And it wasn't just any announcement. Kustra took the opportunity to call out all Vandals, labeling them a culture of "nasty and inebriated" fans, shining a negative national spotlight on the state's flagship institution, the University of Idaho.
But the ploy backfired and was hardly the brightest moment for a University President, especially considering the in-state political implications. In fact, it was the start of what became a very negative national perception of a BSU program that was once a media darling.
In early August the speculation of the Bronco's National Championship hopes started gaining ground. When the first polls came out, that speculation turned to reality as they opened the season ranked in the Top 5 nationally. An impressive achievement for a mid-major program.
Then, as sure as the arrival of the fall season, the yearly scrutiny on Boise State's schedule once again rose up. And once again, Bob Kustra took the opportunity to champion his football team, claiming no one would play them. Boise State Athletic director Gene Bleymeir watered down the statement with the claim that it was difficult to find a team that would play a home-and-home series with the Broncos. Bleymeir is on record stating that he believes that all series should be home-and-home. Even Boise State's own Coach Petersen felt there was no reason to continue going to Moscow. That's as far as he would go, but who needs to say anything else when the university's president is doing all the talking for both the coach and the athletic director.
Bottom line – the three most influential people at Boise State, when it comes to the rivalry game, called it off. Now the state of Idaho is one of very few states that no longer has an in-state rivalry game, impacting the economy in North and South Idaho, and taking sure sellouts off the books. One can't help to think of this move as anything but petty. An Idaho tradition has been halted because the rival's president, an Illinois transplant, thinks the University of Idaho has a nasty and inebriated culture and the Bronco's thing they're too big to play the Vandals in Moscow.
As a Vandal, it's hard not to take some pleasure in the Mountain West Conference fiasco. As soon as Boise State arrived, Utah left for the Pac 10, BYU went independent, and the visions of a new rivalry went out the door. You add the speculation of TCU bolting as soon as next year, and a conference shift that had promise, turned out to be nothing more than a slight upgrade. Desperate to find a new rival, Boise State finds itself in a conference with foes like Fresno State and Nevada. But that will have to wait a year for it to be conference play. In the interim, both have been scheduled out of conference, once again showing that Boise State schedules light.
That brings us to the final point of the absolute ignorance behind leaving this rivalry. For a program that enjoys scheduling light, you would think that the University of Idaho would serve Boise State well. There complaints about Idaho are;
1.) The Vandal's ranking hurt their ranking
2.) They don't want to travel to Moscow
3.) They don't want to play in the Kibbie Dome for a variety of reasons
4.) The game is boring.
After Bob Kustra's comments, the national media called out Boise State on ending the rivalry. Apparently, it was really the beginning of the national perception changing, when it comes to the Boise State football program. No one in the nation would slam BSU for playing Idaho. In-state rivalries are sacred in the world of college football. They are off limits when difficulty of schedule is discussed. Considering the Broncos scheduling practices and their feelings towards the game, the Broncos should jump at a chance to play the Vandals. Afterall, it's a sure win and no one would scrutinize the scheduling of that game because of the history and tradition, something that is very scarce in the BSU football program.
The Kibbie Dome needs to be addressed. It's too small. But as the national media simply put it, Boise State is not too big to play in the Kibbie Dome. Gene Bleymeir insists that home-and-home series is the only way to go when he calls up Nebraska or Michigan. Then when Idaho is mentioned, he feels all games should be played in Boise. Boise State needs to be consistent; go play Nebraska at their place, and Vandal fans will stop scratching their head at his obvious contradiction.
What can one say after the last few showings from the Vandals. The team is not playing good football, and having one of the best teams in the nation coming into the Kibbie Dome should be a little on the daunting side… for fans.
Football players, on the other hand, love a challenge, and there is none get bigger than this. The Broncos have been one of the best teams in the nation under Coach Petersen's reign, and this looks to be his best squad yet.
The Vandals will need everything to fall into place if they want to come out with a victory. The good news is the Vandal strengths play into the one vulnerability on the Bronco team: pass defense. The Broncos can be thrown on. Nathan Enderle, who will be playing against the Broncos for just the second time in his four years as Idaho's starter (injuries kept him out of the game in 2007 and 2009), will miss senior go-to tightend Daniel Hardy, but he has plenty of other targets that can get he job done. Look for Maurice Shaw, Preston Davis and Eric Greenwood to move the chains through the air.
But if that's going to happen, they will need to find a running game. Deonte Jackson is a game time decision, which leaves Kama Bailey and Troy Vital to carry the load if Princeton McCarty is still unable to go. The Broncos boast one of the better defensive lines in the country, so the offensive line is in for the toughest test of the year.
Defensively, the Vandals will need to stop the run first. The Bronco offense is solid in pass and run, but the focus should be on stopping the run Friday night. They'll get yards through the air, so the ground game must be limited. Tre'Shawn Robinson, Robert Siavii and Homer Mauga will have to have the game of their lives. This goes for Jonah Sataraka, Michael Cosgrove , Fona Sekona, Aaron Lavarias, Andre Ferguson and Benson Mayowa too.
It's been the same the last few weeks. The Vandals need to prepare for a shootout. But this week involves one of the best defenses in the country. In order for the Vandals to win, they will need to do a few key things in this football game.
1.) Stop the run.This won't be easy, but everyone knows the reason why football teams play these games. Is an upset possible? Of course. Coach Akey will have his boys ready to play hard for the finale of this historic rivalry.
2.) Stop the big play.
3.) No careless penalties.
4.) Score touchdowns.
5.) Prepare for a shootout.
6.) Stay in the game mentally.
7.) Play hard the whole game.
Expect the Tribe from the North to give a great effort and give Vandals fans plenty to cheer about. We're all in this together. Let's go out in style.
With the players leaving it all out on the field tonight, it will be up to Vandal fans to match their intensity, giving Idaho the home field advantage that we know we have in the deafening Kibbie Dome. Vandal fans will need to stay from start to finish, making sure the team knows we are behind them.
Cheer this Idaho team to victory, and the Vandals are one step closer to a Bowl game.
The end of this rivalry is on our turf. Let's make sure the Broncos never forget it. Hand a Bronco fan a beer and ask them to get nasty and inebriated for the game. Show them that Bob Kustra's broad stroke of the most storied alumni the state of Idaho has to offer was a blatant mistake.
But above all cheer loud and proud, and when the game is over, the desired result could very well show itself on the score board, leaving the Broncos to walk away from the rivalry empty handed.