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SCOTT SLANT: An unpacked Viejas still presents problems

Presented by GREENWOOD’S SKI HAUS.
Friday, February 15, 2019.

So far, there hasn’t been one venue in Mountain West basketball that has been overly intimidating. That doesn’t mean Boise State has played especially well on the road—witness Wednesday night’s 65-63 loss at Fresno State. But it wasn’t the crowd that caused the Broncos to let that one get away at the end. There were lots of big red comfy chairs in view sitting empty, surrounded by a quiet crowd of 5,548. Now the Broncos visit one of the most revered home courts in the Mountain West, as it’s on to Viejas Arena and San Diego State Saturday. “The Show,” the Aztecs’ renowned student section, has dwindled drastically the past couple of years and is not nearly as imposing as five years ago. Two years removed from selling out 80 consecutive games, Viejas doesn’t come close anymore.

Against many of its opponents in the Mountain West this season, Boise State has faced a talent deficit. The Broncos have won some of those games nevertheless, including the startling 88-64 victory over San Diego State in Taco Bell Arena. The Aztecs are entirely different at home and are 5-0 in Mountain West play there after last Saturday’s 68-63 takedown of second-place Utah State.

As for that talent thing, Jalen McDaniels, SDSU’s NBA-bound 6-10 forward, is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds now in conference. Nathan Mensah from Ghana is an emerging 6-11 forward, but everybody in San Diego swears he’s bigger than that. Mensah had seven straight points during the Aztecs’ staggering 23-0 run that turned that game against the Aggies. He took a charge in the final minute that fouled out USU star Sam Merrill. And Devin Watson has been a Bronco-killer in particular. In three career games against the Broncos, Watson is averaging 18.7 points and is 17-for-21 from the free throw line. These guys are much better than they were a month ago.

BRONCOS’ CLOSE LOSSES AFFECT MW PECKING ORDER

Seven of Boise State’s 14 losses this season have come after the Broncos led the game at halftime. That’s almost as bad as that 1-6 record in games decided by one possession. And that has helped saddle Boise State with a 6-6 conference record. With that, let’s hit the reset button on Mountain West standings going into the weekend. After Nevada, Fresno State and Utah State come the teams bunched in the quest for the fourth and fifth seeds and the first-round byes that accompany them in the MW Tournament. San Diego State is 7-4, UNLV 7-5, the Broncos at 6-6, and New Mexico and Air Force at 5-7. KenPom predictions have Boise State going 2-4 the rest of the way and missing the top five.

KELLEN GETS WITTEN’S STAMP OF APPROVAL

There’s still this disconnect between some fans and the people truly in the know in Dallas when it comes to Kellen Moore serving as offensive coordinator for the Cowboys. The latest to weigh in is former Cowboys great Jason Witten, who told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Moore has “a way about him” that will pay off in his new job. Witten said in the story that he thinks Moore will be innovative and that the offense will take a “big step” by gearing things around quarterback Dak Prescott. Witten practiced with Moore when both were on the Dallas roster and feels Kellen will “add some nice wrinkles” to the Cowboys offense. Online comments on the story were, um, typically negative.

DODERO DOES IT FOR THE STEELIES

It was good for Idaho Steelheads fans see an old standby steal the spotlight Wednesday night. Charlie Dodero scored the overtime goal that gave the Steelheads a 3-2 victory over Rapid City, with the three-game series wrapping up this weekend in CenturyLink Arena. Dodero returned to Boise in December for his third stint with the Steelies, but he’s played only seven games. The goal against the Rush was his first of the season. Dodero has played 190 career games for Idaho dating back to 2013. Meanwile, goalie Tomas Sholl needed that win on Wednesday—he turned away 25 of the 27 shots he faced in the victory after going through a recent rough patch.

JAYDE IS NOT JUST A PASSING FANCY

The Mountain West-leading Boise State women try to keep cookin’ Saturday versus San Diego State in Taco Bell Arena. After watching the Broncos in their win over Fresno State Wednesday night, I have to zero in on Jayde Christopher, whose value to the team will seldom be shown in a box score. Christopher went 0-for-3 from the field and scored two points against the Bulldogs. But the transfer from Kansas had four assists and is one amazing passer. Christopher doesn’t always get the assist, but when she doesn’t, she sets up the player who ultimately does get it. The Broncos’ offense begins with her. Christopher is second in the conference in assists with 5.6 per game. And oh by the way, Wednesday was her birthday.

YOTES, NIGHTHAWKS IN THE STRETCH RUN

The College of Idaho men, third-ranked in NAIA Division II, took sole possession of first place in the Cascade Conference last weekend when Oregon Tech lost at Corban. Now the Coyotes and Owls will decide it once and for all during the final weekend of the regular season. The scenario for the Yotes in fairly cut and dry: win tonight at Southern Oregon and they clinch no worse than a share of the CCC title. A win Saturday (regardless of tonight’s outcome) at Oregon Tech clinches the outright conference title for C of I—and an automatic bid to the NAIA Championships.

Both Northwest Nazarene teams are locked in battles for GNAC regular season titles. The NNU men beat Alaska Anchorage 87-77 Thursday night behind Obi Megwa’s 23 points on his 22nd birthday. The Nighthawks remain one game out of first place. They take on Alaska Fairbanks Saturday night in Nampa. The NNU women, seventh-ranked in NCAA Division II, captured a 92-86 victory Thursday night at Montana State Billings while coach Steve Steele remained home sick in the Treasure Valley. The Nighthawks, now 22-1 overall, took a half-game lead atop the GNAC.

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February 15, 2006: With only four minutes remaining in the final home game of the season, Greece Athena High School in upstate New York subs in scorekeeper Jason McElwain, a 17-year-old student with autism. Coach Jim Johnson had added Jason to the team and promised to put him in the game if the lead was big enough. It was, and Jason got to play. He missed his first two shots. But then Jason stunningly made his final seven attempts, six of them three-pointers, to finish with a miraculous 20 points. The crowd was beside itself, and when the final buzzer sounded, his fellow students rushed the floor and carried him off the court.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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What Do Men Want For Valentine’s Day? NOTHING

What do men want for Valentines Day? NOTHING.

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Thursday, February 14, 2019

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SCOTT SLANT: What else can happen?

Presented by VETERANS PLUMBING.
Thursday, February 14, 2019.

Boise State went almost 6½ minutes without a field goal down the stretch Wednesday night at Fresno State. In fact, the Broncos made only four buckets in the final 11 minutes of the game. So it was a minor miracle that they were still able to take a 61-59 lead with 42 seconds remaining. But the close-game blues struck again, as Boise State lost to the Bulldogs 65-63, its sixth defeat in seven games decided by one possession this season. Don’t blame Alex Hobbs, who again was the rock offensively for the Broncos, scoring 18 points. But Fresno State otherwise did yeoman’s defensive work versus the most accurate team in the Mountain West, holding Boise State to 37 percent shooting and a 3-for-17 showing from three-point range.

