Arizona Bowl: The debate over eyeballs

There are two camps heading into the Arizona Bowl between Boise State and Central Michigan on New Year’s Eve. One can’t believe this has happened—the Broncos being relegated to a game that isn’t even going to be shown on TV. The other sees this as an intriguing grand experiment and predicts that the game will attract a whole new audience when it’s streamed on Barstool Sports and could log more impressions/viewers than a number of lower-tier bowl games. By the time it kicks off, everyone who needs to see the Arizona Bowl will have figured out how to do it. The analytics will be fascinating. The game will be about an hour and a half old when the CFP semifinal between Cincinnati and Alabama hits ESPN. At the end of the day, though, it’ll be all about the scoreboard for the Broncos and Chippewas.

WHIMPEY’S DEFINITIVE SWAN SONG

The Arizona Bowl will mark the last football game Riley Whimpey ever plays. “I’ve had a lot of concussions,” Whimpey told the media on Monday. “I’m dealing with getting over one versus San Diego State.” It sounds like that was the final straw. Just a few weeks ago, Whimpey was musing about a future in some level of pro football. But you can’t blame him. Meanwhile, Kekaula Kaniho is planning to report to a training facility after his appearance in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in preparation for a shot at pro ball. Those are two guys who have been integral to the fabric of Boise State for more than four years.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE NEVADA RIGHT NOW?

If you want to know how Nevada’s feeling with coach Jay Norvell now wearing green at Colorado State, you can turn to Reno’s preeminent college sports scribe, Chris Murray of Nevada SportsNet. “My initial response to Norvell taking a job within the conference, beyond jaw-dropping surprise, was this—how embarrassing for Nevada,” writes Murray. “You lose Trent Johnson to Stanford, and it makes sense. Mark Fox to Georgia? OK. Eric Musselman to Arkansas? It was a matter of time. But your football coach—Norvell is the furthest thing from a mercenary as there is in college football—leaves town to run a program you walloped by 42 points just nine days earlier? How? Why? Some self-reflection is required for Nevada.”

FROM ANN ARBOR TO GOODING

Tuesday was not just any day in the Magic Valley. First, Gooding High superstar Colston Loveland was named Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year. As a Michigan commit, Loveland is listed as a tight end, but he did everything for the Senators this past season. Are you ready? Loveland made 62 receptions for 968 yards and 14 touchdowns. He rushed for 352 yards on just 33 carries (10.7 yards per carry) with four TDs. And on defense he added 57 tackles, 18 for loss, with 5.5 sacks and two interceptions. To top it off Tuesday, photos were posted of Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh hanging out with Loveland in the Gooding weight room.

BRONCOS HAVE FUN AT CSUN

Trent Johnson, who starred at Boise State from 1974-78 and who’s now technically retired after four high-profile coaching stints, is serving as Cal State Northridge’s interim coach this season. Johnson has had a lot of wins over his alma mater, but he would not get one Tuesday night. The Broncos scored the first 11 points of the game and breezed to a 74-48 victory at CSUN. The insertion of true freshman Tyson Degenhart into the starting lineup continues to pay dividends. Degenhart scored a game-high 21 points, becoming the first Boise State freshman to hit the 20-point plateau since Justinian Jessup five years ago. Of course, the story would not be complete with the charity stripe. The nation’s worst free throw shooting team coming into the game at 55.6 percent didn’t even reach that, going 5-for-10.

NNU BRINGS OUT THE BROOMS

Northwest Nazarene swept the 2021 United Heritage Mayors’ Cup Series, beating College of Idaho 71-64 in Game 2 at the Johnson Sports Center in Nampa. And for the second time, George Reidy led the Nighthawks against the Yotes, putting up 19 points. C of I led 32-31 at the half but was held to 34 percent shooting from the field for the night. NNU took the lead with 5½ minutes left in the game and wouldn’t trail again. It was the 212th all-time meeting between the Canyon County rivals, dating back to 1933. It was also the first time either team has swept the Cup in seven years.

FULL-CIRCLE TO PRE-PANDEMIC

Little did the Idaho Steelheads know on March 7, 2020, that their game in Boise against the South Carolina Stingrays would be their last for more than a year and a half. That’s when sports in general came to a crashing halt as the pandemic began. It’s against that backdrop that the Steelheads open a three-game series against the Stingrays tonight in ICCU Arena. The Steelies were rolling when the season was cut short two years ago. Now they’re improving with a youth-punctuated squad. “We still need to learn how to put a complete 60 minutes together,” said coach Everett Sheen Tuesday on Idaho SportsTalk. The Steelheads did that last time out, though, shutting out Kansas City 5-0 last Saturday night. They got two goals apiece from Luc Brown and Matt Tugnutt and 27 saves from Jake Kupsky.

BOREDOMLESS IN SEATTLE

I finish today with some thoughts on Seattle’s wild 30-23 upset of San Francisco Sunday at Lumen Field, because I can. Believe it or not, it was the first time I’ve ever been to that stadium, and its reputation for noise is legit. It was intense, especially with 18 seconds left in the game when the Seahawks repelled the 49ers on fourth-and-goal from the three-yard line after a six-minute, 95-yard drive. Hawks fans raise the roof on every defensive down, and it makes a difference. One more note: I saw a live Adrian Peterson touchdown for the first time in 15 years. You know what the last one was.

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December 8, 2003: Nick Holt is introduced as the 31st head football coach at the University of Idaho. Holt was linebackers coach at USC and was a Vandal assistsant for eight years in the 1990s. His assignment was to turn around a program that had lost 30 of its last 36 games under fired coach Tom Cable. Holt signed a four-year contract, yet to find out who his bosses would be in the athletic director’s and president’s chairs—and what conference his team would play in. He returned to USC a little over two years later after going 5-18.

(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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