Boise State coach Leon Rice may just now be drying out from the torrents of water poured on him in the locker room Saturday night after Boise State edged UNLV 61-59. The victory was Rice’s 214th at Boise State, lifing him past Bobby Dye as the winningest coach in school history. I’d like to take a moment today to salute Dye’s glory days, because there’s never been anything quite like it in Broncos hoops. You may be too young to remember, or perhaps you didn’t live in Idaho yet.
But there was a time from 1987-89 that basketball was actually bigger than football at Boise State. Fans could not wait for those Thursday-Saturday Big Sky games to arrive. Students lined up outside the Pavilion waiting for the doors to open an hour before tipoff in order to get good seats. The crowds were consistently huge. During the 1987-88 season, the Broncos topped 10,000 fans six times and 12,000 on three occasions. They averaged a school-record 9,100 fans per game. There was noise on every defensive possession. It was a magical era.
THE HALL NEEDS TO CALL
Dye is the single most glaring omission from the Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame. It stems from his departure in 1995, when he left following a contract dispute with then-athletic director Gene Bleymaier. Dye wanted a two-year contract, Bleymaier offered one year, and Dye up and left. Some influential long-timers deep within Bronco Nation have not forgotten. But Dye is 83 years old now. He has mellowed. And I can tell you he remembers his Boise State days fondly. He led the Broncos to three NCAA Tournaments. He is obviously worthy of a spot in the Hall. Short of that, he deserves to be honored at a Boise State home game next season, when fans are allowed back into ExtraMile Arena. Bobby Dye Night. Rock the Pavilion like old times.
WHAT WAS MISSING OFFENSIVELY?
Yes, it was a thrilling victory over the Rebels Saturday night. But 61 points? There has never been a game that showcased the importance of Derrick Alston Jr. more. Alston was the only Bronco in double figures—but it was major double figures: 27 points. He was 8-for-16 from the field, including 6-for-8 from three-point range. The rest of the team was 13-for-40 from the floor and 2-for-13 from deep. Alston and Mladen Armus were the only Boise State players exuding confidence on the offensive end. There was a lack of penetration and vision, as the Broncos were matched in the paint by the Rebels (22-22) and produced just seven assists.
EXTRAMILE ARENA OR BUST
Boise State was foiled by Utah State in its effort to move one of this week’s games against the Aggies to the Ford Idaho Center, reports B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press. USU AD John Hartwell confirmed on 106.9 The Fan in Logan he denied the Broncos’ request to play Wednesday’s game in Nampa, according to Rains. The Mountain West ruled that both teams have to agree to such a venue change since they previously agreed to play both games at ExtraMile Arena. “We’re trying to stay as protected, as much in the bubble as possible,” said Hartwell. “I understand their desire to have fans. They were asking to play in Nampa which is obviously a different county, different guidelines but it made absolutely no sense to us.” Utah State has been allowing up to 1,600 fans to its games in Logan this season.
THE TANGLED BOISE STATE-UCF WEB
First it was the irony that both Boise State and UCF would be facing off Labor Day weekend with first-year head coaches. Now we know who will be leading UCF September 4 in Orlando. It’s Gus Malzahn, who former Broncos coach Bryan Harsin just replaced at Auburn—and who Harsin also replaced at Arkansas State eight years ago. Of course, we’re talking two different scenarios. Malzahn left ASU of his own accord at take over the Tigers. This time he had been fired by Auburn, setting the stage for Harsin’s arrival. Malzahn was introduced at UCF Sunday at a virtual press conference, and he proclaimed, “I truly believe we will be in the final four in a short period of time.” Malzahn took the Tigers to the national championship game in his first season in 2013 but was only 14-12 in the SEC the past three seasons.
MERRITT’S MONEY MOVE
Former Boise State star Troy Merritt has momentum after his best performance of the 2020-21 season at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Merritt tamed the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday with a four-under 68 to finish tied for 16th and earn $118,950, upping his season total to $281,465. The catalyst in the final round was an eagle on the par-four 10th hole. Merritt picked up 49 points in the FedExCup Standings and moved up to No. 128. It’s still early, but that puts him in good position to maintain his PGA Tour card for another season—he has to finish in the top 125 in August.
O’NEIL OVERWHELMS MULTNOMAH
College of Idaho’s Jake O’Neil is the Cascade Conference Player of the Week after leading the Coyotes to a sweep of Multnomah over the weekend in the J.A. Albertson Activities Center. O’Neil, the one-time Boise State golfer from Fruitland, recorded a pair of double-doubles, including a career-high 29 points in Saturday’s 107-71 win. He went 21-for-33 from the floor in the two games and has logged four double-doubles in his last five outings. The Yotes now go into a three-game series against Lewis-Clark State to determine the CCC’s automatic berth in the NAIA Tournament. Game 1 is Thursday night in Lewiston. Northwest Nazarene, meanwhile, was idled over the weekend when Saturday’s game at Central Washington was postponed.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by COMMERCIAL TIRE…keeping you and your family on the road.
February 16, 2005: The National Hockey League becomes the first major professional circuit in sports history to lose an entire season to a work stoppage when commissioner Gary Bettman announces the official cancellation of the 2004-05 campaign. The Stanley Cup was not awarded for the first time since 1919, and substantial damage was done to the already-struggling NHL product. There were two attempts to form alternative professional leagues in North America during the lockout, but both failed.
(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.)