Reno mayor says Boise State football fans should expect better atmosphere this year; see ABC coverage map

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2012 Idaho Statesman

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell and then-Nevada President Milton Glick co-wrote a letter to Boise State football fans two years ago apologizing for the Wolf Pack fans’ behavior during and after their upset win over Boise State at Mackay Stadium.

On Saturday, the Broncos and their fans return to Mackay for the first time since that game. We caught up with Cashell for a Q&A for this week’s Bronco Blitz section.

Despite recent open-heart surgery, Cashell says he’s working to ensure the Nevada fans are better behaved this time and to assure Boise State fans that they should attend the game. One group of 20 fans decided to go to Reno after speaking to him, he said.

“Boise fans are great and we love them,” he said. “I was really embarrassed for my city when a few bad apples made us look bad. I really appreciate the response I’ve gotten from a lot of citizens up there. I told them what we’re doing to try to change the atmosphere.”

Here’s the bulk of the interview:

What prompted you to write that letter? “Our fans were very disrespectful. They got carried away … and were abusive to the Boise fans. That’s just not right. It’s a reflection on our community. Boise brings a lot of fans to Reno. It’s a good rivalry and we want to keep it going. When you have people acting like jackasses, you have to control them.”

What kind of feedback have you received since? “I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people in Boise. Some people called me and said they weren’t coming anymore if things didn’t change. I hope we’ve made some changes that will make people behave and straighten up and treat people with respect like the Boise people treat me when I go to Boise. They thank me for coming. We want our Reno fans to be that way. And it’s just a handful of people that made our city look bad is what irritates me.”

What is being done this year? “The set of bleachers (in the south end zone) where the most profanity and beer-throwing came out of, I’ve asked for (police) officers to be stationed in those bleachers along the rail. … If they do anything out of line, bust them, take them to jail and let them get out of there. I think you’re going to see a different atmosphere this time.”

Are you doing anything to promote sportsmanship? “We’re looking at doing some press releases in town. (In 2010), I went to the 50-yard line with Dr. Glick and we told everybody there (to show good sportsmanship). They just didn’t listen to us.”

Thousands of Boise State fans come to Reno every two years. What does that mean to the city? “That’s a great economic boost.”

Are you going to miss the rivalry? “Oh yeah, but I’m hoping Boise stays in the Mountain West.”

Nevada football has been on a good run. How have you seen the community respond? “The boosters and the fans are picking up. We just don’t have the fan base like they do in Boise. Boise’s got a great fan base. I think we have too many things going on in town with the casinos and everything else. … We’re a college town and we need to accept that and we’re doing what we can to make it better.”

This is a big game with a rival and ABC in town. You looking forward to it? “Oh yes. … I’m rebounding well (from surgery). I’m hoping I’ve got the energy to go to the game. I always like to get the buildings blue and change the arch to blue, but I think I missed my date (to get that done).”

Here is the letter from two years ago.

Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for this week’s game.

•••

Boise State coach Chris Petersen, on whether he has a plan for his team when fans rush the field, like they did at the end of the 2010 game in Reno: “Not really. Run for your life. … I don’t think Nevada was ready for that. Every now and then it happens. I’ve been in situations worse than that.”

Petersen said he was involved in an Oregon-Oregon State game when the Beavers fans rushed the field before the game was over. They were directed off the field and onto the Ducks’ sideline.

“They were on our sideline, standing with the coaches and players,” he said. “That was scary.”

•••

Here is the ABC coverage map for Saturday’s game. Those living east of the Mississippi can watch the game on ESPN3.com only.

•••

Boise State junior punter Trevor Harman laughs at the fan reaction he gets to his rugby-style punts when the Broncos are on the road. They heckle him during warm-ups and start cheering when his punts come out low and tumbling, not realizing how far the ball is going to roll.

It’s more important to get the ball on the ground than to kick it a long way in the air.

“It’s an ugly kick,” Harman said. “It’s understandable.”

Harman has averaged 41.5 yards per punt this season with seven of his 37 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line. He has a powerful leg — his long is 60 yards — but hasn’t been as consistent as coaches would like.

The Broncos rank 106th in net punting, down from 35th last year. This is Harman’s first year as the starting punter.

“He’s got such a strong leg,” Petersen said. “When he’s consistent, it’s just like, ‘Wow.’ That’s kind of what we expect out of him. When it’s not, you’re like, ‘What happened?’ … He could be quite a weapon.”

Harman also is the kickoff specialist. He has 10 touchbacks on 56 kicks and averages 60.6 yards per kick, down 5 yards from last year.

“I know I have the leg to get it down there,” he said. “I’m just working on some technical issues at the moment.”

Overall, Harman said, his season has been about improving.

“Most definitely, I still have a long ways to go,” he said, “but I’m improving. That’s the most important thing.”

•••

The Contra Costa Times has spoken to two of Petersen’s former coaches at UC Davis to see if they think he’d be interested in the opening at Cal. Legendary former head coach Jim Sochor said he thinks the time might be right, in this story, but outgoing Davis coach Bob Biggs said he was skeptical that Petersen would leave Boise State, according to the writer’s Twitter account.

•••

Former Boise State wide receiver Titus Young has returned to practice with the Lions. Here is the story from the Detroit Free Press.

Read our coverage on your iPhone or Android phone.

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It will be better this time Im sure because it is not

the same scenario as 2010....

Boise State was a potential BCS Buster way back then....Today, they are just another good cfb team heading nowhere....

The Bowl games are about the only thing determined in this game, they both are going to one.

Thanks Mayor

Appreciate the words and taking the time for a Q&A. There's knuckleheads everywhere.

Chadd, any reason the Broncos were put on ABC? I know earlier you thought maybe BCS implications but now what do you think?

ABC

That's the time slot opposite the SEC championship game. It looks like ESPN/ABC decided to go with a couple of their middle-of-the-pack games rather than putting a premium game there.

Had the same thoughts

Thanks for the response.

Nevada fans

One difference this year is the start time of 12:30, as opposed to the 7:30 kickoff in 2010. With so many arriving early and beginning their drinking hours beforehand, the anticipation of such a big game, the adrenaline rush when Nevada won, caused some fans to lose control. I had a lively and respectful discussion with the Bronco fan I was next to, then we shook hands and wished each other luck after it was over. As a long-time Nevada fan, I was embarrassed by some of the pictures and reports I heard the next day. This year should be different.

ABC usually covers the desk bottom or your shoe.

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Nothing happened and what if it did?