What comes after the “N” in ESPN makes a difference. When it was announced that the World Wide Leader “selected” tonight’s Boise State-New Mexico game for its programming grid, there was the letter “U” in tow. If you’re going to tip off at 9 p.m. on a weeknight (a school night), there’s risk-reward. The risk is fans staying home from one of the Broncos’ marquee home games. The reward should be exposure, but ESPNU hardly provides that kind of compensation. On Saturday, there were a staggering 50 college basketball games appearing in the Statesman’s TV listings. The sport is way, way oversaturated. So who benefits from a late-night game on ESPN’s lightly-watched sub-channel? Local fans, players’ friends and families, and recruits who have been encouraged to tune in. An ESPNU telecast does not make a national dent. Just to be clear, this is the Mountain West’s deal, not Boise State’s.
The offensive woes from the opening tip are what stand out in Boise State’s 89-80 loss at Fresno State Saturday. Heck, the Broncos started 2-for-18 from the field. But if you listen to senior James Reid, it’s defense that was most lacking in Save Mart Center. Boise State allowed 62 percent shooting in the first half and was out-rebounded by 10. Things improved after halftime, but obviously it was too late. So what do the Broncos dial up for New Mexico tonight? The Lobos bring in two of the top five scorers in the Mountain West, Tim Williams at 18.3 points per game and Elijah Brown at 17.5. No other Lobo averages more than seven points. It’ll be interesting to see how the Broncos play their chess pieces.
Maybe the light went on late for Justinian Jessup Saturday. Boise State coach Leon Rice bemoaned the resurfacing of his team’s youthful makeup in the 89-80 loss at Fresno State, and Justinian Jessup is as young as any of ‘em. Among the Broncos who put up three-pointers on a regulate basis, Jessup is the most accurate. But he didn’t so much as get a shot off until less than four minutes remained at Save Mart Center. Then Jessup drilled four treys the rest of the way to make things respectable. Boise State will need that facet of its game tonight against the athletic Lobos.
The Mountain West has issued a statement on Saturday’s postgame dust-up between New Mexico assistant Terrence Rencher and Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo. The conference cited conflicting reports and issued no reprimands. But, the MW said, “There were a number of errors in judgment throughout the course of the afternoon and poor decisions made by various individuals. Such conduct is unacceptable.” The conference wll be watching, as it should. “The Mountain West Board of Directors and Joint Council have been adamant in their emphasis on good sportsmanship and appropriate behavior. Those involved with this most recent incident will be under close scrutiny going forward—as will all Mountain West constituents.” Man, that was some bad sportsmanship down in Fort Collins.
Quarterback Tommy Stuart has found a landing spot after electing to leave Boise State as a graduate transfer. Stuart tweeted yesterday that he’ll play his senior year at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, about four hours from his hometown of Baltimore. Duquesne is an FCS school that went 8-3 this past season. The Dukes graduate a senior quarterback who was backed up by a sophomore and redshirt freshman. Stuart was first off the bench when Ryan Finley was injured against Idaho State in September of 2015. But Stuart was replaced later in the game when Brett Rypien burned his redshirt, and the rest has been history. Stuart hardly saw the field as a Bronco junior, passing for 50 yards and rushing for two.
Justin Wilcox has to act quickly as the new head coach at Cal. National Letter Of Intent Day is two weeks from tomorrow, and Wilcox needs some guys who can go out and recruit. The former Boise State defense coordinator appears to have struck gold with an O-coordinator, hiring coach Beau Baldwin away from Eastern Washington. You can start with the fact that the Eagles have led the FCS in passing the past two years, averaging 401 yards during the recently-completed season. In his nine seasons in Cheney, Eastern has been in the top 10 in total offense six times—the Eagles were second in 2016 with a 529-yard average. As far as the EWU job goes, does Bronco OC Zak Hill, who formerly held the same post with the Eagles, throw his hat in the ring?
It was the story I’d been waiting for all season, and it was posted leading into Sunday’s Green Bay-Dallas game. It came from ESPN.com’s Todd Archer: “Dak Prescott credits his rise to the Cowboys’ village.” The bottom line is that Kellen Moore did indeed play a key role in the development of Prescott, the Cowboys’ rookie quarterback. The article calls the former Boise State great “the savant,” noting that he turned into a trusted adviser after breaking his leg at the beginning of training camp. “From his time with (Scott) Linehan in Detroit, writes Archer. “Moore, who attends games away and at home, knows the (Dallas offensive) coordinator better than anyone. He can quickly decipher what Linehan wants and pass the message to Prescott.”
The Cowboys’ new star backs up that notion. “He’s an offensive coordinator in his own mind,” Prescott said of Moore. “He’s simply a genius when it comes to helping Coach Linehan out and early in the week giving looks, helping me out with things the defense does, maybe little keys here and there to tip me off on coverages or blitz.” Archer notes that Moore is “the last quarterback not named Romo to start for the Cowboys before Prescott. After a record-setting career at Boise State, it took four years for him to see his first NFL action. Prescott’s success makes him shake his head. ‘Just the preparation, probably the comfort level more importantly,’ Moore said. ‘Week in, week out, everything evolves. We change a lot of things. To be able to handle that change as a rookie is obviously amazing.’”
The Idaho Steelheads’ Martin Luther King Day game at Utah went to a shootout yesterday, with the Grizzlies prevailing 5-4. The Steelheads appeared to be primed to bounce back from Saturday night’s 9-3 thrashing at the hands of Colorado when Joe Basaraba, Travis Walsh and Anthomy Luciani scored in the first period. The Steelies had a 4-1 lead early in the second period after a tally by Rob Linsmayer, but Utah chipped away and tied it up with just over three minutes left in regulation. Idaho will be back on the ice Saturday night at Tulsa after a short break for the ECHL’s All-Star event, to be hosted Wednesday by the Adirondack Thunder.
This Day In Sports…January 17, 1995:
Owner Georgia Frontiere makes it official—the Los Angeles Rams are moving to St. Louis. The Rams had been in Southern California since moving from Cleveland in 1946, spending the final 15 seasons playing in Anaheim. That same year, the Raiders moved back to Oakland, and the nation’s second-largest market went 21 seasons without an NFL team until the Rams returned to L.A. this past year.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)