Default or not, it’s cool for Rypien

It is not news that this has not been a banner year for quarterbacks in the Mountain West. (Tom Scott’s column will return Friday.)

It is not news that this hasn’t been a banner year for quarterbacks in the Mountain West. With that as a backdrop, Boise State’s Brett Rypien was named first-team all-conference yesterday. , The true freshman from Spokane still had to earn it, surviving three losses to throw for an MW freshman record 2,973 yards and 17 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Rypien was the only QB in the league with 400- and 500-yard passing games this season. This is a guy who was redshirting until the third game of the season and didn’t start until the fourth—and was walking the halls of Shadle Park High a year ago right now. Rypien also was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year, and that may have been a more difficult task. The only other Bronco to accomplish that was Kellen Moore in the WAC in 2008.

Rypien’s favorite target is one of three other Boise State representatives on the first-team All-Mountain West offense. After a slow start this season, Thomas Sperbeck ended up dominating the conference’s receiving stats with 82 catches, 1,334 yards and eight touchdowns. His 20 catches and 281 receiving yards against New Mexico are still the top marks in the FBS this year. Sperbeck is joined by center Marcus Henry and left tackle Rees Odhiambo on the first team. That’s a show of respect for Odhiambo, who missed the last three games of the season with a knee injury. Tyler Rausa, who’s tied for second in the nation this season with 23 field goals, was the first-team placekicker.

Boise State is conspicuous by its absences on the All-Mountain West defensive squad. The only Bronco representative is safety Darian Thompson, who broke the conference’s career record for interceptions this season when he snagged his 19th. Thompson is a repeat selection, but defensive end Kamalei Correa is not. Correa was named to the second team this year, perhaps increasing the chances that he’ll stick around for his senior season and resist the NFL temptation.

San Diego State swept the other major Mountain West awards. Running back Donnel Pumphrey was Offensive Player of the Year, defensive back Demontae Kazee was Defensive Player of the Year and return specialist Rashaad Penny was Special Teams Player of the Year. Now, let me just say I like San Diego State coach Rocky Long. One-on-one, he’s a great guy. I don’t think Long was the best choice for Mountain West Coach of the Year, though. I guess the opposing coaches who played him were impressed. But what Bob Davie did this season at New Mexico should have put him over the top. Davie led the perpetually downtrodden Lobos program to its first winning season and first bowl bid in eight years. The UNM team is immensely improved.

One more thing on new Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich: He’s taking one for the team, squarely in his wallet. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that “Rolovich is expected to begin his tenure as the school’s lowest-paid head football coach in more than 12 years.” His estimated $400,000 salary will be the lowest in the Mountain West—in one of the most expensive places to live imaginable.

Saddened to hear of the passing of legendary UC Davis football coach Jim Sochor last week. The College Football Hall of Famer’s coaching tree is impressive indeed, including Dan Hawkins, Chris Petersen, Mike Bellotti, Gary Patterson and College of Idaho’s Mike Moroski. Hawkins and Petersen led Boise State to a combined 145-24 record with nine conference championships during their Bronco coaching stints from 2001-13. Both played for and began their coaching careers under Sochor, who was supportive of them and made several trips to Boise to watch them at work. The most recent visit was in 2009 when UC Davis faced Petersen’s Broncos on the blue turf. Sochor was head coach at Davis from 1970-88 and won 18 consecutive conference titles. He was 77 years old.

You don’t want to call this a break by any means, but Boise State steps out of Division I tonight to host Willamette in Taco Bell Arena. It’s a timeout from the meat grinder of the past couple of weeks, leaving the Broncos with a 3-4 record. Three of the losses have been to Top 25 teams. Boise State coach Leon Rice hasn’t hidden the fact that he needs to develop his bench, and he hopes he can take some positive steps tonight. The Broncos are okay on the perimeter, where Paris Austin is improving every game and Lonnie Jackson appears to be settling into a groove. Austin, the true freshman, and Jackson, the graduate transfer from Boston College, are both averaging 4½ points per game. Jackson is coming off a nine-point game that included a trio of three-pointers versus Arizona Sunday. Montigo Alford is scoring just 2.7 points per game.

It’s inside where Boise State really needs some help, lest James Webb III and Nick Duncan wear themselves out. Sophomore David Wacker busted up his planned redshirt year in the second game of the season, scoring four points and pulling down four rebounds in the win over Northern Arizona. At 10 minutes per game, Wacker’s getting the most playing time of the big men off the bench. Robin Jorch, the German freshman, and Zach Haney, coming off a redshirt season, have not emerged—yet, at least. Jorch is averaging 3.4 points per game and Haney 2.8.

In Tuesday night hoops, the Idaho Stampede kept Oklahoma City winless and snapped a six-game losing streak in the process with a 93-84 win over the Blue. The Stampede got a 16-point, eight-rebound debut from 7-3 German center Tibor Pleiss, newly-assigned by the Utah Jazz. Star forward Jack Cooley was inactive for the game and was not listed in the Stamps’ box score last night. And College of Idaho survived 34 percent shooting and a 56-35 deficit on the boards to edge Eastern Oregon 72-69 last night in the Cascade Conference opener in Caldwell. The Yotes also muddled through the final 3½ minutes without Joey Nebeker, who fouled out after pouring in 26 points.

The 18-day cross-country journey is over, and the Idaho Steelheads are back in CenturyLink Arena tonight to open a three-game series against the Florida Everblades. Roster churn continues for the Steelheads, who return home having won just six of their 20 games this season. Coach Neil Graham said yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk that the Steelies aren’t panicking. They are adjusting, though, as Graham acquired defenseman Zach Yuen from the Atlanta Gladiators yesterday in exchange for defenseman Cole Martin. Yuen has one goal and seven assists this season, with three of the helpers coming in one night against Idaho 2½ weeks ago. The Steelheads dropped two games at Florida early in the marathon road trip.

On a volleyball cruise today, Boise State’s Sierra Nobley has become the first Bronco in program history to be named National Player of the Week by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. On Monday Nobley earned her fifth Mountain West Player of the Week award this season, while Boise State coach Shawn Garus became the program’s first-ever conference Coach of the Year. The Broncos finished 23-7, their most successful season in 25 years, but they missed out on an NCAA Tournament at-large berth. Also, College of Idaho upended No. 10 ranked Rocky Mountain in a sweep yesterday in pool play at the NAIA Volleyball National Championships in Sioux City, IA.

This Day In Sports…December 2, 2000, 15 years ago today:

Capping a bizarre week in which he accepted a job at Oklahoma State and then changed his mind, the rumor mill finally grinds to a halt with Boise State’s Dirk Koetter being introduced as the new head coach at Arizona State. At the same time, assistant head coach Dan Hawkins was announced as Koetter’s replacement at BSU. Koetter led the Broncos to a 26-10 record and two Humanitarian Bowl wins, along with the final two football championships in the history of the Big West Conference.

(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.)