Zak Hill gets the keys to the Bronco cruiser

There will be no more of the co-offensive coordinator thing at Boise State. With one of last year’s co-OC’s, Scott Huff, off to Washington, coach Bryan Harsin has declared Zak Hill ready to take the reins of the Bronco attack. Harsin said yesterday at his spring football kickoff presser it is Hill’s deal now—he’ll be designing practice plans and calling plays. In fact, Hill has been running the offense since after the Cactus Bowl, according to Harsin. This is somewhat new to Hill, though. He was not offensive coordinator, but passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Eastern Washington for seven seasons before coming to Boise State (not counting a stopover in Hawaii).

Although Harsin started last season as Boise State’s play-caller, no doubt it became a committee approach as the season progressed. We may never know where those four plays from the five-yard line originated at the end of the Air Force game last November, the ones that had everyone in blue and orange tearing their hair out. Some network announcers said last fall Hill called third-down plays after getting that information in pregame meetings with the staff, a conversation later confirmed by the Statesman’s Dave Southorn. The offensive paradox last year was this: the Broncos led the Mountain West in total offense at 472.8 yards per game—but were sixth in scoring at 33.8 points per game.

Turns out Boise State running back Alexander Mattison isn’t entirely out for spring football as he rehabs a shoulder issue. Mattison was on the field at the Broncos’ first practice yesterday, going through basic drills. There’ll be no contact for Jeremy McNichols’ heir-apparent, though. That means redshirt freshman Robert Mahone will still have every opportunity to establish himself as a key part of Boise State’s running backs committee. Mahone was a candidate to play as a true freshman last year but was narrowly beaten out by Mattison at the end of fall camp.

Spring football is also on the docket at College of Idaho. Believe it or not, the Coyotes are entering their fourth season this year since the football program was revived on the Caldwell campus in 2014. The Yotes’ first practice is late this afternoon, with scrimmages set for March 16 and April 8. The annual Purple & Gold Game wrapping things up on April 21. C of I hopes to turn the corner this year—the Yotes have gone 4-7 in each of their first three seasons back.

If there was any doubt that Mountain West games—football and men’s basketball—were little more than placeholders on a network programming grid, this week’s conference tournament should end it. The fact that Boise State’s quarterfinal game Thursday is at 9:30 p.m. Mountain time is just the beginning. Should the Broncos make it to the semifinals, they’d play at 10:30 p.m. on Friday. That’s 12:30 p.m. Eastern. Really? That kind of exposure (or lack thereof) on CBS Sports Network is worth it to the Mountain West? Good luck to whoever wins that semifinal in terms of getting to sleep in the wee hours Saturday morning, with all that adrenalin hanging on. And good luck in the championship game. That’s at 4 p.m. Saturday on the main CBS network. Why the short turnaround? Because that’s where CBS had a slot for it. Geez.

The dirty little secret from Boise State’s rout of Air Force Saturday: the Broncos committed 18 turnovers. There was a preponderance of traveling calls. You just didn’t notice that stuff as much while everything the Broncos were putting up was going down, and turnovers are something they’ll have to attend to between now and Thursday night. Alex Hobbs turned the ball over four times in 14 minutes of floor time. Funny thing is, I don’t expect that to happen again. Furthermore, Hobbs went 4-for-5 from the field, hit one of Boise State’s 20 three-pointers, and scored 10 points.

The Mountain West Women’s Tournament is already underway, with Boise State—winner of seven games in a row—set to face New Mexico this afternoon in the quarterfinals. The Broncos and Lobos split their regular season series, with each team winning on its home court. Brooke Pahukoa goes in as a first-team All-Mountain West selection after leading the Broncos in scoring at 12.4 points per game. The senior guard currently ranks ninth in Boise State career scoring with 1,286 points.

Idaho’s Victor Sanders takes a first-team all-conference honor into the Big Sky Men’s Basketball Tournament, which begins today in Reno. The junior guard is third in the Big Sky in scoring this season at 21.6 points per game. Sanders and the fourth-seeded Vandals begin play against fifth-seeded Montana Thursday in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Idaho State faces a play-in game this evening against Sacramento State.

The Boise State women’s gymnastics team stays at No. 10 in this week’s Road To Nationals team rankings. That’s on the merit of the Broncos’ Regional Qualifying Score rising to 196.70 after last Thursday’s victory over Utah State. Boise State has been ranked in the top 10 in four of the nine weekly polls so far this season. This Friday’s Senior Night matchup versus No. 8 Denver in Taco Bell Arena is one of only two in the country this week pitting two top 10 teams against each other.

Former Idaho Steelhead goalie Richard Bachman made quite a re-entry into the NHL Sunday. Bachman, playing his first game for the Vancouver Canucks in 16 months, recorded 43 saves in a 2-1 road win over the Anaheim Ducks. The popular Bachman was stellar for the Steelheads in 2009-10, going 22-7-4 with a 2.28 goals-against average. Unfortunately for the Steelies, Bachman was called up to Texas of the AHL before the Kelly Cup Finals, and Cincinnati (who coincidentally comes to Boise this weekend) won the series four games-to-one. He made his NHL debut the following season with the Dallas Stars. Bachman, who has also played for the Edmonton Oilers, has a career NHL record of 19-14-2.

This Day In Sports…March 7, 1982:

The NCAA Tournament Selection is televised live for the first time. The popularity of March Madness had exploded in the three years since Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores in the 1979 final. A year later, Treasure Valley fans would watch the Selection Show intently, as the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional were played in the BSU Pavilion for the first time.

(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.)