There is something that’s always bugged me about Idaho, our wonderful state with a long and varied list of destinations that scratch most of our entertainment itches.
Not enough roller coasters.
There are a few in northern Idaho, and more in northern Utah.
Or you can fly to Ohio.
Boise State football — thank you for filling the void.
Your 2019 season — now almost complete — has been a wild and remarkable journey of ups and downs, angst and anxiousness, good and bad, happy and sad. Probably missed a few. It’s been that kind of a season.
The Broncos’ crazy and magical ride for the ages started with that victory at Florida State. Ninety-eight days later, after a 31-10 win over Hawaii on Saturday afternoon, coach Bryan Harsin & Co. are Mountain West champions for the third time in six years.
This one wasn’t easy.
Sometimes the season made you scream with delight.
Other times, it stiffened the hair on the back of your neck.
A few times, it made us want to puke. Stupid BYU loss.
But Boise State suddenly has 12 wins for the first time since 2014, including a school-record nine against Mountain West opponents. And it happened in a year where the league was highly competitive and more balanced than it’s been in a long time.
Boise State learns its bowl destination Sunday, and while it won’t be the coveted Cotton Bowl, a postseason party in Las Vegas is always a good time. There’s a roller coaster and high-rollers. Throw in a potential matchup with the outgoing Chris Petersen and his Washington Huskies, and we have ourselves a real amusement park with entertainment possibilities all over the place.
Coach Pete looks uncomfortable standing next to show girls.
It’s even worse when he has to compete against Boise State.
It makes sense to end all this nonsense with some Chris Petersen angst.
It’s been that kind of season.
It started with Hurricane Dorian in Florida, and that weekend finished with Hurricane Hank as the talk of Boise.
True freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier won his first seven games as a starter. Gave us thrills and chills and anxiety. Then he got hurt. Or something like that.
Backup Chase Cord left us dazed and confused.
Senior transfer Jaylon Henderson came to the rescue by winning the final four games, and outscoring opponents 160-64. He started the season as a third-stringer and finished as the Mountain West championship game offensive MVP.
He’s on a ride that makes roller coasters look silly.
Speaking of silly — and drama surrounding QB play — did anyone see the tweet from Bachmeier’s mother, April, during Saturday’s game?
Before it was quickly deleted, it read:
“Let’s be fair and play all the qbs that helped the broncos get to championship. Didn’t they all earn it.”
Not a good visual, even from a loving mom.
Could there be unintended consequences?
Anything is possible this season.
Can’t wait to see how the secret quarterback derby plays out over the next few weeks. It’s been an unprecedented roller-coaster ride for coaches, fans, the three quarterbacks and even teammates.
Speaking of teammates, the offense line stunk. The offensive line got better. The offensive line might be losing junior left tackle Ezra Cleveland to the NFL.
Junior sackmaster Curtis Weaver rode the backs of many opposing quarterbacks this season, and he too might be headed to the NFL.
Running back Robert Mahone started the first seven games, and since the BYU loss in October, he has 31 yards (and one arrest for not taking care of a stupid speeding ticket). That leaves true freshman George Holani chasing the school standard of 1,000 rushing yards (he needs 21 in the bowl game).
Harsin himself made Monday press conferences entertaining by preaching constant anti-social media messages to his players. He sometimes showed up with jokes. Other times he was grumpy.
Hawaii’s Nick Rolovich won MW Coach of the Year.
Harsin beat him twice by a combined score of 90-47. It would have been 90-50, but the COY took points off the board early in the second quarter of Saturday’s then-close game.
Nobody is publicly courting the COY with a job offer, but Harsin’s name is being linked to openings at Missouri and Arkansas. Imagine the ride sports fans in this town will go on if he leaves — most of the population loves him, others are offering him a roller-coaster trip to Siberia.
Still don’t get that.
An opinion for another day.
Fans went on their own curious ride this season. A school-record crowd of 36,902 showed up for the first Hawaii game. On Saturday, the official attendance was 23,561 — the lowest of four MW title games played on The Blue.
Now, unfortunately, with championship confetti all over the place, the roller-coaster ride is nearing its end. There will be some additional drama as we engage in Boise State, Memphis, American Athletic and Group of 5 debates throughout the bowl season.
Memphis is headed to the Cotton Bowl with lame-duck coach Mike Norvell, who will officially accept the Florida State job Sunday morning. At approximately the same time period of his morning press conference, the Tigers will officially accept their Cotton Bowl bid.
And, looking ahead to 2020, Norvell will bring the Seminoles to Boise for next season’s biggest game ever inside Albertsons Stadium. Mark it down now: Sept. 19.
Until then, cheers to a football team that made us scream all season.
Thank you for the roller-coaster ride.
Mike Prater is the Idaho Press sports columnist and co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk on KTIK 93.1 FM every Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. and Bronco Game Night after every Boise State football game on KTIK and KBOI 670 AM. He can be found on Twitter @MikeFPrater and can be reached at email@example.com.