SCOTT SLANT: College football is different now, Exhibit 1

Presented by BIG BUN DRIVE-IN.

Wednesday Weekly…May 15, 2024.

Boise State’s game at Oregon on September 7 will be its fourth all-time matchup with the Ducks. The Broncos are 3-0 in the series, dating back to Kellen Moore’s legendary first career road start at Autzen Stadium in 2008. They’ve beaten some big-time Oregon teams, but they’ve never faced one as highly-touted as this one. The Athletic’s Ari Wasserman ranked the Ducks No. 3 in his post-spring top 25. And he’s not an outlier. “How about the Big Ten this year, eh?” writes Wasserman. 

“It still feels weird to me. But Oregon embarks on its journey into a new conference as one of the top teams in the sport. The Ducks added quarterbacks Dillon Gabriel and Dante Moore and a receiver with legit Heisman potential (in the right situation) in Evan Stewart. The Ducks will be talented, fast and physical. Dan Lanning is one of the top coaches in the nation—now it’s time for him to go out and win something.” The financial gap between the Power 5 and Group of 5 is so dramatically different that it was even in 2017, when Boise State last played Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. A wild new world indeed.


It’s still May, for cryin’ out loud, so Boise State coach Spencer Danielson didn’t really have to develop a depth chart. But he did it anyway last week, saying Maddux Madsen is going to get “blue reps” into fall camp, with Malachi Nelson getting “orange reps.” The means Madsen is the starter, in light pencil. More like 1A and 1B. “At the quarterback position, the competition is going to be through the roof,” said Danielson. Nelson was fine in the Spring Game with his 15.2 yards per completion and the nice 32-yard touchdown pass to Chase Penry. But Madsen participated in all the non-contact drills this spring, and he made sure nobody forgot about him. There are those wondering how a five-star transfer from USC can be put in this spot. But I think everyone’s learned to trust Danielson. And what—you’re not going to trust Dirk Koetter?


CBS Sports has revealed its Group of 5 post-spring power rankings. You may say, “Here they go, separating the G5 from the Power 5. But this isn’t an official poll. And…Boise State edges Liberty atop the list. CBS Sports hits all the key points: the Broncos winning the 2023 Mountain West title after promoting Danielson, Dirk Koetter returning (again) as offensive coordinator, and former five-star prospect Nelson entering the picture at quarterback.  With that according to David Cobb, “the Broncos are going to be in the mix for another league title.” And he adds,” They also have star Ashton Jeanty in the backfield. He’s the type of player who can ensure the Broncos remain a Group of Five power as they’ve been for a quarter-century.” No.3, by the way, is Memphis, a guest on the Blue in 2026.


Boise State football has a lot of scholarship offers out right now, judging by the posts from guys who say they’ve received one. Safety Dominick Calhoun of Pittsburg, CA, gave his verbal last weekend. The latest two commits are both tight ends, and one is actually eligible to play this year, as Villanova’s Mitch Bothwell is joining to Boise State as a graduate transfer. Hard to know what to make of this one, as Bothwell, a 6-5, 240-pounder caught only two passes in 21 career games with the Wildcats. He did play a major role in the ‘Nova running game. The Broncos have also added Connor Gilbreath, who didn’t catch a pass for LSU last season. These are two guys we’ll have to revisit sometime late this fall.


Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey gave Bob Behler and Johnny Ballgame an update Tuesday on the North Endzone remodel in Albertsons Stadium. The plans have been approved by the State Board of Education, but construction has not. Dickey hopes to have a “shovel in the ground” by next spring, so the project would not be done in time for the 2025 season. That means there’ll be disruptions around the Blue that autumn. The ever-optimistic Dickey hopes to “create a different level of experience” during that time, as in, unique standing-room-only spaces. It’s too bad it can’t start after the Mountain West championship game in December—then they’d have a chance next year. It wouldn’t be disruptive for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, as they don’t need the North Endzone seats for that game.


Two years ago, he was a role player at Montana State. Then he followed MSU coach Danny Sprinkle to Utah State—and now to Washington. And now, Great Osobor is “the highest-paid known player in college basketball,” according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Sure, Osobor was the Mountain West Player of the Year. But is he worth the $2 million he’s going to get for playing with the Huskies? I guess the market sets the rate, but c’mon. KTVB’s Jay Tust made the point that if Osobor can do it, then Boise State’s Tyson Degenhart would be in the general neighborhood if he went into the transfer portal. But he’s not. Degenhart has just his senior year to go, and he’s remaining a Bronco. That needs to be celebrated. Full disclosure: I’m involved in this. But everyone needs to go to Pastry Perfection on the 25th and thank Tyson.


