On college football sidelines, it’s probably going to take time to get used to hearing referees tell players to pull down their pants.
But that’s where we are, as officials will be policing the uniforms of players like never before.
A new NCAA rule will make players go to the sideline until they are compliant. Among the requirements: Jerseys cannot be rolled up to expose a stomach or a shirt, back plates cannot be exposed and, most notably, the entire knee must be covered for safety reasons.
“A rule’s a rule, but I’ve got long legs, so it’s going to be tough,” Boise State senior STUD end Jabril Frazier said. “We’ve talked about it a lot. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, because not many guys who run around a lot had them covered before.”
Referees at Boise State’s Fan Fest on Saturday were making sure to point out to players if their knee was showing. They could try to fix the issue on the field, or they’d have to take a play off to get it squared away.
For Boise State, that provides an interesting conundrum. The Broncos had new uniforms last year, so fast-tracking new pants when the rule was announced in late April wasn’t doable.
“The whole knee situation, they’re going to have to relax on that a little bit. ... We don’t have the extra cash lying around to be ordering a whole other set because they changed the rule,” Harsin said. “The pants weren’t designed to go below the knee. Our guys are fighting it, I think we’re close. As long as you’re not obnoxious with pulling them up ... .”
Harsin said he showed his team photos from last weekend’s games on how to be compliant, but lamented, “Hopefully they’re not pulling a guy out in a critical moment because his knee is 2 inches too high.” A Mountain West spokesman said there is no waiver process for teams, that the rule is a set one.
So, teams may have to get creative, trying to add an insert or something to get in line with the rule. Adjustments will probably be frequent between plays. Harsin thought about senior punter Quinn Skillin, who may need to find a larger size, if at all possible.
“Quinn’s sagging his pants just to cover his knee, so where the crotch area should be, it’s down there about mid-thigh, just so it can cover his knees,” Harsin said.
TRYING TO BEAT THE HEAT
The weather in Troy will not be many people’s definition of “pleasant” on Saturday. The forecast calls for temperatures to be in the mid-80s with some scattered rain, and humidity around 70 percent.
It won’t be a shock to Boise State, as the Broncos have prepared for this best they can by watering down the indoor practice field and turning up the heat. They did the same before opening the 2016 season at Louisiana and won in a 45-10 rout.
But it has led to interesting discussion on hydration. The team has been on a regiment for the last week, and Frazier said he will stock up on Pedialyte before traveling. Senior cornerback Tyler Horton said the conditions in Louisiana were tough, and whether it is Powerade, water, mustard packets, bananas or even Jay Ajayi’s famous pickle juice, the options are plentiful.
“I’ll put mustard on a banana if I have to,” he said with a laugh.
GROUP OF FIVE TITLE FIGHT
It is never too early to start discussing the horse race for the Group of Five’s spot in a New Year’s Six bowl. Even one of Saturday’s head coaches is talking about it.
Troy coach Neal Brown said the game will be a great way to measure just how far his program has come, having won 21 games the last two years and after being the first Sun Belt team to ever be ranked last season.
“Whoever wins this game on Saturday puts themselves in great position right out of the gate to be near the top of the Group of Five, and the loser’s probably out,” Brown said.
To say the losing team is out on Sept. 1 may be a little strong, especially with Boise State having a road game at Oklahoma State and Troy one at Nebraska ahead, plus an early loss is often better than a late one. But the Broncos and Trojans should be two of the top five or six Group of Five teams, so it will be one of the better matchups between the non-power conferences.
One Boise State player to remember Saturday — junior STUD end Sam Whitney. A strong run-stopper, he tied for the team lead with Leighton Vander Esch with seven tackles last year against Troy. Whitney also had a sack against the Trojans. He missed the last seven games of 2017 with an injury. ... The Bronco who’s had the most tackles against Troy? Senior linebacker Tony Lashley. He’s had 19 of them in three games against the Trojans while playing for Idaho. Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said in film cutups of Troy’s offense, he noticed Lashley quite a few times. ... Both schools made a climb up from lower levels — Boise State made the leap from FCS to FBS in 1996, Troy did it in 2001. Both spent time at the NAIA level, which Boise State did in 1968 and 1969. Troy won the 1968 national title.
No. 22 BOISE STATE AT TROY
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000, ProGrass), Troy, Ala.
TV: ESPNews (Dave Lamont, Ray Bentley); CableOne ch. 135, DirecTV ch. 207, Dish Network ch. 142
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
2017 Records: BSU 11-3 (beat Oregon in Las Vegas Bowl); Troy 11-2 (beat North Texas in New Orleans Bowl)
Series: Boise State 1-0 (Broncos beat Trojans 24-13 on Sept. 2, 2017 in Boise)
Vegas line: Boise State by 10 1/2