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Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Tuesday, December 18, 2018

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SCOTT SLANT: Talkin’ ACC-level talent in the First Responder Bowl

Presented by LIKE NU CAR WASH.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

As we get to know the Boston College Eagles ahead of the First Responder Bowl, we can start with their Senior Bowl representatives. On that scoreboard, it’s BC 4, Boise State 0. The four Senior Bowlers are led by offensive guard Chris Lindstrom, who was also a first-team All-ACC selection and was named a third-team AP All-American. Lindstrom’s Twitter handle is Big Fish—he’s 6-4, 310 pounds. Another All-ACC pick, tight end Tommy Sweeney, is also Senior Bowl-bound. Sweeney has 32 catches for 348 yards and three touchdowns this season. Defensive end Zach Allen, Boston College’s top NFL Draft prospect, and strong safety Will Harris round out the Eagles’ contingent in the Mobile, AL, clash on January 26.

Hamp Cheevers would be on that list if he was old enough. But Cheevers isn’t a senior. He isn’t even a junior. Cheevers is a sophomore cornerback who leads Boston College and is tied for the national lead in interceptions with seven this season, his first as a starter. He could be a handful for Boise State’s Brett Rypien next week. According to Pro Football Focus, which really drills down stats, opposing quarterbacks have a pass efficiency rating of just 40 when targeting Cheevers (keeping in mind that 110 is considered poor). Like Lindstrom, Cheevers was a first-team All-ACC pick and a third-team AP All-American.

The Boise State defense will have to deal with Boston College running back AJ Dillon in Dallas. Dillon has fought through injuries this year to rush for 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. But he did have to leave the Eagle’s regular season finale, a 42-21 loss to Syracuse, with a right ankle injury. A lot of pundits have tried to use the Broncos’ performance against Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill as a measuring stick for this game. Because Hill’s a Power 5 running back, of course. The reality: he rushed for 123 yards in the Cowboys’ 44-21 win in September. But take away a 53-yard burst late in the game, and Boise State held Hill to 70 yards on 14 carries—and as a team, OSU averaged 3.3 yards per tote without Hill’s run.

WESTERN MICHIGAN’S GOT TALENT

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl participants arrived in Boise Monday to prep for Friday’s game on the blue turf. It struck me that there’s been hardly anything out there about those “other” Broncos from Western Michigan. WMU has a serious one-two punch at running back with LeVante Bellamy, with 1,172 yards on the ground this year, and Jamauri Bogan, who has rushed for 702 yards and is over 3,000 for his career. The key to Western’s hopes, however, might be how quarterback Kaleb Eleby plays. Eleby, a true freshman, chucked his redshirt year for the final four games of the season and threw for 917 yards and four touchdowns against two interceptions.

ANOTHER FORMER BRONCO QUARTERBACK AS A COACH

As for Western Michigan coach Tim Lester, well, he has something in common with Boise State coach Bryan Harsin. Like Harsin, Lester was a quarterback from 1996-99 for a team called the Broncos. Lester started for Western Micgigan, winning the MAC Freshman of the Year award in 1996 and All-MAC honors in 1999, when he led WMU to the MAC championship game. He threw for 11,299 yards and 87 touchdowns in his career (86 TDs more than Harsin). Lester took over at his alma mater when P.J. Fleck left for Minnesota after Western Michigan’s undefeated regular season and its run to the Cotton Bowl in 2016.

ONE PLAYER’S ANSWER TO THE ‘WOLF HUNTER’

Well, we know who Leighton Vander Esch’s primary competition is for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard made sure of it on Sunday. Leonard produced a team-high 11 tackles, one tackle for loss, two pass breakups and a blocked field goal recovery in the Colts’ 23-0 stunner over Dallas. After a fourth quarter pass deflection, he turned skyward and mocked LVE’s “Wolf Hunter” howl. Leonard was drafted 36th overall last spring out of South Carolina State, 17 spots later than Vander Esch. The former Boise State star’s popularity has made him a marked man. What did he think of Leonard’s howl? “It’s whatever,” said Vander Esch after the game. “Don’t really care.”

LOOKING FOR THAT LEADER

Can Alex Hobbs be a “glue guy” on the floor for Boise State? The Broncos don’t have one right now, but Hobbs has been the team’s most consistent player since returning from an ankle injury. He scored 16 points over Boise State’s first seven games (he played in four), and 49 in the last three (he put up 21 Saturday night at Oregon). The struggles of RJ Williams and Justinian Jessup in the loss to the Ducks are well-chronicled, but if you’re talking about all the pieces having to work together for the Broncos to have success this season, you can throw Derrick Alston in there, too. The sophomore guard was in double-figures in four of Boise State’s first five games but only one since. Alston was 0-for-3 and scored just one point in Eugene. The Broncos visit 10-1 Loyola Marymount tomorrow night in L.A.

NO DREW IN RENO

Nevada jumped back up to No. 6 Monday in both polls after edging South Dakota State 72-68 Saturday in its only game of the week. The Wolf Pack announced last week that veteran point guard Lindsey Drew has had right hip surgery and will not play this season. The hip injury appears to stem from Drew compensating for a torn Achilles suffered against Boise State last season on Valentine’s Day in Taco Bell Arena. He’s still in line for surgery on his left hip. Drew was a third-year starter at the time of the Achilles tear. He was coach Eric Musselman’s first recruit in 2015. Pack star Cody Martin, the reigning Mountain West Player of the Year, is now starting at point guard.

THAT CRAZY HUSKY CLASSIC FINISH

Local accounts of the Boise State women’s 73-69 win over Washington in the title game of the Husky Classic Sunday night are rather matter-of-fact. But the Seattle Times saw it as robbery, as in a charging foul called on UW star Amber Melgoza with 12 seconds left that the Huskies contend should have been a foul on the Broncos. Washington coach Jody Wynn, going after the officials, had to be restrained by her assistants as one of her shoes flew off. She threw the other one. Elsewhere, the College of Idaho men return home tonight following their first Cascade Conference loss of the season. The Yotes meet I-84 rival Eastern Oregon in the J.A. Albertson Activities Center.

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December 18, 1932: The Chicago Bears beat the Portsmouth Spartans, 9-0, in the NFL’s first playoff game. It was also the first NFL game ever played indoors, moved from Wrigley Field to Chicago Stadium because of a huge blizzard in the Windy City. The floor was covered with dirt because a circus had just appeared there, and the field was only 80 yards long. The Bears’ deciding touchdown came on a scoring pass from Bronko Nagurski to Red Grange.

