncos were slated to fly to Las Vegas. But nothing was going to be for sure until the ball was teed up—and it never got to the runway. The Broncos’ game against UNLV in Allegiant Stadium was canceled Wednesday night on the advice of experts, it is said. There hadn’t been any indication of new COVID-19 problems with the Rebels. And Boise State acted as if it was in the clear. Sure would be nice to know what happened.
The Broncos appeared to be full speed ahead Wednesday. The media interviews with offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau and Bates gave us storylines. Sears was finally practicing again this week and was to have a role in the UNLV game, according to Kiesau. Bates said he was “100 percent” after playing through injuries since the BYU game. But now we’re back to the unknown. There’s only one regular-season game left on the schedule: a week from Saturday night at Wyoming. Really, is it worth playing? The Mountain West championship feels a little hollow at this point. I talked Tuesday about the big ol’ asterisk. There would be nothing wrong with vacating that this year. How about we just have the Broncos and San Jose State play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Or try to.
THE SCHEDULING CAROUSEL
Speaking of Allegiant Stadium, the Las Vegas Bowl has been canceled later this month. It was to be the game’s first year since 1996 without a WAC or Mountain West affiliation—set to be contested between Pac-12 and SEC teams. But not now. Nine FBS bowls have been canceled, with 34 left (including the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl). The L.A. Bowl, new destination of the Mountain West champion, is still on for now. More immediately, BYU is scrambling for a game this weekend, trying to improve its chances at a New Year’s Six Bowl. The premier Group of 5 game this weekend, Liberty at Coastal Carolina, might be on the rocks due to coronavirus problems in the Flames program. The Cougars are reportedly waiting in the wings for a possible matchup on the Chanticleers’ teal field.
RYPIEN HAS A BILL DUE
Presumably he can afford it, but Brett Rypien’s wallet is a little lighter after last week’s Denver quarterbacks debacle. Broncos coach Vic Fangio announced Wednesday that all four of his QBs have been fined an undisclosed amount the for not wearing masks in position group meetings last week, leaving all of them inactive against New Orleans last Sunday. Jeff Driskel tested positive for the coronavirus, and Rypien, Drew Lock and Blake Bortles were contact-traced. Everybody except Driskel was activated from the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday.
A DOUBLEHEADER YOU CAN’T ATTEND
The Boise State women open their hoops season Friday afternoon against College of Idaho in ExtraMile Arena. Now there’s a game to follow it, as B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press reports that the Bronco men are likely to bring in Montana Western as an opponent with the two-game series against New Mexico wiped out this week. Boise State will be, uh, favored. The Bulldogs of UMW would loop this game together with one they have in Pocatello against Idaho State on Saturday night. The C of I men have been shifting on the fly, too. The Yotes have replaced their Arizona Christian series this week with Dickinson State Sunday afternoon.
MERRITT AT MAYAKOBA
The PGA Tour schedule resumes today with the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and Troy Merritt is in the field. A missed cut at the RSM Classic the week before Thanksgiving broke a string of three straight money-making weekends for Merritt. The former Boise State star hasn’t played this even in three years. Graham DeLaet remains sidelined as he rehabs his latest back injury—one that forced him to withdraw from the Houston Open four weeks ago.
RAFER JOHNSON’S MOMENT IN BOISE
The death of the great Rafer Johnson Wednesday stirred memories of the heyday of the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in Boise. Johnson, the Olympic decathlon gold medalist, was one of the first three inductees into the Hall in 1994, a nod to his longtime work with California Special Olympics. The late tennis great Arthur Ashe and golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez were also inducted that night. Founder Myron Finkbeiner’s dream of a permanent building for the WSHHF never materialized. The cause was dear to Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier’s heart, and the hall’s memorabilia was moved to San Jose State when he became AD there in 2012. According to a January story by KIVI’s Don Nelson, the artifacts remain locked up in a warehouse in Santa Clara County.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by LOUIE’S PIZZA & ITALIAN RESTAURANT…an Idaho tradition for more than 50 years!
December 3, 1956: Seven-foot-one sensation Wilt Chamberlain makes his debut for the Kansas Jayhawks before a capacity crowd at newly-constructed Allen Fieldhouse, scoring 52 points in an 87-69 win over Northwestern. Chamberlain would play just two seasons at Kansas before going pro. He joined the Harlem Globetrotters for a year due to the NBA’s ban on underclassmen entering the league with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959. He’d go on to lead the NBA in scoring seven times and in rebounding 11 times during his career.
(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.)