Former Boise State football coach Tony Knap dies

By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman

Former Boise State football coach Tony Knap died Saturday night in Pullman, Wash. He was 96.

Knap, who had Alzheimer’s, lived at a retirement home with his wife, Mickey. Their 70th wedding anniversary was in April.

Knap was a key cog in the growth of Boise State football. He was hired by former coach and athletic director Lyle Smith out of the Canadian Football League to lead the Broncos through the transition from junior college to four-year football.

Smith’s final season was in 1967, the last year of junior college football. Knap — a former teammate of Smith’s at Idaho — took over in 1968 and posted a 71-19-1 record before leaving for UNLV after the 1975 season. His 78.6 winning percentage ranks third in Boise State history behind current coach Chris Petersen (64-5, 92.8, since 2006) and Dan Hawkins (53-11, 82.8, 2001-05).

Knap’s teams won the Camellia Bowl in 1971 and three straight Big Sky Conference titles from 1973 to 1975. The Broncos reached the Division II semifinals in 1973.

Knap, who was from Milwaukee, Wis., was inducted into the Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982.

“Tony had a great mind for offensive football,” Smith said. “He opened up the game. He split the guys out all over the field. They threw the ball and made it interesting. It was a change from the old head-knocking days.”

Petersen said Knap was the only former Broncos coach, dating to Smith, that he hadn’t met. But he knew Knap’s reputation through meeting the former players who still live in the Treasure Valley.

“It seems like the guys that, at functions, I run into are the guys that played for Lyle and Tony Knap,” Petersen said. “… I know that they all loved that guy and thought that he was an awesome, awesome coach and person.”

Former Boise State player Ivan Rounds of Potlatch visited Knap at the retirement home every three or four weeks. He was a redshirt on Knap’s last Boise State team.

One of Knap’s first coaching jobs was at Potlatch High. When Rounds visited, Knap would ask where he was from and react immediately to the answer.

“He would light right up,” Rounds said. “He would remember the house he lived in, his neighbors. He would describe things that were still there.”

As a player, Rounds remembers Knap walking through the locker room and asking players about their family members by name.

“He was such a gentleman,” Rounds said. “… He took the time to ask about everybody and I think he was genuinely interested.”

Knap won 47 games at UNLV from 1976 to 1981, still a school record. His record was 47-20-2.

Knap also was 25-14-1 at Utah State from 1963 to 1966 for an overall college record of 143-53-4.

Here is a story the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote on Knap earlier this year. Knap also coached at UNLV.

My condolences...

to Mr. Knap's family and friends and to the BSU family. Just like homes and buildings many organizations can only be strong and survive if they have a strong foundation. It sounds like Mr. Knap was one of the people that built a strong foundation for BSU to build upon and without his service the foundation may not have been as strong. Again, my condolences to his family and friends and all those who knew and cared for him.


my condolences as well.
Sports Extra paid him some nice respects as well last night on the tube.

Well said

can't say it better.

Coach Knap

I played for Coach Knap from 1971 until 1974. I walked on as a freshman and he, along with my position coach Dave Nickle, treated me like I was a Blue-Chip Recruit from day one.

He took me to booster luncheons to speak, was kind to my family, concerned about my schooling and when a series of knee injuries ended my career before my senior year made me a student assistant coach and alway treated my like I was an important part of the team.

He mentored me in both coaching and in life. He was demanding but patient, firm and caring and I knew I was learning from a True Master.
A Great, Great Coach and even a Better Man.

Michael Conroy

RIP Knap

May the next journey be just as fun as this one.

Ω Same

Mr. Knap was well before my time here. I learned quickly of his legacy. It's great to know he was one of the founders of what we now enjoy in BSU football.

[Apologies if this winds up a double-post. First attempt went poof.]

Kinda Like P2.....


P2..whazzup man, c'mon back...

Tony Knap was the legend and the start of the

greatness of Bronco Football....His capping year was 1975....Glad to see that he lived to 96 years old....

As Abraham Lincoln said, "It is not the years in your life that count. It is the Life in your years"....

He definitely showed that during his coaching years at BSU....

Tony will go down as one of Broncos all-time greatest....

10 old time picks

pretty cool

Knew him and liked him.

Rest In Peace Tony.

I grew up on Tony Knap and the Broncos

Before the current Bronco Stadium and way before the Blue, my dad and I would go to Bronco games at Boise State College and watch Tony's Broncos win like crazy. Even as a kid, I could see that he was a fine man and a great coach.

He'll be missed.

Good luck in your new game Tony

You were a great asset to BSU and your teams were a lot of fun for a guy who had just come home from SEA to watch and unwind with his dad and young son for a few hours.

Rest in peace Tony

BJC/BSC/BSU has certainly been blessed with three of the classiest human beings disguised as coaches that any school could ever ask for. Lyle Smith, Tony Knap, and now Coach Pete....Sunny...

Yeah Tony was very nice man... and Pokey too.

Pokey was beloved at Portland State before blessing Boise with his awesomeness.

Not very often

Not very often do I agree with someone who disagrees with or "corrects" our old friend Sunny, but you beat me to this one.

Do we have anything like a Hall of Fame for coaches? If not, why not, & what would it take to start one?

Re: Pokey Allen

Probably one of the best beers I ever enjoyed was a Henry Wineheird's(sp) Private Stock with Pokey. He came to BSU just when we needed him, but left way, way too soon....Sunny...

Tony Knap is in the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame

Tony Knap is in the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame AND the UNLV Athletic Hall of Fame.
Used to go to luncheons when Tony was the Coach.....what a gentlman. Loved by all. Truly a Great Man.


RIP Mr. Knap...first and foremost always a Vandal.

Nice To See

everyone united in honoring this great man.
Go Broncos Go Vandals RIP Coach Knap!-

I was wondering when someone was going to bring that up.

To guage just how awesome Knap and Smith were as Bronco coaches, all one needs to do is compare their combined record of 224-44 to that of Koetter, Hawkins, and Petersen, who are 143-26 as a trio. That's AMAZING!

Tony was a Vandal as is Lyle

Tony was a Vandal as is Lyle Smith. Both men should be in the Hall of Fame of both schools!

My condolences to the Knap family

In the meantime I have some great memories of watching the Knap teams QB'd by Jim McMillan and his precision throws to Don Hutt. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.