Prepare for everybody and everything

We still don’t know who Northern Illinois’s starting quarterback will be in the Poinsettia Bowl. We still don’t know who Northern Illinois’s starting quarterback will be in the Poinsettia Bowl a week from tomorrow. But it shouldn’t matter to Boise State. The DeKalb Daily Chronicle reports that NIU true freshman walk-on Tommy Fiedler continued to take snaps as the starting quarterback at practice Saturday while redshirt freshman Ryan Graham watched in sweatpants. However, reports the paper, Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said that could change soon. “I’m hoping we get Ryan out to practice (this) week, and then Ryan will be the starter,” Carey said. Graham injured his left leg in the Huskies’ loss to Ohio in the regular season finale. He had led NIU’s surge to first place in the MAC West that began with an upset of Toledo.

I think back to another time Boise State faced a seemingly green, seldom-used quarterback. San Diego State’s Ryan Katz, an Oregon State transfer, had been injured midway through the 2012 season, and Adam Dingwell was assigned the task of taking down the Broncos on the blue turf. We’ll never know if BSU took anything for granted in facing the generally-untested Dingwell, but he was a good game manager that night, going 12-for-18 for 105 yards with one interception. His longest completion went for 25 yards to current Dallas Cowboy Gavin Escobar with three minutes left in the game, effectively killing Boise State’s last chance to get the ball back. All the while, Adam Muema was rushing for 127 yards. NIU’s Fiedler could get similar support from Huskies star running back Joel Bouagnon—and just manage the game.

Call this the “Darian Thompson Daily.” Boise State’s senior safety has gone from honorable mention All-American in Sports Illustrated to a third-team honor from AP to second-team recognition from the Football Writers Association of America. The FWAA award was announced yesterday. Once the Poinsettia Bowl ends a week from tomorrow, Thompson can focus his full attention on the Senior Bowl, the Combine and the NFL Draft. CBSSports.com currently projects him as a second-rounder. By the way, Northern Illinois cornerback Shawun Lurry, the national leader in interceptions, is a first-team FWAA All-American.

Coming out of the Mountain West Board of Directors’ annual mid-year meeting in Phoenix was…nothing new on expansion. According to the conference’s statement, “Noting the stability and collegiality of the current 12-member configuration, it was agreed no modifications were necessary at the present time. The Conference will continue to monitor the membership landscape of intercollegiate athletics going forward.” In a roundabout manner, that addresses a story by CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd on expansion murmurs at the end of last week.

As promised yesterday, here’s some followup on those rumblings, even if they amount to nothing. One school Dodd threw out there in passing was intriguing. Wichita State inquired about Mountain West membership as a basketball-only school two years ago, but it never went anywhere. But Wichita is a sizable city—without a football team to follow. The Shockers dropped football almost 30 years ago because of budget deficits and declining attendance. They’ve successfully sunk their resources into basketball since.

But what if someday Wichita State could join the Mountain West as more than a basketball-only member? There was a column in the Wichita Eagle just last Wednesday about university president John Bardo opening the door to football revival discussions, in which case, he says, it would be FBS or bust. This would take a long time, but once the support is in place, the ramp-up could happen quickly. Let’s look at Texas San Antonio. UTSA undertook a football feasibility study in 2006, passed a student referendum in 2007, approved the formation of the program in 2008, hired coach Larry Coker in 2009, signed its first recruiting class in 2010, played as an FCS independent in 2011, joined the WAC in 2012, and moved to Conference USA in 2013. A blueprint for Wichita State?

Man, this is getting old. Kellen Moore sitting on the Dallas bench in a stocking cap, watching the Cowboys offense roll up 270 yards—and Matt Cassel throwing for 114 of them. Even Troy Aikman wondered on the Fox telecast Sunday why Dallas wouldn’t “give Kellen Moore a look to see what he’s got” with the Cowboys trailing Green Bay by 21 points in the final minutes. Fox commentator Jimmy Johnson, the one-time coach who brought two Super Bowl titles to Dallas in the 1990s, echoed those sentiments, saying now’s the time to see if Moore “can play at all.” There’s a poll on the website of the Dallas CBS affiliate asking fans to vote on whether Kellen should start or Cassel should remain. “Yes, start him!” was garnering 98.9 percent of the vote at last check. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan must have his reasons for sitting him.

In Miami, former Boise State star Jay Ajayi isn’t stuck behind a guy who is underperforming like Moore is. In his two games as the Dolphins new offensive coordinator, Zac Taylor has obviously put his stock in running back Lamar Miller. And Miller has answered the call. On Monday Night Football last night, Miller rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in Miami’s 31-24 loss to the New York Giants. Ajayi toted just five times for 15 yards. We’ll leave Jamar Taylor’s blown coverage on Odell Beckman’s 84-yard TD catch from Eli Manning out of this.

It’s not hard to read between the lines of Leon Rice’s postgame press conference after the win over Oregon. Boise State, a team with an affinity for three-pointers, needs a more diverse style of play if it’s going to repeat its Mountain West regular season championship. Rice indicated the Broncos found it after falling behind 21-11 less than eight minutes into the game Saturday. “We were playing rope-a-dope basketball for the first seven minutes there, just standing there letting them hit us, and that wasn’t going to work,” said Rice. “Play catch around the perimeter and shoot three’s was not going to win that game.” Aggressiveness was the answer, especially inside. Boise State now has time to hone those skills before getting back into action again this Sunday against Bradley.

Idaho guard Perrion Callandret filled up the box score against Washington State last Thursday, and he’s been named Big Sky Player of the Week. Callandret had a hand in just about everything as the Vandals thumped the Cougars 78-74 in the Battle of the Palouse at Cowan Spectrum. He scored 25 points while adding five rebounds, four assists and a steal. Idaho, now 6-5, is off until a Friday night home date against New Hope. Thanks for asking. New Hope Christian College is a small institution that’s a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association. The Deacons lost 102-65 to Umpqua on Saturday. Look out.

The Idaho Stampede begin a three-game California swing tonight versus Bakersfield, the team against which they split two games over the weekend in Boise. The ever-evolving Stampede roster is showing signs of cohesion, but a couple NBA call-ups could change that, of course. The most consistent season-long Stamp so far has been former Nevada standout Brandon Fields, who’s averaging 16.7 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game.

This Day In Sports…December 15, 1997:

In an emotional ceremony at Candlestick Park, the San Francisco 49ers retire Joe Montana’s No. 16 jersey. Montana, considered by many to be the best quarterback in NFL history, led the 49ers to four Super Bowl titles during his 14 seasons in San Francisco. The festivities began with a video replay of Montana’s most famous throw, “The Catch,” his six-yard touchdown pass off his back foot to Dwight Clark that beat Dallas, 28-27, in the 1981 NFC championship game.

(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.)