Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympic Thoughts...

Two things hit me this morning in thinking about the Olympics. One, and this is something I bet many of us take for granted, but I thought back to 2000, and how cool it was to watch Stacy Dragila train for a berth, and ultimately go and win the first ever Olympic women's pole vault gold medal. I mean seriously, that whole Olympics was a whirlwind, but one of the coolest things ever was actually holding an Olympic Gold Medal. I can tell you I never put it on....I don't have the right, but I've now held Stacy's gold medal, and Marvin Lewis' Super Bowl ring from the Ravens, and both are pretty neat. To think thought that she to this day can be seen helping out at ISU track meets is astonishing.

The other thought I had was to the 2007 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships at Holt Arena, also known among SIDs as the Lopez Lomong show. Lomong was untouchable, and since I was writing the men's story on the championships, and Lopez was the "Athlete of the Meet" for Northern Arizona's title winning team, I got about 15 minutes to talk with him afterwards, and he was just a very friendly guy, happy for his team, happy for himself, and he was a good interview. Afterwards I learned about his past....10 years in a Kenyan refugee camp, coming to America as one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan. Any fan coming to that meet could have met him....gotten an autograph, taken a picture...whatever. A few months back he earned his U.S. Citizenship, and about three hours ago, he led the United States of America into Beijing's Olympic Stadium as the flag bearer for the U.S., voted on by all the team captains. Just a tremendous heartwarming story, and Bengal fans had the opportunity to watch the kid run here for free, and many did.

I guess the moral here is while everyone wants to talk about how the kickers are doing, or ISU football, or basketball, or soccer, or the bigger, more fan-friendly, media friendly sports, fans need to get on board for the ISU track program. ISU and the Big Sky are the top-of-the-line in track and field. Obviously, some of the world's greatest athletes come out to Holt Arena for collegiate track meets, and they cost next to nothing...and sometimes they actually do cost nothing at all. Make sure you take your family to a track meet this year in Holt Arena (bring a $1 to park though) ... you will see tremendous athletes....and future Olympians, and maybe even another flagbearer.

Now, onto the links.

Speaking of Olympics....
Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Games (Calgary by the way is one of the world's great cities....just an awesome place to be at), and Ryan Collingwood of the Blackfoot Morning News caught up with Shelley grad Alex Willson, a former LDS Missionary to Calgary who is walking on at ISU.

More Soccer...and More Scoring?
Tim Flagstad has more about ISU's intra-squad scrimmage on Monday. When he mentions Annamarie Hoffstetter, remember she needs like three assists to become ISU's all-time career assist a junior.

Inside Info
Shhhhhhh, Chadd Cripe has a good report on BSU's latest practice, and a feature on an incredibly shrinking lineman.

At Least Kellis Had Us Fifth...
The Cat-Griz Insider, a blog for the Billings Gazette, is doing a "9 teams in 9 days", and they have ISU at #8 in the league.

See, here is where you get some good inside information. Back in July of 1998, I wrote a press release announcing that ISU was going to charge for parking at all Holt Arena events. It was going to be faxed out at 3:00 pm. At 2:33 pm, Dr. Bowen's office called to say he was canceling the release. Well, nearly 10 years and two months later, the parking fee has been implemented, along with some other Holt fees. Hopefully I can find the old release....that would be funny to revisit.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Getting Into the Swing of Things...

Quarterbacks coach Brian Jensen can give me all the grief he wants, but I'm still psyched over a 9-0 shutout last night. Only the second shutout in the past five seasons....yeah, my team is pretty good for once. Anyways, not to much for a blog entry today, other than some links.

