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Boise has big sweaters to fill

When it comes to pass or even a conservative running play on third down in 2011, I think I will miss Kyle Whittingham’s goatee and the prowess on the football pitch — I mean between the 20s — for which it stands. (This World Cup stuff is starting to get to me.)

I will miss Eccles and Rice, and the football stadium named for them.

I will miss the Jon H. Huntsman Center, too, a subtle reminder to Bird vs. Magic in ’79. And also because the silver dome from which the scoreboard hangs reminds me of an Electric Light Orchestra album cover.

Do I miss those pup tents that Rick Majerus called coaching sweaters? Nope. Not a chance.

I really won’t miss the Utah gymnastics team, winners of 10 national championships and runners-up eight times, either. But you must admit that’s pretty impressive.

Although I don’t consider myself religious, I have walked the grounds at the Salt Lake Temple and felt holier than thou. I have been to the Salt Flats at Bonneville on the off day between the Brigham Young and Utah basketball games and felt small, and insignificant.

Within the past decade or so, Utah has played in two Bowl Championship Series games and one men’s basketball title game. It had the first players selected in the NBA and NFL drafts — in the same year.

These are big shoes to fill, Boise State.

Yes, I am going to miss the Utes when they are getting rained on in Eugene and Corvallis and playing mostly meaningless basketball games in Pullman, now that the Bennetts have retired (Dick) and moved on (Tony).

But is there a silver lining to the Utes moving to the Pac-10’s greener pastures and bottom lines? Absolutely.

The next time the Rebels and New Mexico are meeting on the basketball court in one of the Mountain West games of the year, it won’t be pre-empted because the Utah women and Texas Christian are in the third overtime.

THREE UP

■ CRAIG THOMPSON: The Mountain West commissioner gets blamed for the league’s lack of TV exposure. Some might show him the stink eye for letting Utah bolt to the Pac-10, as if he somehow could have prevented it. And Boise State for Utah might not seem like a fair trade after the football season. But give Thompson credit for at least hedging his bet when Texas ordered the Kansas schools to come to their senses.

■ UNLV APR: Ten of UNLV’s 17 athletic programs improved their Academic Progress Rates, according to new NCAA figures, with men’s basketball making the biggest strides. Although this is a good thing, most UNLV fans would rather have a 7-footer who can post up, rebound and squeak by with a few C-minuses.

■ JIM REITZ: Miami of Ohio is know as the “Cradle of Coaches” for giving Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Bill Arnsparger, Weeb Ewbank, Sid Gilman, Ara Parseghian and Jim Tressel their starts, but the UNLV swimming coach is working on a coaching crib of his own. Ben Loorz, this week named coach at Cal State East Bay, is the seventh Reitz disciple to jump into the deep end as a college head man.

THREE DOWN

■ BOISE STATE’S EXPOSURE: Although it will make a tidy profit of $700,000 on TV by jumping from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West, Boise State fans are worried the Broncos will vanish from the public eye because they no longer will have Friday nights on ESPN all to their lonesome. Boise will appear six times on ESPN this fall and televises other games locally, another option that won’t be available in the MWC, based on my collection of artist renderings from recent UNLV vs. UNR football games.

■ VUVUZELA: When I was a kid, we called them plastic stadium horns that hurt like hell. Sometimes, when going to our room without supper or being grounded proved ineffective as behavior modification tactics, my mom would use the business end of a vuvuzela on my brother’s and my rear ends. This usually proved most effective.

■ UNIVERSITY OF GAS: The local gym has been showing an infomercial about the digestive system sponsored by “The University of Gas,” which might be the only school the Pac-10 hasn’t courted during expansion talks.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352.

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