Latest from The Spokesman-Review
The former Big East conference is threatening to sue Boise State University for $5 million, and BSU is now suing back, filing a lawsuit in district court in Boise “asking the court to declare that no such penalty is due.” In a news release, BSU President Bob Kustra said, “Boise State entered into that agreement in good faith and with a great degree of optimism, but the conference we agreed to join simply no longer exists.” Added Boise State Athletic Director Mark Coyle, “Boise State worked diligently to try to salvage the Big East Conference and help lead it into the future, but in the end the changes and losses proved too great to overcome.” Click below for the university's full release.
Boise State University has backed out on a commitment to join the Big East, the Associated Press reports, and will instead remain a member of the Mountain West. The school and the conference announced today that they've come to an agreement to keep the Broncos playing football in the league they have been a part of for the past two seasons.
Boise State was scheduled to join the Big East next year for football only, but more recent defections from the Big East made it reconsider. BSU said as part of its agreement with the Mountain West, TV rights to its home football games will not be part of the conference's future media contracts. Click below for a full statement from BSU President Bob Kustra, who said, “This has been an odyssey for Boise State, with all the unexpected turns and changes that term suggests.” In the end, Kustra said the new deal with the Mountain West is best for BSU in terms of “geographic footprint, revenue and national exposure,” and he said, “Thanks to the success of Coach Petersen and his staff, Boise State football is a unique program with a value in media and ticket sales attractive to a number of conferences and bowl venues.”
The Washington State basketball team will be back in action tomorrow in Kennewick. We try to get back in the swing of things with a few Pac-12 links this morning. Read on.
FROM PULLMAN — There's a big basketball game here tomorrow night, and we have some information on that front. But there are also a few football notes and links to pass along. Read on.
It's Senior Day at Eastern Washington, which hopes this won't be the last home game this year. A win today vs. UC Davis and next week at Portland State will do the trick. A Big Sky title is also possible, but the Eagles need some help as Northern Arizona is still perfect in the conference. Here's a feature on the Lumberjacks' kicker, Andy Wilder. …Also in the chase is Montana State, which hosts Portland State today … So is Cal Poly, which is coming off a loss at Eastern last week and figures to take it out on Idaho State. Meanwhile, ISU coach Mike Kramer will not face criminal charges from an incident last month in which he shoved a player. The goals are more modest at Montana, which visits Weber State today.
Call this a prep playoff primer. Or, everything else I couldn’t get into our postseason information box today. And a few other things. Pictured above is Coeur d'Alene running back/linebacker Reece Mahaffy two weeks ago against Lake City.
Click the extended tab below to read more.
And as always, feel free to comment. What are your predictions for the games this week?
Remember, I'll be tweeting scores Friday. My Twitter address is: @srpreps
We'll have a live chat on all things EWU football at noon today with S-R reporter Jim Allen (that's me). Also this morning, here is my first Big Sky notebook, and my feature yesterday on EWU defensive tackle Evan Cook. Today, our WSU beat writer, Christian Caple weighs in what the Cougars need to do in the running game.
So do all those Idaho Vandals antenna flags flap in the breeze at half-staff from now on? Today in a meeting room in Boise, University of Idaho president Duane Nellis and athletic director Rob Spear schlep themselves in front of the State Board of Education to ask permission to crank the DeLorean up to 88 mph and run it past the clock tower in hopes of a lightning strike. Technically, the BOE is voting to give Marty and Doc merely the OK to explore a back-to-the-future reunion with the Big Sky Conference in basketball and the not-important sports, along with football oblivion … er, independence. Spear got on the Twitter horn Thursday to point out there’s to be “nothing official” regarding a move, though the agenda mentions accepting an invitation from the Sky. What’s official is this: There’s a lot of hard swallowing going on, all over the Vandal map/John Blanchette, SR. More here.
- Also: Vandals to go it alone in football, all other sports to Big Sky/Josh Wright, SR
Question: Which conference game would you rather see: Idaho vs. Montana or Idaho vs. New Mexico State?
Idaho plans to play as a Football Bowl Subdivision independent and join the Big Sky Conference in other sports, pending Idaho State Board of Education approval Friday. The state board will hold a special meeting Friday to vote on Idaho's athletic future. Idaho is the only agenda item and it is a “request for authorization for independent scheduling of football games and for the President to explore and accept an invitation to the Big Sky Athletic conference.” The Vandals are currently members of the Western Athletic Conference. The league has experienced a number of defections in recent years, leaving it with just four members and two football-playing members — including Idaho. Idaho told the state board about its plans during an executive session Wednesday/Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: I'd like to see the football program join the Big Sky, too. But this is a decent compromise. What do you think?
Yes, this really is Day 8, since the conditioning and orientation sessions last Monday and Tuesday count toward the NCAA-mandated maximum of 29 practices. Actually, two-a-days count as two practices and there are five of them, so the Eagles have 25 practice days before Idaho. … The Eagles had a great practice Monday morning, especially if your name is Kyle Padron or Demetrius Bronson.
