Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ picked to win

Time out from the busy recruiting beat to check out one of the longest-running preseason college football magazines, Lindy’s. Boise State is picked to win the Mountain Division of the Mountain West, but Fresno State is predicted to win the championship. The capsules are penned by conference beat writers, so they’re interesting. There are these takes on the Broncos: “Offensive coordinator Tim Plough didn’t seem to figure out which pegs worked best last season. There is still no way to tell if Andy Avalos is the real deal as a head coach after the lackluster 2021 campaign. Boise State doesn’t enter this season with much buzz, and it seems like a New Year’s Six Bowl is not a realistic goal.” Wow. The Broncos must feel like Rodney Dangerfield—“no respect, no respect at all!” And they’re picked to win the division.

ON THE OTHER HAND…

Here’s a story that got Bronco Nation through the weekend. Chris Vannini of The Athletic came up with his lists of Kings, Barons, Knights and Peasants in Group of 5 football. Here are his Kings: Cincinnati, Houston, UCF and Boise State. Vannini qualifies it with this: “This is not necessarily a ranking of the best programs, either now, in the past or in the future. It’s about the brand. The cachet. It’s what people think when they hear a school’s name.” Goes to show what staying power the Broncos’ brand has had 10 years after the Kellen Moore era.

THAT WILD RECRUITING RIDE

Camps and official visits produced five commitments in seven days for Boise State football. There have been lots of firsts in the first year of Owyhee High School—a couple of state championships in boys basketball and baseball for starters. Now the Storm have their first FBS football commit, as offensive lineman Carson Rasmussen has given his verbal to Boise State. (He’s also the Broncos’ first local commit for 2023.) Rasmussen, a 6-5, 296-pounder, gives the Broncos their third offensive lineman of this recruiting class. 247 Sports rates Rasmussen as the No. 8 recruit in the state of Idaho, but analyst Brandon Huffman said he is “trending up after some stellar showings at a number of off-season events.”

Rasmussen was preceded by Kyle Cox, a 6-6, 270 pound offensive lineman from Eatonville, WA, who gave his verbal last Friday. Cox was the Broncos’ second commit at that position of perpetual need, joining Jason Steele of Murrieta Valley, CA. Cox also had FBS offers from Army and Air Force, which tells you he is presumably smart and disciplined. Another commit, Franklyn Johnson, Jr., from Little Elm, TX, has played quarterback, wide receiver, safety and cornerback in high school, so the Broncos are terming him as an “athlete” and will worry about where to slot him in later. But Johnson’s being projected as a corner.

Jackson Grier gave his verbal last Thursday (the day after the previously profiled Breezy Dubar). Grier’s a 5-11, 175-pound wide receiver from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, FL. There’s not a lot out there about him. But the Broncos are known for doing their homework. There’s this from BroncoCountry.com’s longtime recruiting analyst Kevin Hiatt: “Will say this much. I don’t have the connections I’ve had in the past, but I do still have some. Staff was BLOWN AWAY by Jackson Grier and was very excited to get him to commit right away.” Hiatt notes that Grier’s high school had five wide receivers get FBS scholarship offers, including Grier. That’s the kind of embarrassment of riches Grier’s been lost in.

COACH PETE’S RESET BUTTON

Chris Petersen has gone viral, at least locally, after his appearance on a podcast called “The Blueprint With Dr. Eric Korem.” The crux of it is Coach Pete’s statement that he was “embarrassed” about the way he left Boise State to trade in one set of problems for another at Washington. He was burned out. What I remember of the 2013 season is the joyless press conferences: short answers, shrugging of the shoulders—things like that. If you were here in the early 2000s, you’ll remember that Petersen was never sure if he even wanted to be a head coach. He enjoyed being an offensive coordinator for a unit that scored 50 points on a regular basis. Then Petersen relented when Dan Hawkins left for Colorado in December , 2005. He felt the time was right to give it a try, and it certainly was.

PRICE IS RIGHT IN BOISE

There was a great story by Mike Vorel in the Seattle Times over the weekend about former Washington quarterback Keith Price. You know, Boise State’s offensive graduate assistant. Price’s conversations about coaching began with Keith Bhonopha when he was still with the Huskies, and he helped Price land his spot with Boise State last year. Then Bhonopha landed back with the Broncos’ staff himself. Price had his doubts at the beginning. “When I was at UW, I was interested (in coaching), and then I saw a couple of the GAs with air mattresses. Then I reconsidered,” Price said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘You guys got air mattresses in the office, bro? I’m not sure that’s the life for me.’”

