First of the month rant — January: Should be no-brainer for Boise State to schedule Idaho

Posted: 01/02/2012 in college basketball, first of the month rant
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Boise State and Idaho played a basketball game on the same afternoon that Kentucky and Louisville squared off.

Guess which contest created more of a frenzy?

OK, so that’s not a very tough question.

Now guess which rivalry is guaranteed to be played again next year?

They do some silly things in the state of Idaho but haggling over whether or not the two largest universities in the state play a college basketball contest and at what site shouldn’t be one of them.

It should be a no-brainer. We’re not talking basketball powerhouses here.

Boise State has never won a NCAA tournament game. Idaho has won all of one.

In other words, neither school has any bragging rights over the other. Period.

The two teams squared off on the last day of 2011 at a neutral site located 22 miles west of the Boise State campus and the contest at the Idaho Center in Nampa provided one of the better doses of basketball atmosphere the Treasure Valley has seen in recent years.

Half the fans in attendance were cheering for Boise State, the other half were hollering for Idaho.

The contest also turned out to be a pretty good game as Boise State received 26 points from freshman Anthony Drmic and held on for a 76-73 victory when a last-second 3-pointer by Idaho’s Kyle Barone sailed long (here is the stellar Associated Press game story – http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/article/Drmic-scores-26-Boise-State-edges-Idaho-76-73-2434806.php).

But currently there’s debate over a possible meeting next season as Boise State has no interest in traveling up to the Vandals’ neck of the woods in Northern Idaho.

University president Bob Kustra created a ruckus when he exuberantly claimed the football program wouldn’t play in Moscow after leaving the Western Athletic Conference and somehow that decision has carried over into all the other sports.

The sad thing is that Boise State home games are sparsely attended as second-year coach Leon Rice attempts to build up the program. One of the few times the locals perk up is when Idaho is the opponent.

The two teams played home-and-home as members of the same conference in the WAC, and in this era of tight budgets, you’d think playing a home-and-home series with an in-state rival would be a no-brainer.

New Mexico and New Mexico State figure out how to do it every year and I’ve always assumed people in Boise are a tad smarter than those folks who make wolfing sounds at Lobos games or choose to live in Las Cruces, N.M.

Idaho coach Don Verlin made it clear after Saturday’s contest that it isn’t his school doing the haggling. Verlin sounded like he’d play the contest in a Boise park at midnight on a frigid night in January if that’s what it takes.

“I think it’s a game that should be played every year whether we’re in the same league or not,” Verlin said. “It’s a rivalry game and it should be played. If they want to play the game or not next year, that’s up for them. If they want to play, they name the date and we will be here.”

Rice didn’t come out as strong as Verlin and said that playing Idaho again next season is something to be discussed after this season.

I got the sense Rice would like to play Idaho when he began talking about making the rivalry better. But you could also tell he was being careful not to be forceful about it and risk upsetting someone higher up the food chain.

Might be that university president of his school that referred to Idaho fans as “drunk and inebriated” two summers ago.

Boise State is bringing in a new athletic director in Mark Coyle who starts on the job later this week. Perhaps he can help get all the nonsense straightened out.

After all, Coyle is leaving Kentucky – a place where basketball is king and where every possession is part of the frenzy when Louisville is the opponent.

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