It was a heartbreaking result for Boise State. With the rebuilding Broncos trying to hang in as hopes for a first-round bye in the Mountain West fade, they stayed with one of the top teams in the conference this season. The 2018-19 squad is not supposed to be able to do that type of thing on the road. This team is close, but there’s no cigar. That’s why the big picture has to stay in frame. Surround Hobbs with Justinian Jessup, Marcus Dickinson and a one-year-older Derrick Alston next season—plus Boise State’s legion of redshirts and transfers, and there’s plenty of room for optimism. Of course, coach Leon Rice is still all about the rest of this season. “Let’s keep getting better the next 30 days and see what happens,” said Rice on the Learfield/IMG College post game show.

The missing link? Well, I don’t know if Alston was actually too confident coming off his career-high 33 points against San Jose State, but he was very quiet Wednesday night at Save Mart Center. More often than not Alston forced the issue and took contested shots, and he ended up with two points on 1-for-8 shooting. Maybe after he has a Chandler Hutchison-type game, Alston feels pressure to be like Hutch every time out. The Bulldogs also had a handle on Alston last month in Taco Bell Arena. He scored just four points, getting all of them from the free throw line while going 0-for-6 from the field. Alston is just a sophomore. The consistency will come.

NAILING DOWN NO. 20

Playing without Riley Lupfer, the Boise State women saw Braydey Hodgins step up again. Hodgins scored 21 points in an 83-76 win over Fresno State Wednesday night in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos’ 20th victory of the season didn’t have to be that close—they saw a 19-point fourth quarter lead wither down to two with 42 seconds left before closing it out at the free throw line. Even with Lupfer sidelined, coach Gordy Presnell was able to play 10 players, and all 10 scored. Boise State was not able to neutralize Mountain West scoring leader Candace White, who put up 24 points, 22 of them in the second half. But the Broncos were outstanding on the glass, outrebounding the Bulldogs by 10 and pulling down 15 offensive boards.

BORAH REUNION AT JENNY CRAIG PAVILION

Two former Borah High teammates get reacquainted on Valentine’s Day tonight, as San Diego’s Isaiah Wright and BYU’s Rylan Bergersen meet up when the Toreros host the Cougars. Wright, who transferred to USD 2½ years ago after playing his first two seasons at Utah, has found his groove again of late. He’s scored at least 14 points in four straight games and is shooting 53 percent over that stretch. For the season, Wright is averaging 38 minutes and 13.4 points per game. A recent story in the San Diego Union-Tribune chronicled Wright’s journey, which started with hearing problems as a kindergartner. It was found that his hearing was just 30 percent of average, spurring multiple operations over a two-year span. Basketball became his thing, and he ended up as the 2014 Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year with the Lions.

Bergersen has played in 24 games for BYU this season and has averaged 18 minutes and 2.5 points per game. Both players are sons of former Boise State Broncos—Archie Wright and Roberto Bergersen, one of BSU’s all-time greats. Also at BYU, former Rocky Mountain star Kolby Lee is getting a little bit of floor time as a true freshman, appearing in 15 games and averaging 1.5 points.

ROAMING THE RUNNING BACKS STABLE

A week ago we were recapping National Letter of Intent Day at Boise State. The news didn’t include a few preferred walk-ons revealed in the days following, including the Treasure Valley’s two premiere high school running backs, Allamar Alexander of Columbia and Tyler Crowe of Skyview. Alexander was set to walk on at Washington State but flipped to the Broncos in the end. He produced an amazing senior year for the Wildcats, rushing for 2,114 yards and scoring 33 touchdowns. Crowe had a similarly spectacular season for the Hawks, amassing 2,325 yards and 29 TDs.

Bottom line: the Boise State running backs spot is stocked for the foreseeable future. How about this list? Junior Robert Mahone was academically suspended for the suspended First Responders Bowl but is still a Bronco. Andrew Van Buren was actually Boise State’s second-leading rusher behind Andrew Mattison last season. Redshirt freshman Danny Smith came in with Van Buren a year ago, and we haven’t even seen Smith yet. Incoming freshman George Holani tore it up for St. John Bosco in Southern California last fall. And who isn’t excited to see Declo’s Keegan Duncan, who—at 6-3, 220 pounds—appear to be a freak of nature. Plus, there’s always the Broncos’ Swiss Army knife, sophomore Khalil Shakir.

STEELIES SURVIVE

There was a fast start and sluggish finish—followed by an exhilarating ending for the Idaho Steelheads Wednesday night. The Steelheads busted out to a 2-0 first period lead over the Rapid City Rush in CenturyLink Arena on goals by Henrik Samuelsson and Kyle Schemp. The Rush corralled the Steelies from there, though, and finally knotted the game 2-2 with nine seconds left in regulation. Relief came from Charlie Dodero, whose tally two minutes into overtime for a 3-2 victory to break a three-game Idaho losing streak.

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February 14, 2007: The next step in the evolution of Boise State football is marked by the groundbreaking on the $36 million sky suite/press box addition to Bronco Stadium. The project, to be named the Steuckle Sky Center, included 38 luxury suites, 44 loge boxes and 750 club seats, with all but about 200 of the club seats already sold before the first dirt was turned. If not the biggest milestone in Bronco Stadium history, it was certainly the most expensive. The entire original facility, with a capacity of 14,500, was constructed at a cost of only $2.2 million in 1970.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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Elway Knows What He’s Doing

Elway knows exactly what he's doing

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Wednesday, February 13, 2019

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SCOTT SLANT: Fresno State is capable of cooling things off

Presented by GREENWOOD’S SKI HAUS.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019.

Boise State is in a sticky situation at Fresno State tonight. The Broncos really, really need to win this game, but how much better can they expect to be on the road versus their home game against the Bulldogs, a 63-53 loss last month? That was Boise State’s second-lowest scoring performance of the season. Any chance the Broncos have at Save Mart Center depends on how much momentum they can ride after their 48-point demolition of San Jose State last Saturday. By laying 105 points on the Spartans, they basically doubled their offense compared to that sluggish first test against Fresno State. Of course, the Bulldogs are miles better than SJSU. And Boise State is dealing with the distraction of redshirt Jaycson Bereal, who’s been suspended indefinitely by coach Leon Rice.

Is Boise State’s shooting these days mirage or reality? By going almost 63 percent from the field against San Jose State State, the team’s best mark in almost two years, the Broncos moved into the top spot in field goal percentage this season in the Mountain West at just under 48 percent, the 36th-best mark in the country. The other team’s offense is concerning, though, as Fresno State has two guys who can take over a game. Deshon Taylor has done it to the Broncos before, although he didn’t catch fire in Boise last month until the second half, scoring 15 points for the night. The wild card is Braxton Huggins, the transfer from New Mexico State. Huggins was held in check in that game, managing just six points on 2-for-7 shooting.