The Eastern Washington University football team begins two-a-days this morning, and in that spirit, we'll try to step it up as well, with a morning blog on SportsLInk, a practice report and an evening blog, also on SportsLink. And follow me on Twitter at @srjimallen for up-to-the-second updates continuing this morning. And in case you missed it, here was my last report on practice and my post-practice blog Friday afternoon:
Meanwhile, future Eagle opponents have been busy as well …
I've just filed my story from Day 2 of camp, which is mostly a look at some of the incoming freshmen. Look for it online shortly and on your doorstep tomorrow morning. … Thursday's two-hour session was definitely ramped up in tempo; throw in some high humidity and shoulder pads, and the sweat was pouring and the drinking water running …
A pro football player who claims God told him to start a fire at his apartment complex in Liberty Lake will remain in jail amid concerns about his mental health.
Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was dismissed from the Spokane Shock arena football team after his arrest June 14, repeatedly claimed to be Jesus Christ, including to an elderly woman who was at the hospital when Ellison was treated for smoke inhalation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed.
“He may have some mental issues,” Ahmed said.
Ellison also told Shock general manager Ryan Rigmaiden “that he was Jesus Christ, and that he was part of the rapture, and that God told him to start the fire,” Ahmed said. “He did not believe it (the fire) was going to harm him because God told him he'd protect him.”
Ellison told Rigmaiden he started the fire with a marijuana blunt.
Ellison, a former standout defense back for the University of Southern California Trojans, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a grand jury indictment charging him with malicious use of fire to damage commercial property. He faces five to 20 years in prison if convicted.
His public defender, Kim Deater, asked for Ellison to be allowed to leave jail and live with his mother and brother in Los Angeles, though she said they wants him to undergo mental health treatment.
“They think that might be an issue,” Deater said.
Deater described Ellison as “a good friend, a good teammate, a good son, a good player.”
She said his success in football shows he can work toward a goal with a large group of people.
“That takes cooperation, that takes a bond, and that takes character,” Deater said.
She also said Ellison did not tell the elderly woman at the hospital that he was Jesus - he simply grasped her hand and prayed with her.
But Imbrogno ordered Ellison to stay in the Spokane County Jail after Ahmed described a series of bizarre behavior that included statements from a Shock dancer who said she fears Ellison.
“She became afraid of Mr. Ellison after he texted her specifically that he was Jesus Christ,” Ahmed said.
The woman, who was not identified, also said Ellison asked her to marry him just moments after meeting her.
He said Ellison's roommate, Chris Tucker, told investigators that Ellison told him he'd been Baptized just a few days before the fire. Tucker also said Ellison had offered him Vicodin to ease his pain while at an away game in Chicago recently.
It was Tucker who first realized there was a fire in the apartment he shared with Ellison.
The defensive lineman for the Shock told investigators he first thought the smoke was from burning food. He even took the batteries out of the smoke detector in his bedroom before he realized the fire was coming from Ellison's room, Ahmed said. He alerted Ellison to the fire, but Ellison told him “I'm good.” and didn't leave.
Ellison escaped the fire by jumping from a window of the third-floor apartment. The fire caused about $100,000 in damage. Ahmed emphasized that children live next door to Ellison's apartment.
Ellison was drafted in the sixth round by the San Diego Chargers in 2009. He was released by the team following a May 2010 arrest in San Diego on a controlled-substance charge after police reportedly found 100 Vicodin tablets in his car without a prescription. The charges was dropped.
Ellison joined the Seattle Seahawks but was released shortly before the 2010 season opener.
A pro football player who leapt from his burning third-floor apartment in Liberty Lake Thursday said he started the blaze with a marijuana blunt because God told him to, authorities say.
Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, a starting linebacker/defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, initially told firefighters that he’d been smoking in bed, but evidence collected at the scene didn’t match that explanation, said Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Kevin Miller.
Please join me at noon, right here, for a live chat on Eastern football. In the meantime, here are links to some recent EWU-related stories, including last night's announcement by former SMU quarterback Kyle Padron that he has been cleared to play football this fall at EWU.
We are halfway through spring drills at Eastern, and also with our eight-part series on the different unit. Here's a link to my story today on the offensive line . Tomorrow, space permitting, you can expect the same treatment on a defensive line that should be very strong.
Meanwhile, I spent Tuesday afternoon at practice, which everyone agreed was the most physical of the spring,
FROM PULLMAN — With so little else going on right now, two days away from spring football almost feels like a week. But WSU is back at it today with its 12th practice of the spring, the first of two this week before Saturday's spring game. As usual, we'll be there. And as usual, we have some links and whatnot.
