Voila!—a Top 25 team is comin’ to town

For the third time this season, Nevada lost its first game after entering the rankings with its defeat at the hands of UNLV last Wednesday. For the first time this season, it didn’t cost the Wolf Pack its spot in the polls. The Pack, ranked 23rd in the AP and Coaches Polls last week, dropped just one spot yesterday, so it will pay its Valentine’s Day visit to Boise State tomorrow night as a Top 25 team. The last ranked squad to play at Taco Bell Arena was also No. 24: Oregon in December, 2015. The Broncos beat the Ducks that night 74-72 before 10,239 fans. A sophomore named Chandler Hutchison played more that night than he usually did that season scoring eight points with seven rebounds in 27 minutes.

We now expect Nevada star Caleb Martin to play tomorrow night against Boise State after supposedly being “out indefinitely” just three days ago. Nobody’s accusing Wolf Pack coach Eric Musselman of sandbagging San Diego State, slyly inserting Martin into Saturday’s win over the Aztecs. I mean, why would he? Here’s how the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Chris Murray painted it: “Musselman believed Martin, who has a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot, would miss five to six games with the injury and was ‘surprised’ he was able to return so quickly. But, Martin was cleared by a foot specialist, the team doctor and Nevada’s trainer and was told he wouldn’t re-injure the sprain as long as he didn’t play for extended stretches. It came down to pain tolerance, and Martin coped.” Now the Broncos have to cope with Martin.

Boise State reports 9,000 tickets out for tomorrow night’s game, not including students. Coach Leon Rice isn’t wading the river or riding a horse through campus for this one, but the program did post a video with Broncos highlights put to appropriately sappy romance music. Rice asks “12,000 of his closest friends” to be his Valentine. Boise State has sold out two games in the past month (although attendance for each was reported at just under 11,000). The Broncos are averaging 8,514 fans per game in Mountain West play.

I normally don’t dive into scholarship offers, because there are so many of them. But this one stood out last week. Ryan Hilinski, the brother of late Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, tweeted this: “Ty! I know you’ll appreciate this one. Humbled down to this earth to say I have received an offer from Boise State University!” That doesn’t mean a commitment, but I think it shows appreciation for the Bronco program and what the Cougars’ victory over it last September meant to Tyler—and perhaps says something about Boise State after its huge reach-out effort to WSU following Tyler’s death. Ryan is a 6-3, 215-pound pro-style quarterback from Orange, CA. He threw for 3,749 yards and 33 touchdowns against six interceptions as a junior last season for Orange Lutheran High School.

As the financial crevasse between the Power 5 and Group of 5 conferences deepens, the latter group has to do what it can to retain quality assistant coaches. That means keeping salary levels within shouting distance of the Power 5. Boise State’s assistant coaches’ pool of $2.085 million was the highest in the Mountain West last year, and the Broncos aim to keep it that way. The Statesman notes that Boise State goes before the State Board Of Education this week with salary increase requests. If they’re approved, the Broncos will have seven football assistants topping the $200,000 mark, with defensive coordinator Andy Avalos and offensive coordinator Zak Hill both over $300,000.

Sad, but not surprising. The California Board of Parole Hearings has denied parole to former Boise State star Titus Young, who was hoping to be released from prison next month. The board cited Young’s “history of violent criminality,” according to the Los Angeles Times. He’s serving a four-year sentence at the California Rehabilitation Center after pleading guilty last year to assaulting a neighbor. Young is also serving a two-year sentence concurrently for an assault in Carlsbad, CA. The Times reported that “the board’s two-page report on Young issued Jan. 31 noted ‘a pattern of assaultive behavior,’ but said he hasn’t violated any prison rules involving injury or the threat of injury. He has participated in several recovery groups, but is on the waiting list for anger management, substance abuse and other programs.”

Sun Valley snowboarder Chase Josey made the Winter Olympics men’s halfpipe finals last night (today, Pyeongchang time) with a strong second run in qualifying. Josey’s first run saw him clip the top of the pipe during his second trick. He never got his rhythm back, and his score of 47.75 points left him in an all-or-nothing situation on his second try. Josey responded with an 83.75 to finish seventh among the 12 qualifiers. No. 1 was 31-year-old Shaun White, who peeled off an amazing 98.50 on his second run. The finals will be shown tonight live in prime time.

Boise State has its third Mountain West Player of the Week this season in women’s basketball. This time it’s Marta Hermida, who led the Broncos to wins over New Mexico and Utah State last week, scoring the team’s final seven points to pull away from the Aggies. The junior guard from Madrid, Spain, averaged 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.0 assists while shooting 57.7 percent from the field. Boise State plays at Nevada tomorrow night.

This Day In Sports…February 13, 1988, 30 years ago today:

The 15th Winter Olympics kick off in Calgary, Alberta. The Games were dominated by the Soviet Union and East Germany, as they finished first and second, respectively, in the final medal standings. The hosts from Canada would have a disappointing games, as they failed to win a gold medal. Canada would have to wait until the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver to win the country’s first ever winter gold on home soil. The competition also included popular underdogs Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards of Great Britain in ski jumping and the Jamaican bobsled team.

(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.)