Derrick Alston may have the flash right now, but the most remarkably consistent Boise State Bronco during the Mountain West season has been Alex Hobbs. Now, if he can just stay the course tonight at Fresno State. It was Hobbs whose three-pointer started the record rout of San Jose State Saturday. He went on to go 6-for-9 from the field and 3-for-5 from the beyond the arc for 17 points against the Spartans. Hobbs is the only guard in the conference who is a top-15 scorer (16.3 points per game—No. 11 in the MW) with a field goal percentage of over 50 percent (53 percent—No. 6 in the MW) during league play. The junior from LaPorte, TX, is also 24-for-26 from the free throw line for 92 percent.

FRESNO STATE LURKING ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE

The Boise State women have their own imposing opponent to handle tonight as they go after their 20th win of the season against Fresno State, 8-3 in the Mountain West and 15-7 overall, in Taco Bell Arena. The Bulldog to tame is Candace White, who was named on Tuesday as one of 10 finalists for the 2019 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award that goes to the top shooting guard in women’s Division I basketball. White leads the Mountain West in scoring at 18.8 points per game. The Broncos’ Riley Lupfer no doubt will relish this challenge—if she’s able to play. Lupfer’s status remains uncertain tonight after she missed last Saturday’s win at San Jose State with an injury. She tops Boise State with 12.0 points per game, but that’s down from the 16.2 per game she put up last season.

SPANNING THE GLOBE WITH FORMER BRONCOS

As Chandler Hutchison sits on the Chicago Bulls bench in street clothes and a walking boot while he deals with his foot injury, let’s check out other former Boise State players in pro basketball. There are actually 14 of them. Checking in on two Bronco stars from earlier this decade: Derrick Marks is still in the Turkish League, playing for Manika. Marks, the 2015 Mountain West Player of the Year, is averaging 17.4 points per game. His Boise State running mate, Anthony Drmic, is with the Adelaide 36ers in the Australian Basketball League and is coming off a 20-point, nine-rebound performance in an 89-87 loss to Melbourne United, the reigning ABL champion. Drmic is scoring 8.4 points per game.

There is one Bronco in the NBA G-League this season, and it’s none other than Rob Heyer, a catalyst off the bench for Boise State four years ago. Heyer plays for former Bronco Coby Karl, coach of the South Bay Lakers (the L.A. D-Fenders back in the Idaho Stampede days). Heyer is averaging 5.3 points per game. The only Boise State product to play in the NBA last season, James Webb III, is currently with Telekom Baskets Bonn in Group B of the German Champions League. Webb is scoring 8.1 points per game and pulling down 5.4 rebounds. He had a 10-game cameo with the Brooklyn Nets a year ago.

COUNT IT AS A WIN IF YOU WISH

Ole Miss has been forced to vacate 33 football wins from 2010-16 as part of its penalty for 15 Level I violations involving the use of ineligible players. One of the wins was the 35-13 victory over Boise State in the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta, Bryan Harsin’s first game as Bronco coach. Does that make Boise State’s 2014 record 13-1 instead of 12-2? Cal State Northridge forfeited its season opener in 1997 at Boise State, changing the Broncos’ record from 4-7 to 5-6. I still think of that as a 4-7 season. But when you hear what Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said to fans at a town hall Monday night, well, maybe they should alter the record book. “In a way, it’s just a piece of paper, because you saw those games,” said Bjork. Hey, Rebels, you cheated.

STEELIES HEAVILY FAVORED ON PAPER

Is playing the Rapid City Rush going to be like a Boise State-San Jose State basketball game for the Idaho Steelheads? Not really. But the Steelheads sure have dominated the Rush the past four years. The Steelies return to CenturyLink Arena tonight to begin a three-game series against Rapid City. Idaho has won four straight games against the Rush and 18 of the last 22. The Steelheads will be bolstered by the return of forward Henrik Samuelsson, who is on loan from Rockford of the AHL. He’ll be suiting up as a Steelie for the first time in a year—last season he played 49 games and scored 43 points for Idaho before his AHL callup. Samuelsson was a first-round draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2012.

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February 13, 1954, 65 years ago today: On his way to establishing the college basketball records for points in a season and a career, Furman sharpshooter Frank Selvy sinks 41 field goals and 18 free throws to score 100 points in a 149-95 shellacking of Newberry, shattering the NCAA single-game record of 73. Rio Grande’s Clarence “Bevo” Francis would score 113 against Hillsdale College the same season. Those were the top two totals in history until Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor poured in an unimaginable 138 points against Faith Baptist Bible in November, 2012.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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BSU Football Salaries High, Low At The Same Time

Boise St Football salaries high and low at same time…

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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SCOTT SLANT: Standings are deceiving for the Broncos

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

It’s crunch time in the Mountain West. The top five finishers in the standings earn coveted first-round byes in the conference tournament next month. Nevada, Fresno State and Utah State are basically guaranteed three of them. That leaves six teams realistically battling for those other two spots. San Diego State is 6-4 in Mountain West play, Boise State and UNLV are 6-5, Air Force is 5-6, and New Mexico and Colorado State are 4-7. So who may have the best shot at the byes? Well, the list is inverted in terms of strength-of-schedule. The Albuquerque Journal points out that the Lobos and Rams have the easiest path on paper, as their remaining opponents have won only 38 and 43 percent of their games this season, respectively. At the difficult end are Boise State at 53 percent and San Diego State at 60.

Nevada dropped to No. 7 in the AP Poll this week despite avenging its only loss of the season Saturday. The Wolf Pack roughed up New Mexico by 29 points after losing by 27 to the Lobos six weeks ago. But the Pack only beat Colorado State by, um, 16 last Wednesday on the road. The NCAA Selection Committee’s first bracket preview Sunday is being skewered in Reno for tabbing Nevada as a No. 4 seed (the committee ranks it No. 14 in the overall bracket). The Pack’s problem is strength-of-schedule. Nevada is 22-1 and has a lot of lopsided wins this season, but no quality ones. And there’s nobody in the Mountain West that’s going to help the situation from here on out. If the Wolf Pack is a fourth seed now, it’ll probably be a No. 4 on St. Patty’s Day.

BEREAL’S FUTURE STILL UNDETERMINED

Nothing concrete yet on the status of Boise State freshman guard Jaycson Bereal, who was arrested downtown early Sunday morning. But there was this from Bereal Monday on Twitter: “Sometimes apologies aren’t enough. So I would like to say to my family, the people of Boise, my teammates, and all the people who love me, please FORGIVE me. I made a bad decision and I am paying for it inside and out. I’ve put a negative light on myself, my family, and my teammates, and that hurts me more than anyone could ever know.” B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press tweeted, “My understanding is that Bereal will not travel with the Broncos on the road trip to Fresno and San Diego this week but he hasn’t been booted from the team (at least not yet).”

APPRECIATING AVALOS

This we know: Boise State is very fortunate to have Andy Avalos going into his sixth season as defensive coordinator at a rate of $350,000 per year. Sure, that sounds like a lot of money to you and me, but in the world of high-performing college football coaches, that’s a stone-cold bargain. Assistant coaches salaries are up for Idaho State Board of Education approval this week, and Avalos’ proposed raise is $15,000 over the next two years. Many wondered how the Broncos would be able to so much as hold on to Avalos, but away we go. The other eye-catching figure on Boise State’s list: a $40,000 decrease for Kent Riddle, who gives up the special teams coordinator’s post this year.

