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Hold your breath—conference life’s about to get weird

Hold your breath—conference life’s about to get weird

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant

KTVB.COM

Posted on December 7, 2011 at 8:37 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 4:42 PM

Wednesday, December 7, 2011.

If this comes together as expected, it’s an imperfect outcome.  And that’s just from a Boise State-to-the-Big East perspective.  It would have been best if the Broncos could have gone in with BYU.  It would be better if they could join in concert with Air Force and Navy.  As it is, Boise State and San Diego State are imminent entrants into the Big East as football-only members in 2013—with SMU, Houston and Central Florida joining as full members.  ESPN.com’s Joe Schad reports that Air Force and Navy could still be Big East-bound, but the move could be delayed until 2014 or 2015 because of scheduling contract concerns.

So that would mean Boise State has worked out a home for its non-football sports.  The least of all evils would be the Big West.  Then again, there are those reports that the Broncos will be forced to return their non-football sports to what’s left of the WAC (after Utah State and San Jose State bolt for the Mountain West).  Anyone else have a sinking feeling?  If the Broncos are going to partner with San Diego State in this switch to the Big East in football, you’d think they could be just as chummy with the Aztecs’ marquee sport, men’s basketball. 

San Diego State will certainly go the Big West route, but it looks like Boise State is the unwanted one in the California conference.  Even so, this move will be a lot more wrenching for San Diego State than it is for Boise State.  The Aztecs basketball team went 34-3 last season and regularly draws 12,000 fans to Viejas Arena.  Will the downgrade gut what has become a great hoops program?  That’s the (fill in the dollar amount) question.

Kellen Moore has a trophy for every year now after winning the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year award yesterday.  Moore won the past two such honors in the WAC (sharing last year’s with Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick) and was WAC Freshman of the Year in 2008.  Moore has thrown for 14,374 yards and 140 touchdown passes in his career with one game to go—the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas December 22 against Arizona State.

Boise State had six other first-team All-Mountain West selections, including one of the conference’s two unanimous picks, left tackle Nate Potter.  Doug Martin’s relentless pounding earned him one of the running back spots (with San Diego State’s Ronnie Hillman, the other unanimous choice).  But how about this for a finish to Tyler Shoemaker’s career.  Shoemaker has gone from Mountain View walk-on to Mountain West first-teamer at wide receiver after breaking a school record with 15 touchdown catches.  On defense, the Broncos placed defensive linemen Shea McClellin and Tyrone Crawford and free safety George Iloka on the first team.

Boise State sent a record number of players to the Senior Bowl last year.  Two.  Austin Pettis and Titus Young.  That’s been doubled this year, with four Broncos getting invites to the January 28 game in Mobile, AL.  Moore, Martin, Iloka and Billy Winn will suit up for the North.  Winn, who has been brimming with potential for four seasons, never won a first-team all-conference honor—he was second-team All-Mountain West yesterday.  But NFL scouts are all about that potential.

It’s hard to keep up with the familiar names on the coaching carousel this week.  Beyond the fired Pat Hill at Fresno State, there’s the “retirement” of Greg McMackin at Hawaii, John L. Smith returning to his alma mater at Weber State as head coach, and Joe Glenn dropping his folksy color commentary on the WAC Network to become coach at South Dakota.  Smith returns to the Big Sky, the league he left when he departed from Idaho after the 1994 season.  His journey took him to Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State.  Smith has been special teams coach the past three seasons at Arkansas under one of his former Vandal assistants, Bobby Petrino.

The record isn’t as good as Indiana State’s was, but Boise State expects the same kind of game when Portland visits Taco Bell Arena tonight.  The Pilots are 3-5, with their losses coming to Washington, Washington State, UC Santa Barbara, Saint Louis, and…Kentucky.  The Broncos are looking for their 14th straight home victory, and if they get it, three-pointers will likely play a part.  Anthony Drmic tops the Mountain West in threes per game at 3.25, while Drew Wiley is the most accurate in the conference from beyond the arc, shooting just under 55 percent.  As a team, Boise State leads the MW in (among other things) scoring, scoring margin, shooting percentage, rebounding margin, turnover margin and three-pointers made.  The Broncos shalt not look ahead.  They have a game at LSU looming Saturday night.

It’s a sweep for Northwest Nazarene in the 2011 United Heritage Mayors Cup series.  The Crusaders downed the College of Idaho last night, 73-63, behind 27 points from J.B. Pillard.  That gives NNU five straight wins in the Canyon County rivalry for the first time since it started back in 1933.  The Crusaders’ starters were money, scoring all but two of NNU’s points in the game.

Idaho Stampede coach Randy Livingston had expected former NBA star Antoine Walker to be in the fold by now, but Walker’s “personal matters” got in the way.  Walker, who played last season for the Stampede and led the team with 16 points per game, was sentenced yesterday to five years of probation and was ordered to pay over $770,000 restitution for gambling debts in Las Vegas.  Word is, though, that Walker is already aboard with the Stamps and could play in tomorrow night’s game at Bakersfield.

Idaho Steelheads coach Hardy Sauter acknowledged his club wouldn’t have come home from Las Vegas with even a single win had it not been for the goaltending of Jerry Kuhn.  The Steelheads allowed 111 shots on goal in two games last weekend, and Kuhn stopped 105 of them.  He now has the top three save performances in franchise history, and two of them came in the past week.  Sauter attributed the freakish shot numbers to roster changes, guys “not paying attention to detail” on defense, and Las Vegas having a really good team this season.  We’ll see if home ice can slow down the sticks of the Colorado Eagles when they come into CenturyLink Arena tonight to open a three-game series. 

This Day In Sports…December 7, 2004:

With his name linked to job openings at Notre Dame, Washington and Stanford, Dan Hawkins ends the rumor mill by agreeing to a new five-year, $525,000 a year contract at Boise State.  Hawkins had just finished the Broncos' first unbeaten regular season 10 days earlier, coaching his 50th game at BSU and upping his record to 44-6.  Hawk would leave Boise State for Colorado a year later.

(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.)

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