(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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Please Play And Coach In Your Bowl Game

Everybody should play in bowl games … AND COACH

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Monday, December 17, 2018

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SCOTT SLANT: This team needs every single pieces-part

Presented by BBSI.
Monday, December 17, 2018.

Boise State had only one of its top three scorers perform up to snuff Saturday night, and it doomed the Broncos in a 66-54 loss at Oregon. Alex Hobbs matched a career-high with 21 points, 16 of them in the first half, and drilled five three-pointers. A flurry by Hobbs at the end of the half put Boise State up 28-24 at the break. On the other hand, R.J. Williams and Justinian Jessup combined to go 1-for-15 from the field. With Hobbs so hot and Williams and Jessup so cold, the Ducks adjusted their defensive focus to Hobbs in the second half. Offensively, Oregon shot 65 percent after the intermission while outrebounding the Broncos by 13. Coach Leon Rice, while bemoaning Jessup’s and Williams’ struggles, hasn’t changed his tune: “If (all our guys) can be just a little more consistent with their play, that’s when we’ll start clicking.”

Hard to tell what this game would have been like had Oregon true freshman sensation Bol Bol been in the lineup. Bol, the 7-2 one-man wrecking crew, was scratched before the game due to a foot injury he suffered in practice last week. He sat on the bench wearing a protective boot on his left foot as he watched the Ducks beat Boise State. The Broncos’ Zach Haney had a decent game without Bol in the floor, scoring 11 points. Haney did have only four rebounds, though. Hopefully (at least for the sake of fans in Taco Bell Arena), Bol will be healthy for the rematch between these two teams December 29 in Boise.

THE FOURTH DOWN FOCAL POINT

It’s the calm before the storm for the First Responder Bowl, as nine days remain before next week’s game in Dallas between Boise State and Boston College. Coach Bryan Harsin designated one of this year’s projects to be improvement in fourth-down conversions. Massive improvement. And that’s what he got. The Broncos were dead last in the FBS in 2017, going 3-for-17 for 17 percent. This season they’ve converted 14 of their 23 fourth down tries for 61 percent. That’s currently 30th in the country. The two signature conversions this year were ones that kept the ball away from opponents in the waning moments of close games: the fourth-and-eight catch by CT Thomas at Nevada, and the touchdown plunge by Alexander Mattison with four seconds left versus Utah State.

A WELCOME COOLING TREND FOR KALANI

For a guy who was on the hot seat at the beginning of the year, coach Kalani Sitake sure appears to be in a much more comfy chair right now at BYU. Sitake overhauled his offensive coaching staff, and it appears to have an identity again going into this Friday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Western Michigan with true freshman Zach Wilson settling in at quarterback. The offense in 2017 was woeful. The Cougars ranked 124th in the nation in scoring at 17.1 points per game, but now they’re 95th with an average of 25.4 points. There’s still a long way to go, but there’s an upward trajectory. Bowl eligibility is an accomplishment after last year’s 4-9 record.

TWO DOWN, FOUR TO GO FOR THE MW

The Mountain West is off to an impressive 2-0 start in the postseason. Conference champion Fresno State dug in against Arizona State and won the Las Vegas Bowl 31-20 Saturday, earning a school-record 12th victory. On the surface, it was a standard Bulldogs performance: 436 yards of total offense and 293 yards allowed on defense. But the ‘Dogs were letting the Sun Devils hang around and had to overcome turnovers on three straight possesssions in the third quarter. That was atypical of Fresno State. The Bulldogs largely did it with a running game that had been spotty this season. Ronnie Rivers, fresh off the winning touchdown in overtime in the Mountain West title game, churned out 212 rushing yards, including a game-turning 68-yard touchdown run.

Utah State had only four full-time coaches on the sidelines Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl, with Matt Wells having taken a bunch of staffers with him to Texas Tech. No matter, as the Aggies racked North Texas 52-13, tying their program record with win No. 11. Five of their seven touchdown drives consumed a combined three minutes and 20 seconds—kind of the story of their season. USU rolled up 556 yards of total offense behind sophomore quarterback Jordan Love. Former Boise State offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr., fired last month as head coach at Western Kentucky, was revealed as Utah State’s new O-coordinator Friday. Sanford’s walking into a pretty good situation.

LENO PULLS AN IAN

We don’t know if Charles Leno Jr. got this idea from Ian Johnson. After all, Leno was still a sophomore in high school when Johnson proposed to Chrissy Popadics right after the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. But Leno, the former Boise State star, got down on one knee just after he and the Chicago Bears beat the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field Sunday and proposed to his girlfriend, Jennifer Roth. She said yes. Leno planned it last week once he realized that the Bears would clinch the NFC North for the first time since 2010 with a win over the Packers. He asked coach Matt Nagy permission first. Leno can afford the ring—he signed a four-year contract extension last summer worth $18 million.

STEELIES SPURT INTO SECOND

Don’t look now, but the Idaho Steelheads are now in second place in the ECHL Mountain Division, just one point behind the Utah Grizzlies. The Steelheads completed a three-game sweep of Kansas City over the weekend, beginning with a 3-0 decision Friday night. This time it was goalie Ryan Faragher’s turn to record a shutout, his first of the season, supported by two goals from Reid Petryk. Saturday night it was a 3-2 Steelies victory, and the game-winning goal ended up coming early. Alex Dahl got it five minutes into the second period; the two teams were scoreless from there. Tomas Sholl picked up his 12th win of the season for Idaho, making 30 saves.

BRONCO WOMEN RIGHT THE SHIP

Back to hoops: the Boise State women erased the sour taste of their loss at Washington State two weeks ago by winning the Husky Classic in Seattle Sunday night, beating Washington 73-69 in the title game. It’s what Riley Lupfer, the junior from Spokane, signed up for. Lupfer scored 22 points and drained seven three-pointers—Boise State was 14-for-30 from beyond the arc as a team. And the top-ranked College of Idaho men were stunned Sunday night in Eugene by Northwest Christian, who led wire-to-wire in an 84-80 upset. The night before the Yotes had picked up their biggest-ever road victory over Corban in a 75-53 rout. Now they have to hit the reset button. C of I now has an on-court record of 12-2.