COACHING NEWS CATCH-UP

One-time Boise State quarterback Danny Langsdorf has been named either offensive coordinator or QB coach at Fresno State, depending on which report you read (he’s not listed on the Bulldogs’ website yet). Langsdorf is a veteran of the coaching wars, having been most recently an offensive analyst at Oregon. He’s also had NFL stops with the Saints and Giants and served as Mike Riley’s O-coordinator at Oregon State and Nebraska. Langsdorf spent three years as a Bronco quarterback before transferring after Tony Hilde became the starter during the 1993 season. He finished his career playing for his father, Ed, at Linfield College.

Meanwhile, a Boise State alum has left the Bulldogs staff to ply his wares in the CFL. D.J. Harper is the new running backs coach for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after spending two years as a Fresno State grad assistant. Wide receivers coach Kirby Moore is still in Fresno, though. And former Bronco center Klayton Adams lasted only four weeks as offensive line coach at Wyoming. The chance to get his feet wet in the NFL was too tempting, as Adams has been hired as assistant O-line coach with the Indianapolis Colts. He coached the past six years at Colorado but was back on the market upon the firing of CU coach Mike MacIntyre.

COMPELLING WOMEN’S HOOPS IN THE GEM STATE

Women’s basketball is strong at all levels around the Gem State this winter. There’s Boise State, which is 19-3 and leads the Mountain West. ESPN’s Bracketology has the Broncos as a No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Boise State also has the newly-named MW Player of the Week, Braydey Hodgins, who scored 49 points and shot 59 percent from the field and 53 percent from three-point range in two wins last week. It’s the second MW honor this season for Hodgins—she also earned the award in December after being named MVP of the Husky Classic.

Northwest Nazarene is still tied for first with Alaska-Anchorage in the GNAC with identical 13-1 conference records and 21-1 overall marks. NNU was supposed to host Central Washington today, but Snowmageddon in the state of Washington wouldn’t allow CWU to travel. First the Wildcats were going to bus, but I-84 was closed over the Blue Mountains. Then they were going to fly, but all flights were cancelled out of Yakima. The game has been rescheduled for next Monday night. And there’s Idaho, who has a half-game lead over Idaho State atop the Big Sky. Since a 3-6 start in November and December, the Vandals have gone 10-2 in league.

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February 12, 2014, five years ago today: Kaitlyn Farrington, who grew up on a ranch near Bellevue and cut her snowboarding teeth at Sun Valley, wins the gold medal in the women’s halfpipe at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Farrington laid down a spectacular final run to edge defending gold medalist Torah Bright and former gold medalists Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter. It was the first Winter Games gold for an Idahoan since Picabo Street took the super G in Nagano in 1998. The only other gold medalists with Idaho ties were Boise’s Bill Johnson in the downhill in 1984 and Sun Valley’s Gretchen Fraser in the women’s slalom in 1948.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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Could Mountain West Thrive With Only 10 Schools?

Could the Mountain West thrive with only 10 schools?

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Monday, February 11, 2019

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SCOTT SLANT: An explosive respite in a challenging winter

Presented by GREENWOOD’S SKI HAUS.
Monday, February 11, 2019.

First, Alex Hobbs hit a three-pointer. Then Marcus Dickinson made a three. Then Justinian Jessup. And then Derrick Alston. When Alston drained a second trey, Boise State was up 15-0 and was off to the races in 105-57 romp over San Jose State Saturday afternoon in Taco Bell Arena. Alston was just getting started, as he poured in a career-high 33 points. He was about as efficient as you can get, going 12-for-15 from the field, 5-for-7 from three-point land and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. All in 28 minutes. It was Alston’s second 30-point game of the season. Keep in mind this is a guy who played a grand total of 26 minutes last season and scored seven points.

It was the perfect tonic for the disappointing home loss to UNLV last Wednesday. And it had everybody scrambling for the record book. It was not only the Broncos’ second-biggest margin of victory in a conference game in program history and their first 100-point game since the 2017-18 season opener, it was also their highest-scoring game in eight seasons of Mountain West play and their most points versus a conference opponent since beating New Mexico State 107-102 in triple-overtime in the 2008 WAC championship game. And it was Boise State’s most points in regulation in a conference game in 44 years—since a 105-92 victory over Montana State in Big Sky play in 1975.

Players always dream of being the face of the program when they graduate to college basketball. This is not what Jaycson Bereal had in mind, though. Bereal’s mug shot made the rounds on social media Sunday after an early-morning arrest in the 6th & Main bar district. Bereal, a 6-6 guard from Tulsa, OK, who’s redshirting at Boise State, was charged with battery and loitering-minor misdemeanors. Bereal is one of five Bronco freshmen redshirts this season. Coach Leon Rice told the Idaho Press he’d have information on Bereal’s status today.

ON THE ROAD IN COLUMBUS

Boise State linebacker Curtis Weaver (yes, he’s now called a linebacker) spent the weekend in Columbus, OH, where he was honored at the 64th Touchdown Club of Columbus Awards Saturday night. Weaver was named one of seven FBS “players to watch” on defense for 2019. The junior from Long Beach, CA, is a two-time first-team All-Mountain West selection. Weaver led the conference in sacks as a freshman with 11 and was second last year with 9.5. Another season like that may make him the Broncos’ next early entry into the NFL Draft. Also honored as “players to watch” were quarterback Jordan Love and linebacker David Woodward of Utah State and running back Ronnie Rivers of Fresno State. No introduction necessary for that latter guy.

Another player to watch locally is David Moa, who was almost like a new signee on National Letter of Intent Day last week, according to Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos. That’s how excited the Broncos are to get his senior year back via an NCAA injury waiver and get him on the field again this year. And not just because of the 56 career tackles and 11.5 sacks be brings with him. “Just as a person and a leader,” said Avalos. “Excited to help him keep growing as a young man—just what he brings to the building.” Moa has been active and enthusiastic on Twitter, indicating that he’s counting down to the start of spring football.

A SUDDEN DESCENT TO SECOND PLACE

The Idaho Steelheads are now looking up at first place in the ECHL Mountain Division. After a three-game sweep of the Steelheads, the Utah Grizzlies have opened up a four-point lead in standings over Idaho. The Grizzlies beat the Steelies 4-3 Friday and 4-2 Saturday, with goalies Tomas Sholl and Ryan Faragher each taking a loss. This marks the Steelheads’ first three-game losing streak since November.

DEEP AND DANGEROUS BRONCOS KEEP ROLLING

No Riley Lupfer—no matter for the Boise State women Saturday at San Jose State. With Lupfer home healing a minor injury, the Broncos roared out to an 18-0 start, although the Spartans did make a game of it (unlike their men’s counterparts in Boise), even leading by six points at one time in the third quarter. But Boise State had too much, as Braydey Hodgins and A’Shanti Coleman keyed the rally that gave the Broncos separation in an 83-69 victory. Hodgins notched her second straight 20-point game, draining five three-pointers. Boise State retains sole possession of first place in the Mountain West with a 10-1 record (19-3 overall).

