By Chadd Cripe
© 2010 Idaho Statesman
LAS VEGAS — A spat of pushing and shoving broke out between the Boise State and Utah football teams during Sunday’s MAACO Bowl Las Vegas welcome reception — the first of several events involving both teams.
“Some pushing and shoving, some dishes broken,” said Mark Wallington, the media director for the MAACO Bowl.
Utah moved to a lower level of the Hard Rock Café after the incident.
The incident started outside the massage room, where the bowl had provided professional massages for the players, toward the end of the reception.
“They were just mingling and they got into a little shouting match,” Wallington said.
The skirmish was broken up by the bowl staff.
The teams are scheduled to attend most bowl events together — including a Mystere show Sunday night after dinner and a dinner Monday night at the Fremont Street Experience. However, the teams are separated more at those events than the welcome reception.
“(The welcome reception) is the one where they’re the most together,” Wallington said. “… We never had a problem before.”
Here’s some player reaction:
Boise State tailback Doug Martin: “Sitting right next to each other is going to cause some tension. … I was in the middle. I was trying to break it up. The bartender was spraying water over everybody.”
Boise State nickel Winston Venable: “For me, it puts a little more tension on the game for both teams and that’s great. … We were walking up the stairs and you could just feel the vibe, a different vibe. … Maybe now fans know we’re motivated and not just trying to be in Vegas to have fun.”
Utah center Zane Taylor: “I guess some guys wanted to be low brow and start beating their chests. We’re here to play a football game. We’re not going to start fights. … I know it wasn’t any of our players who started it. I can’t expect any of our players to do that. It was just an immature little conflict.”
Boise State coach Chris Petersen said there weren’t any additional suspensions for the bowl trip. Defensive tackle Mike Atkinson and wide receiver Anthony Clarke were previously suspended.
Boise State junior defensive end Tyrone Crawford was surprised to hear he was named an honorable-mention All-American by SI.com.
Crawford, a backup, leads the team with 13 tackles for loss and is second with 6.5 sacks.
“I feel like I played all right,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I played the best I can, but it’s cool that they recognized it.”
Crawford played this year despite an original plan to redshirt him. He didn’t have much time to learn the defense after transferring from Bakersfield College.
“The first half, I felt just kind of disconnected with the playcalling and everything,” Crawford said. “Now when I get the play I don’t really have to think about it before I actually do the play. I can just go off of instinct instead of thinking about the play all the time.”
Crawford relied heavily upon senior starter Ryan Winterswyk this season. He likely will replace Winterswyk next season.
“He’s probably tired of me right now because I ask him so many questions,” Crawford said. “Every time I didn’t know something, he would tell me — even if I didn’t ask. He just helped me become a better player.”
I had a feature in today’s paper on Jeron Johnson, who grew up amid gang violence but became a college football star because of his determination and the strength of his family.
Here are a few leftover notes from my reporting:
— Petersen said he hopes people realize now that Johnson was never a dirty player. He had some trouble with personal foul penalties his sophomore year, including an ejection at Oregon. “That’s so far not Jeron,” Petersen said. “Everybody who knows him, how he practices, how he treats people, that’s completely wrong. There may be some poor judgments when your job is to dislocate the ball from people. … He had a completely bad rap.”
— Sophomore cornerback Jamar Taylor, on Johnson wanting to help his family. “That’s what most of us want to do — put Mom in a big house. … If anything, that’s the person you really want to make happy at the end of the day.”
Utah players have been consistent in saying that Boise State was the bowl opponent the Utes wanted.
“I was hoping when I saw them lose to Nevada we’d get a chance to play Boise State,” linebacker Chaz Walker said. “They’re a great team and I just love the challenge of getting to play this great of a team.”
Rumors have circulated that former Boise State defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, now at Tennessee, is a target of Texas to replace Will Muschamp. On Monday, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley told The Associated Press that Texas had not offered the job to Wilcox.
Wilcox interviewed with Texas A&M before taking the Tennessee job earlier this year.
Nationalchamps.net predicts Boise State will start next season at No. 14 in the polls.
Pro Football Weekly, which takes into account pro potential, named Boise State QB Kellen Moore and WR Titus Young as honorable-mention All-Americans. The publicaiton only listed a first team and honorable mentions.