The local Twittersphere was all abuzz yesterday with a story on the former Boise State kicker. The local Twittersphere was all abuzz yesterday about Dennis Dodd’s CBSSports.com story on former Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman. It was headlined “Boise State kicker to Michigan punter: Prepare for ‘dark, dark low place.’” That tells you where the piece went. It deals, of course, with Michigan’s Blake O’Neill, who bobbled the snap on the punt and saw Michigan State take it to the end zone on the final play of the game last Saturday. Dodd relates the vitriol O’Neill is facing to what Brotzman endured after the two field goal misses at Nevada five years ago. “He’s going to be struggling for the next couple of years,” Brotzman told Dodd. “I went through hell for a couple of years.” True enough, I guess, but Brotzman told me yesterday the gist of the story was taken out of context. “He got the story he wanted to tell,” said Brotzman.
Dodd’s account of Brotzman’s nightmare: “After the Nevada game, an overtime loss, Brotzman was not made available to the media. He quickly shut down his Facebook page as death threats poured in. He was surrounded by a loving family that spoke publicly on his behalf.” Well, Brotzman wishes Dodd had taken it further. “The one thing he did leave out was the support the community gave me after—and the response I got on Senior Day,” Brotzman told me. “The fans in Boise really had my back. That was awesome.” What he wants fans to know: “I’m living life and doing great. I’m over all that—I’m not upset when the Nevada game is brought up.”
Brotzman is trying to get back into football after spending most of the past two years out with an injury. He was hurt near the end of the Arena Football League season in 2013—then the Utah Blaze folded, and he was left with a stack of medical bills. But Brotzman, who for two years was the top-scoring kicker in college football history, is kicking again “and hitting from 50-plus again.” He’s working out with fellow former Boise State kicker Dan Goodale as he tries to get back into the AFL. “I still have a desire to play a little longer,” Brotzman told me. Dodd’s story ended with this Brotzman quote. “I’ve definitely changed since (2010). I look at the big picture.” That’s where the story should have started.
ESPN.com, in the wake of Michigan State’s unbelievable last-play win over Michigan, has come up with “The 5 biggest comebacks in college football the past 10 years,” based on probability. The MSU victory is only No. 5, with a probability of 0.17 percent. Check out No. 4. That was Boise State’s comeback against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl after facing a fourth-and-18 from the 50, with a probability of 0.14 percent. And check out No. 3. That was Idaho’s win over Bowling Green in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl after Bowling Green had taken the lead with 32 seconds remaining. The Vandals’ probability of winning was just 0.11 percent at that point. No. 1 and 2? Akron at Western Michigan in 2007 and UCF at East Carolina last year. I was expecting Auburn-Alabama on the missed field goal runback in 2013.
If the Boise State defense can get back to yielding yardage in small portions, it’ll be fine against in the game against Wyoming Saturday night. But the ol’ big play bug struck the Broncos again at Utah State last week. And the first one hit on the Aggies’ second possession in the first quarter—the 51-yard pass from Kent Myers to LaJuan Hunt on third-and-16, leading to USU’s first touchdown. In the second quarter, Myers ripped off a 39-yard touchdown run on a scramble. In the third quarter, Devante Mays broke loose on a 48-yard scamper, and he would score Utah State’s final TD three plays later. The fourth quarter was tame by comparison. The Bronco defense hasn’t changed, though. It just had an out-of-body experience.
After last week’s loss to Eastern Washington, Idaho State sits at 2-5 and is faced with winning out if it’s to achieve a second straight winning season. The Bengals go to Sacramento State Saturday—then they get a bye before their huge back-to-back Holt Arena dates against Montana and Montana State. Rush defense has been ISU’s stickler this season, as it’s allowing a staggering 292 yards a game on the ground. The Bengal offense has been hanging in there with new quarterback Michael Sanders. Here’s a good stat: Idaho State has allowed just eight sacks this year.
The Boise State men’s basketball scrimmage Saturday evening provides a sneak preview of new Bronco faces. Coach Leon Rice didn’t know if Robin Jorch would be one of them until the other day, when he was cleared to play immediately for the Broncos. Jorch thus becomes a 21-year-old true freshman. The 6-10 forward from Berlin, Germany, is intriguing. Boise State has tried European big men before, without a lot of success. Maybe Jorch will be different—he’s been a member of the German national team and has appeared at four FIBA European Championships.
All three local PGA Tour players, Tyler Aldridge, Graham DeLaet and Troy Merritt, are in the field today as the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open tees off in Las Vegas. Boise’s Cameron Morfit, a lead writer at Golf.com, puts Aldridge’s quest this fall in perspective in his column this week. “The fall season—call it the ‘foothold swing’—is about proving you belong,” writes Morfit. Aldridge is No. 29 among the 50 golfers who advanced to the PGA Tour from the Web.com Tour Finals. That’s fairly far down the priority list to get into tournaments once all the exempt golfers have been accommodated. But many of the top players skip the fall events. “Guys playing in such places as Napa and Vegas tee it up with something bigger in the balance: their viability as Tour pros,” adds Morfit. The fact that Aldridge made the cut in his debut last week was important.
On the local pro sports front, the Idaho Steelheads went to a shootout for the first time this season and beat Alaska 4-3 last night in Anchorage. The Steelheads had rallied to tie the game with 3:15 left in regulation. And as we await Idaho Stampede training camp, here’s an update on one of last season’s Stampede stars. Jack Cooley, who was waived by Utah earlier this month, has signed with Cleveland. Cooley remains a long shot to make the Cavaliers’ final roster, though. If he doesn’t stick, he could be sent to the Cavs’ D-League team in Canton, since he signed a contract with Cleveland. It’s unclear what the chances would be of Cooley landing back in Boise.
Two other notes: No more Cubs. Former Boise Hawks Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber accounted for all three Chicago RBI in Game 4 of the NLCS last night, but it’s the New York Mets headed to the World Series after an 8-3 victory at Wrigley Field. And the local fall running calendar will have a different feel next year with the debut of the Onward Shay! Boise Marathon, which has an impressive infrastructure of support and hopes to be certified as a Boston Marathon qualifier. The inaugural event is scheduled for October 30, 2016. It feels kind of empty this fall without the Barber To Boise.
This Day In Sports…October 22, 1977:
In a showdown between the top two teams in the Big Sky, Boise State beats Northern Arizona, 26-13, at Bronco Stadium. Freshman tailback Terry Zahner became the first Bronco ever to rush for 200 yards in a game, going for 205 against the Lumberjacks. Amazingly, a fellow true freshman would break that record the same season when Cedric Minter ran for 210 yards against Cal Poly.
(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.