ON THE CUSP OF CHAMPIONSHIPS

Gibson Berryhill had a 34-point weekend as the College of Idaho men moved within shouting distance of the Cascade Conference regular season title. Berryhill put up a career-high 22 points in a 108-93 win over Multnomah Friday night. The Coyotes then downed Warner Pacific 78-68 Saturday on Senior Night in Caldwell. Elsewhere, the Northwest Nazarene men broke a six-game losing streak at Western Washington by beating the Vikings 90-79 Saturday night. The Nighthawks are still locked in a tight race for the GNAC regular season crown. And the NNU women, ranked No. 7 in Division II, cruised past Seattle Pacific 90-71 in the snowy Emerald City Saturday to improve to 21-1.

CAMPUS CRUISIN’

To no one’s surprise, Boise State officially scrapped plans to have a new on-campus stadium ready when baseball is resurrected in 2020. Hopefully the Broncos’ relationship with the Boise Hawks’ brass is good, because Memorial Stadium is perfectly suitable as a temporary venue. The Boise State women’s gymnastics team beat Utah State Friday night in Logan, with Shani Remme grabbing the 20th all-around victory of her career. And at the Husky Classic in Seattle, both Allie Ostrander of Boise State and Jessica Hull of Oregon easily topped the best women’s collegiate indoor 3,000-meters time of the season Friday. Hull got the win over Ostrander, who’s mark of 8:55.26 will likely get her into the NCAA Championships.

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February 11, 2011: The Cleveland Cavaliers break an NBA record 26-game losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 126-119 in overtime. In their first season without superstar LeBron James, the Cavs had been positively awful. But five days after ending the streak they would take down the two-time defending NBA champion L.A. Lakers, improving Cleveland’s record to 10-46. Just a season earlier the Cavaliers had compiled the league’s best record at 61-21.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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USC Had The Best Talent In College Football The Last 10 Years, So What?

USC had the best football talent in College Football the last 10 years, so what?

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Friday, February 8, 2019

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SCOTT SLANT: Stop the late-night madness

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Friday, February 8, 2019.

Not to pile on, because I’m not the first one to broach this subject this week. But isn’t it time we did away with 9 p.m. tipoffs on weeknights? We knew it would be bad in Taco Bell Arena Wednesday, but a crowd count of 3,200? (Props to Boise State for reporting turnstile count instead of “tickets distributed,” like many other schools do.) There were 10,137 fans for this game last year on a Saturday night. This one was on a school and work night. If the game had been telecast on ESPN or ESPN2, then maybe the exposure would have been worth it. But it was seen by a miniscule audience on ESPNU. What is this doing to fans? New Mexico beat writer Geoff Grammer protested a 9 p.m. start for the Lobos Tuesday night and tweeted a photo of a swath of empty seats in the normally-packed Pit.

With that said, the Boise State roster is going to be so different in the next couple of years, maybe a 9:00 tip won’t scare as many people away as it did Wednesday. Utah AAU program Exum Elite tweeted yesterday that Emmanuel Akot, a 6-7 power forward and originally a five-star recruit, is transferring to the Broncos from Arizona. Akot started 11 games for the Wildcats this season, averaging 19 minutes with 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds a game. He’s appeared in Taco Bell Arena before—in the NCAA Tournament last March. Akot hasn’t played since a January 12 game at Cal (he’ll still have to sit out next season before becoming eligible at Boise State). But add Akot to Oregon transfer Abu Kigab, plus all the redshirts coach Leon Rice is stockpiling this season, and it’s going to be interesting indeed.

We come to praise Justinian Jessup today. With two three-pointers against UNLV, Jessup now has 200 treys in his Boise State career. He is the fastest Bronco to get to 200 threes in program history. Jessup did it in 87 games, surpassing the previous record held by Bronco radio analyst Abe Jackson, who reached 200 in his 91st game around the turn of the century. Jessup is now No. 7 on Boise State’s all-time three-pointers list. The Broncos just look for him to be normal Saturday versus San Jose State, and all should be well. The Spartans visit Taco Bell Arena saddled with a 3-18 record, an 0-9 mark in Mountain West play, and a 12-game losing streak that includes an 87-64 setback to Boise State last month in San Jose.

THE 3-4 TRANSITION APPEARS TO BE COMPLETE

Since the topic often strayed from National Letter of Intent Day signings on Wednesday, here’s one of my takeaways from the press conference. Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos declares that Boise State is officially a 3-4 defense instead of a 4-3, the alignment the Broncos had preferred for more than 30 years. There used to be two defensive ends and two defensive tackles in Boise State’s 4-3. One of the ends became a STUD end when Avalos took over as D-coordinator on Bryan Harsin’s first staff. The STUD’s responsibilities expanded into pass coverage over the years. Now the STUD is classified as a linebacker. Avalos says that allows Boise State to be a multiple defense. The STUD can be an off-ball ‘backer or an edge rusher. “That’s where the game’s going,” said Avalos.

HOKE HOOKS UP WITH THE AZTECS AGAIN

Former San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke is going to rejoin the Aztecs as defensive line coach. Hoke left SDSU eight years ago for Michigan, then was fired after four seasons with the Wolverines. He has since been on college staffs at Oregon and Tennesee and in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. San Diego State’s current run began when Hoke led the program. When the Aztecs finished 9-4 in 2010 it was their first nine-win season in 33 years. Hoke’s boss will be a guy who used to work for him—Rocky Long was his defensive coordinator and was promoted to head coach in 2011.

ANGST IN ALBUQUERQUE

The good news for Lobos fans: New Mexico beat San Diego State 83-70 Tuesday night. The bad news: just about everything else surrounding the program this week. First there was the UNM football recruiting class—27 players, 19 of them junior college transfers. Yikes. Then, New Mexico watchdog website NMFishbowl.com reported that former Lobos athletic director Paul Krebs would be indicted by the state’s attorney general for fraud and money laundering related to a 2015 booster golf junket to Scotland. The scandal led to Krebs’ downfall. Krebs allegedly used public funds to cover a $25,000 shortfall in the trip’s budget and had his wife, a professor at New Mexico, craft a fake email to cover his tracks. Yikes again.

TWO POTENTIAL TIEBREAKERS IN UTAH

It’s now truly a battle for first place this weekend for the Idaho Steelheads. The Steelheads and the Utah Grizzlies are now knotted atop the ECHL Mountain Division, and they go head-to-head tonight and Saturday night in West Valley City. The Steelies have had the luxury of three good goalies on the roster recently. It’s down to two for the rest of this series, as Colton Point has been recalled by the Dallas Stars to their AHL affiliate in Texas. Point appears to be a pet project of the Stars. The 20-year-old from North Bay, ON, has been steadily improving—he’s 3-1 with Idaho since his last AHL stint.

