The day Kellen Moore left Boise State for the NFL, we were sure that was a temporary landing spot as he mapped his future as a football coach. Well, Moore is in his fifth year in the league now, while brother Kirby is seeing his coaching career ramp up. It was just three years ago that Kirby was playing his senior year for the Broncos, working through injuries to make 36 catches for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He was then scooped up by Mike Moroski at College of Idaho as receivers coach before being pulled up to Seattle by Coach Pete to serve as a graduate assistant at Washington the past two seasons. It was there that Moore met Jeff Tedford this year, and Tedford has hired him to be his wide receivers coach at Fresno State. Kirby Moore a Bulldog? Believe it. And Fresno State is back on the Broncos’ schedule next year.
Kellen is getting coaching experience in unconventional but extremely valuable fashion right now. He’s on injured reserve in Dallas after breaking his leg at the beginning of training camp, but he has no doubt had a role in Dak Prescott’s stunning rise with the 11-1 Cowboys. Kellen’s presence and input in the Dallas quarterback room is important. And you’ll see him on sideline TV cutaways chatting it up with Prescott and Tony Romo. Conventional wisdom says Kellen has a job waiting for him at Boise State (or Washington) when his NFL days end. But will they end? If he’s interested, there’d probably be a spot available on an NFL staff as well.
A cloud has been lifted from the big Texas sky above Baylor’s football team, and it may help the Bears focus on Boise State in the Cactus Bowl December 27. Baylor has hired Temple’s Matt Rhule to be its new head coach, replacing interim man Jim Grobe (who will coach the Bears for the final time against the Broncos in Phoenix). Ultimately, Rhule takes over for the disgraced Art Briles, on whose watch the Baylor sex abuse scandal unfolded. If Rhule could get the motor running again in the Owls program, he can certainly do the same for the Bears. He’s led Temple to back-to-back 10-win seasons and won the AAC championship last Saturday with a physical domination of Navy. Props to Grobe for, in effect, volunteering to take on a near-impossible task.
Of course, a smaller cloud has dissipated from above Boise State players, as word is this morning that Oregon is set to hire South Florida’s Willie Taggart as its new head coach. The Broncos’ Bryan Harsin had been interviewed by Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens in Dallas, according to reports. USF was winless in 2012, the year before Taggart’s arrival. In subsequent seasons, the Bulls have won two, four, eight and 10 games. This year’s 10-2 record is the best in South Florida history.
We’ve talked a lot this season about the national rankings of Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols and Brett Rypien. Not so much about the Broncos’ two 1,000-yard receivers, Thomas Sperbeck and Cedrick Wilson. One of them is in the top 10 in one category. With some of the throw-all-the-time offenses out there, there are some pinball numbers at the top of the receptions and receiving yards lists. But Wilson is No. 8 in the country in yards per reception at 20.82 (50 catches for 1,041 yards). It’s the best average in Bronco history for somebody with 50 or more catches.
With the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl getting buzz, this is a good time to compare Idaho to New Mexico State’s plight with both schools having been drummed out of the Sun Belt after next season. The Vandals are the ones moving to the FCS in 2018 while the Aggies try to make a go of it as an FBS independent. But Idaho’s the team going to the postseason this year with an 8-4 record. NMSU was 3-9 in 2016 and has just four winning seasons in the past 49 years. Believe it or not, New Mexico State’s last bowl game was in 1960, yet it’s the team staying the course in the FBS.
Bad news for the Seattle Seahawks has provided a job for a former Boise State standout. Jeron Johnson is a Seahawk again, as he’s been signed to fill a spot created by the season-ending broken leg suffered by safety Earl Thomas Sunday night. Johnson, who began his career as an undrafted free agent wih Seattle in 2011, was cut by Kansas City at the end of training camp this year. He played for Washington last year. Also in Seattle, rookie Rees Odhiambo out of Boise State has been seeing some spot duty on the offensive line. The only time he was noticed in the Seahawks’ Sunday Night Football win over Carolina, though, was when he was beaten by a Panther on a sack of Russell Wilson (complete with replay).
The Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge ended in 5-4 in favor of the latter conference after last Saturday’s series. Several of the losses were resume-busters for the MW. Not that Boise State was an NCAA Tournament at-large candidate, but the Broncos’ loss to Evansville was not good for the profile. But the teams that really took a hit were San Diego State and New Mexico, who are supposed to be Mountain West title contenders. The Aztecs lost at Loyola-Chicago, and the Lobos fell at Indiana State. “If the Mountain West wasn’t a one-bid league before Saturday, it might be now,” writes the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Mark Zeigler, who rues the day this travel-heavy series was ever resurrected. The only team that shined was Nevada, who won 91-69 over an outmanned Bradley team.
The second leg of the United Heritage Mayors’ Cup was bound to be closer than the 24-point pasting College of Idaho laid on Northwest Nazarene in the first game of the series last month. After all, the teams met in Nampa this time, and the Coyotes were without leading scorer Joey Nebeker. Not only was it closer, the Crusaders turned it all the way around in a 69-60 win at Johnson Sports Center. Junior forward Maurice Jones had a huge game for NNU with a game-high 21 points and 12 rebounds. In women’s hoops tonight, Boise State looks to go 8-0 as it hosts Concordia in Taco Bell Arena before a monstrous challenge at Washington on Sunday. The Broncos lead the Mountain West in scoring at 78.7 points per game.
It’s still early in the season, but the Idaho Steelheads and Colorado Eagles will be jockeying for first place in the ECHL Mountain Division when they play a three-game series beginning tonight in Loveland. They’d rather be doing that than the alternative (the Steelheads currently lead Alaska by one point and Colorado by two). The Steelheads player to watch right now is forward Joe Basaraba, who has posted five goals and 13 points in his past 12 games. Last Friday against Alaska, Basaraba scored Idaho’s first 3-on-3 overtime goal of the season.
This Day In Sports…December 7, 2011, five years ago today:
Hoping to finally find a path to automatic-qualifying status in the BCS system, Boise State moves its football program from the Mountain West into the Big East Conference, effective with the 2013 season. Just three days earlier, the Broncos had been passed over for a BCS bowl despite a No. 7 ranking, the fourth time they had finished in the top 10 and had been left out of college football’s biggest bowls. Boise State was also betting on a dramatic increase in television revenue for the program. At the same time, the Broncos announced their non-football sports would return to the Western Athletic Conference (and later the Big West). Of course, none of that ever happened.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)