BOISE, Idaho -- Monday he quietly sat through a banquet for the MPC Computers Bowl where he felt his polysyllabic last name was not only mangled, but disrespected by a chorus of civic speakers who turned the Beyond the Game dinner into an impromptu Boise State pep rally. Last night, after Boston College's 27-21 victory over the Broncos, Mathias Kiwanuka rose up in his own defense, taking to task Boise's mayor, Dave Bieter and Mike Adkins, chief executive officer of MPC Computers, for their remarks.
''I thought the banquet was extremely disrespectful," Kiwanuka said. ''I've never been that disrespected as a player on Boston College football, as a member of the city of Boston, and as an individual. To see the mayor get up and definitely say some disrespectful things and then to have that followed by the CEO of the title sponsor, saying what he said and kind of attacking me personally, I think that was ridiculous to say the least."
Said Gary Beck, executive director of the MPC Computers Bowl, ''Obviously, there were some speakers who probably should have been more neutral, but as the director I'm going to correct the situation."
So what rankled Kiwanuka and his teammates?
''I think the mayor of Boise was definitely biased," said Kiwanuka, who recorded two tackles, one for a loss. ''I felt like the whole time we were sitting there, it was supposed to be an impartial dinner, a banquet before the bowl game. He could have at least tried to go a little bit down the middle, but the constant comment that was coming up was, 'Go Broncos!' and 'Go Boise!' and this and that, and that's why I felt disrespected by the mayor."
''But, as far as Mike Adkins goes, he took my name and used it as a punchline," Kiwanuka added. ''I felt he purposely mispronounced my name and then went off to crack a joke on my family name, which is something I hold very dear to me."
Kiwanuka's late grandfather, Benedicto Kiwanuka, was voted the first prime minister of Uganda. He was deposed by Milton Obote, who came to power with the aid of a young Army colonel, Idi Amin. When Amin overthrew Obote, Kiwanuka was installed as Uganda's chief justice, and refused to overlook the atrocities of Amin's dictatorship. Amin had Kiwanuka kidnapped, tortured, and, later, assassinated.
So when Adkins mangled Kiwanuka's name for jocularity, the senior defensive end took offense.
''There was no laughing it off," he said. ''I was pretty livid about it at the time, but I tried to stay professional and remain calm. So I just kind of removed myself from the situation and left the banquet for a little bit and came back in and sat down and looked around at my teammates and they felt the same way and it brought us together a little bit."
If the Eagles were lacking any motivation in Boise -- where supposedly other Atlantic Coast Conference teams were treated with warmth and hospitality -- they certainly were stoked after Monday night's banquet.
''I honestly don't feel like we had a chip on our shoulder about coming to Boise," Kiwanuka said. ''I think what happened was that we were upset about the bowl selections, but once we knew we were coming to a bowl, we kind of put that stuff behind us. Things just kind of escalated and they took it out of hand."
Said Elissa Reid, director of public relations for MPC Computers, ''We were very happy to have Boston College here. We apologize for any misunderstanding."
Burns OK to play
Jeff Burns, the 22-year-old junior defensive end from Basking Ridge, N.J., was allowed to dress and play despite being arrested by Boston Police last Friday night for driving under the influence.
After agreeing to appear in Brighton District Court Tuesday, Burns boarded the team flight to Boise on Christmas Eve without notifying the coaching staff of his off-campus arrest until the team arrived Saturday night.
''I didn't find out about it until I got here," said coach Tom O'Brien. ''His parents were here, they were informed of the situation, they were informed that they had some obligations, and we left it up to them."
O'Brien disputed a report in yesterday's Boston Herald that BC's assistant coaches got Burns's court appearance postponed until tomorrow. ''Wrong, absolutely wrong," O'Brien said. ''No one in football did it. I didn't do anything."
Picking his spots
Junior strong safety Ryan Glasper recorded the third and fourth interceptions of his career, and his first this season. He picked off Jared Zabransky at the BC 19 to halt the Broncos' first offensive possession, and ended Boise State's last possession by intercepting Zabransky in the end zone with 34 seconds to go . . . Sophomore linebacker Brian Toal, who suffered a bruised neck early in BC's 30-10 victory over North Carolina State Nov. 12, finally returned to action. Toal got the call on BC's first third-down attempt and converted with a 2-yard run to the Boise State 30 to help sustain the Eagles' 69-yard scoring march . . . BC linemen Josh Beekman and Jeremy Trueblood combined for a 5-yard gain to the Boise State 43 in the first quarter when quarterback Matt Ryan fumbled. Beekman alertly caught it and tried to advance the ball, but coughed it up as well. Trueblood hauled it out of midair . . . The Eagles donned a monochrome look, shedding their normal gold ''home" pants for their maroon ''away" pants to go with their maroon ''home" jerseys. It was the first time in O'Brien's tenure the Eagles had undergone a pregame wardrobe change.