STAYIN’ AWAKE IN SAN JOSE

The Boise State women venture into the sleepiest atmosphere in the Mountain West Saturday when they face San Jose State at the Events Center. The Spartan women’s season—2-18 overall and 1-8 in conference—is basically mirroring that of the SJSU men. The College of Idaho men, ranked No. 3 in NAIA Division II, have already reached the end of the regular season as they host Multnomah tonight and Warner Pacific Saturday night in Caldwell. And Northwest Nazarene’s nationally-ranked teams are both on the road. The 24th-ranked Nighthawk men fell 78-77 at Simon Fraser last night and travel to Western Washington Saturday. The seventh-ranked NNU women stifled Saint Martin’s 70-43 last night and visit Seattle Pacific on Saturday.

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February 8, 2006: Just two days after being seemingly left in the lurch by the resignation of Nick Holt, Idaho announces the return of Dennis Erickson as head coach. Holt had a 5-18 record in his two seasons, but Erickson—with two national championships and a legacy of college football turnarounds in his career—was expected to flip those numbers. We never found out, as Erickson lasted just 10 months before bolting for Arizona State, going 4-8 in his one season with the Vandals. He had started his head coaching career with Idaho in 1982, going 32-15 in four seasons. Erickson is now bound for the College Football Hall of Fame.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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BOISE STATE BASKETBALL: STOCK UP/STOCK DOWN

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Pac-12 Not Getting Fair Share Of Top Football Recruits

PAC 12 not getting their fair share of Top football recruits

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Thursday, February 7, 2019

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SCOTT SLANT: Reaching the recruiting mountaintop

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Thursday, February 7, 2019.

Just two years ago, there were National Letter of Intent Day extravaganzas, with college football fans—at least the recruiting junkies—devouring info on all the new signees. Now that December’s “early signing day” is established, the first Wednesday in February has become anticlimactic. Boise State officially announced the three additions to its 2019 class Wednesday that everybody already knew about: wide receiver DK Blaylock of New Deal, TX, linebacker Lolani Langi of South Jordan, UT, and kicker Gavin Wale from Henderson, NV. The Broncos have two scholarships left. “There’s going to be somebody late—there are going to be things that happen,” said coach Bryan Harsin. One thing that could happen is a walk-on superstar coming out of winter conditioning and/or spring football who could be awarded a scholly.

With no drama on “Signing Day Junior,” the conversation turned to Boise State’s quarterback position. Brett Rypien is gone, and the race to replace him is wide open. Hank Bachmeier and Kaiden Bennett were early enrollees last month. Already on the roster are senior Jaylon Henderson, redshirt freshman Riley Smith and last year’s backup, sophomore Chase Cord. “We will not have a starter coming out of spring ball,” said Harsin. “We will not have a starter going into fall camp. We’ll have a starter about 10 days out (from the Florida State game).” Well, that will keep everyone engaged. It also tells Cord, whose torn ACL will keep him off the field until fall camp, to keep his chin up. Harsin seems resigned to the fact that not all of them will ultimately remain Broncos. That’s just the way it is in today’s “transfer portal” world.

This is the highest-rated class in Boise State history and the top-ranked list this year in the Group of 5. The Broncos have cracked the top 50 for the first time at No. 48. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the widening crevasse between the Power 5 and Group of 5. The difference in money is staggering. So, look at the three schools immediately following Boise State, and you’ll be able to appreciate what an accomplishment this is: Northwestern, Georgia Tech and Syracuse. It’s been pointed out that all but one of the 18 players the Broncos signed had at least one Power 5 scholarship offer. UCF is the next Group of 5 school at No. 55. The next Mountain West team is Colorado State at No. 84. You know what everybody will say now. The pressure will be on Boise State to cash in on this talent.

TRADING TWOS FOR THREES DOOMS BRONCOS

Boise State busted out to an 8-0 lead on UNLV Wednesday night. Then the Rebels started making their three-pointers. Again and again. The Broncos shot well enough in the first half to stem the tide, but UNLV’s barrage finally took its toll early in the second half, leading to an 83-72 win for the visitors in Taco Bell Arena. The triples put Boise State on its heels once the Rebels had forged ahead. The Broncos were able to tie the game 68-68 with six minutes left—then, guess what. A three-pointer by Kris Clyburn, the Rebels’ 13th of the night, gave UNLV the lead for good, and the Rebels finished the game on a 15-4 run. Boise State? It went 1-for-10 from three-point range after halftime.

It was another head-scratcher for Boise State. The Broncos shot well last Saturday at Nevada but lost by 20 points to a superior team. And, while they struggled from three-point range, they still hit 54 percent from the field Wednesday night and lost by 13 at home against a team they had expected to beat. What happened versus UNLV was enlightening. Something has gone south defensively for Boise State. The Wolf Pack shot 56 percent from the field and went 13-for-28 from beyond the arc. The Rebels shot 54 percent from the field and were 14-for-26 from three-point land. “We just let them move the ball wherever they wanted,” said coach Leon Rice on the Learfield IMG College postgame show. “They were way too comfortable.” Rice also bemoaned the Broncos’ 9-for-17 performance at the free throw line.

TWO HOT HANDS ARE BETTER THAN NONE

It was 3½ minutes into the second half Wednesday night before a player not named Braydey Hodgins or Rachel Bowers made a field goal for the Boise State women. But in the end, those two were able to carry the Broncos to a 64-57 win at UNLV. Hodgins and Bowers each notched career highs with 28 and 19 points, respectively. They combined to go 17-for-22 from the field while the rest of the team was an unfathomable 5-for-38. Nevertheless, Boise State improved to 18-3 on the season. More importantly, the Broncos now have sole possession of first place in the Mountain West at 9-1 following New Mexico’s 61-59 loss Wednesday night at San Diego State.

ARE THE STEELIES FOREVER AN ECHL TEAM?

Sports radio personality Dave “Softy” Marler of KJR in Seattle tweeted something the other night that will get some water cooler talk going. “From Dave Tippett on ‘Tuesdays with Tip’ tonight on KJR: 2 possible destinations for @NHL Seattle AHL team: Boise and Palm Springs.” Tippett is the new Seattle franchise’s senior advisor. Well, if Stockton can be an AHL city, Boise certainly can. I guess that means CenturyLink Arena’s 5,200-fan capacity is enough for Triple-A hockey. Meanwhile, on the ECHL ice Wednesday night, the Utah Grizzlies pulled into a first-place tie with the Idaho Steelheads via a 4-1 victory in West Valley City.

