Is there a fork in the road for the Broncos?

The Mountain West Media Summit begins tomorrow in Las Vegas (the word “summit” makes us feel really important). This is where the Boise State program first reaches the crossroads that characterize the 2017 season. The release of the conference preseason poll tomorrow morning will be a starting point. Are there still enough believers in the Bronco train that has been rolling since just before the turn of the century? Or have Colorado State or Wyoming convinced the media that they are now the big dogs in the Mountain Division? The Rams have the momentum of a sparkling new on-campus stadium that opens less than five weeks from now. The Cowboys have their 2016 breakthrough season—and the hype surrounding quarterback Josh Allen as the possible top overall pick in next spring’s NFL Draft.

Let’s take a look at one more preseason publication before we get the Mountain West media scoop. One that remains a believer. Paul Myerberg has Boise State as the top team in the conference, placing it No.25 nationally in USA Today’s College Football Preview. The only Group of 5 team positioned higher is South Florida at No. 22. Myerberg sees the Broncos going 9-3 overall in the regular season—6-2 in the Mountain West and 3-1 in non-conference play (with the loss coming at Washington State). The best opponent on the schedule? Troy at No. 34. Elsewhere in the conference, Colorado State is 40th, San Diego State 49th, and Wyoming 60th.

Boise State has given us an appetizer for media days, releasing its preseason depth chart last night. One thing that stands out is the pecking order at quarterback. Despite a solid spring, redshirt freshman Jake Constantine is listed No. 3 behind Brett Rypien—No. 2 is Montell Cozart, the graduate transfer from Kansas. That would indicate that the Broncos do have some plans to use Cozart in change-of-pace packages, no? Another interesting breakdown is at wide receiver, although anything can happen between now and Opening Day. A.J. Richardson and Sean Modster are listed as starters alongside Cedrick Wilson, and Bryan Jefferson, Aklilian Butler and Austin Cottrell are the backups. But let’s see how things shake out after true freshmen Damon Cole, Octavius Evans and Cartrell Thomas his the field in fall camp.

Allen will be a guaranteed center of attention this week. Count USA Today among the publications that put the Wyoming junior at the forefront of the NFL Draft next spring. Allen has thought about it a lot. “I don’t want to be a quarterback that’s drafted in the first round and then four years later it’s like, ‘Who the hell is this guy?’” he said. “I want to play 15-plus years. I want to be known as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. And I know to do that you have to start well. The NFL isn’t going away. It’ll be there next year.” People who wonder about Allen note that he didn’t particularly finish well last year, going 17-for-32 for 207 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in the Cowboys’ 24-21 loss to BYU in the final Poinsettia Bowl.

Colorado State coach Mike Bobo had better be an expert on CSU’s new stadium, because he’ll be peppered with questions on it this week in Las Vegas. Rams players got their first look at the inside of the new facility last Sunday, and they ran around the locker room like it was Christmas morning. The staff was fully moved in to its new offices in the $220 million palace the first of last week. Players sure like hanging out there. “I think I saw more guys (Monday) than I saw the first two years when it wasn’t quite like this,” said Bobo in the Coloradoan. Recruits had already been touring much of the stadium. It’s surely no coincidence that the Rams already have nine commitments for the 2018 recruiting class.

The Sun Belt Media gathering is a one-day whirlwind in New Orleans today, with Idaho participating for the final time. Coach Paul Petrino will be joined by defensive lineman Akeem Coleman and quarterback Matt Linehan. The Sun Belt takes care of some of its business in advance, including the preseason poll and all-conference picks. Coleman, who’s on the watch list for the Bronko Nagusrski Trophy, was a first-team All-Sun Belt choice, as was Vandal center Jordan Rose. Interestingly, Linehan was not named to the first or second team.

What a way to end the first half of the season for the Boise Hawks. With yesterday’s 11-5 loss at Everett, the Hawks finished with a five-game losing streak that dropped them back to .500 at 19-19. Boise keeps hitting home runs—Brett Boswell parked his sixth of the season and the club’s 42nd, a two-run shot in the ninth inning yesterday. But the Hawks’ pitching had again put them in a hopeless hole by that point. Starter Pearson McMahon lasted only 1 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs (three earned) before being pulled.

It was a homecoming for former Vallivue Falcon and 5A state champion Gabby Barker at the Idaho Women’s Amateur, and she was in control of the itinerary. After building a two-stroke lead Thursday, the Big 12 Player of the Year from Texas Tech went into overdrive, torching Nampa’s Ridgecrest Golf Club with a seven-under 65 in the second round. Barker finished with a three-under 69 on Saturday that included an eagle on No. 15. She won her third State Am in a runaway—16 strokes over Tara Finigan of Laguna Niguel, CA. Barker has an odd-year mojo going, as she has won in 2013, 2015 and now 2017.

This Day In Sports…July 24, 1983:

With two outs in the ninth inning, Kansas City’s George Brett hits a two-run homer off Yankees closer Goose Gossage. Yanks manager Billy Martin argued that Brett’s bat had too much pine tar, and the umpires agreed—calling Brett out and ending the game with the Yankees apparently winning, 4-3. Brett went berserk, the Royals protested the game, and American League president Lee MacPhail ruled that Brett’s home run counted and the game should be resumed. Weeks later, the Royals held on to win the continuance, 5-4.

(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.)