Oh boy. Fresno State is now No. 25 in the College Football Playoff rankings. That’ll rankle Bulldog Nation more than ever. Marek Warszawski, the Fresno Bee’s creative columnist, laments that Fresno State and Boise State are not in Conference USA or the American, where head-to-head results are part of the tiebreaker system that determines homefield advantage in the league title game. That would mean, Warszawski writes, “The conference championship would be settled right here in Fresno, at a re-energized Bulldog Stadium, instead of in Boise, Idaho, on that hideously hued field.” He continues: “Computer polls are symbols of a bygone era, an age epitomized by an acronym (BCS) that drips off the tongue like poison. Even the CFP has ditched them. The Bulldogs are getting hosed by a bad system.”
Truth be told, the C-USA and American procedure is the fair way to decide homefield advantage. You start with conference records. If that’s a tie, go to head-to-head. And if the teams didn’t play that season, then go to computer rankings. Of course, this process came about because the Mountain West wants to protect its best team for New Year’s Six bowl purposes, and the computers do matter to the CFP committee when deciding who the top Group of Five champion is. And…rules are rules. If Fresno State had beaten lower-echelon UNLV in Bulldog Stadium last month, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
You talk about the “front seven” on defense, but there’s also the “back seven,” when you pair the linebackers up with the secondary. That’s where the challenge is for Boise State in the Mountain West championship game. Last Saturday at Bulldog Stadium, Fresno State decided it was going to throw on the Broncos—and it did, dinking and dunking and occasionally drilling them with the deep ball. Boise State’s defense against the pass had been excellent during the seven-game winning streak, just 187 yards per game allowed on six yards per attempt. But the Bulldogs’ Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week, Marcus McMaryion, had the best day of any quarterback against the Broncos this season, with 332 yards and more than nine yards per attempt. There’s a serious re-boot coming up this week for the Boise State “D.”
Saturday will mark an anticlimactic end to Idaho’s 22-season run in the FBS. The Vandals close the season rather anonymously against Georgia State in Atlanta, two hours before Georgia and Auburn meet in the SEC championship game a short distance away at sparkling new Mercedes Benz Stadium. The Vandal game will be played at Georgia State Stadium, the facility that re-opened this year after being transformed from Turner Field, the former home of the Atlanta Braves. The Panthers, 4-6 this season, are drawing an average of 16,250 in their new home. That number stands to be seriously affected by that little happening on the other side of Downtown Atlanta.
BYU has a fall guy for its historically bad season. It is offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, the former Heisman Trophy winner, who has been relieved of his offensive coordinator’s duties by coach Kalani Sitake. The Cougars are No. 118 in the country in total offense at just 325 yards per game—and No. 123 in scoring at 17.1 points per game. Detmer had Eagle High grad Tanner Mangum at quarterback for only eight games during this 4-9 season, and even Mangum struggled, throwing for eight touchdowns against nine interceptions. Detmer is still under contract at BYU, and there’s an outside chance he could stay as quarterbacks coach under a new coordinator.
Donte Deayon got the chance of a lifetime this season, playing for the New York Giants in the NFL. At 5-9, 163 pounds, the former Boise State standout was the unlikeliest of undrafted free agents in 2016, making the Giants’ practice squad. After a 36-yard pick-six against the Jets in a preseason game in August, Deayon landed on the practice squad again. Then in mid-October, he got his shot, as he was added to the active roster when Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie walked out on the team. Unfortunately, Deayon broke his right forearm on Thanksgiving night in the Giants loss to Washington, and he’s been placed on injured reserve. He finishes with 10 tackles and a pass deflection in four games this season.
Gary Van Tol was introduced yesterday as the coach for Boise State’s revived baseball program after spending the last 10 years in the Chicago Cubs organization. Van Tol now has just two over years to put things together until play begins in 2020. The Broncos’ baseball hiatus is even longer than College of Idaho’s was in football (37 years). Baseball was a varsity sport at Boise Junior College and Boise State from 1936 to 1980, producing two big league pitchers, Larry Jackson and Pat House, with legendary football coach Lyle Smith also coaching baseball. Both Jackson and House were JC guys. Now Van Tol has a chance to lay down his own legacy in Division I. He managed the Boise Hawks in 2013-14 and was in on the ground floor of the careers of Cubs stars Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, among others.
So you see that Boise State drilled previously undefeated Loyola Chicago 87-53 last night, and you figure Chandler Hutchison must have been back in the lineup. He was. And he scored two points. It was the Broncos’ most complete win of the season—they worked over the Ramblers on defense and on the boards and lit it up on offense. Nine different players hit three-pointers, and one of them was not Hutchison, as Boise State’s depth ruled the night. The Broncos knocked down 16 threes overall—six of them from Justinian Jessup—and shot 57 percent from beyond the arc. They had a 25-8 rebounding edge at halftime and a 41-23 advantage for the game. Next comes the litmus test for this interesting young team, a tussle with the Oregon Ducks Friday night in Eugene.
Two other things to wrap up Wednesday: the Idaho Steelheads and Tulsa Oilers will play for the first time as divisional foes when they face off tonight in CenturyLink Arena. The Oilers moved from the Central to the Western Division this season. The Steelheads are exactly one-quarter of the way through the 2017-18 campaign and go into tonight’s game 9-5-4. And the Boise State women’s volleyball team was swept by Pacific last night in the opening round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship in Stockton, CA. The Broncos end their season at 17-14.
This Day In Sports…November 29, 2010:
It had only been 5½ months since Boise State announced its move to the Mountain West, but the conference had an entirely different look as the third of its “big three” in football announced its departure. TCU planned a move to the Big East, effective in 2012, following Utah (Pac-12) and BYU (independence). That effectively ended any hopes the Mountain West had of becoming a BCS conference. TCU thought the Big East was going to remain a BCS conference, but it didn’t—and the Horned Frogs were able to escape to the Big 12 before ever playing a game in the Big East.
(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.)