Last year, when Hawaii football coach Nick Rolovich was entering his first season at the helm, he had an idea. He wanted to get to know his fellow Mountain West coaches, but also thank them for welcoming him into their fraternity.
So, he started a gift exchange.
“In Hawaii, if you go to visit somebody, you’re bringing a gift,” Rolovich said. “I was going to bring something. Then last minute, I emailed everybody and said, ‘Why don’t we start this tradition?’ Guys have taken to it. The new guys weren’t sure if it was a rookie hazing type deal.”
A handful of coaches took it seriously last year, but it truly got going this week at the Mountain West Football Media Summit.
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“It’s been good,” Rolovich said. “We all want to beat each other, but we all know we’re in a tough profession. It’s one way to at least build that relationship in a way where at least you show respect for each other.”
Who brought the best gift?
“I think Rocky Long won this year,” Rolovich said.
See, Long decided to get a sampler 12-pack from one of San Diego’s best breweries, Ballast Point, and have it delivered to each coach’s hotel room. The goal was to have it waiting on ice, but even if that wasn’t always feasible, it was much appreciated.
“I did it because I knew (Rolovich) would like it,” Long said. “Since he’s the one that started it, he’s the judge, too.”
Said Boise State coach Bryan Harsin: “Nick does a good job. He’s clever, he’s got a great personality, and he’s got some great ideas. ... We have a nice little gift for the guys — it’ll be a little different.”
Last year, Harsin brought Idaho Spuds, the locally made chocolate and marshmallow candy bars. His gift this time couldn’t be carried onto the plane: He plans to send each coach a sack of potatoes, with help from Simplot, which he hopes might be used for a team meal or something of that sort.
Here’s a sampling of what each coach brought this year:
Utah State: honey
San Jose State: bottle of wine
Nevada: barbecue sauce
Fresno State: nuts
San Diego State: beer delivered to coaches’ rooms
UNLV: Las Vegas-branded gift pack (golf balls, towel, etc.)
Boise State: potatoes
CRABTREE MAKES A MOVE
Redshirt freshman Nick Crabtree could play at plenty of spots with his frame, and Harsin said he plans to take advantage of that this fall. Crabtree (6-foot-7, 261 pounds) worked at tight end his first year with the Broncos but is working on the offensive line along with some tight end. Harsin noted that athletic, big guys who make their way onto the line often have long playing careers.
“He’s a tight end/tackle-type guy is what he is,” Harsin said. “It’s a great position for him, a role we want him to play, to be a guy that can be on the edge there, be a physical player, because that’s what he’s built to do.”
STRENGTH AT SAM
Though none of the three players listed at strong-side (SAM) linebacker on the team’s pre-fall camp depth chart have played the position in a game, Harsin feels the Broncos have a lot of potential there.
Senior Gabe Perez (6-4) was atop the depth chart, followed by redshirt freshmen Desmond Williams and Avery Williams, listed at 5-11 and 5-9, respectively. Harsin compared how they will be used to how the offense employed tailback Jeremy McNichols in a variety of ways on offense in recent years.
“You do need to have options there, you’re talking about edges ... how are you going to control that?” Harsin said. “We have our ‘weapon’ position on offense. You can flip that over on the defensive side and say your edges are your weapon guys.
“I started looking at it like, ‘Hell, we’ve got some weapons on defense.’ ”
WAIT, MOA CALLED IT WHAT?
Boise State junior quarterback Brett Rypien is an avid golfer. He had a hole-in-one in Spokane when he was 13, while his uncle, Mark, recently had his sixth. Rypien’s sister played collegiately, and she lives in Las Vegas, taking Rypien and junior defensive tackle David Moa to Topgolf.
Rypien said his only disappointment Tuesday, when the preseason all-conference teams were released, was at the point-scoring, target-aiming venue. He lost Tuesday night to Brigid, his sister. But Moa, well, he was well behind both Rypiens.
“I’m terrible,” Moa said. “The first time I picked up the golf club, I called it a ‘bat.’ I really didn’t know what I was doing.”
BRONCOS REACH INTO THE ISLANDS
The Broncos picked up a verbal commitment from Kukea Emmsley, a defensive end from Kapolei (Hawaii) High on Wednesday night.
Emmsley’s uncle, Loa Emmsley, played at Boise State in the early 2000s. Emmsley (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) also had offers from Air Force, Hawaii, Navy, Oregon, Oregon State and Utah State.
Boise State now has seven known verbal commitments, two on the defensive line, both coming this week. Texas nose tackle Scale Igiehon announced his commitment Monday.