Lots of room in the QB room

Some were expecting this. I wasn’t really, since Ryan Finley had gone through spring football at Boise State. Some were expecting this. I wasn’t really, since Ryan Finley had gone through spring football at Boise State. But the junior quarterback has indeed decided to transfer to another school after he earns his degree next month. Finley will be in a unique situation, as he’ll be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer to play at an FBS institution as well as an FCS school—and he’ll have two years of eligibility left. In fact, he could have three seasons remaining if he’s granted a medical redshirt. It’s possible, because Finley appeared in only the first three games last season and redshirted in 2013 due to a shoulder injury.

The 6-4, 196-pound Finley had worked his way back from an ankle injury to get on the field again this spring. Coach Bryan Harsin had said he wanted “competition” at the position, but there was really never any doubt that Brett Rypien would be the man for the Broncos moving forward. Finley started the first three games last season after beating out Rypien in fall camp. He completed 66 percent of his throws for 485 yards and one touchdown against four interceptions.

The game changed for Finley when he broke a bone in his ankle during a scramble in the first quarter of the 52-0 shutout of Idaho State last September. At first, Boise State brought Tommy Stuart into the game. Stuart led the Broncos to touchdowns on two of his first four drives, throwing his first career TD pass to Holden Huff. Then on the second possession of the third quarter against the Bengals, everything changed. That’s when Brett Rypien burned his redshirt year and completed his first four passes, covering 42 yards. For the night, Rypien was 8-of-9 for 126 yards, including a 46-yard strike to Thomas Sperbeck. That lit a fire under Bronco Nation. And it essentially extinguished the hopes of Finley.

Unless Boise State has a transfer ace up its sleeve—graduate, junior college, whatever—Stuart will be the Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback this fall. The only other QB on the roster is walk-on Anthony Upshaw, generally considered a practice player. Stuart played sparingly after the cameo against ISU, finishing the season with 114 yards passing and one touchdown. As a dual-threat, he is certainly a change of pace. Stuart rushed for 62 yards and three touchdowns last year, including the final TD of the Poinsettia Bowl. But could he lead Boise State to a New Year’s Six bowl (or something close) if Rypien met some misfortune? That’s the $64,000 question.

Barring the materialization of a transfer, the Broncos will want to start getting true freshman Jake Constantine ready just in case when he arrives on campus in June. They’d still be able to redshirt Constantine if all goes well. But the 6-3, 185-pounder from Camarillo, CA, was Boise State’s lone quarterback signee in the 2016 recruiting class. He set a Ventura County record by throwing for 51 touchdowns last season against only six interceptions. Constantine has a big ol’ chip on his shoulder after being lightly recruited despite his gaudy numbers.

This development points out how attitudes have changed among backup quarterbacks. What happened to the days when they stuck it out all four years, preparing every week and waiting to carry the flag? How about Mike Sanford, Mike Coughlin, Taylor Tharp, and Bush Hamdan? How about Grant Hedrick, who waited patiently behind Kellen Moore and then Joe Southwick—and finally got a shot, capping his career with a victory in the Fiesta Bowl? You can’t fault a guy who’s a competitor and wants to play. But it seldom seems to work out at the next stop. Mike Tamburo hardly even practiced at Georgia. Nick Lomax never played at Central Washington. Jimmy Laughrea was a starter at UC Davis but didn’t make it past the fifth game. And Nick Patti was switched to wide receiver at Central Florida. The jury’s still out on Alex Ogle.

The NCAA is taking bids for its men’s basketball tournaments in 2019-22, and New Mexico is going after it aggressively. Those in Albuquerque are still bothered by the fact that Boise State got the first and second rounds in 2018, nosing out a New Mexico bid. “The Boise budget and their expenses are twice as much as we said our expenses would be, and their revenue is half of what we proposed,” UNM events director Mike Haggerty said. “It doesn’t make sense.” What’s the difference? Taco Bell Arena has a hanging video board and good Wi-fi. The Pit doesn’t. But is that a deal-breaker? Boise’s successful track record in hosting the NCAA’s is well-documented. There’s that. A school must submit its intentions to bid by June 27 and submit bids by late August.

If you’re a Boise State hoops fan wringing your hands over the departure of James Webb III, how would you like to root for the Rebels of UNLV? Sparkplug forward Ben Carter, concerned about the exodus of his teammates, is considering leaving the school as a graduate transfer (although he says he’s impressed by new coach Chris Beard). Guard Jordan Cornish announced Monday he’s transferring from UNLV to Cal. Dwayne Morgan is looking to transfer, but has not announced a destination. Derrick Jones Jr., Patrick McCaw, Chris Obekpa and Stephen Zimmerman Jr. have all declared for the NBA Draft. And Goodluck Okonoboh, who left the Rebels in November, has also entered the draft. What fun.

Troy Merritt was a guest on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday and outlined the path he has to navigate to qualify for the next major, the U.S Open in June. Merritt, currently ranked 83rd in the world, said he would need to be inside the top 50 by May 22 to earn an automatic berth in the Open at Oakmont (as well as the British Open). Short of that, the former Boise State star is already set for the U.S. Open Sectional Monday, June 6, in Springfield, OH, the day after the Memorial Tournament.

Former Boise Hawk Jeff Samardzija picked up his first win for the San Francisco Giants last night, and he looked good doing it. Samardzija threw eight innings, allowing just two runs in six hits in a 7-2 victory at Colorado. The sidebar was Rockies rookie shortstop Trevor Story, who is the first player in big league history to hit seven homers in the first six games of his career. In his seventh game, Story went 0-for-4 against Samardzija and struck out three times.

This Day In Sports…April 13, 2014:

Bubba Watson wins his second Masters in three years, earning the green jacket by three strokes in a performance devoid of the drama of his 2012 victory. He fended off, yes, 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, who was tied with Watson after three rounds and was seeking to become the youngest Masters winner in history. Like Spieth, former Boise State star Graham DeLaet was playing his first Masters. But DeLaet was done in by an eight-over 80 in the first round and missed the cut.

(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.)