RUFAI BROTHERS NOW UNDER THE KIBBIE DOME ROOF

Back to the recruiting trail—we know where the Rufai brothers are headed now that they’ve left the Boise State program. They are both going to be Vandals, signing their National Letters of Intent to play for Idaho Wednesday. They can play right away since they’re transferring to the FCS. Kayode Rufai, who played 10 career games for the Broncos and logged 18 tackles with half a sack, will be a junior with two years of eligibility remaining. Mujeeb Rufai redshirted as a walk-on freshman defensive back in 2018 and has four seasons remaining. Idaho signed 11 more players Wednesday, giving it a 2019 recruiting class of 26. The Vandals also landed Mountain Home High wide receiver Nehemiah Parker, a second-team all-state selection who had 33 catches for 505 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

College of Idaho has spread its recruiting wings the past couple of years, but this year the Coyotes aggressively mined the state of Idaho. The guidelines in the NAIA are different, and the Yotes class is massive. There are 40 players, 31 of them from Idaho. Among the more familiar names (can’t hit ‘em all in this space) are Capital quarterback Ryan Hibbs, Timberline running back Ed Osterberger, Rocky Mountain defensive back Kaimana Nawahine, and Bishop Kelly defensive end Luke McLaughlin, the 4A SIC Defensive Player of the Year.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!

February 7, 1949, 70 years ago today: Joe DiMaggio signs a contract with the New York Yankees making him the first $100,000-a-year baseball player. That was a lot of money in those days, but inflation wouldn’t bring it remotely near today’s highest salary—L.A. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw made $34 million last year. DiMaggio would play just three more years, retiring after the 1951 season. The Yankee Clipper’s most famous feat was his amazing 56-game hitting streak in 1941.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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BOISE STATE FOOTBALL RECRUITING

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Boise State Recruit From Nevada Is MKG – My Kinda Guy

Boise State recruit from Fallon, Nevada, is MKG – My Kinda Guy …

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Wednesday, February 6, 2019

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SCOTT SLANT: Two middling MW programs meet up

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019.

Boise State may have lost by 20 points at Nevada last Saturday, but I would venture to say if the Broncos play the same way tonight versus UNLV, they will win. If they shoot well, score in the 70’s and take care of the ball, they’ll probably be fine. Boise State will want to bear down on the boards, though, and free throw shooting could be an Achilles heel (the Broncos were just 12-for-19 from the stripe in Reno). They could also use more help in the scoring column. Against the Wolf Pack, it was David Wacker two, Marcus Dickinson zero, Pat Dembley zero and Malek Harwell zero. The Rebels don’t have the chemistry the Pack has, though, and make more unforced errors than their hated rival from up north. UNLV has struggled on the road, losing its last three away from Las Vegas by 17, 17 and 18 points.

Considering the expectations that annually dog the UNLV men’s basketball program, you can call coach Marvin Menzies “embattled” right now. After the Rebels’ 82-65 loss at Utah State last Saturday, UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said Menzies’ job status will be evaluated at the end of the season. “The program is doing some very good things academically and in the community,” Reed-Francois told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Not encouraging. Menzies is in his third season at UNLV and is 42-44 overall, with two years remaining on his contract. Menzies came to Las Vegas from New Mexico State, where he was 198-111 and made five NCAA Tournaments.

Boise State is 6-1 all-time against UNLV in Taco Bell Arena. But there’s an asterisk: three of the last four games in Boise have gone to overtime, including the Broncos’ 93-91 victory last year in front of 10,137 fans. And with the parity in the Mountain West this winter, anything can happen tonight. The Broncos and Rebels are churning along in the middle of the Mountain West standings—both teams are 5-4 in conference and need this win tonight. What would constitute a good crowd? It’s not going to be 10,000, partly because the 9:00 start time wipes so many fans out. I’ll put the over/under at 5,500.

ONE LESS TOE IN THE COMPETITION

Today is the old-fashioned National Letter of Intent Day for college football. Boise State will likely announce three more signees, including kicker/punter Gavin Wale of Henderson, NV. The Broncos could also reveal graduate transfer kicker Eric Sachse from Division III Trinity College in Connecticut. But there’ll be no mention of preferred walk-on kicker Kyle Sentkowski from College of the Siskiyous in Northern California. That’s because, as KTIK’s John Patrick reports, Sentkowski has changed his mind and is back on the market. So, for now, it’s Wale and Sachse against returnee Joel Velazquez for the much-scrutinized 2019 placekicking job with the Broncos.

GARRETT EXPECTS MORE WITH MOORE

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett isn’t thinking beyond next season. And why would he? Owner Jerry Jones isn’t going to extend his contract. But Garrett is excited about 2019 and his new offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore. Garrett, in Atlanta over the weekend with Jones for the NFL Honors celebration and the Super Bowl, went on about Moore’s intelligence as player, but admitted that Kellen’s lack of experience has factored into some of the team’s other staff moves, like bringing aboard Jon Kitna as quarterbacks coach. “He’s young,” Garrett said of Moore. “We recognize that he doesn’t have a lot of experience as a coach, but we’re going to surround him with some good veteran coaches who are going to help him grow in this role. We really think he’s going to respond well. It’ll be a good combination for our players.”

Other NFL notes involving former Boise State standouts: I was crying wolf on Tanner Vallejo’s predicament Tuesday. After being cut by Cleveland, I thought the third-year linebacker had a tough row to hoe. Not so, however, as he has already been claimed off waivers by the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards especially like Vallejo as a special teams player. And, with one-time Boise State offensive line coach Chris Strausser now departed in Denver, will new free agent Matt Paradis shop himself around? The former Council Lumberjack broke his leg last fall, ending a streak of 57 straight starts at center for the Broncos. The run included Super Bowl 50, when he anchored the O-line to polish off Peyton Manning’s final season. Paradis always grades out as one of the best centers in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

STEELIES LOOK TO KEEP GRIZZLIES AT ARM’S LENGTH

The Idaho Steelheads’ nine-game road swing wraps up this weekend with a three-game series at Utah beginning tonight. The Grizzlies are just two points behind the first-place Steelheads in the ECHL’s Mountain Division. This week will be the last time the rivals meet until the final series of the regular season in April. The Steelies will be without forward Brad McClure, who’s been recalled by Texas of the AHL for the second time this season. McClure is third among ECHL rookies in scoring with 39 points and leads Idaho with 19 goals.

MORE HOOPS ON THE UP-AND-UP

For the first time since 2008, the Northwest Nazarene men’s basketball team is ranked in NCAA Division II. The Nighthawks, now 15-3 overall and tied for first in the GNAC, debuted at No. 24 in the coaches’ poll Tuesday. It’s just the second time NNU has made the poll since moving to the NCAA almost 18 years ago. The rankings are old-hat to the Nighthawks women’s team, which was No. 1 in the land a couple weeks ago. NNU is back up to No. 7 this week after upping its record to 19-1. These Nighthawks are also tied for first in the GNAC. Both NNU teams are on the road this weekend.

The Boise State women have a tricky test coming up tonight at UNLV. The Broncos have won 13 of their last 14 games in the month of February dating back two years. The only loss was a 77-54 rout at the hands of the Rebels in Thomas & Mack Center a year ago. This season’s UNLV squad started 2-9 in non-conference play but has gotten healthy and is 5-4 in the Mountain West. An underappreciated stat in Boise State’s corner is rebounding—the Broncos had a whopping 73-45 advantage on the boards in last week’s wins over Colorado State and Nevada.