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December 17, 2011: In its 15th year, and its first as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise’s bowl game produces a thriller. Utah State, making its first postseason appearance since the inaugural Humanitarian Bowl in 1997, led Ohio the entire way until 13 seconds remained in the game. That’s when Bobcats quarterback Tyler Tettleton ran in a four-yard keeper to give Ohio a 24-23 win, its first bowl victory in school history. The Aggies nevertheless finished with their first winning season since 1996.

(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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Paul J: Humor, Humility and DRAMA

Paul J was humor, humility and DRAMA

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Friday, December 14, 2018

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Paul J. Schneider: Part of every Boise State fan’s life

Presented by BACON.
Friday, December 14, 2018.

I’ve told several stories about my time in the broadcast booth with Paul J. Schneider, but today, the day he retires from KBOI, I’ll just be a fan, because I am. I remember a Saturday night in October, 1974, when I was 23. Twenty-three year-olds usually have previous plans on a Saturday night, but I really wanted to listen to Boise State’s game against UNLV. Both were elite Division II teams at the time. I literally paced around the house listening to Paul J.’s energy steadily rise as the Broncos rallied from a 37-6 deficit early in the second half to pull to within 37-35 in the final two minutes. Pace, pace, pace. Boise State got the ball back—and the game ended with an interception on the Rebels’ 17-yard-line. Paul J. made it a heart-pounding experience. You probably have a similar story. Fare thee well, pal.

BOWL PREP AND COMMITMENT-COUNTING

Coach Bryan Harsin told the media Thursday that running back Alexander Mattison has been going through Boise State’s bowl practices, an indicator that he will play in the First Responder Bowl versus Boston College. Harsin said no decision has been made yet—that he knows of—on Mattison leaving early for the NFL Draft, but the junior has requested a draft grade from the NFL advisory committee. Even if Mattison does leave, Harsin points out what last year’s Las Vegas Bowl did for Leighton Vander Esch. LVE was dominant in the win over Oregon and parlayed that into the No. 19 overall pick in the draft. “So many highlights have come from that last game,” said Harsin. “That propelled him.” Let’s also harken back to Jay Ajayi, who had a big game in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl after declaring early for the draft.

Two of this week’s three “silent commits” have been revealed. STUD end Dylan Hall of Antelope Valley, CA, tweeted his commitment to Boise State Thursday afternoon. Hall is a 6-5, 230 pounder who can also play linebacker, which is common for those at the STUD position. Hall, a three-star prospect according to 247 Sports, held seven scholarship offers from Power 5 schools, along with six Mountain West schools. Markel Reed, a 6-1 cornerback from Temple, TX, has also announced his commitment. Reed is also a three-star, and he also had seven Power 5 offers as well. These sure sound like good gets for the Broncos.

Brett Rypien and his immediate Boise State predecessor at quarterback, Ryan Finley, are going to have a common opponent after all this season. Boston College lost 28-23 at North Carolina State on October 6, and Finley threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns, although he did toss two interceptions. If Rypien can duplicate that—minus the picks—against the Eagles in the First Responder Bowl, you have to like the Broncos’ chances. It’s amazing how close the two former teammates are in senior year stats. Finley has thrown for 3,789 yards and 24 TDs against nine interceptions. Rypien has 3,705 yards, 30 touchdowns, and seven picks. Finley has played one less game.

Speaking of North Carolina State, the Tarheels will be without offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz, the former Boise State O.C., when they face Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Eve. Drinkwitz has been hired as the new head coach at Appalachian State, replacing Louisville-bound Scott Satterfield. Drinkwitz, who’s only 35 (and still looks 25), has a high standard to uphold with the Sun Belt champions. He was Harsin’s first offensive coordinator with the Broncos, leaving for NC State after the 2015 season. That’s the year Finley went down with an ankle injury and Rypien took over. Drinkwitz facilitated Finley’s transfer to the Tarheels after spring football in 2016.

QB’S CARRYING THE MOUNTAIN WEST BANNER

In a perfect world, the first two bowl games involving Mountain West teams would be a showcase Saturday for two of the conference’s top quarterbacks. Fresno State’s Marcus McMaryion, ninth in the nation in pass efficiency, will test a Pac-12 defense when the Bulldogs take on Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. McMaryion passed his first Pac-12 exam in September in a 38-14 rout of UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Utah State’s Jordan Love, who’s 12th in the country in efficiency, will be facing North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl. Love’s last game, of course, was on the blue turf in the 33-24 loss to Boise State. He threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns on the Broncos, but it took him 47 attempts to do it. And 83 of the yards came on the screen pass for a TD with three minutes left in the game.

BRONCO FAN FAVORITE GIVES L.A. A TRY

Donte Deayon’s NFL days are not over. The former Boise State cornerback, who surprised skeptics by making the New York Giants roster again at the beginning of this season before being released in mid-October, has been signed to the L.A Rams practice squad. He’s the unlikeliest of NFL players, currently listed as 5-9, 159 pounds. But Deayon played in eight games over the past two seasons with the Giants, with 16 tackles, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery. If Deayon can stick with the Rams, his smile will light up Hollywood.

BRONCOS, DUCKS WITH VERY DIFFERENT LOOKS

Is Boise State ready for this? The Broncos took down Oregon with a buzzer-beater from near mid-court by Lexus Williams last year. But there’s no Williams this year—nor Chandler Hutchison, nor Chris Sengfelder—as they take on the Ducks Saturday in Matthew Knight Arena. That’s a key reason Boise State is just 4-5 this season. Whatever happens in Eugene, the Broncos will get another shot at Oregon when the Ducks come to Taco Bell Arena in two weeks for the return game in this year’s series. “My guys have really, really stepped up and surprised me in these games,” said coach Leon Rice of the past three matchups with UO, pointing out that the combined score is 210-210.

Rice is very aware of the Ducks’ Bol Bol, son of former NBA center Manute Bol. The younger Bol is 7-2. His dad was 7-6. “The things he can do athletically and skill-wise are amazing,” said Rice. What’s he talking about? Well, Bol is ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring at 21.0 points per game, fifth in rebounding with a 9.6 average, second in blocked shots at 2.7 per game, and—get this—fifth in three-point percentage at 52 percent. Hard to figure who on the Bronco squad is going to stop him.

