All major sports venues are battling outside forces to hang onto live attendance at games. There’s the inconvenience of kickoff times and parking challenges, and the convenience of TV. Boise State is fighting back with a range of new procedures and features to enhance the fan experience at Albertsons Stadium. The most interesting one involves the return of former Bronco offensive lineman Faraji Wright. Now known as Rexx Life Raj, Wright is a concert DJ and recording artist. If you Google him, it takes you right to iTunes and his CD “Father Figure.” Wright played at Boise State from 2010-12 and spent time as a protector of Kellen Moore. He’ll be at Albertsons Stadium tomorrow for Fan Appreciation Day, which starts at 1:45 p.m. That is not a randomly-chosen start time. It mirrors the kickoff for Opening Day a week from tomorrow against Troy.
The gameday changes announced yesterday are unprecedented in their scope. The new Bronco girl, Brianna Flansberg, will lead the team onto the field on her horse, Cassie, as it should be. There’ll be not only a player hoisting the Hammer, but another carrying out a new Bleed Blue flag. Fireworks will be more prominent, including after every Boise State touchdown. We’re also talkin’ better video board replays and KTVB’s Maggie O’Mara hosting on-field promotions. Plus, for the Troy game, players and coaches will drop 101 blue and orange flowers at the base of the Lyle Smith statue, honoring the Father of Bronco Football who passed away last month at the age of 101.
Boise State last had a representative in the Senior Bowl in 2016 with Darian Thompson. The Broncos have two candidates for the NFL showcase this coming January, as wide receiver Cedrick Wilson and offensive tackle Archie Lewis have been named to the 2018 Senior Bowl watch list. Before Thompson there was Jamar Taylor in the 2013 game—and, of course, the big haul in 2012, when George Iloka, Doug Martin, Shea McClellin, Kellen Moore and Billy Winn all appeared.
The Mountain West dearly needs some wins over Power 5 schools, and Colorado State hopes to provide one when the Rams open their new on-campus stadium tomorrow against Oregon State. The excitement in Fort Collins is apparent as CSU quarterback Nick Stevens begins his quest to be part of the MW elite conversation along with Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Boise State’s Brett Rypien. Stevens has started 20 of the Rams’ 26 games over the last two years. He was the most efficient quarterback in the country over the final six games of last season, throwing for 1,896 yards and 19 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
College of Idaho opens its season tomorrow at Montana Western, a team that has beaten the Coyotes five straight times. The Bulldogs, ranked 19th in the NAIA, will be a tough assignment again this time. But the Yotes have massive amounts of leadership in this, their foruth season since reinstating the football program. The cream of the crop is Nate Moore, the two-time NAIA All-America safety from Mountain View High who delayed his graduation at C of I so he could play a fourth year. Moore led the Frontier Conference and ranked fourth nationally with a school record 119 tackles in 2016. He also logged three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Former Boise State star Rees Odhiambo is staring opportunity in the face in Seattle. After a season-ending knee injury to starting left tackle George Fant, Odhiambo will compete for that coveted spot with Matt Tobin, who was acquired Monday from the Philadelphia Eagles. Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable (the former Vandal head man) really wants this to work, because he doesn’t want to upset the apple cart on the rest of his unit. Cable could move Luke Joeckel from left guard to left tackle, but he’d much prefer to leave the other four positions on the line intact. Odhiambo is slated to start tonight against Kansas City, the first NFL start of his career in a game of any kind.
The long-awaited end may be near for what has been almost a 50-year wait for Jerry Kramer. Yesterday the former Vandal great was named a senior finalist for the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. Kramer played 11 NFL seasons, won the first two Super Bowls, and is the only member of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary team in 1969 who is not a Hall of Famer. Kramer said yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk he was numb when he heard rumors of the news. “I’m at the age now when I’m not sure I’m going to have breakfast tomorrow,” quipped Kramer. But when he got the official phone call? “It got me pretty emotional.” Among senior finalists, 29 of the last 31 have been elected to the Hall. This could be it.
Notes on the pro front: Graham DeLaet did not start the FedExCup Playoffs well yesterday. The former Boise State star hit a stretch surrounding the turn that saw him bogey four of seven holes, and he finished the first round of The Northern Trust at four-over 74. The Idaho Steelheads have announced that goaltender Brandon Komm will be returning for a third season. Stability between the pipes is important. Komm made a career-high 36 appearances last season, going 19-13-3 with three shutouts. The 26-year-old Komm ranked 10th in the ECHL with a 2.69 goals-against average and tied for sixth with a .917 save percentage. And the Boise Hawks had the tables turned on them after a solid 5-1 win Wednesday night. Hillsboro pounded the Hawks 7-1 last night, with all the scoring coming after the fifth inning.
This is what many had hoped for—the interim tag has been removed from Paul Rush at Northwest Nazarene. Rush has been hired as the official head coach at NNU after assisting under Scott Flemming the past two seasons. Flemming resigned as coach less than a month ago to go to work with NBA India. Rush led Capital High to its undefeated season and 5A state championship in 2014. He had been an assistant under Flemming since leaving Capital two years ago.
This Day In Sports…August 25, 2011:
The New York Yankees trail the Oakland A’s 7-1 in the fifth inning—then the Bronx Bombers rally. Did they ever. The Yankees blew past the A’s 22-9, setting a major league record by blasting three grand slams (from Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson). The Yanks cashed in after coming to the plate 16 times with the bases loaded. It was the most runs allowed by the A’s since 1955, when they were in Kansas City. And it was the most runs scored by New York at Yankee Stadium since 1931.
(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.)