Saturday, September 11, 1999

R A I N B O W _ F O O T B A L L

Broncos have
rage to work out
against Rainbows

Boise State was passed over for
admission to the conference last
year in favor of Nevada

By Paul Arnett


Boise State was standing at the altar when the Western Athletic Conference groom decided to jilt the bride for the perennial bridesmaid.

If the Broncos are feeling a little rejected after WAC presidents tossed the bouquet to Nevada this summer, they can take heart. The Wolf Pack figured they were a mortal lock on more than one occasion of expansion, only to be passed over by many of the current teams in the league.

"It's football season, so not being picked by the WAC is not my main priority,'' Boise State head coach Dirk Koetter said. "We're here to win a football game against a team that's coming off an emotional high.

"I know our administration is looking into that possibility. It may even happen sooner than later. But we're not going to use that to get our guys ready this week. Playing in Hawaii is motivation enough.''


Bullet When: 6:05 p.m., today
Bullet Where: Aloha Stadium
Bullet TV: 9 p.m. on KFVE
Bullet Radio: Live on KCCN (1420-AM)
Bullet RealAudio: Live Internet broadcast
Bullet Tickets: $3 UH students; $9-11 students and seniors; $14-16 end zone; $16-18 sideline. Call 484-1122 or 1-800-291-3999.

Still, it's hard to believe Koetter wouldn't use the old trick of "They didn't think we were good enough to be in their league. Let's show them.'' And while it's an old ploy, the WAC has used a similar tactic in its head-to-head matches with the Mountain West.

"I didn't really think about it, but I could see maybe some of the coaches and players mentioning it,'' UH head coach June Jones said. "From what I see, this is a good football team that's on the rise. It's a solid program run by a real go-getter of a coach.''

That's a good way to describe the 40-year-old Koetter, who was a part of two bowl wins as an offensive coordinator before joining the Boise State program as head coach in 1997.

Koetter was the offensive coordinator for Boston College at the 1994 Aloha Bowl against Kansas State. He also was the winning coordinator for Oregon in 1997 at the Las Vegas Bowl.

In the Boise State media guide, coaches such as Jacksonville's Tom Coughlin and Seattle main man Mike Holmgren pay tribute to the young Koetter. Holmgren said, "Dirk has become one of the bright young coaches in college football.'' Coughlin adds, "Dirk is the most organized football coach I've ever met and one of the best offensive minds I've ever been associated with.''

That's high praise for a coach at a program that doesn't exactly roll off the tongues of any college football writers at the New York Times or Chicago Tribune.

It's Koetter's job to help bring this fast-rising Division I program off the back roads of Idaho to the major highways of college football. Sound far-fetched? Well, try these numbers on for size.

The Bronco Football Center is a new 9,000-square foot facility coaches love showing off to recruits. Athletic director Gene Bleymaier is in his 19th season with the Broncos.

Once a Division I-AA program, in only four years the athletic department budget has grown from $5 to $8 million. The eventual goal is $10, which isn't exactly rivaling Michigan, but hey, it's a start.

"I feel like we are just beginning to take the first steps toward being a major program,'' Koetter said. "This year, we opened with UCLA, then played Division I-AA Southern Utah. Now, it's Hawaii. Next weekend it's New Mexico. So we're trying to play all kinds of teams to get our guys ready for conference.''

Next year, the Big West Conference team is scheduled to play at Arkansas. The following season, the Broncos make a trip across the border to Washington State, their third game against the Pac-10 program, which reflects a measure of growing respect.

"We have some young players on this team who are going to help us be competitive,'' Koetter said. "Hopefully, we can get our second win of the season against Hawaii and build on that throughout the season.

"As far as the WAC goes, maybe they're in our future, maybe not. There are a lot of changes coming in college football. We've just got to keep improving and wait to see what happens in the next couple of years.''
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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