Boise State vs. Idaho: It’s been so long…

Last Friday marked the 10th anniversary of the last conference competition between Boise State and Idaho, the 2011 WAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The Broncos and Vandals will never be in the same league again, and the ship has sailed on a long-term football series between the two. But I, for one, long for a revival of the men’s basketball series, a non-conference tradition in Boise that was last played 6½ years ago at what is now Idaho Central Arena. Those were great atmospheres, with both bands in attendance and the facility evenly divided between blue-and-orange and silver-and-gold. Boise State won the last six matchups with Idaho, but they were always competitive. Maybe with a fresh set of eyes on the situation, namely those of Broncos athletic director Jeremiah Dickey, something can happen.


The football issue is not easy to navigate now that Idaho is in the Big Sky as a member of the FCS. The teams haven’t played since 2010, when Boise State matched the Vandals’ old streak with a 12th straight victory in the series. The only hope of a renewal would be a one-off on the blue turf. The Broncos rarely play FCS teams anymore. There have been only three in the last eight seasons—Tennessee-Martin in 2013, Idaho State in 2015 and Portland State in 2019. If it happens again, it should be Idaho. Boise State would be massively-favored, but it would be a game with juice.


I didn’t get to this game when the NFL released its 2021 schedule. Two of Boise State’s most prolific kick returners will face off on opening weekend, assuming they make their respective rosters. Atlanta hosts Philadelphia on Sunday, September 12. There are no guarantees for Avery Williams with the Falcons, but you’d think his chances of sticking are better as a fifth-round pick than they would have as a seventh-rounder. There’s a reason Atlanta chose him that high. John Hightower’s future is a bit more cloudy. Despite his electricity on kickoff returns as a Bronco, Hightower was used exclusively as a wide receiver during his rookie year with the Eagles and faded during the second half of the season.


One more thing from Chris Vannini’s story at The Athletic on Boise State’s monumental 2001 upset of Fresno State, if I may. Vannini writes, “Several hours before the dramatic finish, during warmups, (Broncos coach Dan) Hawkins walked around the Bulldog Stadium field when only a handful of people were around. (David) Carr had been out there throwing the ball. Hawkins went over to the Fresno QB to tell him he really respected how he played. Carr thanked him ‘I walked off, and it was like that Coke commercial,’ Hawkins says. ‘I was about 15 yards away, and he goes, ‘Hey!’ I turn around and he goes, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m the head coach of this team.’ He said, ‘Oh!’ I always thought that was kind of interesting. It’s not that big of a deal, but I just thought it was funny. Carr’s a good guy.’”


Troy Merritt has gone from danger zone comfort zone this month on the PGA Tour. With two top 10 finishes, including a tie for seventh Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson north of Dallas, Merritt has zoomed from No. 151 to No. 114 in FedExCup standings. The top 125 at the end of the regular season make the FedExCup Playoffs and are guaranteed tour cards for the 2021-22 season. If Merritt can play consistent golf from here on out, he’s in. He’s had some tough weekends on the tour this season, but he certainly went after it in McKinney, TX, finishing with a 66 and a 65 to earn $263,250, his biggest payday since winning the Barbasol Championship almost three years ago. His final round tally of 65 included eight birdies as he finished six shots behind winner K.H. Lee of South Korea.


Boise State played close to its seed Monday in the first round of the NCAA Albuquerque Regional. The eighth-seeded Broncos are tied for ninth with the top-ranked team in the nation, Oklahoma. The bad news: only the top five teams at the end of Wednesday’s final round advance to the NCAA Tournament. The good news: Boise State is only four shots away from the No. 5 spot, and that’s not much when team scores can fluctuate wildly with two rounds to go. Skyler Eubank led the Broncos Monday with a two-under 70.


Jeremiah Dickey now has two hires to make—his first two—as athletic director at Boise State. Maggie Huffaker has resigned as women’s softball coach after a 20-25 season that ended Sunday. In the university release, Huffaker said she looks forward to spending more time with her husband and daughter. She led Boise State to its first at-large NCAA Tournament berth in school history in her first year in 2019. The Broncos also earned their first national ranking that season and compiled a 17-game winning streak. Dickey also has to replace women’s golf coach Nicole Bird, who resigned last month after 13 seasons at the helm. On a separate note, Dickey will also be in search of championships. It was pointed out on Idaho SportsTalk Monday that this is the first time in 30 years the Broncos failed to win a title in any sport.

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May 18, 1946: The birthday of “Mr. October.” Reggie Jackson was sometimes controversial but often clutch during a 21-year Hall of Fame career that saw him club 546 home runs. Jackson burst to stardom with the championship Oakland A’s, then was constantly in the headlines during his years as a New York Yankee, famously clashing with manager Billy Martin in particular. The “Mr. October” nickname stuck when Jackson hit three consecutive homers in the clinching Game 6 of the 1977 World Series against the L.A. Dodgers, all on the first pitch. Reggie Jackson…75 years old today.

(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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