Firing of Boise State’s athletic director means he wasn’t “Clean Gene”

Posted: 08/11/2011 in college football
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The famed blue carpet in Boise has a few wrinkles on it these days and is no longer able to hide that Boise State’s athletic program isn’t always so pure and clean.

The athletic director that somebody somewhere determined should be known as “Clean Gene” has been fired. Get this – fired because he apparently isn’t all that clean.

It doesn’t surprise me that NCAA violations and being fired will forever be part of Gene Bleymaier’s legacy. There are so many fakes and frauds in college athletics that the real stunner is when you actually run across an administrator who really is 100 percent honest, ethical and “clean.”

The locals have been insisting to me for years that Boise State does no wrong. I began visiting the spectacular city of Boise in the mid-1990s and have heard over and over how everybody else cheats but not Boise State.

I outlined on these pages back in May how one myopic Boise State fan insisted to me a few years back that successful coach Chris Petersen would never cheat. Of course, the NCAA trouble the university now finds itself in includes many transgressions – minor as they may be – that occurred on Petersen’s watch.

The NCAA determined that Boise State’s athletic department lacks institutional control so it certainly shouldn’t be a stunning development that university president Bob Kustra fired Bleymaier. Even if you have been at a university for nearly 30 years, that’s quite a tough hurdle to overcome.

One of the job descriptions of an athletic director is to be in control of the program he or she oversees. Kustra obviously had lost a lot of confidence in Bleymaier’s abilities to be an effective leader. That was highly evident when Kustra directed the athletic department’s compliance office to report to him as opposed to Bleymaier.

Plus, there has been recent scuttlebutt that Bleymaier might be in trouble with his boss per the NCAA fallout. That’s why Wednesday’s announcement didn’t totally stun me – whispers such as the ones making the rounds usually increase to louder decibels.

Know this too – there are certainly other issues between the two men that aren’t out in the public. When I covered a college athletic program, I heard hundreds of things every month about different programs, coaches, administrators, etc., at other conference schools or at a national level that never reached the public. Some of the stuff would leave you shaking your head.

There are more hypocrite-type Jim Tressels in the college landscape than legitimate good honest folks.

Also, the populace of Boise only knows what gets reported. Let’s just say that the president of UCLA or Michigan couldn’t decide to fire an athletic director and have it somehow stay out of media for six days, as it did in Boise.

When San Diego State fired Ted Tollner as football coach in 2001, I had it leaked to me within minutes of Tollner leaving the office of the athletic director. I knew Tollner had been dismissed before the athletic department’s media relations director.

When Rick Bay was fired as the Aztecs athletic director in 2003, I had published numerous stories over the previous few months that his job was in jeopardy per all the scandals and reported about the growing rift between Bay and president Stephen Weber just days before his firing.

Then not only did I report Bay’s firing hours before the press conference to announce it, I was the only reporter Bay invited to speak to him later that day.

Basically, it appears Boise State has done a solid job of putting up a wall and making most of the media operate as outsiders and not insiders.

That’s a great situation for the university but not a good one for Boise State fans who want to know what exactly is going on at the school they support.

As for Bleymaier, he will forever be famous in Boise for his decision to install Boise State’s blue turf. Switching to a blue field gave Boise State an identity as it took the steps from being a small-college football program to major-college status.

Whether you like or dislike the turf, it helped increase the university’s national profile. Locally, I’m not sure there is any landmark in the city that approaches the field in stature. Visitors to town often stop by the stadium just to see the turf in person.

For the uneducated, nobody drives to the far west edge of Fort Collins, Colo., to take a peek at Colorado State’s football field.

Bleymaier deserves credit for the football program’s rise and now you have to wonder what happens the next time Petersen is intrigued by a job offer.

Petersen nearly took the Stanford job after last season and one of the factors that swayed him to stick around was the presence and support of Bleymaier.

With star quarterback Kellen Moore playing his final season in 2011, it could prove to be quite an interesting winter if Petersen doesn’t believe the new athletic director is fully committed to running a Top 10 football program.

But first, Kustra has to hire a new athletic director. Hopefully the new hire doesn’t have a name that rhymes with “Clean.”


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