Two years ago right now Bronco Nation was getting used to life without Chris Petersen. Two years ago right now Bronco Nation was getting used to life without Chris Petersen, although Bryan Harsin had already established himself by opening up social media channels. Harsin and his staff also embarked on a “Bronco Blitz” to every high school in the state, and a “Bronco Invasion” for community gatherings. Petersen was not quite so aggressive in Seattle (it’s not his nature), and Washington faithful have been slow to warm up to him. But he’s now settled in for a third season as head coach at UW, and expectations are high. A pivotal year it is, by Pete’s own admission. Huskies fans are wanting some Bronco déjà vu for their team.
In a Portland radio interview last week, he talked about the transition from Boise State to Washington and the need to make the culture fit. “When you come into a place where you’ve done things differently that have worked for you, and you come in and say, hey, we’re going to do stuff like this (and) they’re kind of looking at you like, why would we do it like that? And we’re looking at them like, how else would you do it? So it takes a process to get everybody on the same page, and I think we’re on the same page,” said Petersen. “And so now it’s time—we’ve just got to execute better and win more games.”
This year the Huskies become Coach Pete’s team, with 86 of the 107 players on the roster having been recruited by Petersen. Those include two offensive stars in the making, quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin, who made their debuts as true freshmen last September in UW’s 16-13 loss to Boise State on Petersen’s old blue turf stomping grounds. Petersen is 15-12 in Seattle, but the Huskies are on most way-too-early Top 25 lists, ranked as high as No. 11 by Athlon (accompanied by a prediction of a Pac-12 championship). It’s been 15 years now since Coach Pete was enjoying his first season as Bronco offensive coordinator. He was 92-12 in his eight seasons as Boise State head coach, making his career record a still-stunning 107-24.
Chris Beard’s abrupt about-face at UNLV could be a blessing in disguise for Mountain West basketball. Beard up and left the Rebels a week after he was hired to take the job he coveted at Texas Tech. UNLV turned to its second choice, Marvin Menzies, a guy who really wanted the job in Las Vegas. The defection-affected Rebels aren’t alone in needing an infusion of talent—the Mountain West in general needs it to reverse an alarming slide in RPI rankings the past three years. And Menzies is going to help.
Menzies is known as a master recruiter. Boise State fans remember that from his New Mexico State days in the WAC, where he went 198-111 and made five NCAA Tournaments in nine seasons. “There’s no head coach in the United States that’s going to outwork me,” Menzies said in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “That’s not going to happen. I’m going to do that no matter where I am. I could be at New Mexico State or Santa Monica College. I’m a competitor, so expectations don’t bother me. My expectations are higher than anybody else could have.” Menzies is hard at it right now, restocking a depleted UNLV roster. The Mountain West needs him to be successful.
Chicago Cubs pitcher John Lackey may be one of the oldest starting hurlers left out there. Lackey is not exactly a “get off my lawn” guy, but his fuse is not the longest in Major League Baseball. The 37-year-old former Boise Hawk’s next start is tonight at Milwaukee, and if a Brewer hits one out of Miller Park, he’d better behave. In his last outing, Lackey allowed just one run on three hits in eight innings, but he lost 1-0 to San Diego. The only score came on a long home run by the Padres’ Christian Bethancourt. Lackey took exception to Bethancourt admiring the moonshot a little too long before deliberately beginning a slow home run trot, and Lackey barked a couple obscenities at him as he rounded the bases. It was the first time Bethancourt had ever faced the veteran righthander. “Oh, I know,” Lackey said. “He’ll learn.”
That harkens back to 1999, Lackey’s first year as a pro, when he spent the season as a Boise Hawk. Manager Tom Kotchman, a fairly crotchety guy himself, had an interesting relationship with the 20-year-old version of Lackey. According to MLB.com, Kotchman recalled “one particular game when he tried to replace Lackey only to have the tall Texan tell him otherwise. Sure enough, Kotchman trotted back to the dugout and Lackey kept dominating, as if to say, ‘See? I’m not done yet.'” Lackey’s been solid in Chicago, compiling a 4-2 record and a 3.54 ERA in seven starts.
After sitting in a tie with Florida after the first round of the NCAA Kohler Regional in Wisconsin, the Idaho men’s golf team slipped to fifth yesterday. But the Vandals are still in position to make the NCAA Championships in Eugene, as the top five regional finishers advance. Idaho sophomore Daniel Sutton is three-under for the tournament, good for third individually going into today’s final round.
The College of Idaho was in the hunt in the first game of the NAIA National Championships Opening Round yesterday in Santa Barbara. Then the Coyotes were nicked by a seventh-inning, two-out double that scored both the tying and eventual winning runs in a 7-6 loss to William Carey of Mississippi. C of I had just taken the lead on a three-run single by Capital High grad Mitch Skaggs, the Yotes’ All-NAIA West third baseman, who thus missed a chance to face an old high school foe (at least for now). Former Timberline standout Michael Stefanic plays for top-seeded and host Westmont and leads the team in batting and hits. The Coyotes fall to the consolation bracket and will face Madonna University of Michigan this morning at 10 a.m. our time.
This Day In Sports…May 18, 1996, 20 years ago today:
The University of Idaho wins the Big Sky Men’s Track & Field championship over Boise State, nosing out the Broncos in the final event—the 4×400 meter relay. It would be the final competition between the two schools as Big Sky members (the Vandals had been in the conference for 33 years, the Broncos for 26). Both would begin Big West competition later that year as they moved to Division I-A in football. Idaho’s stay in the FBS will end after the 2017 season. With their other sports already in the Big Sky again, the Vandals will to return to the conference in football as well in 2018.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)