The shiny object beckons in Stillwater

ESPN.com’s angle this week in its ramp-up to college football is “The most important game for each Top 25 team.” It will not surprise you that for No. 21 Boise State, the choice is Oklahoma State. The synopsis from Jake Trotter: “With 10 defensive starters and QB Brett Rypien back, the Broncos probably will open in the preseason Top 25. But by taking down Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Sept. 15, they could significantly enhance their national credibility for a New Year’s Six berth.” Thing is, a victory over the Cowboys doesn’t mean diddly if Boise State doesn’t win the Mountain West championship. So I’m inclined to add in a “1A” in these sweepstakes—the November 9 matchup on the blue turf against Fresno State.

I can’t imagine this kind of a discussion going public in Boise, but it’s very public in Stillwater right now. Mike Holder, the athletic director at Oklahoma State, said on a podcast this week that OSU coach Mike Gundy needs to do a better job of recruiting. “I would just say, ‘Mike, you’ve got to change your thinking on recruiting a little bit.’ That would be all,” said Holder. “I think sometimes we settle when we don’t have to.” So, here’s a bunch of players wearing black and orange shirts and shorts, working out in the Oklahoma summer heat. And they’re looking at each other saying, “Uh, did they ‘settle’ for me?” What a great feeling.

With former nickel Winston Venable joining Boise State football as Player Development Coordinator last week, the university is touting “100 years of Bronco experience” on the staff. That starts with coach Bryan Harsin—then you have Kent Riddle, Andy Avalos, Gabe Franklin, Lee Marks, Dustin Kamper, Kharyree Marshall, Derek Schouman, Taylor Tharp, Jeff Pitman and Venable. All but one of those guys played for the Broncos. This is actually the second time the 100-year thing has happened, though. Harsin’s first staff in 2014 featured Riddle, Avalos, Tharp, Pitman, Scott Huff, Mike Sanford, Marcel Yates, Thomas Byrd, Julius Brown and Antwon Murray. So there you go.

Chandler Hutchison still reportedly has a first-round promise in next Thursday’s NBA Draft. The question is, who’s doing the promising? Just days after acknowledging the promise we’ve all heard about from the Chicago Bulls, ESPN.com’s Jonathan Givony peeled off a new mock draft yesterday and dropped Hutchison to the No. 29 overall spot, going to the Brooklyn Nets. “Teams are increasingly beginning to point to Brooklyn as the team that guaranteed him,” writes Givony. “The Nets are still figuring out what their long-term wing rotation will look like and could very well take a flier on a player like Hutchison at the end of the first round.” Boise State coach Leon Rice is convinced the first round for Hutchison is a done deal and will accompany him to, ironically, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn next week.

New Colorado State hoops coach Niko Medved is without last season’s top scorer for the Rams, Prentiss Nixon, who announced he was transferring shortly after Medved took over. But Medved notched the first big win in his program this week when 6-11 forward Nico Carvacho decided to return to CSU after all. Carvacho, who averaged 11.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in Mountain West play as a sophomore last winter, had been granted permission to look elsewhere this spring and apparently had a lot of power conference options. But according to the Denver Post, Carvacho said after meeting the families of Medved and his staff he realized they were “genuine people” who liked to actually joke around and have fun in addition to basketball. That was not a trademark of Larry Eustachy, who resigned in February.

The Boise Hawks begin their 32nd season in the Northwest League when they open the 2018 campaign tonight in Spokane. The Hawks are looking for their first playoff berth—and first winning season—since 2014, when current Boise State baseball coach Gary Van Tol was manager during the Cubs affiliation era. They just missed a winning record last year, going 37-39. Of course, in minor league baseball, one season’s performance has no bearing on the next. The Hawks have an inordinate number of players back who spent time with the team last summer. There are 12 of them, led by outfielder Daniel Jipping, who led Boise in home runs last season with 11. Jipping will be looking to improve on his .233 batting average, though.

If Boise State ever adds rugby as a varsity sport (and there are no plans to), it’s safe to say the Broncos already have the right coach on campus. Mike Saunders, who coaches the university’s 7’s club team, is going to be inducted tonight into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame at an induction dinner in Houston. As a player, Saunders was part of five national championships and was a member of the U.S. team at the first-ever Rugby World Cup in 1987. Saunders later turned to coaching and led the U.S. Men’s 7’s team for four years. In 1993, he began a 25-year run as coach of the Snake River Rugby Club and won 15 Pacific Northwest League championships and a 1996 U.S.A. Rugby national title. A big congrats to Mike Saunders.

Two other notes: Boise State’s Allie Ostrander is the first in conference history to be named Mountain West Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Student-Athlete of the Year in back-to-back years. The women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase national champ gives the Broncos three such MW honors in the past five years—Emma Bates won in 2014. And, the weather will be mild, and the Payette River will be wild as the BoaterX event takes off today at North Fork Championship VII north of Banks. Ten heats of six paddlers at a time will take off through S-Turn Rapid. Tomorrow afternoon the Elite Race commences, with some world-class kayakers launching off the Red Bull Ramp into Jacob’s Ladder and Golf Course Rapids to compete for the title of King of the North Fork Championship.

This Day In Sports…June 15, 1948:

The birthday of the coach who took the Seattle Seahawks to their first Super Bowl in 2006. Mike Holmgren had already gone to two Super Bowls with the Green Bay Packers, winning it all in 1997. With the Seahawks, he won five division titles, with the high point coming in the 2005 season, when Matt Haselbeck, NFL MVP Shaun Alexander and crew captured the NFC Championship before falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-10 in Super Bowl XL. Holmgren was known for bring the best out of quarterbacks, including Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre and Hasselbeck. Mike Holmgren…70 years old today.

(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.)