Doing things a different way at Boise State in 2018

One of the indelible images of Boise State’s 2017 football season is of the two players on the podium after the Las Vegas Bowl win over Oregon. Bowl MVP Cedrick Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch hoisted the trophy amidst the fluttering confetti and Sam Boyd Stadium. It’s hard to imagine two bigger individual losses to a football team—both were drafted by the Dallas Cowboys four months later, with Vander Esch going No. 19 overall. Well, expect Wilson and Vander Esch to be replaced successfully in a different way, by a spreading of the wealth. Instead of 140 tackles from Vander Esch, the Broncos may get 60 apiece from Tyson Maeva, Blake Whitlock, Tony Lashley and Riley Whimpey. Instead of 80 catches from Wilson, Boise State may get 40 apiece from A.J. Richardson, Sean Modster, Octavius Evans and CT Thomas.

KTVB launches a buzz-worthy contest early next week—a great lead-in to the 2018 Boise State season. I’m not sure what Jay Tust will finally call it, but I suggested the “Bronco GOAT Award.” Tust is bracketing the 16 best Boise State teams of the FBS era and pitting No. 16 against No. 1, etc. Which one is the greatest of all time? Tust has slyly placed the 2009 and 2010 teams on opposite sides of the bracket, and the 2010 guys are the No. 4 seed. My favorite to win it all? I’ve said it before. The 2010 team, despite its one infamous stumble in Reno, is the GOAT. At one point it was ranked No. 2 in the country—don’t forget that (not that I’m trying to sway you). You’ll be able to vote early next week at KTVB.com’s sports page or via mobile on the Bronco Roundup app.

Now that Mike Bobo has clarity on what landed him in the hospital (“peripheral neuropathy,” also known as nerve damage), it’s likely that he’ll be coaching Colorado State when the Rams open the season a week from tomorrow in Fort Collins. That’s important, because Bobo calls CSU’s offensive plays. The Coloradoan reports that “it’s not clear from where he will coach. He could be on the sidelines, where he’s been for every game the Rams have played over the past three seasons. Or in the coaches’ box, talking to his assistants on the sidelines through headsets, as former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill and former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez did because of health issues.” If Bobo still has to miss the Hawaii game, plays will be called by quarterbacks coach Ronnie Letson and tight ends coach Joe Cox.

Deseret News columnist Brad Rock says former NFL and Idaho State running back Merril Hoge deserves some slack after going ballistic in a BYU TV interview over the Cougars’ coaching staff’s treatment of his son, Beau. The elder Hoge went off on coaches Wednesday after Beau was moved from quarterback to running back at the start of fall camp. Rock figures that Hoge’s frame of mind can’t be great right now, writing: “He was laid off in 2017 by ESPN after 21 productive years with the network. That’s a soul-crushing experience. He and his wife divorced several years ago. A study called the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists life’s most traumatic events. Hoge has hit four of the top 10 over the years.”

Idaho’s second scrimmage of fall camp hits the Kibbie Dome tomorrow morning in the Kibbie Dome. The Vandals are surely anxious to get offensive lineman Noah Johnson back on the field—if not by tomorrow, at least by the time they visit Fresno State to open the season two weeks from tomorrow night. Johnson was held out of last week’s scrimmage. He’s one of the best things Idaho has going, as he was named to Phil Steele’s Preseason FCS All-America first team. Johnson has already started 22 games as a Vandal. He was an All-Sun Belt second-teamer last season and was on the conference’s All-Newcomer team in 2016.

The Idaho athletic department, stuck in a quagmire the past 4½ months, can finally begin to move forward now after yesterday’s firing of Rob Spear by the State Board of Education. It had become a dysfunctional situation in Moscow, with the swirling controversy over five-year-old sexual assault and harassment complaints, a lame-duck president and Spear under scrutiny. Spear had been placed on administrative leave April 3. State Board discussions on his status began the second week of July. Pete Isakson has been serving as acting athletic director and continue in that role “for the foreseeable future,” according to the university. That probably means until a successor to president Chuck Staben is hired.

Boise State has just a year and a half left to build its baseball stadium if it wants to play games there when the sport returns in 2020. Yesterday’s action by the State Board of Education may keep it on track, as the board ruled that the university can acquire the remaining parcels needed near Beacon Street south of campus through eminent domain. The Broncos’ home debut in the ballpark is tentatively scheduled for March, 2020.

The Boise Hawks played catch-up again last night, and they couldn’t catch ‘em. Salem-Keizer took the rubber match of the three-game set at Memorial Stadium 7-4, sending Boise to its sixth straight series loss. The Hawks now embark on their annual Western Idaho Fair roadtrip, an 11-game swing that begins tonight in Eugene. Boise goes into it having lost five of its last seven games, sitting at three games under .500 for the season.

Two other notes: the Idaho Steelheads have goalie Ryan Faragher back in the fold for the upcoming season. The one-time Utah Grizzly appeared in 20 games with the Steelheads last season, posting a record of 10-7-1 with a 2.77 goals-against average. Faragher joins the Steelies late-season phenom last spring, Tomas Sholl, for a potent one-two punch between the pipes. And International Arena Soccer returns to Boise this weekend in the form of a tournament in CenturyLink Arena hosted by the U.S. National Arena Soccer Team. The first round tonight pits Mexico against Colombia and the U.S. versus Somalia. The losers of tonight’s matches play for third place tomorrow evening, followed by the championship game between tonight’s winners.

This Day In Sports…August 17, 2008, 10 years ago today:

Swimmer Michael Phelps breaks the 36-year-old record of Mark Spitz with his eighth gold medal in a single Olympics. Phelps was the face of the Beijing Games, setting four individual world records and helping in three relay world records. One of the marks came in one of the most exciting finishes in Olympics history, as American Jason Lezak rallied from a half-body length deficit over the final 50 meters to out-touch the French star Alain Bernard at the wall in the 4X100 meter relay. Bernard had predicted before the race that France would “smash” the U.S. team.

(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.)