Hutch providing much to the Broncos

Going into the season, the natural assumption was that Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison was going to have to carry the flag for James Webb III, who skipped his senior year for pro basketball. Then in an interview with the Statesman’s Michael Katz after the win last week at UNLV, Nick Duncan said Hutchison “is becoming that Derrick Marks that we need.” What is Hutchison really? He’s Marks in that he’s become the Broncos’ money guy in the clutch and is averaging a Marks-like 18.3 points per game. But Hutchison rebounds like Webb, pulling down 8.9 boards per game. The 6-7 junior has seven doubles-doubles this season and is only the second Bronco in the last 30 years with six 20-point/10-rebound games in a single season. And Hutchison is at the core of this team’s uncanny chemistry.

Boise State takes on Fresno State tomorrow night in the large but usually-sleepy Save Mart Center, trying to go 5-0 in Mounytain West play. It’s going to be harder and harder to keep that goose egg on the right side of the win-loss ledger. These teams played only once last year, and the Broncos caught the Bulldogs early before they went on the run that resulted in a Mountain West tournament championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance. Webb put up 25 points in an 81-70 victory. This time, Fresno State is hoping its home court is the answer after suffering back-to-back upset losses at San Jose State and Air Force.

Multiple sources say former Boise State defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is in negotiations to become the new head coach at Cal, replacing the fired Sonny Dykes. Wilcox would thus return to the scene of his first full-time assistant coach’s job, as he coached linebackers in Berkeley from 2003-05. He was a grad assistant for the Broncos under Dan Hawkins in 2001-02—then was pulled back to Boise in 2006 by Chris Petersen. Wilcox spent the past year as D-coordinator at Wisconsin, where the Badgers were No. 7 in the nation in total defense.

Qualcomm Stadium will still be standing when Boise State pays San Diego State a visit this fall. But how long it’s there beyond that is anyone’s guess after the Chargers officially announced their move to Los Angeles yesterday. Qualcomm will eventually be torn down it seems, so what will the Aztecs do? About nine months ago, SDSU came out in favor of a “west campus” concept on the Qualcomm site should the Chargers either leave or get a new stadium approved, with the 166 acres to include a football stadium that would seat up to 40,000. The Aztecs sure need a more intimate setting. Money, money, money, money.

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Bryce Miller has penned a column headlined, “What’s next? Will city become a college town?” Miller’s definitive answer is, “No,” partly because—as the nation’s eighth-largest city—it’s too big to be a college town. San Diego will just be what it is. Writes Miller, “Be honest: Do you love living in San Diego because of the Chargers—or a thermometer stubbornly stuck on 72 degrees? It’s unlikely the NFL mourning will define this place when the sun shines brilliantly, streaming smiles from Chula Vista to Carlsbad. This isn’t a college city. And trust me, that’s more than OK.”

The NFL injury report is worth a look going into Sunday’s Divisional Round game between Green Bay and Dallas. Two former Boise State defensive linemen, the Cowboys’ Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence, have been scarce lately and have taken some heat in Dallas. Both players have been hurt, though, and both are listed as “Limited Participation in Practice,” which means they should play Sunday. Orlando Scandrick is accustomed to playing banged-up—he’ll be full-go and will be a key in the Cowboys’ quest to slow Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Idaho tie in Dallas who’s had the most impressive season is former Idaho Vandal Benson Mayowa, who has logged six sacks and has started six games.

The Idaho Steelheads may have found an effective new line with the addition of forward Mike McMurtry this week. McMurtry joined Kellan Laine and Anthony Luciani, and the trio combined for three goals and seven points in Wednesday night’s 5-3 win over Colorado. Goaltender Philippe Desrosiers also hopes to build on his Wednesday performance as the Steelheads and Eagles face off twice more this weekend. Unless Branden Komm instantly returns from Bakersfield of the AHL, it’ll be Desrosiers settling in between the pipes. He made 34 saves in the series opener, upping his season record with the Steelies to 4-2.

Troy Merritt started the 2017 portion of the PGA Tour season with a double-bogey on the second hole of the Sony Open in Hawaii and followed with a bogey on No. 6. Merritt settled down from there but still came in with a one-over 71 in the first round. That means the Boise State grad is already 12 shots off the pace, because Justin Thomas torched Waialae with an 11-under 59. At age 23, Thomas is the youngest player in PGA Tour history to card a 59.

Back to hoops, the Boise State women try to snap a two-game skid in Mountain West play when they host Fresno State tomorrow afternoon in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos are 2-2 in the MW after a 12-1 start in the non-conference schedule. The Northwest Nazarene men started their week last night with an 82-69 win over Saint Martin’s in Nampa. The Crusaders host Seattle Pacific tomorrow night. The College of Idaho men are on the road this weekend at Oregon Tech and Southern Oregon.

Other campus notes: The Boise State men’s tennis season begins tomorrow with the National Collegiate Tennis Challenge in Palm Springs. The Bronco women’s gymnastics team opens its season as well, with a quad-meet tonight at UC Davis that also includes Stanford and Yale. And the Boise State indoor track and field season continues today and tomorrow on the Jacksons Track at the Idaho Center with the Ed Jacoby Invitational, the annual meet honoring the 10-time Big Sky Coach of the Year who guided the Bronco program from 1973-96.

This Day In Sports…January 13, 1974:

The Miami Dolphins become Super Bowl champions for the second year in a row—defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7, in Super Bowl VIII. Dolphins fullback Larry Csonka, still the second-leading rusher in Super Bowl history, ran for 145 yards. And quarterback Bob Griese had to throw only seven passes in the game, but he kept the Viking defense off-guard by completing six.