Only time well tell, but Boise State appears to have made a solid athletic director hire in Baylor associate vice president for athletics Jeramiah Dickey. The process was kept under wraps—Dickey’s name didn’t even surface until New Year’s Day—but it was a process, and I respect that. Kudos for Dickey have come from all corners, including Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule, Houston men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, and Baylor’s three major head coaches: Dave Aranda in football, Scott Drew in men’s basketball and Kim Mulkey in women’s hoops. The latter two are pertinent as it relates to Boise State coach Leon Rice, who is especially excited. Baylor knows basketball. The Bears men went into the weekend as the No. 2 team in the country, and the perennially-powerful Baylor women were No. 7.
THE MONEY GAME
Dickey has experience in virtually all facets of college athletics. Sticking out on his resume is the seven-year streak of fundraising records set at the University of Houston under his guidance. Never has that been more important than right now at Boise State, which (like most universities) faces acute budget challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Not only does Dickey have to stop the bleeding and protect the Broncos’ Olympic sports from meeting the same fate as the baseball and women’s swimming and diving programs, he has to move things forward. Example: the long-overdue east side renovation at Albertsons Stadium.
IN THE LOSS COLUMN
The biggest fallout from Dickey’s hire is the departure of Brad Larrondo, Boise State’s Senior Associate Athletic Director and Football Chief of Staff. Larrondo will be following Bryan Harsin to Auburn. I’ve known and worked with him since he was a student at Boise State almost 30 years ago. Brad is one of my favorite people, and he will be missed. I look at this move to Auburn in a similar way to Harsin’s move to Texas 10 years ago to become offensive coordinator. Like Harsin, Larrondo will be able to spread his wings in a major Power 5 program, learn a ton, and maybe come home again someday. He will not stop bleeding blue.
THE BRONCO NATION FAN FAVORITE STAYS PUT
Speaking of coming home again someday, never say never for Kellen Moore. The Dallas offensive coordinator will remain just that, agreeing to a multi-year extension with the Cowboys. In his statement Saturday night, Kellen said, “I love Boise State. I will always root for them, and I hope one day to be a part of the program again.” Kellen didn’t have to say that. And he wouldn’t say it if he didn’t mean it. He also said he would “no longer pursue” the Boise State job. Which to me means he initially did. Certainly the two sides talked even if no offer was formally made. The wild card in this was always Dallas owner Jerry Jones. My theory is that Jones simply sat down with Moore, laid out the future as he saw it, and was really persuasive doing it.
HAND OFF TO AVALOS?
Now much of Bronco Nation has its fingers crossed for a return of Andy Avalos to Boise State. The Oregon defensive coordinator’s season ended Saturday night with the Ducks’ 34-17 Fiesta Bowl loss to Iowa State. National media outlets have Avalos as the leading candidate now to lead the Broncos, but there are still lots of unknowns. One is: what is going through Dickey’s mind? Will he be aboard with it, or does he have something else in mind? On the other hand, will Avalos hit it off with Dickey? And will Phil Knight (er, Oregon) be inclined to throw some added money Avalos’ way? The former Broncos linebacker and D-coordinator would be an outstanding hire at his alma mater, and the transition would be as seamless as it can be in our tumultuous world. Keeping in mind that Jeff Choate’s hat is still in the ring.
PLAYER PROPS UPDATE
This happened after my final column of 2020, but I have to mention Boise State’s Kekaula Kaniho his 2020 Senior CLASS Award naming him as “the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I football.” Kaniho remains one of 12 finalists for the 2020 William V. Campbell Trophy, which goes to the player recognized as the “best in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.” Meanwhile, Avery Williams became the Broncos’ first consensus All-American since offensive tackle Nate Potter in 2011 when he was named first-team as an all-purpose player by the American Football Coaches Association on New Year’s Eve. Williams was named the first-team All-America kick returner Wednesday by the Football Writers Association of America.
THE BIGGEST SIGH OF RELIEF
After a 52-point annihilation of San Jose State on New Year’s Eve, we wondered if Boise State could beat the Spartans by 30-40 points on Saturday night. Then it was…by 20 points? By 10 points? In the final minutes it became: would the Broncos even win? Were it not for a big offensive rebound and floating jumper by Abu Kigab and lock-down defense by Emmanuel Akot on hot-shooting Spartan Richard Washington, Boise State would not have escaped with an 87-86 win, and it would have had long-lasting ramifications for a team with at-large NCAA Tournament hopes. San Jose State, which shot only 23 percent from the field and 12 percent from three-point range in Game 1 against the Broncos, seemingly made every contested shot in the second half of Game 2. Washington led the way with seven three-pointers. Amazing.
Gordy Presnell hit the 300-win plateau at Boise State Saturday as his women’s squad finished a sweep of San Jose State with a 70-53 victory in ExtraMile Arena. Presnell, in his 16th season with the Broncos, is four wins away from 700 for his career (he had 396 victories at Seattle Pacific). The win over the Spartans was Boise State’s 13th in a row dating back to last season. Elsewhere, the College of Idaho men saw a couple of streaks end on Saturday. After 27 straight wins over NAIA competition, the Coyotes fell 68-64 to William Jessup. The loss also snapped a 15-game winning streak in the J.A. Albertson Activities Center. The Yotes had defeated William Jessup 70-68 in overtime on New Year’s Day.
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January 4, 2010: Just like three years earlier, sixth-ranked Boise State is an underdog going into the Fiesta Bowl. Unlike the Broncos’ original Fiesta Bowl experience, the legendary 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma, this one would be a defensive tussle. In the first battle of unbeatens in a BCS bowl outside of the championship game, Boise State beat fourth-ranked TCU, 17-10. A fourth quarter fake punt, with Kyle Brotzman passing 29 yards to Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP Kyle Efaw, set up Doug Martin’s game-winning touchdown. Broncos cornerback Brandyn Thompson was the game’s Defensive MVP with two interceptions, one returned 51 yards for a touchdown. Boise State became only the second team in college football’s modern era to finish a season 14-0.
(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.)