But now Price doesn’t feel like the grad assistant spot is beneath him. “It’s always been about getting it out in the mud and starting from the ground up and getting it the only way I know how to get it. That’s to grind,” said Price. “Obviously Boise State is a respected program, one of the top Group of Five programs in the country. So I’m super excited to be here. And shoot, I’m just ready to get this thing cracking.” Price was 1-1 against the Broncos as Washington QB. The Huskies fell 28-26 in the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl, but they routed Boise State 38-6 in their very next game, the 2013 season opener at Husky Stadium. It was the worst loss of Chris Petersen’s career. Coach Pete was in Seattle just over three months later.

BRONCOS STOCKING THE SUMMER LEAGUE

There are four Boise State products slated for the Las Vegas Summer League now with the revelation that Derrick Alston Jr. will represent the Dallas Mavericks and Chandler Hutchison will suit up for the Atlanta Hawks in a couple weeks. Alston played well for the Salt Lake City Stars in the G League this past season. Hutchison, a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls four years ago, is trying to kick-start a career that has hit some quicksand. Through subsequent stops in Washington, San Antonio and Phoenix, Hutchison has not been able to take root. He spent most of 2021-22 with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the G League.

While he wasn’t selected last week in the NBA Draft, Abu Kigab has signed a deal with the Toronto Raptors entry in the Summer League. This is a good fit for Kigab, as he’s from St. Catharine’s, Canada, on the other side of Lake Ontario from Toronto. He’s naturally a Raptors fan. At the very least, there could be a G League opportunity awaiting Kigab if he performs well. And Justinian Jessup is back from Australia and is anxious to show the Golden State Warriors what he has learned the past two seasons Down Under. Safe to say Jessup is a lot more physical than he was at Boise State.

HECK OF AN ALUMNI ASSOCIATION

If there’s a practice game locally for the “Once A Bronco” alumni basketball team, I’ll try to carve out time to see it. “Once A Bronco,” assembled by former Boise State players Wes Perryman and Thomas Bropleh, has made the 64-team field for “The Basketball Tournament,” the $1 million, winner-take-all summer event broadcast live on ESPN networks. The roster includes Bropleh, Derrick Marks, Ryan Watkins, Alex Hobbs, Montigo Alford, Kenny Wilson and Kevin Allen—plus a few players from other programs. (They had me at Marks and Watkins). The team will be coached by Reggie Larry and Anthony Thomas. “Once A Bronco” is in the New Mexico Regional in the Pit, with play set to begin on July 18. There’ll be a training camp in Boise the week prior.

SCHOFFIELD’S A SHOE-IN

The twice-postponed induction ceremony for the Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame’s 2020 class will probably be held this fall. The delay has only added to the backlog of inductees for the Hall after it was dormant from 2007-18. So we can only guess when Kristie Schoffield will get in, but she will. Schoffield became the first Bronco ever to run a sub two-minute women’s 800 meters Sunday, finishing eighth at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Eugene—that on the heels of her NCAA title two weeks earlier.

HAWKS HOME IN TIME FOR FIREWORKS

After a seven-game series in Billings that saw them go 3-4, the Boise Hawks make the trek to Ogden tonight to open a three-game set against the Raptors. The Hawks are still a long way off from .500, as they sit at 12-18 on the season. They return home Saturday night for a three-game series against the Missoula Paddleheads, with postgame fireworks slated each night. During the final weekend of their last homestand the Hawks drew 13,007 fans to Memorial Stadium, their largest three-day attendance since at least 2010. General manager Mike Van Hise feels Boise “will be far and away running away with the Pioneer Baseball League attendance crown” this season.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…payroll, process and prosperity for your business.

June 29, 1989: Boise Hawks manager Mal Fichman is ejected in the sixth inning against the Salem Dodgers. Fair enough. But after the game Fichman was suspended for five games by the Northwest League because he came back on the field dressed as the team’s mascot, Humphrey the Hawk, so he could still give the team instructions. It was one of the more colorful moments during the Hawks’ inaugural season at Memorial Stadium.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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