BOISE, Idaho — (Tom Scott's column will return Friday. Happy New Year!)
Tuesday, December 31, 2019.
How Bronco Nation wishes it knew what’s going through Kellen Moore’s mind right now. As rumors swirl that the entire Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will be fired, one question becomes: Does Moore enjoy engaging with NFL players, or would he thrive more working with and teaching college players? We really don’t know. The egos in Dallas are surely a headache occasionally, but Kellen may not relish the ordeal of the college recruiting trail. Boise State has an opening for an offensive coordinator, don’t ya know. But there’s a bunch of NFL jobs available. O-coordinators in the NFL are kind of like quarterbacks—there’s a real demand for good ones, and a number of teams may be in the market for Kellen’s football IQ. We’re about to find out how the league really feels about him.
A move to Boise State would involve a huge pay cut. But money doesn’t seem to be a driving force for Kellen Moore. In addition to the Broncos, there are currently college O-coordinator openings at Washington and Cal, among others. The Huskies probably wouldn’t be as good a fit with Chris Petersen gone, but the money would be a lot better. The head coach of the Bears is Justin Wilcox, who was the defensive coordinator for the Broncos during Moore’s first two seasons in Boise. There may not seem to be as much of a connection with Wilcox, but he’s the guy who recruited Moore out of Prosser, WA, in 2006 and told Petersen he’d sacrifice a scholarship on defense if Boise State would sign Kellen. There are too many words like “maybe,” “probably,” “seem” and “would” here. I’ll quit while I’m ahead.
TWO MW GAMES DOWN, 16 TO GO
We all must be reminded that there are already two Mountain West games on the books as conference play resumes tomorrow night. Boise State went 1-1 three weeks ago, with the loss coming at New Mexico when the Broncos were without Abu Kigab and the Lobos still had Carlton Bragg and JJ Caldwell, who have both been suspended since. Boise State, now with a three-game winning streak, hosts Wyoming, which had a rough go in November and December. The Cowboys are 5-9 overall and 0-2 in the MW and have lost six home games, including a 21-point defeat to Northern Colorado.
Boise State takes not only the reigning Mountain West Player of the Week into the Wyoming game, it boasts the Lute Olson National Player of the Week as well. Derrick Alston captured both honors for the first time on Monday. It’s the first conference award for a Bronco in almost two years, since Chandler Hutchison captured his last one. Alston’s stretch covers three games, the last two in the Diamond Head Classic (where he was named to the all-tournament team) and Saturday’s win over Cal State Northridge. Alston averaged 24 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists for the week. The most valuable number from a team standpoint might be that last one—Alston has dished out five or more assists in each of the three games. He’s one of just four players in the country averaging at least 20 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
WOMEN’S TITLE DEFENSE RESUMES
After a 10-day break, the Boise State women get back into conference action tomorrow night with a rematch of the Mountain West championship game last March. The Broncos visit Wyoming, who they beat 68-51 in the title tilt in Las Vegas. Like Boise State, the Cowgirls are 2-0 in league play. Speaking of assists, that has been the strong suit of the Bronco women so far this season. As a team, they’re fourth in the nation in that category. Jayde Christopher’s 110 assists and 7.86 assists per game not only lead the Mountain West individually, but both figures are second in the country behind reigning Wade Trophy Player of the Year Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon.
SOLICH IS SOLID
Ohio and Nevada have arrived in Boise for Friday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Bobcats are 6-6 and the Wolf Pack 7-5, but it’s OU who’s favored by 7½ points on the blue turf. Ohio has been a lot more consistent than the Pack this season. This will be Frank Solich’s second bowl in Albertsons Stadium in his 15th season as the Bobcats’ coach. Solich is one of the classic “be careful what you wish for” stories in college football. He previously coached at Nebraska, where he won—a lot. But the Huskers took only one Big 12 championship in his six years. So the Huskers fired Solich after the 2003 season. They went 10-3 that year (although Solich didn’t coach the bowl win). Nebraska has had only three 10-win seasons since, and none since 2012. Kind of relates locally, eh?
HOLIDAY CONFERENCE CATCH-UP
There are no Bronco-Vandal football games anymore, of course. But there are sidebars to the rivalry if you look for them. New UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo has hired Oklahoma State wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn to be his offensive coordinator. Dunn was a three-time Division I-AA All-America wideout at Idaho from 1987-91 and still holds Vandal career records with 268 catches and 3,847 receiving yards. He always played well against the Broncos. Dunn spent nine seasons under Mike Gundy with the Cowboys, wrapping it up with the Texas Bowl last Friday (a 27-24 loss to Texas A&M). He faced Boise State as a coach last year in Oklahoma State’s 44-21 win, and he’ll face the Broncos again next fall on the blue turf.
The Colorado State quarterback’s job under new head coach Steve Addazio is now Patrick O’Brien’s to lose. Collin Hill, who was probably the Rams’ best QB the past three years but was able to play only 18 games due to three torn ACLs, is following former CSU coach Mike Bobo to South Carolina as a graduate transfer. Bobo was hired as offensive coordinator by Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp after his firing in Fort Collins. The 6-5, 214-pound Hill is, by the way, from Moore, SC.
FULL-CIRCLE TO A CERTAIN COWBOY
Patrik Walker of CBS Sports.com reports that the minor procedure on Leighton Vander Esch’s neck is complete, and he’ll be available for Dallas offseason workouts in late spring or early summer. Walker also addressed a subplot: “Despite concerns from outside of the organization that Vander Esch's latest battle with neck issues are somehow tied to those he had during his time at Boise State, the Cowboys never once held such a concern, with the team's medical staff having ruled out any possible correlation early in his 2019 recovery; and going on to make it clear they—along with Vander Esch's blessing—were completely fine taking a more deliberate approach to his return to football.” LVE missed seven games during his sophomore year at Boise State with a neck ailment.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…December 31, 2014, five years ago today:
Boise State wins its third Fiesta Bowl, holding off Arizona 38-30 in Glendale, AZ. The Broncos rolled to a 21-0 first quarter lead as quarterback Grant Hedrick tied an all-bowl record by completing his first 14 passes. Jay Ajayi ran for three first-half touchdowns, one on a patented Boise State Statue of Liberty, to break the school rushing TD record with 28 while tying the overall mark with 32. The defense chipped in with two interceptions—including a pick-six by Donte Deayon—and eight sacks, the final one by Kamalei Correa sealing the game as the clock ran out. The victory capped Bryan Harsin's first season as coach with Boise State's eighth 12-win season.
(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.)