AROUND THE HORN

The Boise State women go to Seattle for the Husky Classic this weekend. The 6-2 Broncos face Saint Francis tomorrow and will play either host Washington or Montana on Sunday. The College of Idaho men put their new No. 1 NAIA Division II ranking on the line with weekend road clashes at Corban and Northwest Christian. And on the ice, the Idaho Steelheads wtrap up their series against Kansas City with a pair of games in CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads bounced back from a 5-1 thumping by Utah last Saturday with a 5-1 rout of the Mavericks Wednesday night.

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December 14, 1995: Nevada plays in the first overtime game in Division I-A history, falling to Toledo in the Las Vegas Bowl, 40-37. Overtime was instituted at college football’s highest level for the 1995 bowl season, then became standard during the 1996 regular season. But it wasn’t the Wolf Pack’s first foray into overtime, which had been played at the lower levels since the late 1980’s. In fact, two of Nevada’s games in the 1990 Division I-AA playoffs went three overtimes, including the classic in the semi-finals that ended in a 59-52 victory over Boise State.

(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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SCOTT SLANT: Reminiscing on Boise State-Boston College, 2005

Presented by BACON.
Thursday, December 13, 2018.

I’ve emceed a bunch of things over the years (one one-hundredth, maybe, of Mark Johnson’s load, but anyway…). My favorite event I’ve ever emceed was the Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony last April. My least favorite was the Humanitarian Awards Dinner for the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl. That’s the night that one of the sponsors read a “top 10 list” that he thought was funny, with one item making fun of trying to pronounce the name of Boston College star Mathias Kiwanuka. I watched from the back of the stage and thought, “This is not good.” And indeed, it did not sit well with the Eagles’ half of the room at the Boise Centre on the Grove. BC coach Tom O’Brien basically seized on the opportunity and played off that to fire up his team—and admitted as much after the Eagles’ 27-20 victory.

On bowl announcement day a week and a half ago, current Boston College coach Steve Addazio talked about Boise State. “I’ve always watched them through the years when I catch them on TV, and I know what their history is,” said Addazio. It’s not clear if “history” includes what happened at that 2005 game between the two teams. The Eagles came out that day looking like “us against the world” after the perceived slight of Kiwanuka. They built a 24-0 halftime lead and upped it to 27-0 early in the third quarter before a wild Broncos’ comeback. Sophomore quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns as BC handed Boise State its first home loss since 2001.

Whatever happened to Tom O’Brien? He spent one more year at Boston College before being hired at North Carolina State. He had a nice run early on with a quarterback named Russell Wilson, but O’Brien demoted Wilson in 2011 in favor of Mike Glennon. That led to Wilson finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Wisconsin that season, and the rest is history. O’Brien continued to win but had worn out his welcome with fans—and, apparently, on the recruiting trail—and was fired toward the end of the 2012 season. He became an assistant at Virginia and just missed facing Boise State again, retiring from coaching after the 2014 season.

BETWEEN THE LINES ON THE MW’S FIRST TWO BOWLS

Bowl season is when intangibles can really come into play, and for Utah State that means facing North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl Saturday in a state of flux. USU co-defensive coordinator Frank Maile will be interim coach while newly-named coach Gary Andersen stays away from Albuquerque and gets settled in his new post. The Aggies insist all has gone smoothly, though, and they’re favored by eight points over the Mean Green. It could be a wild one, as the over/under is 67. There are no such intangibles in Fresno State’s matchup with Arizona State Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl. This one could be a straight-up slugfest, with the Bulldogs favored over the Sun Devils by four points.

COACH HAWK HAS FOUND A HOME – AND A BIG TROPHY

Dan Hawkins proved this season what he can do when he’s in the right situation. And Wednesday the former Boise State coach was named winner of the Eddie Robinson Award as FCS Coach of the Year after leading UC Davis to a 10-3 record, a co-Big Sky championship, and into the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs. The Aggies’ season ended last Saturday with a heartbreaking 34-29 loss at Eastern Washington when the Eagles busted off a 35-yard touchdown run right after Hawk had classicly gambled and succeeded on a two-point conversion to take the lead with 2:41 left. He’s been able to mold a positive culture at his alma mater, something that didn’t happen at Colorado. (For some Robinson irony today, see “This Day In Sports” below.)

A WORK IN PROGESS ON THE FLOOR AND IN THE LOCKER ROOM

Boise State hoops coach Leon Rice is not only trying to find the right combination to kick-start the Broncos, he’s also trying to build chemistry. The suspension of guard Patrick Dembley for Wednesday night’s game for “attitude detrimental to the team” would indicate that’s a challenge. On the other hand, it sends a message at a pivotal time for this team. The rest of the Broncos rallied with a 17-0 run just after halftime to defeat Alabama State 67-57 in Taco Bell Arena. It was hustle plays on defense that fueled the surge. “We’re starting to understand our dance steps,” said Rice on the KBOI postgame show. Justinian Jessup led Boise State with 16 points, and Alex Hobbs added 15.

Now Oregon awaits in Eugene Saturday night for the front end of a home-and-home series with Boise State. The Ducks, after trailing by one point at the half, got by San Diego 65-55 Wednesday night. That’s a quality win for UO, especially for a team with a home loss to 4-6 Texas Southern. The Toreros have already beaten Colorado and San Diego State this season and fell to Washington by just three points. Oregon made a statement defensively, forcing eight turnovers from Borah High grad Isaiah Wright alone as it improved to 6-3 on the season.

OTHER NEWS AND NOTES FOR THURSDAY

Reid Petryk scored two of the Idaho Steelheads’ four unanswered goals over the final 38½ minutes of the game in a 5-1 romp over the Kansas City Mavericks Wednesday night in CenturyLink Arena. Steelheads goalie Ryan Faragher was back in rhythm, with 30 saves on 31 K.C. shots as he improved to 2-2-1 on the season. Meanwhile, the Steelies have leading scorer Steve McParland back from his brief AHL callup with the Stockton Heat.

A couple campus notes—the Division I women’s gymnastics preseason poll is out from the WCGA, and Boise State starts at No. 16, the same place it finished at the end of last season. The Broncos are coming off their fourth straight conference championship, a program record. And, sad to hear of the passing of former Northwest Nazarene basketball coach Terry Layton. He was a good guy, and I enjoyed covering him during my formative years in TV. Layton led the team from 1975-82 when it was the NNC Crusaders. He coached at five other colleges, one of them Adams State in Colorado. It was there that Layton logged one of his most memorable victories, beating Bobby Dye’s Boise State squad 75-68 in the BSU Pavilion 25 years ago. Interestingly enough, those Broncos would go on to win the Big Sky title.