The Eagles opened spring drills Tuesday afternoon, and here's my story from Roos Field, where I will be again this afternoon (wearing snow boots, judging by what I see outside this morning). I will also be sending regular Tweets, so please follow me at @srjimallen.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Big Sky Conference is gearing up for spring ball…
On the day of their first spring practice , the Eastern Washington Eagles completed their coaching staff Tuesday with the hiring of running backs coach Kiel McDonald.
McDonald is the third new coach Eastern has hired since last season. The Eagles earlier added cornerbacks coach Cherokee Valeria and tight ends/offensive tackles coach Brian Strandley.
Eastern opens the first of 11 spring football practices Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Roos Field, and all are open to the public. For a preview of spring ball, here's my story from Sunday. I plan to attend most practices and all scrimmages, culminating in the Red-White spring game on April 28. Also, I will send tweets from practices and scrimmages, so follow me at @srjimallen on Twitter.
Not long ago, my sister-in-law asked me a question that I hadn’t considered. Was I planning to let my son, who was then 3, play football? The question struck me as overly cautious. Why wouldn’t I? It won’t break my heart if he grows up with a wariness of the sports-worship that afflicts our culture, but if he wants to play, why not? After all, I played football – a little bit, very poorly – and look how well I turned out. You can get hurt doing all sorts of things. Then she gave me a few good reasons, involving the frequency of concussions, the frequency of repeated concussions, and the fact that frequent, repeated concussions can cause brain injury. The conversation came back to me this week when I read that Mark Rypien, local hero and Super Bowl MVP, was suing the National Football League for “repeated traumatic injuries to the head”/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.
Question: Would you let your baby grow up to be a high school football player?
Filling a hole that had been vacant since the beginning of last season, Eastern Washington hired Cherokee Valeria as cornerbacks coach, the school announced Wednesday.
Valeria replaces Torey Hunter, who was hired by Idaho in August.
The NCAA has notified Eastern Washington that wide receiver Tyler Hart has been granted a sixth year of eligibility.
Expected to be a slot receiver and returner for the Eagles last season as a senior, he missed EWU’s first three games, but returned to catch a nine-yard pass versus Montana State. But he lasted only three plays against the Bobcats before he was injured again and lost for the season. Hart was also lost for the year with a broken scapula in EWU’s fourth game of the 2008 season.
The Idaho Vandals announced their 2012 football schedule Monday. Idaho faces road trips to LSU, North Carolina and BYU as part of a challenging non-conference schedule. Idaho plays seven WAC games, beginning with New Mexico State on Oct. 6. The Vandals begin spring drills March 22 and will hold the “Silver and Gold” game April 20/Josh Wright, SR. Schedule here.
As in Bowe Merin, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound quarterback from Stockton, Calif., who signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to play at Eastern Washington. Here are some video highlights of Merin from last year.
For the season in his only year as a starter at St. Mary's of Stockton, Merin was 73-of-134 for 1,158 yards, 13 TDs and seven interceptions. St. Mary’s finished the year 9-3 overall and won the Tri-City League title with a perfect 5-0 record.
FROM PULLMAN — Set a new personal record by covering the 72 miles between Spokane and Pullman in just a shade over an hour. Just in time to put together our morning post.
FROM PULLMAN — It's just about time to hop on a plane for Phoenix, but before we do, we have plenty of stories — both WSU-related and from around the conference — to guide you to. Read on for many words about sports.
Before a packed ballroom in the Compton Union Building Tuesday afternoon, Mike Leach was welcomed aboard as the new head coach of the WSU football program.Leach flew into Pullman early Tuesday and was introduced to the crowd by Provost Warwick Bayly and Athletic Director Bill Moos; President Elson Floyd was reportedly sick and could not attend the press conference.In his introduction to the man taking over the football program from Paul Wulff, Moos said of Leach that, “I talked to one man and I only wanted one man.”“I came back to Washington State to go to the Rose Bowl and we're going to go there,” Moos said/KXLY. More here.
Question: How long do you think Mike Leach will stay at WSU?
It was a fitting end to a season that Vandals far and wide wish they could erase from their collective memories. A forgettable, yet unforgettable 56-3 thrashing by Nevada on Saturday capped a painful three-month stretch which featured two wins, four losses by seven points or fewer and one of the most consistently underprepared football teams I've ever had the pleasure (or in this case, displeasure) of watching. In the fourth quarter on Saturday, Idaho was able to sum up its season with a comedy of errors that seemingly only the Vandals could pull off. With backup Taylor Davis in at quarterback and the Vandals facing a fourth-and-8 down by 46 points, the offense couldn't get the play in and had to take a delay of game penalty/Troy Warzocha, Lewiston Tribune. More here. (Daily News/AP photo: Coach Robb Akey gives direction to a special teams unit in August when Vandals were dreaming of a bowl bid)
Question: What was wrong with 2011 Idaho Vandals?