By Chadd Cripe
© 2010 Idaho Statesman
The athletic directors at Boise State and Idaho said this week that the rivalry football game between the schools is on hiatus because it couldn’t be worked into the 2011 and 2012 schedules.
Both say they’re hopeful the game will return, possibly in 2013. With the WAC expansion apparently complete at eight football members, Idaho should have openings on its 2013 and 2014 schedules.
Boise State has two openings in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
“There’s been a lot of discussion out there and some of it is inaccurate,” Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said. “The reason we’re not playing in the next two years is simply because of scheduling. We already had ours filled up.”
Idaho may have an opening in 2012. Boise State, however, has games at Michigan State and at home against BYU and Miami (Ohio). Idaho might fit in as a replacement for TCU if the Horned Frogs leave the Mountain West, Spear said.
Spear and Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier haven’t talked beyond 2012 yet, Spear said.
“Gene and I have talked and we’ll continue to talk,” he said. “I think there’s interest on both sides to find a way to make this game happen.”
Said Bleymaier: “I would like to see it continued. We’re going to talk about various scenarios and see what we can work out.”
And the “scenarios” are where the negotiations are going to get interesting.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen doesn’t want to play in Moscow. Idaho coach Robb Akey says the rivalry should feature home-and-home scheduling or be scrapped.
Spear falls somewhere in between.
“Ideally it needs to be a home-and-home,” Spear said. “When you have two institutions in a state that play Bowl Subdivision football, they need to play that game every so often on the respective campuses. I say ideally — it’s obviously going to be subject to negotiations.
“… I do understand the importance of playing a football game in Boise every so often. I think I’d be foolish to absolutely draw a line in the sand of home-and-home or nothing, but I would lean toward that. It’s important to do a home-and-home if it’s a true rivalry game.”
One reason the rivalry likely will continue in some form is the crowd support. It’s the only game that sells out in Moscow and it’s a guaranteed sellout at Bronco Stadium.
Idaho can make more money playing elsewhere, but reduced travel costs and the chance to play in front of its largest alumni base could justify playing in Boise frequently.
Boise State might want home-and-homes with higher-profile teams, but a deal with Idaho makes more financial sense than the current arrangements with schools like Tulsa and Toledo.
“Certainly on the face of it, you could say that,” Bleymaier said.
In tomorrow’s paper, I’ll have a look at a bunch of rivalries that have gone through challenges like this — some have survived, some have not.
Bleymaier said the agreement for a home-and-home with Michigan State in 2022 (Boise) and 2023 (East Lansing) was so far in the future because that was the first availability the Spartans had for a home-and-home deal.
“Although that seems like a long way off right now, it comes faster than we’d think,” Bleymaier said. “The sooner we can get in a position where we have home-and-home series with everybody, the better off we’re going to be as a program.”
The deal stemmed from Oregon State’s request to move the 2012 game in Corvallis to 2016, Bleymaier said. He discovered Michigan State was looking for a home game — and ESPN showed interest in televising the game, which will be a Friday night opener in 2012.
“(ESPN) helped pique Michigan State’s interest and our interest,” Bleymaier said.
As for 2011, Bleymaier said he made arrangements early on with Nevada and Fresno State to play if those schools were not allowed to leave the WAC. That protected all three schools from having a late hole to fill on the schedule.
Bleymaier said he might have been able to find a road game other than Fresno State, but he didn’t want another long trip. The Broncos already play at Mississippi, Toledo and TCU next year.
Bleymaier also said it’s a priority to get some Pac-10 teams on the schedule. The Broncos have played a Pac-10 team in eight straight seasons but don’t have one on the schedule again until 2016.
I asked Spear if the Vandals would do anything this week to promote sportsmanship in light of Boise State president Bob Kustra’s comments and the likely fan backlash.
“We always promote sportsmanship and we expect our fans and student body to behave appropriately,” he said. “It’s not different for this game.”