Boise State University President Bob Kustra doesn't just stand behind football coach Chris Petersen's statement that the Broncos should no longer travel to Moscow for games.
Kustra said he "doesn't see any reason" to keep playing the Vandals on the blue turf, either.
"I guess (Idaho football) coach (Robb) Akey wouldargue that if he upsets Boise State, then that's a really big deal - but why is that to Boise State's advantage?" he said in a meeting with the Idaho Statesman's editorial board Tuesday. He didn't back away from his remarks later in the day, but a prepared statement issued by the school was more conciliatory.
"I'm afraid their questions hit a sore spot. ... My response was harsher than I intended."
Still, the future of the 40-year-old series is in doubt, with Boise State headed to the Mountain West Conference in 2011, while the Vandals will continue in the Western Athletic Conference.
And while football and school officials from U of I hope it will continue, Boise State's brass made it clear this week they don't share the nostalgia.
Petersen, at least, left it open for the Vandals to brave Bronco Stadium (while dismissing any future plans to visit to U of I's Kibbie Dome).
"Why would we?" he said Monday. "I don't think our fans even like to go up there. Most of Idaho's fans are in Boise anyway."
University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis said Tuesday he was disappointed to learn of Kustra's remarks.
"I'm sorry to hear that Bob feels so negatively about his visits to Moscow," Nellis said in a prepared statement. "Both the University of Idaho and the city of Moscow take great pride in the friendly, welcoming and warm environment that a quintessential college town like ours can uniquely provide. ...
"We embrace and celebrate that rivalry and I very much hope it continues. It goes without saying that we value our relationship with Boise State both on the field and court and in the many ways in which our two institutions work together to serve our state and its citizens."
Kustra said he and Petersen talked about the issue last month, on the day Boise State was invited to join the Mountain West. He said they are on the same page.
Kustra said it's a "cultural issue," pointing out a student opinion column last week in the Argonaut, the University of Idaho student newspaper.
The column's headline, "Who do we hate?" was quickly answered: Boise State University.
Learning that, the column explained, is as crucial to becoming a student at U of I as learning how to find your classes.
"This is a great example of why my wife and I no longer travel to Moscow games," Kustra said. "What bothers me more than anything else, is that the fans are not about denigrating our athletic program. ... What bothers me personally is the denigration of our academic programming. That's what I simply can't tolerate."
Kustra said he's seen rivalries around the country, "but I've never seen the nastiness aimed at the quality of our academic program that I find here in Idaho from the University of Idaho Vandals - and as long as that goes on, why would I want to encourage a game where people don't know how to act like grownups?"
A U of I spokeswoman, meanwhile, pointed to a website on which Bronco fans talk about all the ways they hate the Vandals.
"Bob is right that athletic rivalries bring out passion in people for their alma maters," Nellis said. "I've experienced this here in our own state - both positive and negative."
He said he was disappointed in the Argonaut piece, too, and had shared his feelings with the students who run the paper and Kustra.
"People with passion for their institution can say and do things that they regret," Nellis said in the release. "It's unfortunate that this happens and all of our institutions should work to ensure that we don't accept this unacceptable rhetoric."
Echoed Kustra's release: "I hope that all of us can demonstrate civility and sportsmanship for the rivalry game this year and remember that the two universities share mutual goals of excellence in education, affordability, and pride as an Idaho institution of higher learning."
One thing's for certain; all that rhetoric will come to a head Nov. 12 in Moscow.
It'll be the last time Boise State will play in the Kibbie Dome as a member of the WAC.
Patrick Orr and Mike Prater