Opinion » Bill Cope

Attn: Bob Kustra

What we have here is a failure to commensurate



To start, Bob, let me make it clear that in no way do I speak for the University of Idaho—President Duane Nellis, the administration, faculty, student body, Vandal alumni or any other constituent or affiliation, official or otherwise, of that institution. With that said, when I first heard your unkind words concerning the Boise State-Idaho football rivalry, I was furious. As an alum of the U of I who has recently had the pleasure of returning to the Palouse—my daughter now attends the school—I was offended that some Midwest transplant who probably never heard of either Moscow, Boise or Idaho before he applied for the job had the gall to say the culture is "nasty" and "inebriated" and doesn't give Boise State fans the respect ... blah, blah, blah.

"Inebriated!?" My immediate reaction (and thank you, W.C. Fields, for the inspiration) was, "Yes, yes. True, true. Some of the students do get carried away with the drinking up there. But in the morning, they wake up sober, while you, sir, will still work for an ugly commuter college."

After a few days of reflection, though, I have come to agree with your position. Absolutely ... never again should your poor widdle Bwonco fans have to waddle their fannies up Highway 95 and be subjected to the inebriated nasties of Akey's Army—most of whom are probably from the Treasure Valley anyway and know all too well what it's like to be inundated by the orange and blue—and never again should the Brigadoon burg of Moscow be subjected to the incessant hype, the boorish self-satisfaction and the strident cheesiness that I, like many, have come to associate with Bronco Nation.

But especially in these times, when Idaho's institutions of higher learning are under such duress from budget cuts and hostile political forces, we must go further than merely calling the rivalry off. What I am suggesting is that Boise State and Idaho divvy up the functions associated with universities, go their separate ways, and cross paths nevermore.

In other words, Bob, you take the college football part. All of it—lock, stock and jock straps. And the U of I takes the university part. This way, both schools can quit pretending they are proficient in roles at which they are clearly dismal flops.

I again stress that I am not in a position to set any policy here, but even without being a high-up mucky-muck university prez, it is as plain as the hair growing from the nose on my face that the U of I's chances of ever being ranked within field goal range of the Top 25 are about as good as Boise State's chances for ever developing a first-rate school of, oh ... say ... anything. This is why your institution rightfully deserves to inherit all aspects of college football in the state of Idaho—(caveat: Idaho State University has yet to be consulted on this arrangement)—and as far as I'm concerned, you could take the basketball and track programs, too. Though as I understand it, Boise State's dominance of those sporty activities isn't quite so clear-cut.

Think about it, Bob. If Gem State college ball was in the sole domain of Boise State and you no longer had to divide your administration's attentions with crud like English 101 and graduation ceremonies, you might accumulate enough clout to change conferences every year, instead of waiting around like a country cousin for something to open up in more prestigious circles. What's more, with what you would save on faculty and labs and such, you might even come up with enough money to keep Coach Pete from jumping ship if one of the big schools come a-knocking. (In time, you might even consider taking the whole program down to California so that the players might be closer to home come Christmas breaks.)

All I ask is that we be realistic about this: What exactly would the Treasure Valley have to lose in the academic sense if all the state's academia went to Moscow? A few hundred adjunct faculty jobs, for sure. But the adjuncts could all go back to the high schools from which they came, and no one would be the wiser. Literally.

Oh, I suppose you should keep a couple of departments, just to give the athletes something to do when they aren't lifting weights or being interviewed. The communications department, for instance ... you ought to hang onto that. The NCAA might not look kindly upon a program that didn't produce a charter plane of communications majors every year. And phys-ed, of course. We wouldn't want your gridironers forgetting how to lift weights, would we?

To the U of I's benefit—and I realize this is nowhere near as vital as which bowl games Boise State might be invited to—the citizens of Idaho might sleep a little better knowing that all the higher education stuff will be in the capable grasp of people who can actually run higher education. Possibly a few random examples might help illuminate the difference: While the U of I has graduate programs running out the Wah-Zoo (old Latah County joke), Boise State offers exactly four doctorate degrees; while the U of I operates a statewide extension program that has benefited Idahoans for decades, Boise State gives us blue turf; while Moscow put together a world-class jazz festival that still thrives after 43 years in a town of 40,000, big ol' Boise's Gene Harris Jazz Festival has dwindled down to a whistle in the dark after 13 measly years; while the U of I clones farm animals, Boise State turns out parking garages.

I could go on, but suddenly, I feel compelled to be more uncivil than I've been so far. Probably has something to do with living in Moscow for eight years. Excuse me, Bob, but I believe I'll go tap another keg and start over.

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