Boise St. fans harass kicker via Facebook
Dealing with missing two field goals in Boise State's loss to Nevada is difficult enough. Now Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman is having to endure an endless stream of taunts and barbs on social networking sites.
The senior kicker and leading scorer in school history missed a game-winner from 26 yards with 2 seconds left in regulation then minutes later misfired again from 29 yards out in overtime in the Broncos' 34-31 loss Friday against Nevada.
The loss spoiled the ninth-ranked Broncos' unbeaten season and even bigger hopes of playing in a BCS bowl or possibly even for the national title.
It didn't take long for angry fans to unleash their frustration on Brotzman, who grew up in the Boise area.
Within hours, the Ada County Sheriff's Department got a report about callers leaving obnoxious, harassing telephone messages with a woman thought to be related to Brotzman.
Then dozens of Facebook pages emerged, some filled with ugly name-calling, jabs and taunts aimed at Brotzman. Supporters responded just as quickly, starting ''Bronco Nation Loves Kyle Brotzman'' or ''We Still Love Kyle Brotzman'' pages and posting hundreds of messages of support for the beleaguered kicker. As of Monday afternoon, more than 21,600 people had clicked on the Like button for those pages.
Coach Chris Petersen on Monday tried to deflect criticism away from Brotzman, saying no single person is responsible in a loss like that and that there is plenty of blame to go around.
''Including myself,'' Petersen said. ''There were a lot of other chances to win the game. That was just one of them. That's one that 99 out of 100 times he's going to make.''
One thing is certain: It was a rare moment of futility for Brotzman
During his career, the Lou Groza semifinalist has banged the ball through the uprights more than any other kicker in conference history, surpassing former Hawaii kicker Jason Elam three weeks ago to become the WAC's all-time leading scorer.
His 425 career points make him the leader for scoring among active players in major college football and at one stretch the former walk-on nailed 118 straight extra points.
And how can any Bronco fan forget Brotzman's perfect 30-yard pass to Kyle Efaw on a fake punt that set up the game-winning touchdown in last season's Fiesta Bowl victory over TCU?
''From what I have seen and what little I've heard, I think the fans have been great,'' Petersen said. ''You're always going to have the other side, the other third, that can't do it the way you'd like them to. I don't know if those are BSU fans to tell you the truth.''
The Nevada loss isn't the only disappointment facing Bronco fans these days.
On Monday, TCU announced it was bolting the Mountain West Conference to join up with the Big East, following the steps of Utah, bound for the Pac-10, and independent BYU.
Boise State is expected to join the MWC next season, and coaches, administrators, players and fans were eager for an annual date with TCU and the potential rewards of playing a more challenging schedule.
Petersen played down TCU's defection, saying the MWC still remains the best fit for Boise State's future.
''I have no feeling on that whatsoever,'' Petersen said about TCU's move. ''The only thing I think is we're still going to a better league than we're in right now. And that's no disrespect to anybody.''