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Boise State football: Scrap the MW championship game

In certain years, if the new CFP format is adopted, an upset could cost the conference millions of dollars. Time to re-think the Mountain West championship game.
Credit: John Locher/AP Photo
Boise State’s Riley Smith catches a pass over San Jose State’s Kenyon Reed during the Mountain West championship game, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas.

BOISE, Idaho — Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

One of the prevailing subjects as the new College Football Playoff expansion format sits on the horizon: getting rid of divisions in conferences. In the Mountain West, I’d take it one step further—eliminate the Mountain West championship game. In this new world, there would be too big a risk of an upset that would eliminate the league’s best team and take away any hope of a CFP berth. It’s going to be hard enough to get to the Playoff with a dominant Mountain West champion. But at the very least, ditch the divisions. Last season, because of COVID, there were no divisions in the Mountain West. The top two teams, Boise State and San Jose State, played for the championship—and the best team won. The Spartans would not have made the CFP had the new system been in effect, but it’s the MW’s only hope.

AVALOS’ JOB POISED TO GET ‘BETTER’

There’s no shortage of offshoot subjects surrounding the proposed format for an expanded 12-team College Football Playoff. In Andy Staples’ Q&A on the CFP at TheAthletic, he was asked, “Is Cincinnati or UCF now a better job than a historically bottom-third team of a Power 5 conference? Staples’ answer: “With the possible exception of the paycheck, it’s absolutely a better job. Because the next job could pay a lot more. The proposed format turns Boise State, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis or UCF into a much better job than Oregon State or Rutgers or Vanderbilt or Duke. Those teams have a much better chance of making the CFP, and leading those teams to the CFP will result in either more money and security at that Group of 5 school or a fat payday at a higher-tier Power 5.” Not saying that is Andy Avalos’ goal, but it’s nice to know.

BRONCOS’ RECRUITING HAUL ACCELERATES

During the Bryan Harsin era at Boise State, it was always quality over quantity early on in recruiting. Andy Avalos is combining the two. With five more commitments since Friday, the Broncos have eight total, far ahead of last year’s pace. Tight end Austin Terry of Tumwater, WA, gave his verbal on Friday, and linebacker Kaeo Akana and wide receiver Keenan McCaddy, both of Honolulu, and offensive tackle Roger Carreon of Jal, NM, committed on Sunday. On Monday, defensive lineman JJ Talo of Kearns, UT, added his name. Most had multiple Power 5 offers before choosing Boise State. Terry told 247 Sports he’d like to help land the most-offered of any Broncos target, Gooding tight end Colston Loveland. On Sunday, Loveland received yet another SEC offer: from Harsin and Auburn.

ALUMNI WHO CARRY SOME WEIGHT

A number of former Boise State stars and NFL veterans have been noticeably engaged with recruiting, saluting and encouraging the Broncos’ new commitments. An example is former Green Bay Packer Daryn Colledge. When Carreon committed late Sunday, Colledge tweeted, “Congrats man, excited to see what you do. You got a bright future, now get to work!!!” Those are significant words of inspiration, as Colledge was the first of six consecutive Boise State multi-year starters at left tackle to be drafted into the NFL (the others were Ryan Clady, Nate Potter, Charles Leno Jr., Rees Odhiambo and Ezra Cleveland).

A TIMELY UCF PREVIEW

Chris Vannini profiled UCF Monday at TheAthletic, and it's worth a look (for obvious season-opening reasons). Here are key takeways as new UCF coach Gus Malzahn takes over after winning a national title at Auburn and beating Nick Saban three times, as much as every other current SEC coach combined. “While most top Group of 5 teams are full of returning seniors, UCF needs new starters at the offensive skill positions and multiple defensive spots,” writes Vannini. “An opening game against Boise State means there’s no room for growing pains.” Malzahn’s recruiting will surely help. As for talent, Vannini notes, “At UCF, Malzahn inherits one of the nation’s top passers in junior Dillon Gabriel, who led the nation with 357 passing yards per game last season, along with 34 total touchdowns and just four interceptions.”

Vannini wraps up with an exclamation point: “Malzahn’s first game is a dream matchup of the top two Group of 5 programs over the past 15 years. Boise State and UCF each have three BCS/New Year’s Six appearances. This is the first meeting in a two-game series, and UCF won’t be the only participant with a new head coach. It’ll be the debut for Andy Avalos at Boise State as well. Boise returns a lot of experience, and both teams have New Year’s Six expectations again. ‘They’re a big-time program,’ Malzahn said. ‘I think it’ll be a great test of where we’re at. We get a chance to play at home in the Bounce House, and I’m looking for a great atmosphere.’”

TORREY GETS THE BEST OF TROY

I said Friday it would take a miracle for Troy Merritt to make the cut at the U.S. Open after he shot a 75 in the first round at Torrey Pines. That may have been a bit strong, but the move of the projected cut line from two-over to four-over at the end of the second round was kind of miraculous, and Merritt did play the weekend in San Diego. The former Boise State star shot a 73 on Saturday—and then came Sunday. Merritt’s past two final rounds have not been pleasant. He struggled to a 78 two weeks ago at the Memorial, and he did the same at the Open.

OSTRANDER, HOWARD RUN THURSDAY NIGHT

Just nine days after posting her heart-wrenching video about treatment for an eating disorder, there she was. Allie Ostrander ran the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase after all Sunday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, and she qualified for the finals. Ostrander had the fastest time outside the automatic qualifers and will run again Thursday night for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics. It’s a long shot, but props to Allie O for getting this far. Fellow former Boise State standout Marisa Howard was in the same heat, and she was even better. Howard was among the leaders for all seven laps and finished fifth to move on as an automatic qualifier for the finals. The top three finishers Thursday qualify for the Summer Games.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…June 22, 1994:

Hakeem Olajuwon leads the Houston Rockets to their first NBA championship with a 90-84 Game 7 win over the New York Knicks. The Rockets had rallied from a three games-to-two deficit in a matchup of centers who played for the NCAA championship 10 years earlier. The Knicks’ Patrick Ewing had prevailed in college as the Georgetown Hoyas knocked off the Houston Cougars in 1984. But Olajuwon outplayed Ewing for the NBA title, averaging 26.9 points per game. It was the first championship in a major sport for the city of Houston.

(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.) 

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