Boise State had hoped that Brett Rypien would get an invite to the Senior Bowl next month, and that could still happen. But Rypien has a fall-back position, as he has a roster spot in the 94th East-West Shrine Game January 19 in St. Petersburg. NFL scouts are going to look at Rypien’s consistency as they decide whether to use a draft pick on him. In between stretches of absolute brilliance, there have been games like the losses to San Diego State and Fresno State. In each case his completion percentage was 50 percent or below. But one of Rypien’s most impressive performances came in the defeat at Oklahoma State, where he shook off seven sacks to connect on 70 percent of his throws for 380 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
Lest you think that an invitation the East-West Shrine Game means no shot at the NFL, there have been 10 former Boise State standouts who have played in the game and gone on to make the NFL. The two most recent are both starring for their respective teams now—Charles Leno Jr. of the Chicago Bears and Tyrone Crawford of the Dallas Cowboys. Daryn Colledge played in the Shrine game before being drafted in the second round by the Green Bay Packers in 2006. The NFL list goes back to 1981 when Cedric Minter and David Hughes, backfield compadres from the Broncos’ Division I-AA national championship team, played together in the East-West Shrine Game at Stanford and went on to the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.
Two notes on Boise State’s 2019 recruiting class: one an addition and the other a recognition. The Broncos have a verbal from the nation’s No. 1 junior college tight end (according to 247 Sports), Austin Griffin of Mt. San Antonio College in California. Griffin originally committed to Louisville but reopened his recruitment when things started to unravel this fall for the Cardinals. The 6-7, 250-pounder made only 13 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown in six games this year, but evaluators are obviously sky-high on him. And Boise State commit Keegan Duncan of Declo has become the first 2A player ever to win the Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year award in football. Duncan, the 6-3, 220-pound all-everything guy, was responsible for 51 touchdowns this season between rushing, receiving, passing, returns and interceptions.
Northern Arizona could do a lot worse than Eric Kiesau as head coach, but Lance Hartzler of the Arizona Daily Sun reports that he is no longer in consideration for the Lumberjacks’ job. Caves and Prater (and J.P.) speculated on Idaho SportsTalk that money could be a factor—as in, he’s probably better off financially as wide receivers coach at Boise State. We’ve long talked about Power 5 coordinators salaries being comparable to Group of 5 head coaches. It’s all relative. The pay for FCS head coaches is not a lot different than upper-echelon Group of 5 position coaches. “Kiesau’s salary at Boise State is $218,000 per year, north of former Lumberjacks head coach Jerome Souers’ annual salary of $185,000 in his final season,” noted Hartzler.
WILCOX FINALLY GETTING PAC-12 PAY
Speaking of salaries, former Boise State defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is at the other end of that spectrum. Wilcox, now the head coach at Cal, had been making $1.5 million per year since taking over in Berkeley last year. He’s now been given a five-year extension at $3.25 million per year. Wilcox has orchestrated an impressive turnaround at Cal. The Bears are 7-5 and will take on TCU in the Cheez-It Bowl (formerly the Cactus Bowl) the day after Christmas in Phoenix. It’s just the school’s second bowl berth in the past seven years and it comes thanks to an exponentially improved defense, Wilcox’s specialty.
IUPATI UNFORTUNATELY GIVES WAY TO ODHIAMBO
Elsewhere in Phoenix, a former Vandal’s misfortune gives a former Bronco another shot in the NFL. Mike Iupati, San Francisco’s first-round draft pick out of Idaho in 2010 and now an Arizona Cardinal, was placed on injured reserve this week after being carted off with a knee injury last Sunday in Green Bay. Iupati had finally been rounding into form—he missed all but one game last year with an elbow injury. He’s 31 years old now, and his NFL future is murky. The Cardinals signed Boise State product Rees Odhiambo off the Indianapolis practice squad to take Iupati’s roster spot. Odhiambo has been trying to find a home since being cut loose at he end of training camp by Seattle, the team that drafted him in the third round in 2016. He also had a short stint with Atlanta this season.
RJ AND THE REST OF THE BRONCOS COME HOME
Boise State hoops is finally home again Saturday afternoon after 9,000 miles’ worth of away games. The Broncos’ matchup with Division II Central Washington is their first in Taco Bell Arena since the weekend before Thanksgiving. RJ Williams is going to sell some tickets this winter. The junior college transfer is coming off a 23-point night that included five steals in the 69-67 loss at Grand Canyon last Saturday. Williams converted three of the swipes into dunks at the other end of the floor. CWU is 4-4 this season but can score in bunches—the Wildcats are averaging 89.1 points per game. Going all the way back to Boise State’s humble beginnings as a four-year program a half-century ago, the Broncos and Central Washington have never faced each other in basketball.
HUTCH MAY RECOGNIZE THIS NEW ASSISTANT
I don’t know if this qualifies as “tangled web,” but former Idaho Stampede coach Dean Cooper is one of the new Chicago Bulls assistant coaches Chandler Hutchison will be working with. Cooper has been promoted from the staff of Chicago’s G-League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls. He previously coached with new Bulls head man Jim Boylen under Rudy Tomjanovich with the Houston Rockets. Cooper led the Stampede during their final two seasons in Boise and their first as the Salt Lake City Stars before the Jazz organization let him go. Hutchison played his first game with Boylen in charge Tuesday night in Chicago’s 96-90 loss at Indiana, getting only nine minutes off the bench and scoring three points. The Bulls host Oklahoma City tonight.
SHOLL SPURS THE STEELIES’ SURGE
It’s back to divisional play for the Idaho Steelheads, who host the Utah Grizzlies in CenturyLink Arena tonight and Saturday night. The Steelheads are finding their mojo, having won three straight games and six of their last seven. Goalie Tomas Sholl has been central to the surge, getting victories in five of his last six outings while posting a solid 1.22 goals-against average with two shutouts. The third period has been kind to the Steelheads this season, as they’ve posted a plus-8 goal differential in the third.
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December 7, 2003, 15 years ago today: Following a 52-28 win over Oregon State, USC begins a record streak of 33 consecutive weeks atop the AP Poll. The Trojans were ranked No. 1 for the conclusion of the 2003 season, the entire 2004 season and the entire 2005 regular season until falling to No. 2 Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl, 41-38. The 33-week run holds the record by a wide margin, but it is now tainted by the scandal that forced Reggie Bush to vacate his Heisman Trophy and USC to vacate its final two wins of 2004—including the national championship—and all of its victories in 2005..
(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.)