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February 6, 2011: Boise State has two alums in the Super Bowl for the first time—and two Super Bowl champions for the first time. Starting left guard Daryn Colledge and fullback Korey Hall earned rings in Green Bay’s 31-25 win over Pittsburgh at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. Hall became the first former Bronco ever to record a Super Bowl offensive stat, as modest as it was. The pride of Glenns Ferry gathered in a two-yard pass from MVP Aaron Rodgers during the Packers’ first touchdown drive. Super Bowl XLV was the most-watched television event of all time.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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UNLV BASKETBALL VS. BOISE STATE

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State of Boise State Football Is In The Past

State of Boise State Football Union!

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Tuesday, February 5, 2019

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SCOTT SLANT: Call this schedule a ‘rough draft’

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

It’s a fluid document, but at lease we know which week is which (a lot earlier than normal, I might add). All 12 Boise State football games this season are listed for Saturdays, and 12 kickoff times are “TBA.” But it’s unlikely any of the games will move off their appointed weekends. The Bronco schedule certainly isn’t as symmetrical as in year’s past. For the first time in 12 years, Boise State will have three consecutive home games—and for the first time in 21 years, all three are in September (Marshall on the 7th, Portland State on the 14th and Air Force on the 21st). That means there’ll be road games bunched together down the line, and twice later in the season Boise State will have back-to-back road games. Senior Night is early—against New Mexico on November 16.

The Mountain West scheduling rotation dictates that Boise State switches it three West Division opponents this year. It’s UNLV, Hawaii and San Jose State instead of San Diego State, Nevada and Fresno State. The Broncos face the Rebels, Rainbow Warriors and Spartans over a four-week period in the middle of the season. Because of the way the 2019 calendar falls, the college football season is longer this year. The Broncos will have two byes: on September 28 and October 26. What’s curious to me: why is the season finale at Colorado State on November 30 not flip-flopped with the game the week before at Utah State? The Broncos-Aggies matchup shapes up as an enormous one in the Mountain Division, just like last year.

UNKNOWN QUANTITIES AT COLORADO STATE

The word “portal” is weaving itself into the college football vernacular. As in, “transfer portal.” Fortunately, Boise State uses it sparingly. Colorado State uses it more liberally. The Rams get some great players, but they also get baggage. Wide receiver Preston Williams transferred to CSU from Tennessee, and last year he had a spectacular season: 96 catches for 1,345 yards and 14 touchdowns. Williams had nine receptions for 154 yards and a TD in a loss at Boise State in October. So, he declared early for the NFL Draft. But Williams was not invited to the NFL Combine due to his domestic violence arrest in September, 2017, according to the NFL Network. He was arrested again a month later and was suspended for the rest of that season. Needless to say, Williams’ road to the NFL has become much more difficult.

Boise State’s two most visible graduate transfers in recent years have both panned out well. In 2015 it was Stanford running back Kelsey Young, who backed up Jeremy McNichols with 511 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. In 2017, of course, there was Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart, who played such a key role in the Broncos’ 11-3 season. Cozart threw for 754 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 361 with four more scores. This year it’ll be the intriguing Division III kicker from Trinity College in Connecticut, Eric Sachse. And a reminder: tomorrow is National Letter of Intent Day. Or should we call it “Signing Day Jr.” considering the impact the December signing day has had on recruiting.

THE ONLY TIPOFF TIME OF ITS KIND THIS YEAR

On the day we digest Boise State’s new football schedule, we take note of the tipoff time for tomorrow night’s Broncos-UNLV in Taco Bell Arena. It’s a 9 p.m. start for what promises to be a pivotal game in Boise State’s Mountain West campaign. But it’s the only start time later than 8 p.m. for a home game this season, and the Broncos are hoping fans will make an exception to their bedtimes to come out for this one. In years past, a late tip may have been offset by the appeal of a program with UNLV’s tradition. But the Rebels have endured losing seasons in two of the past three years and aren’t as easy a sell. They haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2013.

Nevada leapfrogged Michigan and Michigan State in the AP Poll Monday, moving back up to No. 6. The Wolf Pack is perched in the same spot in the Coaches Poll. As for those Martin twins? Caleb is the Mountain West Player of the Week, and Cody has been named one of 10 finalists for the Cousy Award that goes to the nation’s best point guard. And Caleb and Jordan Caroline are among the final 20 in the running for the Wooden Award. Two games tonight will have a telling effect on Mountain West standings below the Pack peak. The winner of the Utah State-Fresno State game will have sole possession of second place, and in Albuquerque, San Diego State tries to stay upper-echelon in the conference—and keep New Mexico lower-echelon.

REMEMBER FORMER BOISE HAWK LUKE HAGERTY?

This has been prominent in MLB news the past several days: the incredible comeback story of 37-year-old pitcher Luke Hagerty. Ironically, Hagerty has signed with the Chicago Cubs, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2002 and assigned him to the Boise Hawks. He dominated that summer, going 5-3 with a 1.13 ERA. But Hagerty underwent Tommy John surgery the next year and was never able to bounce back. He had short stints in Boise in 2004 and 2005, and in the latter one he gave up a staggering 23 earned runs in just 6 2/3 innings. Part of it was the yips, Hagerty admitted in an outstanding story at ESPN.com written by Jeff Passan. He and the Hawks and the Cubs tried all sorts of experiments—from weird target drills to sports psychologists. Nothing worked.

Hagerty hasn’t pitched pro ball of any kind in 11 years. He dropped baseball altogether (and baseball dropped him) after a stop in an independent league in 2008. Then he picked up a ball again in 2012 at a sports performance center he had founded in Scottsdale. And he threw it. And before long he was hitting 94 miles per hour, then almost 99 mph last year. Hagerty followed with intense sessions with a brain researcher who got him to rediscover his “game persona.” Then he floored scouts at a Seattle workout three weeks ago. And last Friday, the Cubs signed him to a non-guaranteed minor league contract. Passan points out that Hagerty could be the oldest pitcher with no foreign experience to debut in the majors since Hall of Famer Satchel Paige in 1948.

CROSSROADS TIME FOR TANNER VALLEJO

Late-round draft picks who are released after their third season are often in a precarious position. So it is for Tanner Vallejo. The former Boise State standout was waived yesterday by the Cleveland Browns, five weeks after being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Vallejo appeared in 13 games with one start last year for the Browns. He logged 20 tackles and forced one fumble on defense and added seven special teams tackles. Vallejo was drafted in the sixth round by the Buffalo Bills in 2016.

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February 5, 2006: Seattle’s first trip to the Super Bowl is undone by bad decisions, bad calls, and bad karma in a 21-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Seahawks appeared to dominate the game but couldn’t make the big play, while the Steelers did—the final nail being a 43-yard touchdown pass on a reverse from wide receiver Antwaan Randel-El to the game’s MVP, Hines Ward. But most scrutinized was the officiating that took away, at best, all of Seattle’s momentum—and, at worst, two potential Seahawks touchdowns. Meanwhile, former Boise State standout Kimo von Oelhoffen took home a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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