Dust Up
This is where I'll do some commenting. First, read the blog post by Dan Thompson regarding yesterday's practice and his take on the little flare up that happened. Now, we can all agree that these things happen in practice right? (OK, maybe not the helmet throwing). Well, I've NEVER seen Z that charged up before, and man, it was great. Last season, there was a definite difference between the discipline styles and practice demeanor between Zamberlin and Larry Lewis, but this year, there is a difference between 2007 Zamberlin and 2008 Zamberlin. It's hard to describe, but he is way more intense, and more into it, if that makes any sense. I mean the team looks better (deeper, more playmakers and better athleticism), but the coaching staff has really turned the dial up to 11 so to speak.

And what's great is they do all of this while remaining positive with the players. It's never a "you did this wrong", it's a "here's what you can do better" ... it "can" instead of "can't" ... it's "this is right" instead of "this is wrong" ... just fun stuff to's really as good a staff as I've seen here.

Soccer Starts
For all the soccer fanatics out there (or the one guy on the internet who goes by "soccerfanatic"...), Tim Flagstad covered both practices for the Journal, and Dan Thompson actually broke away from football for a column on the 2008 prospects of the team.

One Smart Bronco
Chadd Cripe of the Statesman has an article on Richie Brockel, who is definitely a guy who takes the "dumb Jock" stereotype and Chuck Norris's it into oblivion.

I Love Manhattan.....Kansas?
While the men's basketball team is headed to Manhattan, Kansas for a January 3 game against the Wildcats, they can get hotel information from assistant track coach Jackie Poulson, who was just there.

Football and Soccer Aren't the Only Ones in Camp
Someone posted some clips of the Bengal Dancers on Youtube during their camp in Twin Falls. This dance is a little calmer, but I believe this would fall under the "Hip-Hop" category. And yes, this dance is called "The Mating Game". In fact, just go here to see all 13 videos, including actual performances.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Soccer is Just a Kick in the Grass

Soccer camp opens today, and the second practice is a fun one usually if coach Gibson does what she normally does. The opening practice at 9 is the dreaded fitness test, including a mile run that has to be done in under six minutes (Proud to say I passed that one in all three years of college soccer that I took it). The second practice is fun, because the coaches usually sit in the stands, break the team into two sides, and let them scrimmage, just to see who does what...definitely the practice to go to. To the links....

The Big Boys Get Some Love
Dan Thompson focused in on a big key for 2008, the offensive line. FYI, linemen are generally the best football guys to interview. Dan also blogged about ISU's Chris Kirkegaard, who went from not sure what he was doing for college to scholarship in the span of about four day. Also, Brad Shellgren has been out the past two days, and his opening day camp story is here, and the story on the tight ends should show up there sometime this afternoon.

Welcome Back Chris
Century's Chris Winland is also back in the fold, and he will be a redshirt junior this season. Chris redshirted the 2005 season, then left the program originally due to academics, but after spending last season in "cowboy protection", meaning in layman's terms he was a non-funny rodeo clown, he is back and fighting for time along the defensive line.

Jayson Bird....He's Been Busy
Ryan Collingwood caught up with Jayson Bird, since that's in his coverage area and all, and put up a lengthy piece on the visit.

Finally, ISU on the List
Kellis Robinett's Big Sky predictions have Idaho State at #5. He has several good points in there, and I like his take on Ryan Phipps.

For Grins and Giggles
Look at the photo on this page about the NFL's Snowplow Game, and you will see ISU head coach John Zamberlin wearing #54, putting him on the field for one of the most famous plays in NFL history.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Now Behind the Microphone....

How was that for a bombshell on the first day of camp? Nothing like having to change a bunch of plane tickets for football and basketball huh? But hey, I don't have to watch Russ come in my office and drink his Muscle Milk neither, so there are some plusses.

All kidding aside, Russ was superb at his job, and we all knew he wasn't gonna stick around long. I believe he will be the youngest play-by-play voice in the FBS at age 28, so talk about the fast track...Russ is on it. I have a feeling we will still hear from him once in a while. He was a good egg.

