Sports Notebook

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Kragthorpe looking
to lead Tulsa
back to glory

BOISE, Idaho || It's not just leaving the NFL to take over a team that went 1-11 last year that makes Steve Kragthorpe a glutton for punishment.

"I grew up a college football coach's son," Tulsa's new head coach told reporters who cover the Western Athletic Conference yesterday. "I was thrown in whirlpools, locked in lockers and taped up like a mummy. Those are my favorite memories."

His father, Dave Kragthorpe, was a longtime assistant at Brigham Young, Montana and South Dakota State before becoming a head coach at Idaho State and Oregon State.

Steve Kragthorpe, 38, was most recently the quarterbacks coach for the Buffalo Bills for two seasons, where he worked with Drew Bledsoe. Before that he assisted at Texas A&M, Boston College, North Texas and Northern Arizona.

Tulsa senior tackle Austin Chadwick gives Kragthorpe good early reviews.

"He brings an air of professionalism. He's low key, but he tells it like it is," Chadwick said. "I wouldn't say they're total opposites, but Coach (Keith) Burns had a swagger and sometimes it seemed like he was selling used cars."

Kragthorpe, who counts Bills offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and former BYU head coach LaVell Edwards among his mentors, said the Golden Hurricane will go back to their glory days of throwing the ball.

"It's funny how things always seem to go full circle in this game," he said. "In the '60s Tulsa passed for numbers that were unheard of then."

Opening Day: San Jose State is sure to get some exposure when it hosts Grambling on Aug. 23. In addition to being the first college football game of the year, the Martin Luther King Jr. Literacy Classic is a rare matchup of two black head coaches: the Spartans' Fitz Hill and the Tigers' Doug Williams.

The game will be shown by ESPN2, and pre-sale tickets already indicate the Spartans' first home crowd of more than 20,000 since 1998.

More importantly, Hill said, will be events leading up to the game, including the opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Joint Library, a project on which the university and the city of San Jose joined forces.

Also, a panel of coaches and educators will discuss minority hiring issues in coaching.

"Our players will also be out and about promoting literacy," Hill said. "We want to use the sport of football as a platform to get to youth."

Ryan's hope: Boise State quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie might be the most talented player in the conference, and if the Broncos are to repeat as WAC champions, he will be a big reason.

But Dinwiddie was slowed by a broken ankle last year, and two off-field incidents (a driving while intoxicated arrest last year and a subsequent unspecified violation) have many considering his commitment and discipline.

Don't count Broncos coach Dan Hawkins among the doubters. He feels Dinwiddie has turned a corner. Hawkins suspended him from spring practice, but Dinwiddie responded by taking charge of the team's unsupervised summer drills and conditioning.

"I'm very proud of the work he's doing," Hawkins said. "He's taking the young guys by the ear, by the hand, by the throat. I'm amazed by the number of guys who are watching tape, working out. Ryan's at the forefront of that."

Dinwiddie says he's is tired of questions about his off-field problems, but also that he knows he caused the situation.

"I think once I get out there and start completing some passes in games, the kind of questions will change," he said.

Short yardage: Quarterback Scott Rislov has a cumulative 4.0 grade point average in three semesters at San Jose State. ... Rice coach Ken Hatfield on Owls junior running back Clint Hatfield: "He's no kin to me sometimes, I claim him other times."

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