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December 13, 1980: Before a crowd that for almost 20 years was considered the loudest in Bronco Stadium history, Boise State shocks the Grambling Tigers and legendary coach Eddie Robinson 14-9 in the semi-finals of the Division I-AA playoffs. The Tigers dominated the game statistically, but were psyched out by the foggy 25-degree weather—coughing up four costly turnovers. A 63-yard touchdown pass from Joe Aliotti to Kipp Bedard off a flea-flicker (with Bedard dragging Everson Walls into the endzone) provided not only the winning points, but a trip to the national championship game the following week.

(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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On Removing Age Spots And CTE

I had age spots removed and why CTE doesn’t worry me

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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SCOTT SLANT: Lines in the sand for the First Responder Bowl

Presented by MAZ-TECH AUTOMOTIVE.
Wednesday, December 12, 2018.

Sports Illustrated runs stories on gambling now that sports betting is slowly being legalized across America. And this one at SI.com throws down the gauntlet in the First Responder Bowl: “Boston College Can Run All Over Boise State.” Zachary Cohen starts with this: “Both of these teams faced Virginia last season, and Boston College absolutely blew them out in a 41-10 win as seven-point road underdogs. Meanwhile, Boise State lost 42-23 as 14-point home favorites.” Touche. But that was last year. As for BC’s 18 interceptions—tied for best in FBS—Cohen writes, “It’ll make Boise State’s Brett Rypien pay for any poor throws. And Boston College only allowed 3.6 yards per carry this season, so it is well equipped to keep Boise State star Alexander Mattison in check.” Challenge.

How about the Bronco defense? Writes Cohen: “Boise State particularly struggled against the run in its only meeting with a Power 5 team this season. In the Broncos’ 44-21 loss to Oklahoma State, Boise State allowed 176 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Boston College’s rushing attack will be even better than Oklahoma State’s. Eagles sophomore AJ Dillon is one of the nation’s best running backs. The Boise State defenders he’ll face in this game pale in comparison to the bigger, faster ones he faces on a weekly basis.” Bulletin board? Bottom line: Cohen recommends readers go with BC by 2½ points. But there’s an asterisk: “Confidence level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High).”

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin has tweeted “Go Broncos!” three times in the past 48 hours. Harsin does that when he’s received a recruiting commitment, but none of the new verbals has been revealed. The early signing day, in its second year, is a week from today. It looks like here, there and everywhere the numbers are going to be down next week, as players hold out for the best offers possible—and teams posture for the best players possible. Boise State has 11 commits not counting the three latest mystery guys. One of the 11, running back George Holani of Bellflower, CA, was named Tuesday as one of five finalists for the Polynesian High School Football Player of the Year award.

One cloud has been removed from above Boston College in advance of the First Responder Bowl. There were some questions about the heat of coach Steve Addazio’s seat after the Eagles finished the regular season on a three-game losing streak, but he has now been given a two-year contract extension through the 2022 season. Adazzio’s teams have posted seven wins in four of the previous five seasons (BC was 3-9 in 2015). Addazio is 38-38 overall with the Eagles and 18-30 in conference games.

GET READY TO SHOP, ‘WOLF HUNTER’ NATION

With Leighton Vander Esch’s chances of earning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors gaining traction, the latest feature story on the former Boise State star comes from the New York Post, of all places. It’s all about Vander Esch’s Riggins roots, of course. “Already the wheels are in motion for T-shirts and hats that read ‘The Wolf Hunter’ and ‘Fear The Wolf Hunter’ and ‘LVE,’ certain to captivate the growing army of Vander Esch hunters around Dallas and across Idaho when they become available Thursday on Vander Esch’s Instagram page,” writes Steve Serby. “I would have never imagined that he would have made it to this level so fast,” Sandy Vander Esch told Serby. “I’ve gotta pinch myself every day because I feel like I’m the most blessed mom in the world.”

HUTCH TRYING TO FOCUS AMIDST THE CHAOS

If life is basketball, life in Chicago is probably not what Chandler Hutchison envisioned. He already has a new coach, Jim Boylen, who was promptly part of the worst loss in franchise history last Saturday, a 133-77 defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics last Saturday. Players nearly revolted on Sunday over Boylen’s coaching style. Now Boylen has decided to form a “leadership committee” designed to give him input. Hutchison is probably too much of a greenhorn to be on that committee. The former Boise State star is still trying to earn his stripes. Hutchison played 21 minutes in the debacle against the Celtics—then only six in a loss to Sacramento Monday night. His shooting has not been kind to him, producing just one field goal in each of the last six games.

ANOTHER SHOT AT MAKING STRIDES

There’s one more game for Boise State men’s hoops before the test Saturday night at Oregon. The Broncos—and coach Leon Rice in particular—would like to see some more progress in tonight’s Taco Bell Arena matchup versus Alabama State. Boise State had eight players score between six and 14 points in last Saturday’s win over Central Washington. The next step for this group is to have somebody step up and take a definitive leadership role. Will it be Justinian Jessup? He’s kind of quiet. How about Alex Hobbs, who scored a season-high 13 points in his return to the court from injury last weekend? Like Jessup, Hobbs is also a junior now and is a starter after winning the Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year award last season.

There’s not really a lot statistically you can point to in terms of explaining Boise State’s 3-5 record. The Broncos are turning the ball over 13.5 times per game—not great, but serviceable. They have only 24 blocked shots so far, 238th in Division I. But opponents have blocked just two more this season. “I’ve seen a lot of really good things in practice—they just haven’t shown up in games yet,” said Rice after the win over Central Washington. “We’re not far away.”

YOTES AT THE NAIA PINNACLE

College of Idaho men’s hoops has reached the mountaintop, ascending to the No. 1 spot in the NAIA Division II Coaches’ Poll Tuesday for the first time in 27 years. The Coyotes, now 11-1 overall (13-1 with forfeits) moved up from the No. 2 position in the poll after a loss by the previous No. 1 team, Indiana Wesleyan. It marks the first time C of I has been ranked No. 1 in any team sport since November, 1991, when the Yotes also climbed to No. 1. And a shoutout to the NNU women’s squad, which is 9-0 following an 86-72 win over Cal State-Los Angeles last Saturday. The Nighthawks are No. 7 in the NCAA Division II Coaches Poll and No. 5 in the SIDA Poll.

