Will Boise State ever be the little engine that could again?


The first month of college football is in the books and we know this about the Boise State Broncos; Boise State’s heyday is behind it. Just a couple of years ago you never would have expected the Broncos to be dominated on the road in conference play and lose a neutral site game against a power conference opponent.

Boise State opened the season with a loss to Ole Miss in Atlanta. The Rebels played a rough game on that Thursday night, the kind Boise State used to take advantage of. The Broncos scored a nice conference victory with a win over Colorado State, but last night the Broncos were grounded by Air Force, 28-14. The game was not as close as that score would suggest. Boise State turned the football over seven times, including four interceptions thrown by Grant Hedrick. That has opened the door for head coach Bryan Harsin‘s first quarterback controversy. The problem for the first-year Boise State coach is there is no Kellen Moore to be found on the roster.

Ryan Finley replaced Hedrick in the game and led the offense to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Harsin will now face questions and pressure regarding the quarterback situation heading into Boise State’s next game, next week on the road against Nevada. Next week’s contest with Nevada is a difficult one and Boise State still has to play Fresno State and Utah State (and BYU in non-conference play).

If nothing else, we are witnessing just how special Boise State’s run as a BCS Cinderella was under head coach Chris Petersen. What the Broncos managed to do in those seasons is difficult to do, and is not common. The pieces fell together for the Broncos under the BCS format. The new College Football Playoff is one that leaves a door open just a bit wider for a program like Boise State to play in a big bowl game. Right now East Carolina appears to be first in line for that prized invitation.

Boise State does not have that far to go to get back to that lofty status among its Group of Five peers, but the Broncos need to find a quarterback that can be trusted with the offense. They have a running back that fits just fine with Jay Ajayi and the defense is good enough, but the Broncos need to improve at quarterback. Under the structure in place, a quarterback can make a huge difference for Boise State. Finding one may be tougher than it used to be though, because Boise State is not in a power conference, which means they do not benefit from the perks that come with autonomy. The overall impact this has on Boise State and other Group of Five schools remains to be seen, but there are plenty of quarterbacks out there.

Boise State’s uphill battle is based on recruiting. Petersen was able to recruit. We will have to see if Harsin can do the same as head coach. But recruiting trends are stacked against Boise State. When playing in California or Texas or anywhere south is a viable option for a player, how many will choose to play in Idaho? It is not a new problem for Boise State, but the sales pitch is easier to sell when Boise State has established itself as a team capable and worthy of being on the same field as power conference opponents. So ultimately it all comes down to winning games.

Boise State has lost its edge as a non-power conference program. Has it been lost for good?

ACC endorses free one-time transfer for all student-athletes

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The ACC is now on-board with the idea of allowing student-athletes in all sports a chance to have a free one-time transfer without having to sit out a season. The conference released a brief statement on Monday afternoon confirming the ACC supports a one-time transfer opportunity.

“During the league’s annual winter meetings (February 12-14), the ACC discussed the transfer environment and unanimously concluded that as a matter of principle we support a one-time transfer opportunity for all student-athletes, regardless of sport,” the statement from the ACC said. “As a conference, we look forward to continuing the discussion nationally.”

It is important to understand this does not mean players in the ACC will now be given a free transfer. This is merely a step in the direction toward allowing the free one-time transfer and shows the ACC would support any potential adjustment to the NCAA transfer rule. As the transfer rule currently stands, any player transferring from one school to another at the same level of competition (FBS to FBS, for example), is required to sit out one full season before being ruled eligible again. This takes away a year of eligibility or burns a redshirt season, barring any potential exemptions granted by way of a waiver. Graduate transfers are generally the only transferring players allowed to play immediately at a new school.

The Big Ten quietly proposed just such legislation last year, but no movement was made on the proposal. The NCAA instead opted to have a committee spend additional time reviewing the current policies regarding transfers with the intent of continuing the discussion this year as rule changes begin to be reviewed.

