BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, April 15, 2021.
What year is this, 1999? That was before anyone knew much about Boise State as a Division I football participant nationally, and ESPN’s College Football Power Index for 2021 feels a lot like that, when there were middling expectations. The FPI released this week has the Broncos at No. 78. Not 28 or 38, but 78. The data used in the preseason FPI is exclusively from previous seasons, mostly the last one. The fact that Andy Avalos is a first-year coach figures in, too. But if you think about last year, this isn’t that shocking (although No 78 is a bit severe).
Boise State’s 51-17 loss to BYU and its 34-20 defeat by San Jose State in the Mountain West championship game threw a roundhouse right into the analytics. The Broncos, who finished 5-2, beat only one team that ended with a winning record: 40-32 at Hawaii. By the way, you remember what happened in 1999, right? It was a launching pad for the program. Maybe the Broncos are going to need to re-launch themselves in terms of national perception?
THE GROUP OF 5 LAGS
There’s a lot of head-shaking going on. I’m sure BYU is bewildered, too, as the Cougars are 63rd. But the FPI isn’t kind to the Group of 5 in general. There’s nobody in the top 25—Cincinnati is tops at No. 27. With the Broncos rated so low, there must be several Mountain West teams above them, wouldn’t you think? There’s one: Nevada at No. 75. Defending conference champion San Jose State is No. 83. Boise State’s much-anticipated season-opening opponent, UCF, the guys with the homemade 2017 national championship banner, is No. 70. There aren’t enough chips-on-the-shoulder to go around this year.
DESTINY’S PRO HOOPS DESTINY
This is a big night for former Mountain View High star Destiny Slocum. The two-time Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year is expected to be taken in the WNBA Draft. There are 12 teams and three rounds—36 picks overall. ESPN’s mock draft has Slocum going No. 24 overall (at the end of the second round) to the Indiana Fever. But Dalton Tinklenberg of SportsMediaPass.com projects Slocum as a first-round pick, going 11th overall to the Seattle Storm. Slocum started her college career at Maryland, where she was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2018. She then played two seasons at Oregon State before ending her career at Arkansas. Slocum averaged 15 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for the Razorbacks this season.
AN ACTUAL HIGH SCHOOL RECRUIT
Not every player comes out of the transfer portal, although it seems that way sometimes. Boise State women’s coach Gordy Presnell has done it the old-fashioned way in signing Jayda Clark out of Richland High in Washington. You can bet Clark has heard some positive things about the program. She was coached at Richland by Hayley Middleton, sister of former Bronco standout Braydey Hodgins. And she played club ball for Hodgins’ dad, Mike. Clark averaged double-figure scoring during her career at Richland. She was a first-team All-Mid-Columbia Conference pick as a junior.
LIONS REUNITE AS EAGLES
Borah High star Rylan Bergersen, who was a Borah Lion in high school, has been a Cougar (BYU) and a Bear (Central Arkansas) since. Bergersen will finish as an Eagle, as he’s going to Eastern Washington as a grad transfer. The son of former Boise State great Roberto Bergersen will be reunited with another former Lion, Ellis Magnuson, who helped EWU to the Big Sky championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance against Kansas this season. Bergersen averaged 16.2 points per game and hit double figures 50 of 54 games the past two seasons at Central Arkansas.
MERRITT: PAST SUCCESS AT HILTON HEAD
After time off during Masters week, Troy Merritt is back on the PGA Tour trek today at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, SC. One of the best performances of Merritt’s career came in this tournament in 2015, when he carried a three-shot lead into the final round. Merritt finished third and made $401,200. Two years ago the former Boise State star tied for 10th in the Heritage, earning $152,950. That was a pretty impressive week for a guy who had played only one tournament in the previous three months after having a rib surgically removed. Merritt has made the cut in his past two events and tied for 34th in both—the Corales Puntacana Championship and the Valero Texas Open.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…April 15, 1947:
More than 25,000 fans witness history as Jackie Robinson bats second and plays first for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking major league baseball’s color barrier. It was Opening Day at Ebbets Field, and the 28-year-old Robinson, signed by Branch Rickey, went 0-for-3 against Boston Braves starter Johnny Sain but scored the deciding run in the Dodgers’ 5-3 win. Robinson retired after the 1957 season, and his No. 42 was retired throughout the majors in 1997. The last player grandfathered in to wear it was the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera in 2013.
(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.)