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Boise State football: Digesting the doggone data

Boise State probably won’t be on the major preseason Top 25 lists next month, and that’s understandable. But the predictions this year vary wildly. Here’s another.
Credit: Steve Conner/AP Photo
Colorado State’s Todd Centeio tries to avoid pressure from Boise State’s Michael Callahan during an NCAA game Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Boise, Idaho.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday, July 14, 2021.

Which metrics are we to believe? After harping on ESPN’s FPI ratings, I was interested to see info from Football Outsiders Alamanac as posted by Mountain West Wire. Outsiders combines a couple of analytics—one of the sets is (ironically) Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings at ESPN.com. The Almanac ranks Boise State 33rd, by far the highest spot in the Mountain West. This is a reasonable number based on the challenges of the 2020 season and coaching turnover. It makes a lot more sense than 71st. This model projects 8½ wins, a 24 percent chance at 10 or more wins, and a 38 percent chance to win the conference. MW Wire also points out that the Broncos are also the only team in the league given a probability to go undefeated. Granted, it is only one percent, but it’s somethin’.

COMFORT ZONES, AND NOT SO MUCH

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com has unveiled his 2021 College Football Hot Seat Rankings, evaluating the job security of all 130 FBS coaches. The scale goes from “0” (untouchable) to “5” (win or be fired). Andy Avalos, in his Boise State honeymoon phase, gets a 1 rating (safe and secure). But interestingly enough, honeymoons are different in the SEC. In his first season at Auburn, Bryan Harsin gets a 2 (all good…for now). All is well in the Mountain West, outside of Fort Collins. Steve Addazio has coached Colorado State just one year, but Dodd already gives him a 3 (pressure is mounting). CSU is in a great town with a shiny four-year old football stadium, but the Rams can’t get over the hump.

BEST OF THE BRONCO BEST

Boise State has named its Athletes of the Year for 2020-21. The male athlete is football star Avery Williams, the new Atlanta Falcon who was a Consensus All-American in 2020 and set school records with six first-team honors and 10 overall. He’s only the third Bronco ever to earn Consensus All-America status, joining offensive lineman Ryan Clady (2007) and offensive tackle Nate Potter (2011). There are Co-Athletes of the Year on the female side. Gymnast Emily Muhlenhaupt was named a first-team All-American on bars for the second straight year. And Clare O'Brien wrapped up her Boise State career with first-team All-America honors in the 10,000 and 5,000-meters last month at the NCAA Championships.

MERRITT’S MONEY IS CERTAINLY HOLDING UP

One thing is certain for Troy Merritt: he can afford to fly across the Atlantic and set up shop this week at the Open Championship, which tees off tomorrow morning in Sandwich, England. With the $667,000 Merritt made when he finished as runnerup after a five-hole playoff at the Rocket Mortgage Classic 10 days ago, he is now at about $1.8 million for the 2020-21 PGA Tour campaign, less than $300,000 away from his single-season career-high of just under $2.1 million earned in 2015. The former Boise State standout would have to be at the top of his game to make up that gap at Royal St. George. First challenge is to make the cut.

ICYMI: IDAHO STATE AMATEUR

I hadn’t seen any results from the Idaho State Amateur last week at Falcon Crest, so I looked it up. The champion was Boise State golfer Josh Gliege, the senior from Eagle. Gliege finished the 54-hole event at 15-under, shooting 67 each day to top fellow Broncos Skyler Eubank and Alex Talbot by three strokes. Gliege and Eubank, a senior from College Station, TX, had been tied for the lead going into the fial round. Talbot, a sophomore from Southhampton, England, carded a six-under 66 last Sunday to tie Eubank for second.

HAWKS HANG IN THERE AS THEY COME HOME

It’s too late for the Boise Hawks to reach .500 in the first half of the Pioneer League season, which ends Friday. But if the Hawks can cobble together a winning season over the course of the full 96-game schedule after their 4-15 start, that would be saying something. The Hawks are back in Memorial Stadium tonight to begin a six-game series versus Great Falls. Boise, which at one point reached 14-18, has fallen back to 18-27 and just split a six-game set at Grand Junction. Hawks pitchers had been settling down of late, but they slipped the past three games, allowing 42 runs.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…July 14, 1996, 25 years ago today:

Former Boise State star Chris Childs signs a six-year, $24 million free agent contract with the New York Knicks. Childs had spent the previous two seasons with the New Jersey Nets—he averaged seven assists and almost 13 points a game for the Nets in 1995-96. That would end up being his best season in a nine-year NBA career that would end back with the Nets in 2003. No other ex-Bronco has come remotely close to an NBA run like that.

(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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