Bobby Dye hits the big 8-0

I did not want this to go by unnoticed. Former Boise State men’s basketball coach Bobby Dye, happily retired in Carlsbad, CA, for more than 15 years—and reportedly healthy—turns 80 years old today. Thirty years ago, Dye produced the first truly great hoops season in Bronco history, going 23-7 and winning the program’s first game in the NIT. The following year Boise State had arguably its best season ever, a 24-6 record punctuated by a Big Sky championship and a narrow loss to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament. Dye had a pedigree when he arrived at Boise State, having keyed one of the great March Madness Cinderella stories: Cal State Fullerton’s run to the Elite Eight in 1978. With 213 wins at Boise State, he is still the winningest coach in school history and is the second-winningest coach in Big Sky history.

The Bobby Dye era was the heyday of Boise State basketball. Those were the days that saw crowds of 10,000-plus regularly flock into the BSU Pavilion. Never to be forgotten is a home game against No. 5 Wyoming, featuring stars Fennis Dembo and Eric Leckner. It was a weeknight, and it drew 12,265 fans, still the most ever in the facility for a non-conference game, And it was three days before Christmas. A year after his third Big Sky title, Dye resigned in August, 1995, in a contract dispute with then-athletic director Gene Bleymaier. With the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame dormant since 2008, we may never know if old wounds have healed. Dye always rebuffed Bleymaier’s later efforts to induct him into the Hall. He did accept a place in Cal State Fullerton’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.

With John Rillie off to join the staff at UC Santa Barbara, let’s take a look at the mark he left on the Boise State program now that the Australian faucet may have turned off. Rillie recruited Anthony Drmic, Igor Hadziomerovic and Nick Duncan from Down Under. The all-time Australian stats during the Rillie era? Drmic totaled 1,942 points in 131 games, famously falling two points short of Tanoka Beard’s career record. Hadziomerovic put up 511 points in 109 games, and Duncan scored 1,141 points in 130 contests. The grand Aussie total since Leon Rice became head coach (with Rillie in tow): 370 combined games and 3,594 points.

There was a lengthy story in the Washington Post Sunday about former Boise State star Chris Carr. The feature had nothing to do with, say, an NFL comeback by the one-time cornerback and safety, but his graduation from law school at George Washington University this coming weekend. Carr said there was never any doubt about where he would end up, even as he was producing a solid nine-year career in the NFL after making the Oakland Raiders roster as an undrafted free agent in 2005. According to writer Sarah Larimer, “He plans to take the bar exam in California, where he hopes to one day open a firm. He has been learning Spanish. This month, he accepted a job offer from Zeman and Petterson, an immigration firm in Virginia.”

Carr told Larimer his dream of becoming an attorney “began years ago at Boise State when he took classes in civil liberties and constitutional law from Todd Lochner. ‘He would just get the crap kicked out of him on the football field,’ Lochner said. ‘And he’d be in there on Monday prepped, ready to go—as well as anyone else, if not better—in the class.’ Lochner, now at Lewis & Clark in Portland, described his classes to Larimer as ‘brutally difficult.’ He said that he had a reputation as a demanding instructor, like Severus Snape in the ‘Harry Potter’ series, who gives students aggressive workloads.” What did they think at GWU? “He’s one of those people that makes me really hopeful about the profession,” said W. Burlette Carter, one of his professors.

Carr played 125 regular season NFL games and had seven career interceptions, one of them a 100-yard pick-six off Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. He was a captain at Boise State as a senior cornerback in 2004, helping the Broncos to their first-ever undefeated regular season. Carr was also one of the best return men in school history—he’s still Boise State’s career leader in punt return average at 19.75 yards per runback. But his approach to football now is interesting. Asked if he missed the game when he started law school, he said, “I think people think I’m probably lying when I say this, but no.”

College of Idaho faces an elimination game today in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round Oklahoma City Bracket. Despite a complete game from Zach Draper that included 10 strikeouts, the Coyotes dropped their tournament opener 5-1 to Friends University. C of I will have to win five consecutive games over the next three days to advance to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston. Yikes. In women’s softball, Boise State begins play in the National Invitational Softball Championship today at Weber State. Utah State and San Diego are also in the double-elimination Ogden Regional.

In US Open Local Qualifying Sunday at BanBury in Eagle, Hunter Ostrom tamed his hometown course with a three-under 68 to advance to Sectionals. Ostrom, the former Bishop Kelly golfer, just finished his freshman season at Notre Dame. He’ll be joined at Sectionals by former Boise State Bronco Ty Travis, who carded a 69. Travis turned pro a year and a half ago. Current Bronco Brian Humphreys, who has already made US Open Sectional Qualifying, struggled at the NCAA Stanford Regional yesterday, tying for 78th in the first round with a seven-over 77. The Mountain West individual champion started the day with a birdie but was besieged by bogeys thereafter.

We finish today with a lacrosse nugget. Cade Talbert, who graduated from Timberline High a year ago, was part of the undefeated national junior college championship team at Onondaga Community College in New York (you have to travel to play lacrosse beyond high school). The Lazers defeated Howard of Maryland 15-14 in the title game Saturday. It was the school’s 10th national crown.

This Day In Sports…May 16, 1869:

The Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first all-professional team, play their first game, defeating Antioch 41-7. I always thought we’d see a score like that during the Steroid Era, but it never happened. The first official baseball game of any kind was played by the amateur New York Knickerbockers and New York Nine in 1846.

(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.)