It’s rare for Boise State football to hold a postseason press conference, but coach Bryan Harsin conducted one yesterday. He used the opportunity to accentuate the positive as well as acknowledge some shortcomings in the 2016 season. Harsin doesn’t want to forget the 10-3 record, the wins over Washington State, Oregon State and BYU, the 21 freshmen and sophomores on the season-ending depth chart, and the 26 redshirts about to be activated. “All that being said, there’s still that disappointment at the end of the season,” said Harsin. “We didn’t finish. Now we’ve got to live with that this offseason.” Harsin said it’s back to the program’s primary goals: winning the Mountain West championship and a bowl game. “That’s the driving force that gets us up in the morning and (motivates) us,” he said.
There was a Brett Rypien analysis from Harsin. “I’ll go back to what matters, in my opinion,” Harsin said. “Toughness. He showed it. Preparation habits. He’s got it.” Then Harsin touched on accuracy, as Rypien finished the season with just 51 completions in 97 attempts over the last three games. “Yeah, there are some times where the ball is not placed exactly where it needs to be.” From here, it’s a team effort between teacher and pupil. “He and I, we’re going to be better at it,” said Harsin. And, he added, “Brett’s a true sophomore—sometimes I forget that—with a great head on his shoulders.”
Harsin had a short list of players who’ll be rehabbing injuries and will miss spring football, including defensive end Jabril Frazier, safety Evan Tyler and running back Alexander Mattison. The latter opens the door for Robert Mahone to establish himself during spring ball. Mattison was an emerging force behind Jeremy McNichols in the running game this season, rushing for 328 yards and four touchdowns and averaging just under five yards per carry. Coming out of fall camp last August, it was between Mattison and Mahone as to which true freshman back was going to play in 2016. Mattison narrowly won out. As a high school senior in Prosper, TX, Mahone rushed for 1,172 yards and 16 TDs, averaging 9.4 yards per tote. Now, he has to make this spring count.
Now that the bowl season has officially ended with last night’s epic Clemson win over Alabama, let’s look at the aftermath of one of those bowls in particular. Idaho quarterback Matt Linehan declared that the Vandals belong in the FBS after their wild 61-50 conquest of Colorado State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. On the field, yes. It was an exciting, entertaining and impressive performance. The challenge now after a 9-4 campaign is to sustain it, even a little. The 2016 season was only the Vandals’ second winning one this century. That’s one way to look at their viability in the FBS versus the impending move to the Big Sky next year. Thing is, the financial realities have not changed for Idaho.
The win over CSU has not brought forward an FBS conference offering membership to the Vandals, and independent scheduling would be more difficult now than it was when they gave it a shot in 2013. But the No. 1 issue is the continued lack of attendance in the Kibbie Dome. No fans means no revenue. A photo tweeted by the Lewiston Tribune’s beat writer just before kickoff of November’s South Alabama game was shocking in terms of emptiness. Idaho’s announced average for the season was 11,190 fans per game, 122nd in the FBS. Fortunately, the NCAA doesn’t enforce Bylaw 188.8.131.52: “Average at least 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for all home football contests over a rolling two-year period.” Yes, the Vandals are good on the field again. But there’s so much more that would go into staying at the FBS level.
The timing of Sonny Dykes’ firing at Cal Sunday has the Chip Kelly rumors percolating in Berkeley. But the UC administration insists it was just doing its due diligence, and Kelly may be out of the Bears’ price range anyway. So you go down the list, and there’s Justin Wilcox, Boise State’s former defensive coordinator. Wilcox was the Cal linebackers coach from 2002-05 before being hired by Chris Petersen to become a DC at the age of 29. He’s had a nice run heading up Wisconsin’s defense the past year, including a Cotton Bowl title last week. FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman also has former Bronco secondary coach and current Washington co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake on his list of Cal candidates.
Turns out that Boise State’s Australian hoops connection that began five years ago with Anthony Drmic and Igor Hadziomerovic will not end this year with Nick Duncan. Tom Wilson, a 6-4 freshman guard at SMU, intends to transfer to Boise State in time for this week’s start of the spring semester. Wilson would be eligible to play when fall semester ends December 15. He went scoreless in four minutes at Taco Bell Arena in the Broncos’ 71-62 win over the Mustangs on November 30. The Melbourne native had offers from Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and UConn in addition to Boise State and SMU coming out of the Australian Institute of Sport.
Back when the Mountain West was considered a top mid-major conference, UNLV power forward Anthony Bennett was selected No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. That was 2013. Bennett lasted one season with the Cavs before being traded to Minnesota. He was cut by the Timberwolves in 2015, and Toronto gave him a try last season. Yesterday, Bennett was waived by the Brooklyn Nets after averaging 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 23 games for the team this season. Officially a bust now, I guess. Bennett scored 25 and 11 points against Boise State in his one season with the Rebels.
The most celebrated of all former Boise Hawks did some serious celebrating over the weekend. Kris Bryant of the World Series champion Chicago Cubs (still sounds very odd) got married to his longtime girlfriend Jessica Delp in their hometown of Las Vegas on Saturday. It was a high-falutin’ affair for the National League MVP, as he was joined by a slew of Cubs teammates, including Boise alums John Lackey, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. Life couldn’t be much better right now for the superstar, who turned 25 last Wednesday.
This Day In Sports…January 10, 1982:
In the Bay Area, it is still known as “The Catch”—Dwight Clark’s fingertip grab of a Joe Montana pass with 51 seconds left in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park. It gave San Francisco a 28-27 win over Dallas and symbolized the beginning of a 17-season run of excellence for the 49ers—a period in which they won five Super Bowls (the first one coming two weeks later over Cincinnati).
(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.)