With any good banquet, there are leftovers.
Here are some from my conversations earlier this week with Scott Linehan, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator, and Charleda and Maralee Foss, who led the push to get girls’/women’s sports going in the Coeur d’Alene/Spokane area. They were three of the five people who were inducted into the Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame at the North Idaho Sports Banquet on Saturday night at the Best Western Coeur d’Alene Inn:
• When Linehan’s oldest son, Idaho Vandals rising senior quarterback Matt Linehan, visited his dad at work during breaks from school and football practice, he often hung out with Tony Romo, who was the Cowboys’ starting quarterback before injuries sidelined him. With the emergence of Dak Prescott last year, Dallas recently released Romo, who has signed on with CBS as an analyst for NFL games.
Who’s going to miss Romo more, I asked Scott.
“Both of us, for different reasons,” he said. “Tony was a great mentor to Matt. It was really nice for Matt to be able to come here during his break between spring ball and summer program, because we’re right in the thick of our offseason. Tony, he could relate, he wasn’t a highly recruited kid, went to a smaller college (Eastern Illinois), and started at a certain point and progressed and got better every year. Matt can relate to that. Tony was an exceptional basketball player and I believe Matt was too, so they were just athletes, they just got it, they understood the position. Just to be able to hear that, I think, gave Matt confidence, and I always appreciated that. I’m going to miss seeing Tony march us down the field in the fourth quarter and win us football games. We now have Dak, so we’re pretty lucky. For different reasons we’re going to miss that guy. He’s a great ambassador to the game, but he’s an even better mentor and kid that I respected as a player, and to our family.”
• Charleda Foss was honored for starting the first girls softball program in Coeur d’Alene in 1961. Maralee Foss was feted after starting the women’s athletic program at North Idaho College in 1971.
While the twins attended BYU, one of their duties was officiating the Utah State hopscotch tournament.
“Yeah, we both did that,” Maralee said. “We’re known for volunteering. We didn’t know much about it, but we did it ... we never even played hopscotch as kids. Our freshman year in college, one of our professors taught an officiating class. So all of the incoming freshmen took it.
How exactly do you officiate hopscotch?
“Just make sure they hit the squares,” Maralee said with a laugh. “I honestly don’t remember. We’re doing good to remember that we did it.”
• After Linehan was done playing quarterback at Idaho, he was a volunteer football coach in Beaverton, Ore., and did odd jobs to help put his wife, Kristen, finish school at the University of Portland. One of his duties was selling class rings and other graduation-type things for Jostens.
Though his parents and older brothers went to Idaho, Linehan said it wasn’t a slam dunk he would follow suit, after finishing up at Sunnyside (Wash.) High.
“Idaho had had some tough years,” said Linehan, who had hoped to go to the Univeristy of Washington, which recruited him but didn’t offer a scholarship. “The greatest break in the world was when (the Vandals) hired coach (Dennis) Erickson, around Christmastime my senior year.”
Linehan got a call from Dan Cozetto, a Vandal assistant and former Vandal player, who played with Scott’s brother Rick. Cozetto offered Linehan on the spot.
Linehan knew of the good work Erickson had just done as offensive coordinator at San Jose State, and what he did at Idaho as OC under Ed Troxel in the mid-70s. Rick gave Erickson the seal of approval to his younger brother.
“It was a slam dunk the day they hired coach Erickson for me to go back to where we had a lot of ties,” Linehan said.
Linehan also had interest from Eastern Washington, Boise State, Montana and Oregon State, among others.
“But it worked out perfect that it was Idaho, because of the legacy of my family going there,” he said.
• Linehan’s favorite memory at Idaho, where he played from 1983-86: “I remind Kellen Moore (former Boise State and current Cowboys quarterback) of this all the time, when we beat Boise State 37-0 in Boise in 1984. We didn’t make the playoffs that year — we were 2-5 and won our last four games and finished 6-5 — but being able to go down there and shut them out ... Maybe in the grand scheme of things wasn’t the most important game in the Idaho program, but it really solidified what we were about. We had a lot of adversity that year, but hung in there and played our best football at the end. And the next year we won the Big Sky championship. To me that was a big turning point.”
That win came during a streak of 12 straight Idaho wins over Boise State (1982-93).
“It seems like we’ve got 10 Boise State players on our team, all great kids. I hold nothing against them, but I remind every one of them of that era back then,” Linehan said. “But they say, ‘That was then ... ’”
After Idaho’s last win over Boise State in 1998, the Broncos rattled off 12 wins in a row. The teams haven’t met since BSU’s last win over Idaho in 2010.
• Linehan said it was “a little ironic” that his NFL career started in Dallas, in 1987, where he signed as an undrafted free agent before being waived due to a shoulder injury, and now he’s back with the Cowboys, heading into his fourth season as an assistant coach.
“Unfortunately I didn’t make the team as a quarterback, but I made the team as an offensive coordinator, I guess,” he said. “Better late than never. The facility I was at when I first came here was same in 2014 as when I was there as a free agent in ’87.”
Of course, since then, owner Jerry Jones built The Star, a $1.5 billion practice facility, to go with his $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium.
“To me, it’s the cream of the crop,” Linehan said of the facilities. “We are just A-plus when it comes to everything as an organization. Our facility is second to none, our workout facility, obviously our stadium is maybe one of the best ever built. They won’t cut any corners at all to give us as much help as we could possibily get. There’s only 32 of these jobs, and I feel like I have the best one.”
• Linehan, on the influence he had on his two oldest sons, Matt and Mike, in coming to Idaho. “I encouraged them. Coach (Paul) Petrino had the most influence because he evaluated them, called them and offered them to go there ... they didn’t know Idaho like I did. They didn’t grow up in the Northwest. They were born there (when Scott was an assistant at the University of Washington) but they grew up on the other side of the country. They hadn’t ever (seen the campus).
“My family still has a cabin on (Lake) Coeur d’Alene, but to them it was foreign, they never really got down there (to Moscow). They had heard about the Corner Club, so that was no mystery.”
Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.