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Boise State football: A non-BCS kind of limelight

Boise State’s last trip to Florida was memorable, but it was a bit off the radar. The prospect of an expanded CFP will bring the next Florida trip into focus nation
Credit: AP Photo/John Locher
Boise State players celebrate after defeating Oregon 38-28 in the Las Vegas Bowl Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Las Vegas.

BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, June 17, 2021.

Truth be told, the Group of 5’s national visibility has faded drastically in the years since the College Football Playoff debuted in 2014. Those who wondered why the CFP was an upgrade over the BCS system never got that question answered. Even though the proposed new CFP format won’t take effect this year, you can bet the prospect of change will cast a bigger spotlight on top Group of 5 teams, and there’s no better table-setter than the Boise State-UCF opener on September 2. While the Broncos were the original BCS busters, Stewart Mandel of TheAthletic points out that “the true catalyst for change was UCF. The turning point season for playoff expansion was 2018 for many reasons, one of which was that UCF got to 25 straight wins and still couldn’t rise higher than No. 8 in the CFP rankings.”

Yeah, the Golden Knights weren’t the national champions they claimed they were, but they deserved better than they got. Mandel continues: “It showed that the Group of 5 had actually taken a step backward in the CFP from the BCS, where both Boise State and TCU rose as high as No. 3 in the standings. There’s been considerable change among the Power 5 commissioner ranks since the CFP’s formation, and this group apparently recognized the negative impact of half the schools in the sport being effectively banned from the Playoff."

NO STATUS QUO – IF THERE’S EVER A CHOICE

Stewart Mandel and Nicole Auerbach took questions in a recent live chat at TheAthletic, and this was a good one: “For a school like UCF, Cincinnati, Boise State, at the top of the Group of 5, would you rather stay in your conference for a better shot at the playoff, or go to a Power 5 with more money, but perhaps lesser access with more established powers?” Mandel answered:”If one of the P5 comes calling, you’ve got to go. The money gap is enormous. The AAC TV deal is worth only about $7 million a year per school. The Pac-12’s, outdated as it is, is closer to $25 million per year. And remember that’s money that goes toward all your sports, not just football. Plus, as we’ve seen with TCU and Utah, the right coach can get the program capable of competing for titles in their new conference within a few years.”

TROY’S TORREY PINES LEDGER 

Troy Merritt tees off this morning in his third U.S. Open. Merritt has had an interesting relationship with Torrey Pines over the years. He has played the Farmers Insurance Open there seven times but has only made the cut twice—the first time in 2010 and the last time this past January. A rough weekend doomed him to 72nd place 5½ months ago, but Merritt tied for 15th during his rookie season, making $87,450 in just his third career PGA Tour event. Right now, it’s all about his putter. That has carried Merritt through the best stretch of golf in his PGA Tour career.

HAWKS RING UP ANOTHER ‘W’

Was a three-game winning streak too much to ask of the Boise Hawks? Apparently not, as the Hawks began a three-game series in Idaho Falls Wednesday night with a 7-3 victory over the Chukars. Home runs by Wladimir Galindo and Kolton Kendrick keyed the offense—Kendrick was 3-for-4 with four RBIs. And Boise got another solid start from Capital High grad Matt Dallas, who went seven innings and allowed only one earned run.

BRONCOS’ NEW SOFTBALL SKIPPER

Justin Shults inherits a solid core as he takes over as Boise State’s new softball coach. Shults also brings a solid resume, having been the hitting coach at Oregon the past three seasons. The Ducks ranked in the top 20 nationally in hits and doubles during the 2021 season. In 2020, five Ducks batted .350 or better, and Oregon finished in the top 15 nationally in batting average, on-base percentage and runs per game. Maggie Huffaker stepped down as Broncos coach a month ago. Boise State was 20-25 this spring but earned back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths in 2018 and 2019, the second one under Huffaker.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…June 17, 2018:

Brooks Koepka becomes the first golfer to win back-to-back U.S. Open Championships since Curtis Strange in 1989, and only the second since the legendary Ben Hogan in 1951. Koepka overcame brutal conditions at Shinnecock Hills in New York to finish one-under for the tournament, beating Tommy Fleetwood by one stroke. Despite coming in as the defending champ and top 10 in the world, few predicted this repeat performance from Koepka. He missed three months earlier in the season—including the Masters—while trying to recover from a partially-torn tendon in his left wrist.

(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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