(Tom’s column will return Wednesday.) From March through August, I ran a 20-part series celebrating Albertsons Stadium’s 50th anniversary. Since there’s no football this fall, it won’t be formally celebrated. Now, just because I can, I debut a Friday feature called Road Warriors, saluting the most impressive road wins in Boise State history (not including neutral sites). There were some good ones out of the gate: 17-7 at small college power Cal Poly in 1969 and 24-3 at Idaho State in 1970. But in my mind, the first earth-shaker was at Idaho in 1973.
It was the Broncos’ season opener, and it was the second game of the season for the Vandals—just the third meeting in an already-bitter rivalry. The year before, Idaho had avenged Boise State’s 42-14 rout in 1971 in the first game between the two schools with a 22-21 win in Bronco Stadium. This one was played in New Idaho Stadium, the place that would get a roof and become the Kibbie Dome two years later. The confident Vandals, who had beaten UTEP the week before 62-14, marched through the visitor’s locker room before the game taunting the Broncos. Boise State responded on the field with a 47-24 romp behind quarterbacks Ron Autele and Jim McMillan.
THOMPSON PASSES HIS FINAL
The Dallas secondary has apparently shaken out as predicted. Veteran Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been released by the Cowboys, securing a roster spot for fifth-year safety Darian Thompson. Not only that, Jon Machota of The Athletic says the former Boise State star is a projected Week 1 starter at safety, along with Xavier Woods (while suggesting that Dallas “could use some help at the position”). It looks like there’ll be five former Broncos on the Cowboys’ roster: Thompson, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson. Elsewhere, former Boise State standout Jamar Taylor has been released by San Francisco. However, tweeted Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Taylor “had a good camp and could return.”
BRONCOS WATCH, COUGARS PLAY
Saturday was supposed to be Boise State’s Opening Night against Georgia Southern on the blue turf. Monday night will in fact be BYU’s 2020 debut against Navy in a game finalized less than a month ago. The Cougars and Midshipmen play in Annapolis, with the visitors favored by 2½ points. Quaterback Zach Wilson, the one-time Broncos commit, begins his junior year healthy after missing three games with a fractured themb last season. One of them was the 28-25 upset of Boise State, engineered by backup Baylor Romney. There was a QB competition in fall camp between Wilson, Romney and Jalen Hall—although BYU radio analyst Riley Nelson, a former Cougars quarterback himself, suggests it was just to keep Romney and Hall from entering the transfer portal.
BASKETBALL & THE BALLOT BOX
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a bigger push to vote than in 2020. Boise State men’s basketball assistant coach Mike Burns is involved—one of seven coaches across the country working with the nonpartisan ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge in an effort to register 100 percent of the nation’s collegiate basketball players. The initiative is being spearheaded by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. National Voter Registration Day is set for September 22. Burns is going into his fifth season under Leon Rice after coming over following stints as interim coach at Pacific and head coach at Eastern Washington.
ONE OF THE MOVING PARTS: MONEY
The stadium idea on the grounds of Expo Idaho was appearing to get legs, but it’s clear there will be lots of hurdles. BoiseDev.com reports that earlier this week Greater Boise Auditorium District Executive Director Pat Rice sent a letter to developer Tommy Ahlquist saying “the board would not put funds toward a $234 million revamp of the Expo Idaho site until the economy improves.” Rice said in an email to Boise Dev that the auditorium district didn’t deny the funds based on the merits of the idea. Instead, he said the board expressed concern about revenue losses from COVID-19. “The Board has decided they owe it to our bond holders, stakeholders, industry partners constituents, and particularly themselves to remain fiscally prudent in such an environment,” Rice said in the email. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
NO TIME FOR ‘LAX’ TO RELAX
Good to hear Derek Laxdal’s voice Thursday on Idaho SportsTalk. The former Idaho Steelheads coach, now an assistant with Dallas, took some time out while preparing for Game 7 of the Stars’ second-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Colorado Avalanche tonight. Laxdal anticipates high drama. “I think the hockey Game 7 kind of outdoes any other sport,” said Laxdal. “Maybe I’m biased.” Maybe, but he’s right. Laxdal took the Steelies to two Kelly Cup Finals appearances, winning it all in 2007. He said he has his eye on a head coaching job in the NHL someday, and he’s paying some invaluable dues right now behind the Dallas bench.
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September 4, 1999: Boise State plays its first-ever game against UCLA, opening the season in the Rose Bowl. A pre-game ceremony honored the late Paul Reyna, a Bronco freshman who had died tragically two weeks earlier. BSU fell to the Bruins, 38-7—providing no clue as to the fate of each team’s season. UCLA would go 4-7, while the Broncos would win the Big West and Humanitarian Bowl titles with a 10-3 record. Incidentally, Boise State’s only score of the game came on a touchdown pass from a backup quarterback named Bryan Harsin. It was the only TD throw of Harsin’s 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.)