And speaking of good eggs, how about Jerry Miller back in the saddle? I was so geeked to find an audio cassette in the files here with "Globe of Death" on it...I'm hoping most folks got to hear it on the website. I'm not sure if this will work, but here is the audio link of it...

When I contact Jerry for some quotes, what he sent me was WAY too much to use in a press release, but it was really well thought out and kinda touching, so with his permission, here is the crux of his comments.

"As for my reaction to what happened today…

I knew there was a possibility that Russ might not be back this year, but I figured it was so close to the start of the new season that I’d be seeing him pulling back into town any day now. I knew that if Russ did get another job there was a possibility I might be considered, but I had pretty much put it out of my mind, and it was a total surprise when Jeff approached me about it. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Russ for the short time he was here. He’s a young man with a great deal of potential, and I was impressed that he came to me personally and asked me to give him any helpful pointers any time I thought he could tweak something here or there. Russ is one of the new breed of sports announcers that uses a laptop computer the way most of us use our cell phones, and I’m not that kind of guy and don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point he was. I also want to add that it’s an honor to be back in the same seat that Jim Fox held for so many years. I don’t think true ISU fans will ever get over missing him. As for me, there’s never been a job in my life I loved as much as announcing ISU sports, whether it’s been men’s football and basketball, or women’s basketball, soccer, volleyball or softball.

Speaking of women’s basketball, I’ve been announcing women’s hoops at ISU now for 8 years, and I have to admit that I wasn’t really a fan when I first started. But that first year covering the team coached by Ardie McInelly won me over, big time! To have the opportunity to watch a team win 21 straight games, and be a part of that was truly a treat. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Coach Newlee and the quality teams he put together, and I’m confident that Coach Sobelewski will continue the tradition of building quality women’s teams at ISU. I’m also pleased that ISU has selected Mark Liptak to take over the mic courtside. Mark had done ISU women’s basketball for several years (five, I think) before they moved to KISU and I had the chance to sit courtside. Since the games will still be on KISU, I’ll get to work with Mark and still be able to follow the program closely..

Historical thoughts about being back in the saddle…

As I think back about the 12 years I spent announcing ISU football and men’s basketball, there are some memories that stand out as if they just happened yesterday. I’ll never forget watching the infamous “globe of death” play take shape right in front of my eyes in Holt Arena in a seemingly hopeless situation against Boise State. But I should’ve known better, because I also had the call on a bright sunny afternoon in Bronco Stadium in Boise as the Broncos had just scored a touchdown off a kickoff return to go ahead of ISU with not more than a few seconds left. Then they kicked off to us, and I’ll be darned if Frank Selto of ISU didn’t take that ball and run it all the way back for what turned out to be the game-winning score! Even though I missed the Mike Machurek years, I had the distinct pleasure of calling games with notable ISU quarterbacks like Paul Peterson, Vern Harris and Jason Whitmer. I saw Alfredo Anderson play both running back and quarterback. But maybe my greatest memories came from being able to call every single game that Merrill Hoge played in a Bengal Uniform. I’ll never forget that game at UTEP his freshmen season, when with just seconds left to play, he took at handoff at the two-yard-line and launched into the air for what would have been a winning TD for ISU, but instead, he got clobbered in mid-air by two Miner defenders and coughed up the ball. UTEP recovered the ball at the one and ran the clock out for the win. For some players, that kind of event could have held them back mentally for a long time. But Merrill used it as a stepping stone to become one of the all-time greats that ISU has ever seen. I saw all of those things. And having worked with guys like former sports information director Glenn Alford and analysts like Dave Molitor, Jim Beck and Mark Cousins have also left me with great memories. I’m very much looking forward to being able to work with Brad Bugger, who has been the one consistent about ISU broadcasts for years now. How could I not be excited about the potential of being a part of it again?"

Pretty neat, huh? I thought so. So welcome aboard Jerry, and also to Mark Liptak, who moves from the studio to the women's games, and will do great things there.