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December 12, 2015: Hosting a non-conference top 25 team for the first time in eight years, Boise State edges No. 24 Oregon 74-72 before 10,239 fans in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos had built a 17-point lead with less than seven minutes to play behind senior Anthony Drmic’s 19 points before the Ducks mounted a frantic comeback. It was Boise State’s fourth game against a ranked opponent in 3½ weeks—the Broncos had lost by 12 and nine points to Arizona and by 10 to Michigan State.

(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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247SPORTS RECRUITING EXPERT: The impact of Austin Griffin for BSU, and will the loss of coach Kauha’aha’a hurt the Broncos’ recruiting class

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BSU COMMIT AUSTIN GRIFFIN: His growth spurt and how he became the No. 1 ranked junior college TE in the country

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SCOTT SLANT: D-line will have to stand on its own

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018.

Last year, Boise State had defensive line coach Steve Caldwell for the Las Vegas Bowl. Word leaked out about two weeks later that he was headed for Arkansas, and it became official 10 days into January. Now the Broncos will have to shift on the fly with their D-line responsibilities, as numerous reports say Chad Kauha’aha’a has been hired by USC. Clay Helton is overhauling his staff after an eminently disappointing 5-7 season. Kauha’a’aha’s Boise State unit has been stellar this season considering he had to continuously scotch-tape things together. Despite injuries to David Moa, Sonatane Lui, Durrant Miles and Chase Hatada (am I missing anyone?), the Broncos are tied for sixth in the nation in sacks with 39.

Fortunately for the Broncos, they have a perfect interim solution on the staff right now to handle the First Responder Bowl on December 26. He hasn’t been assigned that task yet, but Spencer Danielson came up big in his first season as STUD ends coach after serving as a defensive graduate assistant last year. Danielson, just six years removed from his playing career at Azusa Pacific, has bonded with his players and seems to get the most out of them. In fact, each of the top two guys in his position group, Curtis Weaver and Jabril Frazier, earned first-team All-Mountain West honors. It doesn’t get any better than that. And a third, Sam Whitney, made one of the biggest plays in the win over Utah State 2½ weeks ago—the only sack of the game versus USU quarterback Jordan Love.

Linebacker Blake Whitlock went through Senior Night with Boise State, but he won’t be going to Dallas in a couple weeks. Whitlock is no longer a Bronco. B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press tweeted yesterday that he was told it was because of a violation of team rules, but hadn’t received confirmation from Boise State. Whitlock was a great story in 2016, when he joined the team as a walk-on and ended up with 36 tackles and two sacks. Then he missed last season with a shoulder injury. Whitlock made 11 tackles this season, two of them in the Mountain West championship game. He has already been removed from the official roster at BroncoSports.com. That further thins an already-thin position, as Desmond Williams left the squad last week.

Two Mountain West players have declared early for the NFL Draft so far, and one of them isn’t Boise State’s Alexander Mattison. Yet. The first to decide to forego his senior season was Utah State tight end Dax Raymond, who seems like a long shot. Raymond had 25 catches for 335 yards and a touchdown this season and was honorable mention All-Mountain West. Joining him over the weekend was Colorado State wide receiver Preston Williams, a first-team all-conference pick. Williams has an NFL skill set, and his numbers support that. He had 96 receptions for 1,345 yards and 14 TDs this year. Included in Williams’ nine grabs against Boise State in October was a nifty 47-yard touchdown catch.

POSITIVE ENERGY IN PROVO

Chantel Jennings of The Athletic penned a column on the positives for the BYU program as practices are underway for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Western Michigan. The Cougars started the season 2-1 with wins at Arizona and Wisconsin and a close loss to Cal, but “close loss” would become key words in their 2018 narrative. Four of BYU’s losses during this 6-6 season were by eight points or less, including the 21-16 defeat against Boise State on the blue turf in early November.

In the last three seasons combined, the Cougars have 11 one-possession losses, tied for fourth-most in the FBS over that span. “(Coach Kalani) Sitake has used those close losses as motivation for the group—they’ve come a long way from the 4-9 season a year ago, having made both large and small changes since then,” writes Jennings. Said Sitake, “They’re all important lessons for us to learn, and as harsh as they may be, you have to be looking at it so our guys learn.”

WILLIAMS MAY BE BACK – CHRISTON WON’T BE

After Boise State’s 82-62 win over Central Washington Saturday, coach Leon Rice was optimistic about having RJ Williams available for Wednesday night’s game against Alabama State. Williams injured an ankle down the stretch of Saturday’s win over Central Washington and did not return. He’s a pretty important player. Williams is the Broncos’ scoring leader at 16.4 points per game and is shooting 57 percent from the field. One guy Boise State definitely won’t have moving forward is guard Cam Christon, who has elected to transfer. Christon appeared in 14 game last season—he has not played in the regular season this fall.

NEVADA AND EVERYBODY ELSE

Nevada dropped one spot to No. 7 in both polls Monday after close calls in come-from-behind wins over Arizona State and Grand Canyon over the weekend. Nevertheless, an undefeated regular season remains a very real prospect for the Wolf Pack, which has games against South Dakota State, Akron and Utah before conference play begins. And the Mountain West isn’t looking like much of a challenge. New Mexico has struggled mightily, and San Diego State and Boise State have yet to find their rhythm. The two teams that look to be next-best right now are Fresno State and Utah State.

THRIVING AGAIN IN THE THROWING CIRCLE

Whatever happened to former Boise State tight end Jake Knight? He has returned to his athletic roots, competing in the shot put for Northwest Nazarene. Knight is the Men’s Field Athlete of the Week in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference after uncorking the fourth-longest throw in GNAC indoor history with a mark of 56-8.5 at the Jacksons Open in the Idaho Center. Knight’s throw shattered the school record by more than three feet and eclipsed the NCAA Division II qualifying mark. Knight, the Rocky Mountain grad, started his college career as a shot-putter at Auburn before switching to football with the Broncos. He made two catches for 56 yards in 2016, including a 46-yarder that set up the ultimate winning touchdown in a 28-27 win over BYU.

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December 11, 2013, five years ago today: Bryan Harsin becomes the first former Boise State player to be named head coach of the Broncos when he’s announced as Chris Petersen’s successor. Harsin, a Boise native and Capital High graduate, played at Boise State from 1996-99 and was an assistant coach for the Broncos from 2001-10, the last five as Petersen’s offensive coordinator. He then served as O-coordinator at Texas for two years before becoming head coach at Arkansas State in 2013. Harsin played or assisted under six Boise State coaches: Pokey Allen, Tom Mason, Houston Nutt, Dirk Koetter, Dan Hawkins and Petersen.

