What can we say that hasn’t already been said about the Boise State search for a football coach, especially the Kellen Moore-Andy Avalos angle? We may be biding our time through the weekend. First of all today, it’s hard to get a read on what Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants with Moore. On 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday, it was almost like Jones was telling Moore to go for the gusto. “You’ve asked specifically about Kellen, and I’m reluctant to be funny,” said Jones. “But I’ll say this to anyone. Remember the two buzzards sitting on the limb? And one’s got his neck turned around looking at the other and says, ‘Patience my ass, I’m gonna kill something.’ The bottom line is, when it’s there, take it.”
KEY WORD: ‘FORMAL’
Andy Avalos was ready for the question at Tuesday’s Fiesta Bowl media day press conference. A reporter wanted to know about the Boise State rumors. “I get it, I understand, that’s my alma mater,” said Oregon’s defensive coordinator. “A lot of sweat equity into that university. But ultimately, I’ve not been engaged in that process. There has not been any formal interaction there, so this is where our focus is right now.” There’s probably a lot of informal interaction we’re not privy to. Who’s involved is anyone’s guess. B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press tweeted yesterday that he hears the search for Boise State’s new athletic director is entering the final stages—and that Brad Larrondo is unlikely to be in the mix. Renee Baumgartner, in her sixth year as AD at Santa Clara, has been identified as one of the candidates.
MORE AVERY WILLIAMS
Avery Williams, now a former Boise State star, nabbed his second first-team All-America honor on Tuesday from Sporting News as a return specialist. Williams adds that to his first-team nod from USA Today last week. He is the first Bronco ever to garner two first-team selections on special teams. Williams has also landed an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game, albeit a ceremonial one. The game in St. Petersburg was originally scheduled for January 23 in St. Petersburg but won’t be played due to the pandemic.
SJSU’S MOUNTAIN TOP
One thing stands between San Jose State and an undefeated season: the Arizona Bowl on Thursday against Ball State. What the Spartans did 11 days ago in the championship game is good for the Mountain West. Not for those who wish Boise State was, as the “flagship” program in the conference, the dominant team every year. But the Mountain West will continue to fade in the American Athletic Conference’s rear view mirror if its lower-echelon teams don’t make moves. And man did SJSU do that this year. Can UNLV similarly get out of the doldrums and improve the league’s overall strength? The Rebels had the No. 3 recruiting class in the Mountain West two weeks ago behind the Broncos and San Diego State.
WHERE’S THE GAME? AND WHERE’S DOUTRIVE?
We know where the New Year’s Eve game between Boise State and San Jose State will be played on Thursday. It’ll be in a little gym in Phoenix called Ability 360, with no fans and no media allowed. Talk about creating your own atmosphere. How 2020 is that? The Broncos and Spartans will play on Saturday at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. The mystery is Devonaire Doutrive. Fans are almost as anxious to see the Arizona transfer play as they are to find out who the new football coach is. Almost. Doutrive was still not eligible for the New Mexico series last week—that may have been because his fall semester grades hadn’t been posted. But if he doesn’t play this week, who knows what’s going on? (Doutrive’s Broncos teammates can’t wait to see him on the floor, either.)
NEPOTISM NOT AN ISSUE HERE
It’s not easy for a college basketball coach to have his son on his team, especially when that son plays significant minutes. Witness New Mexico’s Craig Neal, whose son Cullen became a polarizing figure once upon a time. Cullen ended up transferring, and Craig ended up being fired. There’s peace by comparison at Boise State, as coach Leon Rice has struck a nice balance with his son Max, the former Bishop Kelly star. Amid the rush of new talent on the floor now for the Broncos, you’d be tempted to think Max would slip into the background. Instead, he’s having a breakthrough season, meshing incredibly well with the new guys. The younger Rice is coming off the best game of his career, the 22-point night against the Lobos that saw him go 9-for-13 from the floor with four three-pointers and seven rebounds.
BOISE STATE WOMEN, 21 DAYS LATER
The Boise State women haven’t played in three weeks, since an 84-64 home win over Eastern Washington back on December 10. The Broncos have had two games canceled and/or postponed since. They’ll try again New Year’s Eve afternoon as they play their first Mountain West game, opening a two-game series against San Jose State in ExtraMile Arena. Boise State has played only three games so far and the Spartans two—neither team has lost. One of the byproducts of the coronavirus shutdown in March: the Broncos’ winning streak stayed alive since there was no NCAA Tournament. They’ve won 11 games in a row now, their longest streak in almost 13 years.
GOODBYE TO 2020
This is the final Scott Slant column of 2020. It goes without saying that this sports year was like no other. The last live sporting event I attended was an Idaho Steelheads game on Friday, March 6. The Steelies would play one more game before shutting down. At first we thought everything would be pushed back a couple of weeks. Then spring sports were shelved, and what would have ended up being the Boise Hawks’ final season in the Northwest League was wiped out. In the midst of a severe budget crisis, Boise State eliminated its new baseball program, plus women’s swimming and diving. One of the Broncos’ biggest home football games ever—against Florida State—went by the wayside. And when football finally kicked in, there were no fans. But you know what? We made it through. Here’s to 2021.
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December 30, 1999: Boise State plays its first Division I-A bowl game ever—at home in Bronco Stadium—beating Louisville 34-31 in the Humanitarian Bowl before over 29,000 fans. Redshirt freshman tailback Brock Forsey was the MVP with 269 all-purpose yards, and quarterback Bart Hendricks got serious national notice for the first time after throwing for 335 yards and a touchdown and scoring another TD on the ground. The Broncos rolled up 533 yards overall, while the BSU defense came up big—helped by an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown by Shaunard Harts. Boise State finished the season 10-3.
(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.)