Other Nice BlogPost
The Big Sky Conference's Official Blog has a great post on Russ Eisenstein by the way. Jon Kasper is doing a nice job of rounding up a lot of good conference links, and his blog is highly recommended.

Journal Notes
Dan Thompson was out at practice, and he reported on John Zamberlin's first day as linebackers coach. Dan also has a blogpost on some of the new guys and some of the missing guys, and I'm gonna try to work around a doctor's appointment and a haircut to get all the new guys full info, but Dan missed several new guys, and Jared Barthlome was at practice but not dressed out ... not sure why as of yet. Oh, the snapper is Chris Kirkegaard, or as I call him, Joe Nelthorpe, Jr. Kirkegaard was brought in on Thursday of last week, and here he is....starting snapper with high probability.

At least that's one worry off Zamberlin's plate.
The Idaho Press Tribune is reporting that All-Everything receiver Chris Childs of Boise State will be suspended for the Idaho State game, and that there will probably be more suspensions for that game coming.

Things that Make My Blood Boil
Little rant here....I love college football. I came to Idaho State because I wanted to work in Division I college football. I love college football because the rules make you have to's not the NFL. I don't care for a 40-second clock, and I hate how the NFL restarts the clock on out-of-bounds plays. Well, the NCAA football rules committee, who apparently forgot that the tried this two years ago and failed miserably, have again altered some of the clock rules. Why? College football's timing is can can have great endings...seriously, is there a fan who feels like there is too much action, and we need to cut down plays? What about records....if you are cutting plays out of a game, you are cutting out yards and points...are people and fans fine with this? Nope....this is about television...pure and simple, which is why it's really dumb that the chair is from a Division III school.....because I'm sure they are on TV all the time....Seriously...the fans should revolt.

¡La mirada, yo puedo escribir a máquina en español!
Aparentemente, si usted está dentro de la gama de KWEI en Boise, y usted habla español, usted ahora puede escuchar abridor de la temporada de Estado de Idaho en la lengua nativa. Muy fresco.

A Note from Katie Zigars...
Katie picked up an update on the Ricardis. Lois took sixth place in the women's 5k at the 22nd Annual Bozeman Run with a time of 20:30. Her brother John (who still runs for ISU...Lois finished last year), was second in the 10k at 34:00.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Camp is Here!!!

Ah, there were student-athletes getting cleats and equipment as I walked in this is in the air. A reminder to the fans that the actual first practice is at 4:00 pm (Oh, they are scheduled for outside too...) The morning deal is just a walk through (which means you can't have a football out there, but it's a great teaching tool for coaches and the athletes in working on timing and schemes and things).

Also of note....I saw the new road uniforms....I think I like them better then the home ones. Big black numbers you can see from the pressbox, which is way better than the orange rollerball/George Jetson numbers we had the last time that you couldn't read from 30 feet away.

Seriously, stop what you are doing, and go directly to this piece in the Seattle Times by Bud Withers about the life of Former Eastern Washington coach Paul Wulff. I knew about this, but it's still an amazing read...

Idaho State Journal is ready for some Football!
Dan Thompson ran his camp preview on Saturday, and his thoughts are probably shared by many ... defensive line, defensive line, and defensive line. Also, Tim Flagstad gives us three reasons for hope...and three for not so much hope.

Speaking of camp access....
Where was this when I was eating those crawdads two weeks ago and trying to email out the tournament brackets for the softball league I help run in the summer?

And This Fulfills the Idaho Statesman's quota of One Bad Article About the City of Boise Per Year
All I'm saying is this article probably isn't in any Boise State recruiting books. I'm just saying. However, since I know many folks living in Boise, I can tell you that I laughed pretty hard at the headline. Again, just saying...

We Aren't the Only Ones
Several other Big Sky schools are getting ready to open up camp, including Montana State, Portland State, and Sacramento State. Weber State won the battle though, opening up last Friday (they play earlier than everyone else, so they opened first).