If you scroll and scroll and scroll, you’ll see a lot of names in John Canzano’s Oregonian column on Oregon’s coaching search. Boise State’s Bryan Harsin is just one, and he seems to be down the line on the Ducks’ priority list right now. At the top are guys like Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, South Florida’s Willie Taggart, Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, North Carolina’s Larry Fedora, Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, and even Penn State’s James Franklin. Former Oregon coach and athletic director Mike Bellotti has named his four favorites (for some reason): Temple’s Matt Rhule, Florida’s Jim McElwain, Taggart and Mullen. McElwain has already said no, as has former Ducks coach Chip Kelly. Well, Harsin’s still out there.
Right now it’s concentration on the Cactus Bowl for Harsin. Boise State’s last game of the season was, like Baylor’s, a loss. But the Bears are taking something from theirs. Though Baylor lost its last six games of the regular season, it nearly upended 16th-ranked West Virginia Saturday, falling 24-21 in Morgantown. Maybe the Bears haven’t lost their fight after all. Interim coach Jim Grobe, however, is faced with keeping a staff together. His assistants know this is it, and if they get offers they like, they’re gone. “Our guys have families, it’s important for them to find jobs,” Grobe said. “So that’s going to be a little bit of a balancing act, trying to make sure we spend as much time as we need preparing for this game, but also understanding that these guys have to take care of themselves.”
Let’s go to ESPN.com’s bowl predictions from Adam Rittenberg. In the Cactus Bowl: “Baylor’s season can’t end soon enough, while Boise State saw its New Year’s Six hopes fade with two losses in its final five league contests. The Broncos have more quality wins and a decided edge on defense against Baylor, with its offense missing quarterback Seth Russell. Boise State pulls away in the fourth quarter behind running back Jeremy McNichols. Boise State 44, Baylor 31.”
In the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: “Idaho’s Paul Petrino quietly did one of the best jobs in the Group of 5, especially with the Vandals soon dropping down a level, but Colorado State’s powerful offense makes the difference. Nick Stevens is an emerging star, and the Rams quarterback has a big night in Boise. Colorado State 45, Idaho 34.” I still say all the intangibles favor the Vandals, tough. Idaho players probably would have liked to go someplace warm like Tucson. But now they get to be on national TV as opposed to an Internet stream. And they get to play in front of Vandal fans in an energized atmosphere. The Arizona Bowl between South Alabama and Air Force will be far from that.
The Boise State football banquet was held Sunday afternoon, with the 2016 team awards announced. The ones I’m always interested in are the scout teams honors, because more often than not, those are the players whose names you’ll hear a lot in the coming seasons. So, get ready for these three freshmen. Offensive lineman Ezra Cleveland was the Scout Offensive Player of the Year (interesting that an O-lineman got it—could be a good omen). Scout team defensive honors went to linebacker Desmond Williams, and the Special Teams Player of the Year was cornerback Avery Williams, a walk-on. File those guys away.
Sloppy floor play almost negated great shooting for Boise State last night. Almost. The Broncos shot 58 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc but committed 19 turnovers and went just 13-for-22 from the free throw line. In the end, though, they managed an 80-79 victory at Loyola Marymount. It was a game of runs. First, Boise State wrapped a 13-0 stretch around halftime and went up by 13 points. LMU had a 21-6 run midway through the second half to go up by three. The Broncos answered that one with a 17-2 spurt to carry a 78-66 lead into the final three minutes and then hung on by their fingertips.
Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison made all five of his shots from the field in the first nine minutes and scored 12 points. Then came foul trouble. Hutchison was 1-for-4 after the break, hampered by a fourth foul with 8½ minutes left, but he still was the game’s high scorer with 17 points. He has scored in double figures in eight of Boise State’s nine games (Hutchison reached double digits nine times in his first two seasons combined). Justinian Jessup contributed 13 points but endured five of the aforementioned turnovers. The Broncos got important contributions off the bench from freshman Marcus Dickinson and sophomore Cameron Oluyitan in the first half, with eight and six points, respectively. The duo combined for four makes from three-point land.
Tonight it’s the second leg of the United Heritage Mayors’ Cup series as Northwest Nazarene hosts College of Idaho at Johnson Sports Center in Nampa. The Coyotes took the first game in a 77-53 rout last month in Caldwell. The Yotes are coming off an 83-79 loss at Eastern Oregon in their Cascade Conference opener Saturday, letting a seven-point halftime lead slip away. NNU has some momentum, having upended Great Northwest Athletic Conference preseason favorite Alaska-Anchorage 71-67 Saturday.
After 11 years in and out of the majors, it’s all worked out for former Boise Hawk Rich Hill. The 36-year-old left-hander has been re-signed by the L.A. Dodgers to a three-year, $48 million contract. Hill came back from near oblivion late in the 2015 season with Boston, then landed in Oakland’s starting rotation this year. He was traded to the Dodgers mid-season and went 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA—combined he was 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA. Hill spent parts of two seasons with the Hawks in 2002 and 2003.
Boise State men’s tennis coach Greg Patton led the U.S. team for the ninth time over the weekend at the Master’U BNP Paribas, an international collegiate team competition in Lille, France. The event featured eight teams composed of college players from around the world. And the Americans won, beating Russia 4-1 Sunday to take their sixth straight title and seventh in the past eight years. The U.S. is now 23-1 over that stretch.
This Day In Sports…December 6, 2009:
Boise State makes history by becoming the first non-BCS school ever to get an at-large berth in a BCS bowl, accepting an invitation to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The sixth-ranked Broncos’ opponent would be fourth-ranked TCU, the team that beat them out for the automatic BCS berth that goes to non-BCS teams. The Horned Frogs had also beaten Boise State the year before in the Poinsettia Bowl, 17-16. The pairing of the two BCS-busters against each other generated a lot of debate around the country.
(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.)