(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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Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Monday, December 10, 2018

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SCOTT SLANT: Does extra time mean full-strength firepower?

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Monday, December 10, 2018.

There’s been a lot of angst over the December 26 date for Boise State’s trip to the First Responder Bowl. Yes, it throws a monkey wrench into Christmas. But it allows coaches to go through the early signing day the week before with a minimum of interruption. And on the field, there could be a big benefit. The Dallas game is 11 days later than the Las Vegas Bowl, and maybe some hobbled Broncos can be healthy. The most obvious impact position is at wide receiver. John Hightower was clearly not 100 percent in the Mountain West title game. Hightower went in for deep-ball cameos (although his only catch of the night was a nine-yarder).

Khalil Shakir has been out since he caught the winning touchdown pass against the Bulldogs last month. Would a game in Vegas this Saturday be too soon for a return? Coach Bryan Harsin says the true freshman should be ready to go against Boston College, though. Shakir is the most difficult Bronco wide receiver to prepare for, because he’s used in so many different ways. In the second game of the season against UConn, he had 15 yards receiving and 39 rushing. Shakir’s first career touchdown came not through the air, but on the ground at Wyoming. His presence on the field can be a distraction for defenses. When he left off, Shakir had 14 carries for 70 yards and a TD and 16 catches for 170 yards and the score against Fresno State.

This kind of snuck under the radar at the end of last week, but Boise State’s Alexander Mattison was named a Sports Illustrated second-team All-American. Who’d a thunk that in mid-October? Mattison has zoomed all the way up to seventh in the nation with 1,415 rushing yards going into the First Responder Bowl. He’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry and has scored 17 touchdowns. But here’s the amazing number. Mattison now leads the nation in rushing attempts with 302, 22 more than Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. The 11 extra days the Broncos have this season before bowl time especially benefits their workhorse junior running back.

ANDERSEN’S BACK IN THE CACHE VALLEY

Utah State’s national search for a new coach to replace Matt Wells extended all the way to…Salt Lake City. That’s where former USU coach has been working for Kyle Whittingham at Utah, and Andersen is indeed returning to Logan. After leaving the Aggies following their Famous Idaho Potato Bowl win in 2012 to go to Wisconsin, there was an abrupt departure from Madison after the 2014 season, and an even more abrupt exit from Oregon State midway through the 2017 campaign. But the theory is that Andersen is coming back to a place he loves—and a program where he can do things his way. After all, he’s the guy who originally turned the Aggies around.

With that begins another rumor mill (key words here being “rumor mill”). Boise State defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a worked for Andersen at both Wisconsin and Oregon State, and speculation is that Andersen is trying to get Kauha’aha’a to reunite with him at Utah State. There’s also a note at FootballScoop.com that USC is trying to add Kauha’aha’a to its staff, and that the Broncos, in turn, are trying to extend his contract. Kauha’aha’a has the Boise State D-line ranked sixth in the country in sacks this season with 39.

“BOISE” BEATS “BOSTON” IN MIAMI

Do you suppose there are lots of New England Patriots fans on the Boston College roster, not to mention in the Eagles’ fan base? They have another reason to get riled up about Boise State now. In one of the most fantastic NFL finishes in recent memory, the Miami Dolphins used a play they call “Boise” to beat the Patriots 34-33 as time ran out Sunday. Yes, it was the ol’ hook-and-lateral, stirring memories of the “Circus” play the Broncos executed near the end of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. Only this one had two laterals, not one. Kenyon Drake was the recipient of the second one, and he finished the 69-yard miracle by winding his way into the end zone.

BABY STEPS FOR BOTH SETS OF BRONCOS

What Boise State men’s hoops really needed was a win. And the Broncos got it, 82-62 Saturday over Division II Central Washington in Taco Bell Arena. Otherwise, it doesn’t tell us much. The Broncos didn’t get the lead to double digits until 7½ minutes remained in the game. They had six shots blocked and were just 19-for-30 from the free throw line. But coach Leon Rice still sees the tide turning when he compares Boise State’s second half to a tentative first half effort. “What losing does to you a little bit is, ‘Oh, is it going to go in…?’” Said Rice on the KBOI postgame show. “Just go let ‘er rip.” And the Broncos did in the final 20 minutes. They were 1-for-8 from three-point range before the intermission and 6-for-10 after.

It’s also hard to know what to make of the Boise State women’s 67-55 win over a struggling Eastern Washington squad. But it was a nice step in the healing process after that surprising rout at the hands of Washington State. Riley Lupfer canned a trio of three-pointers against the Eagles, bringing her career total to 193, second in Bronco history and 67 away from Abby Vaughn’s 15-year-old school record. Considering she hit a record 122 last season, Lupfer could get there by March. And she is only a junior.

STEELIES’ RUN INTERRUPTED BY THE GRIZ

All good things must come to an end—and they did over the weekend for the Idaho Steelheads and goalie Tomas Sholl. After extending their win streak to four games with a 4-2 win over Utah Friday night, the Steelheads were pounded 5-1 by the Grizzlies Saturday night, with the usually solid Sholl in net for all five of the tallies. Meanwhile, just as he was becoming a Steelies icon (if that’s possible after only 10 games), defenseman Colton Saucerman is off to the AHL on a loan agreement with the Utica Comets. Saucerman may need an extra seat on his cross-country flight for his famously massive beard. Also, Steve McParland has been loaned to Stockton of the AHL, and Idaho has re-signed Charlie Dodero after a stint in Sweden.

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December 10, 1997: One of the wildest days in Boise State football history comes over three weeks after the season ends. In the wee hours of the morning, a private jet whisked Houston Nutt off to Arkansas, where he was introduced as the Razorbacks’ new head coach. Later in the day, Boise State called a press conference to unveil Dirk Koetter as Nutt’s instant replacement. Koetter promised to bring stability to a team that was fragile after playing for three different coaches in the previous two seasons. And he did.

(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 Was In The Big East! Almost …

Boise State was playing football in the Big East! Almost….

Posted by 93.1 KTIK – The Ticket on Friday, December 7, 2018

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SCOTT SLANT: Rypien is one All-Star rung from the top

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Friday, December 7, 2018.

