Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: From the ‘takin’ care of business’ department

Once Creighton finished off its upset of No. 1 UConn, Boise State got down to business on FS1. We knew that if the Broncos beat San Jose State Tuesday night, they would be alone in second place in the Mountain West.It didn’t take long to figure out that’s what would happen. An 8-8 tie early on morphed into a 38-14 Broncos lead via a 30-6 run all the way through the final seconds of the half, and the end result was an 82-50 romp over the Spartans in ExtraMile Arena. Four players had workmanlike double-figure efforts: Tyson Degenhart, Max Rice, Chibuzo Agbo and O’Mar Stanley. With Utah State’s 66-60 win over San Diego State Tuesday night, the Aggies are now all alone in first place, and Boise State is a half-game back. Those who were worried about the Broncos looking ahead were able to exhale.


Right off the bat, it was apparent Boise State would be high-energy. And coach Leon Rice was able to prolong it by substituting early and often. In fact, RJ Keene, Jace Whiting and Cam Martin were catalysts during the Broncos’ back-breaking run. Keene grabbed a steal and drove for a layin and drained a three-pointer in back-to-back possessions, and Whiting hit a floater and dropped in a couple free throws. Martin contributed two points, two rebounds and two assists during the surge. For the game, Martin dished out four assists, and all of them were of the dazzling variety. Bench improvement has been big for the Broncos—and will continue to be down the stretch. Especially in their next assignment Saturday night against Wyoming at 7,220 feet.


Revisiting the Fresno State game, Boise State’s plan against the Bulldogs was pretty clear last Saturday night. Fresno State was talent-challenged with two big men sidelined, and the Broncos wanted to attack the post. The important thing is, they executed it. Stanley opened the scoring with a reverse layup 15 seconds into the game, and Degenhart drew a foul and made a couple of free throws one minute into the contest. Stanley and Degenhart scored the Broncos’ first eight points of the evening. Shooting and free throws were the theme—the Broncos shot 59 percent from the field and went 20-for-28 from the charity stripe, with Degenhart putting up 24 points.


There was a lot of vitriol directed at now-former Boise State offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan right after he left for Kentucky. I get that people were upset with the timing—and the fact that he had professed his love for the Broncos and the Treasure Valley a month and a half ago. Like I’ve said, coaches just shouldn’t say that stuff in today’s fluid environment. But the criticism of his play-calling? What I’ll remember about Bush is the Utah State game last November, the night he could really call a game exactly how he wanted to. He put Taylen Green in a position to succeed, and the two calls that resulted in touchdown passes to Matt Lauter were brilliant. This will all work out at Boise State, but I would have loved to see what Hamdan would do with all the weapons at his disposal now.


Boise State’s Spencer Danielson went right before the masses in the wake of Hamdan’s departure. Danielson was on Idaho SportsTalk late last week and talked about replacing him. First, he had some news about spring football. “I’m taking this slow,” said Danielson. “I’m walking the path to find the right fit.” That means spring ball may be pushed back a week. “I’m looking everywhere,” Danielson said. “And I mean that—from an FCS to a Power 5 to an NFL. I want to be an explosive offense. I want to be on the attack. And, he added, “This is biased, because I’m the head coach here—but this is a big-time job.” By the way, I did an interview with a Lexington radio station last Thursday, and Kentucky does not play Arkansas this year. So the Wildcats won’t need Hamdan’s Taylen Green scouting report.


Boise State’s eye is squarely on the prize: a spot in the 2024 College Football Playoff with the field having been expanded. It’ll be a rugged road, but that’s the goal. Tuesday, the Broncos’ path to get there was confirmed when the CFP Board of Managers unanimously revised the qualifying criteria for the 12-team event to now include the five highest-ranked conference champions, plus the next seven highest-ranked teams as determined by the CFP Selection Committee. With the Power 5 now the Power 4, that clears the way for the top-ranked Group of 5 conference champion to make the 12-team field. Let’s say the Broncos actually made it in and were seeded 12th. They’d play the fifth-seeded team on that school’s home field in the first round. A win would advance Boise State into a New Year’s Six Bowl.


After watching the new NFL postseason overtime rules at work in the Super Bowl, I agree with The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel. The college overtime rule, first established in Division I-AA 35 years ago, needs a change. Not length-of-the-field OT drives like in the NFL, as the wear-and-tear on college teams would take a toll. But something that makes it at least more difficult to score would shorten games yet maintain the drama.

Says Mandel, “I would move the ball back at the start of overtime from the 25-yard line to the 40. Today’s college offenses can drive 25 yards for a touchdown fairly easily. Worst case, they’re kicking a makeable field goal. Hence, the chance of the game going on and on and on. If we make it harder for the offenses, the teams may run more plays than in a current one-overtime game, but it reduces the chances of going to double overtime.” Also, if I’m not mistaken, Division I-AA tried starting from the 40 in overtime in the 1978 playoffs, when Nevada lost to Eastern Kentucky 33-30 in double OT. It worked then.


The Idaho Steelheads’ long road trip continues with a three-game series at Tulsa this week—three games in three days beginning Friday night. So far so good. The Steelheads swept Rapid City on the Rush’s home ice last week, and the middle game could be a catalyst for the home stretch. Last Friday, Idaho trailed 4-2 early in the third period before Jordan Kawaguchi, Ben Zloty and Mark Rassell all scored goals in an 85-second span, leading to a 5-4 win. The bad news: after the Steelies got home, Rassell signed a PTO deal with Texas and Zloty was re-called by the club from his loan assignment. Rassell left the Steelheads (hopefully temporarily) tied for the ECHL lead with 29 goals and tops in the league with eight game-winning tallies.


Troy Merritt skipped the Genesis Invitational last week at Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles. Instead, Merritt’s going much further down the coast to play in the Mexico Open at Vidanta, teeing off Thursday near Puerto Vallarta. This will be the former Boise State star’s fifth PGA Tour event of the year—the only cut he has made was in the first one, the Sony Open in Hawaii. Friday has been Merritt’s downfall the past two weeks with rounds of 74 and 77. But at the age of 38 (not that old in golf years), he forges ahead.


College of Idaho’s run of five consecutive 100-point games ended last Saturday at Northwest University, but the Coyotes’ winning streak didn’t. The Yotes captured their 19th straight in an 85-73 win in Kirkland, WA. They’ll go for No. 20 Friday night when they host Bushnell to kick off their final regular-season homestand (C of I faces Corban Saturday night). C of I, of course, ended the season last year with a 36-game winning streak—a loss in Game 1, and not another all the way through the NAIA national championship game.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…payroll, process and prosperity for your business.

February 21, 2002: Dane Spencer finishes 16th in the giant slalom at Park City, wrapping up very respectable performances by three Boiseans at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Earlier in the Salt Lake Games, the late Jeret Peterson had placed ninth in the freestyle aerials, and snowboarder Lisa Kosglow had made it to the quarterfinals in the parallel giant slalom (the PGS). It was the first Olympiad for Spencer and Peterson, while Kosglow had also competed in the 1998 Winter Games at Nagano.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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