Roddie Anderson III found himself a pretty good landing spot after leaving Boise State for the transfer portal. Anderson committed to Xavier of the Big East, joining a program that has been revitalized by coach Sean Miller, just like Miller himself. When Anderson became a Bronco last spring, many thought Boise State had found the perfect replacement for Marcus Shaver Jr. at point guard. After all, the video we saw from Anderson’s true freshman year at UC San Diego was dazzling. It didn’t immediately translate to the Broncos, although he did improve significantly as the season progressed. Thing is, if Anderson’s good enough for Xavier and the elite Big East—and he might be—why couldn’t he stay in Boise and compete with Alvaro Cardenas? Word is Xavier will redshirt Anderson next season.  


Under normal circumstances, the news that Grand Canyon and Seattle are leaving the WAC to join the West Coast Conference would not be seismic news around here. But as long as Gonzaga is in the WCC, this move threatens the Mountain West’s perch atop college hoops in the West. Grand Canyon has become a power, and adding the Antelopes to the Zags and Saint Mary’s makes for a formidable group at the top. But did the WCC make a preemptive move in case Gonzaga leaves for either the Big East or Mountain West, as many are speculating? The Big 12 door doesn’t appear to be open for the Bulldogs. Ah, to be a fly on the wall of MW commissioner Gloria Nevarez’s office right now. Reverse merger with Oregon State and Washington State to reform the Pac-12?  Gonzaga a part of that?  Gonna be a wild two years.


Two seasons came to an end a few hours and less than a mile apart last Saturday. First, the Boise State softball team, after fending off three elimination situations in the Mountain West Tournament, finally fell 6-3 to San Diego State. Sun-washed Dona Larsen Park was as vibrant as it’s ever been—great support for the Broncos. But it wasn’t enough to will them past the best team in the conference this year. Then later in the afternoon, Kansas City ended the Idaho Steelheads season in heartbreaking fashion in a 4-3 overtime win at Idaho Central Arena. To be sure, it was a longshot, with the Steelies already in a three games-to-one hole.  But they were in “never say die” mode. I was there for the Game 4 loss, and the Mavericks were fast and just relentless. Easy to see why they were the ECHL’s best this season.


Troy Merritt is off this week as the PGA Championship gets going at Valhalla in Louisville. At least Merritt can exhale after a couple of good weeks on the PGA Tour. The former Boise State star followed up his tie for ninth at the Byron Nelson with a tie for 40th last week at the Myrtle Beach Classic. Merritt is No. 132 in FedExCup standings—the top 125 at the end of the season are guaranteed their tour cards for next year. He’s in excellent shape if he keeps playing well.


The media in the Bay Area seem to be almost as jilted as A’s fans themselves with the team playing their final season in Oakland. The city’s new Pioneer League team, the Ballers, is all over the sportspages and airwaves down there. As if the B’s will replace the A’s in popularity.  But they’re pushing hard. The Ballers have announced a local TV package for the team’s nine Friday night home games on a secondary station owned by KPIX in San Francisco. One of them is August 16 against the Boise Hawks (that falls during the Hawks’ annual Western Idaho Fair road trip). The Ballers’ home field, Raimondi Park, is being hastily assembled in Oakland. Capacity will be 4,000, plus some standing-room-only areas. And yes, there will be some games in which they outdraw the poor A’s over at the Oakland Coliseum.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BACON BOISE…fresh breakfast and brunch every day!

May 15, 1969: The birthday of the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Emmitt Smith played his first 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, helping them to three Super Bowl championships. In 1993, Smith became the only running back ever to win a Super Bowl ring, the NFL Most Valuable Player award, the NFL rushing title, and the Super Bowl MVP award all in the same season. During his last year with the Cowboys in 2002, Smith broke Walter Payton’s career record and finished with 18,355 rushing yards after spending his final two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Smith also holds the NFL career standard for rushing touchdowns with 164. Emmitt Smith…55 years old today.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.) 


Bacon Boise
The James
Pool Scouts
BBSI Boise
Commercial Tire