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Carolyn Gusman (blue sweatshirt) prepares to flip the coin during the pregame coin toss as her family and the referee look on. Gusman's son, former Boise State football player Paul Reyna, died 20 years ago during fall camp of his freshman camp in 1999.

BOISE — It's been 20 year since Carolyn Gusman was last in Boise, but upon her return to Albertsons Stadium this week, she says it still feels like a “home away from home.”

Gusman was at Boise State's game against Marshall Friday night to honor her son, Paul Reyna, a former Boise State football player from California who died during fall camp of his freshman season in 1999. He was 19.

“My son fell in love with the community here, the college, the people,” Gusman told The Idaho Press. “I had to come and find out for myself. I came up with him just prior to attending here and I said I could see why. I've been in touch with the community and the school. I wanted to come up here much sooner, but it took a while.”

Gusman and her three surviving children were the honorary captains for Boise State, with Gusman getting the honors to flip the coin. Before the game she said she would sit in a suite in the stadium where she could have a window to watch the game, if she wanted. But Gusman says she hasn't watched a football game since her son's death, and didn't plan to Friday. 

She say she still puts audio of Boise State's games on the radio and listens to them from another room. Even coming back to Boise was difficult.

She's wanted to come back previously but never was able to make it work. Last year, she vowed she would return for the 20th anniversary of Reyna's death. When Boise State got word that she was planning to come back this season, they invited her up for the home opener.

“It's like some things in life, it's a bag of mixed emotions,” Gusman said about coming back. “It's been difficult, I've been preparing myself. But at the same time, it's coming home and seeing the campus, certain landmarks. We're going up to the (Table Rock) cross tomorrow and I think we're taking a trip down the river.”

On Thursday she walked onto the field at Albertsons Stadium with her children and went to the spot where the collision that killed Reyna occurred. After falling to the turf during practice, he died five days later.

She also spoke to the team and saw the plaque outside the locker room that honors her son.

“It was very comforting, very overwhelming” Gusman said. “I was looking at young men's faces, very much like my son's. Obviously it's been pointed out these young men mostly weren't even born before my son passed away. But they're still Broncos.”

HARSIN APPEARS TO MAKE CONTACT WITH OFFICIAL

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin appeared to bump an official while arguing a call early in the second quarter. The Broncos scored a 74-yard touchdown on a pass from Hank Bachmeier to Akilian Butler, but the play was called back due to a holding penalty on left guard Jake Stetz.

Television cameras showed Harsin getting in the face of an official after the call, and his chest and stomach appeared to make contact with the official. That same official quickly threw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct on Harsin.

“That hurt our team,” Harsin said. “We haven’t had a personal foul (all year). When they see what I have to do, they won’t want to get one. That’s one of those things where I’d say the same thing to a player. We can’t have it happen. I owned it, and we’ll handle it and make sure of that. The head coach will do a better job.

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“I didn’t think it was that big of a touch, but a touch is a touch.”

BATES HAS CAREER GAME

Tight end John Bates set career highs with both five catches and 63 receiving yards. Included was a nice 27-yard catch over the middle. 

Boise State also got two catches for 46 yards from Garrett Collingham to give Boise State's tight ends a combined seven catches for 109 yards. 

THOMPSON SAYS TV DEAL IS GETTING CLOSER

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson attended Friday night’s game and said the league is getting closer to announcing a new television rights deal. He confirmed that ESPN and CBS Sports both likely will be big parts of the new agreement.

Thompson estimated that something could be done in 60 days, and said it likely will be ‘more similar than dissimilar’ to the current deal.

“I feel good with where we’re at with both CBS and ESPN in terms of the back and forth and where we’re going,” Thompson said. “The elephant in the room is the 8:30 p.m., nine o’clock kickoffs and tips. We’re located in the west, and it’s a challenge.

“We have to address it and it’s a decision the institutions have to make because they want 37,000 people in Albertsons Stadium but they also want the exposure. We’re not going to play a lot of one o’clock games for ESPN and CBS.”

Boise State will continue to receive an additional $1.8 million in television money compared to the rest of the league with the new deal. Each team this year will get $1.1 million in TV revenue, with Boise State’s total being $2.8 million. Thompson is hopeful the new deal will be a significant increase in revenue for each team.

The Broncos negotiated the extra revenue, which is from their home games being sold separately to television networks, as part of the agreement to remain in the Mountain West in 2012.

BRONCO BITS

Octavius Evans led the Broncos onto the field with The Hammer. ... Wide receiver CT Thomas suited up but never played. There was no immediate word as to why he didn't appear. Thomas had five catches for 103 yards against Florida State. ... The win was Boise State's eighth straight when playing six days or less after the previous game. ... Safety DeAndre Pierce and right tackle John Ojukwu didn't play after suffering injuries against Florida State. ... John Hightower has seven touchdowns of at least 40 yards in his two seasons with the Broncos.

B.J. Rains is the Boise State beat writer for the Idaho Press and a two-time winner of the NSMA Idaho Sports Writer of the Year Award. Follow him on Twitter @BJRains. 

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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