Boise State had hoped that Brett Rypien would get an invite to the Senior Bowl next month, and that could still happen. But Rypien has a fall-back position, as he has a roster spot in the 94th East-West Shrine Game January 19 in St. Petersburg. NFL scouts are going to look at Rypien’s consistency as they decide whether to use a draft pick on him. In between stretches of absolute brilliance, there have been games like the losses to San Diego State and Fresno State. In each case his completion percentage was 50 percent or below. But one of Rypien’s most impressive performances came in the defeat at Oklahoma State, where he shook off seven sacks to connect on 70 percent of his throws for 380 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

Lest you think that an invitation the East-West Shrine Game means no shot at the NFL, there have been 10 former Boise State standouts who have played in the game and gone on to make the NFL. The two most recent are both starring for their respective teams now—Charles Leno Jr. of the Chicago Bears and Tyrone Crawford of the Dallas Cowboys. Daryn Colledge played in the Shrine game before being drafted in the second round by the Green Bay Packers in 2006. The NFL list goes back to 1981 when Cedric Minter and David Hughes, backfield compadres from the Broncos’ Division I-AA national championship team, played together in the East-West Shrine Game at Stanford and went on to the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.

Two notes on Boise State’s 2019 recruiting class: one an addition and the other a recognition. The Broncos have a verbal from the nation’s No. 1 junior college tight end (according to 247 Sports), Austin Griffin of Mt. San Antonio College in California. Griffin originally committed to Louisville but reopened his recruitment when things started to unravel this fall for the Cardinals. The 6-7, 250-pounder made only 13 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown in six games this year, but evaluators are obviously sky-high on him. And Boise State commit Keegan Duncan of Declo has become the first 2A player ever to win the Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year award in football. Duncan, the 6-3, 220-pound all-everything guy, was responsible for 51 touchdowns this season between rushing, receiving, passing, returns and interceptions.

Northern Arizona could do a lot worse than Eric Kiesau as head coach, but Lance Hartzler of the Arizona Daily Sun reports that he is no longer in consideration for the Lumberjacks’ job. Caves and Prater (and J.P.) speculated on Idaho SportsTalk that money could be a factor—as in, he’s probably better off financially as wide receivers coach at Boise State. We’ve long talked about Power 5 coordinators salaries being comparable to Group of 5 head coaches. It’s all relative. The pay for FCS head coaches is not a lot different than upper-echelon Group of 5 position coaches. “Kiesau’s salary at Boise State is $218,000 per year, north of former Lumberjacks head coach Jerome Souers’ annual salary of $185,000 in his final season,” noted Hartzler.

WILCOX FINALLY GETTING PAC-12 PAY

Speaking of salaries, former Boise State defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is at the other end of that spectrum. Wilcox, now the head coach at Cal, had been making $1.5 million per year since taking over in Berkeley last year. He’s now been given a five-year extension at $3.25 million per year. Wilcox has orchestrated an impressive turnaround at Cal. The Bears are 7-5 and will take on TCU in the Cheez-It Bowl (formerly the Cactus Bowl) the day after Christmas in Phoenix. It’s just the school’s second bowl berth in the past seven years and it comes thanks to an exponentially improved defense, Wilcox’s specialty.

IUPATI UNFORTUNATELY GIVES WAY TO ODHIAMBO

Elsewhere in Phoenix, a former Vandal’s misfortune gives a former Bronco another shot in the NFL. Mike Iupati, San Francisco’s first-round draft pick out of Idaho in 2010 and now an Arizona Cardinal, was placed on injured reserve this week after being carted off with a knee injury last Sunday in Green Bay. Iupati had finally been rounding into form—he missed all but one game last year with an elbow injury. He’s 31 years old now, and his NFL future is murky. The Cardinals signed Boise State product Rees Odhiambo off the Indianapolis practice squad to take Iupati’s roster spot. Odhiambo has been trying to find a home since being cut loose at he end of training camp by Seattle, the team that drafted him in the third round in 2016. He also had a short stint with Atlanta this season.

RJ AND THE REST OF THE BRONCOS COME HOME

Boise State hoops is finally home again Saturday afternoon after 9,000 miles’ worth of away games. The Broncos’ matchup with Division II Central Washington is their first in Taco Bell Arena since the weekend before Thanksgiving. RJ Williams is going to sell some tickets this winter. The junior college transfer is coming off a 23-point night that included five steals in the 69-67 loss at Grand Canyon last Saturday. Williams converted three of the swipes into dunks at the other end of the floor. CWU is 4-4 this season but can score in bunches—the Wildcats are averaging 89.1 points per game. Going all the way back to Boise State’s humble beginnings as a four-year program a half-century ago, the Broncos and Central Washington have never faced each other in basketball.

HUTCH MAY RECOGNIZE THIS NEW ASSISTANT

I don’t know if this qualifies as “tangled web,” but former Idaho Stampede coach Dean Cooper is one of the new Chicago Bulls assistant coaches Chandler Hutchison will be working with. Cooper has been promoted from the staff of Chicago’s G-League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls. He previously coached with new Bulls head man Jim Boylen under Rudy Tomjanovich with the Houston Rockets. Cooper led the Stampede during their final two seasons in Boise and their first as the Salt Lake City Stars before the Jazz organization let him go. Hutchison played his first game with Boylen in charge Tuesday night in Chicago’s 96-90 loss at Indiana, getting only nine minutes off the bench and scoring three points. The Bulls host Oklahoma City tonight.

SHOLL SPURS THE STEELIES’ SURGE

It’s back to divisional play for the Idaho Steelheads, who host the Utah Grizzlies in CenturyLink Arena tonight and Saturday night. The Steelheads are finding their mojo, having won three straight games and six of their last seven. Goalie Tomas Sholl has been central to the surge, getting victories in five of his last six outings while posting a solid 1.22 goals-against average with two shutouts. The third period has been kind to the Steelheads this season, as they’ve posted a plus-8 goal differential in the third.

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December 7, 2003, 15 years ago today: Following a 52-28 win over Oregon State, USC begins a record streak of 33 consecutive weeks atop the AP Poll. The Trojans were ranked No. 1 for the conclusion of the 2003 season, the entire 2004 season and the entire 2005 regular season until falling to No. 2 Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl, 41-38. The 33-week run holds the record by a wide margin, but it is now tainted by the scandal that forced Reggie Bush to vacate his Heisman Trophy and USC to vacate its final two wins of 2004—including the national championship—and all of its victories in 2005..

(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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