The Statesman’s Dave Southorn reports that Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice has interviewed at Saint Louis. The Statesman’s Dave Southorn reports that Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice has interviewed for the head coaching job at Saint Louis University. The Billikens are members of the Atlantic 10 Conference, and while they have a history in the NCAA Tournament, they’re in a decidedly mid-major league. But Southorn reports that recently-fired Saint Louis coach Jim Crew made upwards of $850,000 at Saint Louis, while Rice’s base salary is set to be $650,000 in 2016-17. The Broncos were 20-12 this season, Rice’s fifth 20-win campaign in six years at BSU. But the program’s self-proclaimed aspirations were much higher. Let’s call this a developing story.
So the next question is, if Boise State’s James Webb III follows through on his declaration for the NBA Draft, will it be Rice’s problem? Webb is expected to file his official paperwork today, but the NCAA has kept the door open for prospects to return to college before the draft as along as they don’t hire an agent, which Webb says he is not going to do at this point. That allows guys like Webb to participate in the NBA Combine May 11-15 and in one NBA team tryout in order to get realistic evaluations. Players then have until 10 days after the Combine to withdraw from the draft if they choose to. Webb’s evaluations will be interesting after a solid but sometimes uneven junior year.
Wrapping up the rest of the wacky week in Mountain West basketball, San Diego State is in New York City for the NIT semifinals tomorrow night against George Washington. Nevada will face Morehead State in the best-of-three CBI Finals, starting tonight in Morehead, KY. At UNLV, Mick Cronin was offered the head coaching job at UNLV. Then he flew back from Las Vegas to Cincinnati—and stayed with the Bearcats. The Rebels are reportedly now deciding between Arkansas-Little Rock’s Chris Beard and New Mexico State’s Marvin Menzies. And Wyoming lost highly-respected coach Larry Shyatt to apparent retirement, replacing him with top assistant Allen Edwards.
Boise State spring football resumes this week after spring break, and there’s one drill the Broncos can scratch from their special teams sessions. The NCAA football rules committee has completed its work on rules changes for 2016, and I found this one interesting: “Scrimmage Kick Formation – Clarifies that a ‘scrimmage kick formation’ must include either a punter at least 10 yards behind the line or a kicker and holder at least seven yards behind the line, and it must be obvious that a kick will be attempted.” Well, ever since the Ryan Dinwiddie days, Boise State has been occasionally lining up in the shotgun on fourth down when it’s inside the 50-yard line and generally outside the opponent’s 40—and dropping the quarterback into punt formation for a quick kick. No more, however.
The “must be obvious that a kick will be attempted” line in the new rule throws a monkey wrench into that scheme. Coach Bryan Harsin says Boise State will obviously have to scrap the strategy. There are coaches out there at the highest echelon who just like to beat you with straight-up football, and they hate deception in the game. A fake punt is far more deceptive than dropping your QB back for a quick kick, though. Maybe someday they’ll outlaw the play-action pass.
As College of Idaho spring football begins today, there are now points of statistical reference for the third-year Coyote program. The Yotes are climbing the ladder. They return the Frontier Conference’s No. 1 team in pass efficiency (a 142.6 rating), fewest sacks allowed (13) and fourth down conversion percentage (60 percent). Individually, Mountain View High product Nate Moore led the conference last season with six interceptions and 22 passes defended, and B.J. Newman topped the league with three forced fumbles. Former Borah High standout Tyler Higby was second in the conference with 67.2 receiving yards per game, and Eagle High grad Marcus Lenhardt was second with seven touchdown receptions. Building blocks, to be sure.
One of the remarkable things about Daryn Colledge’s announcement last week that he was enlisting in the Army National Guard was how it became a national story. I was out of town—way out of town—and I found out about it not from KTVB.com or KTIK.com or IdahoStatesman.com, but from the headlines at ESPN.com and CNN.com. It’s quite a statement by the former Boise State star, who made an estimated $24.6 million during his NFL career. (I was pleased to read that the plan is to have Colledge return to KTIK’s airwaves this fall after basic training.)
The highlight of the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships in Sun Valley was 2014 Olympic slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin—times two. After dominating her specialty event, the slalom, by almost seven seconds last week, Shiffrin attacked the giant slalom yesterday, an event that has given her problems. The American star says she wasn’t at her best, but alas, she took her second national title of the week as she won the GS, beating Resi Stiegler by .73 of a second. Shiffrin was the star of the show, stopping for countless selfies and autographs as she endeared herself to local fans. Sun Valley, lauded for its management of the event and its attention to detail with snow conditions, will host nationals again in 2018.
The Idaho Steelheads’ momentum was muted a bit over the weekend by Colorado. The Eagles swept the Steelheads in CenturyLink Arena, narrowing Idaho’s lead over Utah in the ECHL West Division to one point. Friday night the Steelies wasted Rob Linsmayer’s first professional hat trick, falling to Colorado in overtime, 5-4. Saturday night the Eagles peppered Steelheads’ goalie Branden Komm with 21 second-period shots, and three of them found the net. That was the difference in Colorado’s 4-2 victory. This is the first time the Steelies have gone three games without a win in more than 3½ months. Now Idaho hosts Utah with first place on the line Wednesday night.
Try as they might, the Idaho Stampede couldn’t delay the inevitable in Reno Saturday night. The Stampede took the Bighorns to overtime, but the latter prevailed 116-113 to clinch the D-League Pacific Division title and the No. 1 Western Conference seed in the playoffs. The Stampede battled, with J.J. O’Brien pouring in a career-high 34 points and Phil Pressey adding a season-high 23.
The WGC Dell Match Play skimmed off 32 of the PGA Tour’s best players over the weekend, and prize money at the Puerto Rico Open was consequently affected. Graham DeLaet had a solid tournament in Puerto Rico, tying for 11th. But the former Boise State star pocketed only $66,000, a low number for that kind of finish. DeLaet led the event in driving distance, averaging 313 yards. Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge had to settle for a tie for 62nd after ballooning to a six-over 78 in the final round.
This Day In Sports…March 28, 1977:
Two back-alley scrappers, Sylvester Stallone and Al McGuire, walk away with big prizes. In a storybook ending to his coaching career, McGuire won the NCAA championship when his Marquette Warriors beat North Carolina, 67-59. The Academy Awards were held the same night, and “Rocky”, starring Stallone as the rags-to-riches club fighter, took the Oscar for Best Picture.
(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.)