That gives us two power conferences that appear to be ready to embrace the one-time transfer rule. Don’t be shocked if more join the party, and expect the transfer rule to be altered soon enough. Maybe even as early as this upcoming year.

The NCAA modified the redshirt rule two years ago. The transfer rule appears the next most likely rule to be altered regarding a player’s eligibility.

Indiana completes coaching staff with Tulane DL coach Kevin Peoples

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After being left at the altar by a Michigan State assistant coach, Indiana had found a way to plug its hole at defensive line coach. Kevin Peoples is reportedly leaving Tulane to join the Hoosiers, multiple reports said on Monday. News of the coaching hire in Bloomington was first shared by Football Scoop.

Peoples will be taking on the job on the Indiana coaching staff previously set to be filled by Michigan State assistant Ron Burton. Burton decided to remain in East Lansing with the Spartans and new head coach Mel Tucker over the weekend before officially making his way from one Big Ten school to another. With the addition of Peoples to the coaching staff, the Hoosiers will now have a full coaching staff barring any potential adjustments before spring football begins.

With Peoples in charge of the defensive line, Tulane was not among the conference leaders in sacks and tackles for loss in the American Athletic Conference in 2019, but Tulane did have the conference’s fourth-best rushing defense; Tulane allowed 156.31 rushing yards per game in 2019, an averages that is inflated slightly from playing Navy in conference play (allowed 385 yards to the triple-option Midshipmen) and Army in non-conference play as well as a road game against Auburn. Tulane allowed just 58 rushing yards in its bowl victory over Southern Mississippi.

Peoples is filling the role previously held by Mark Hagen. Hagen left Indiana to accept a coaching position with Texas this offs

Utah, LSU to play home-and-home in early ’30s

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The SEC and Pac-12 are in a bit of a love affair right now. Actually, scratch that. They’re full-on obsessed with one another.

More than 30 SEC v. Pac-12 games are on the docket for future years, and two more were added to the ledger on Monday when LSU and Utah inked a home-and-home.

Utah will host LSU on Sept. 6, 2031, and LSU will return the favor on Sept. 11, 2032.

“Our aspirations to continue to grow and elevate our football program make opportunities like this especially important,” Utah AD Mark Harlan said. “For our student-athletes it is an incredible opportunity to play a high-profile opponent in two fantastic environments. It also is incredibly attractive to our fans to host a team like LSU at Rice-Eccles Stadium and to go on the road to Baton Rouge and cheer on their Utes.”

Utah has two more home-and-homes against SEC schools coming, against Florida in 2022-23 and Arkansas in 2026 and ’28. LSU has home-and-homes with UCLA (2021, ’24) and Arizona State (2029-30) on its docket.

The schools have met twice previously, with LSU winning in Baton Rouge both time, 35-10 in 1974 and 35-7 in ’76.

Bret Bielema reportedly interviewing for Colorado job

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Bret Bielema is interviewing for the Colorado head coaching position, according to reports Monday from NFL Network and ESPN.

Bielema tried to get in on the Michigan State job that, obviously, went to Mel Tucker, so now he’s in the running for the job Tucker left.

The former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach joined Bill Belichick‘s witness protection program after his 2017 Arkansas firing, working for a year as “consultant to the head coach” in New England. He was promoted to defensive line coach and reportedly told friends he was in the running to become the defensive coordinator after Greg Schiano stepped down, but Belichick wound up giving that job to himself.

He wound up following Joe Judge from Foxboro to the New York Giants, but now has apparently decided he’d rather be back in college than work as a position coach at the NFL level.

Bielema went 68-24 at Wisconsin before his 29-34 flameout at Arkansas. His teams famously stuck to a ground-and-pound philosophy that worked like peanut butter and jelly in Madison but peanut butter and salsa in Fayetteville. So, should Colorado be as interested in Bielema as he apparently is in them, his offensive philosophy would figure to be question one in the interview.