Big Sky Power Rankings Week 6

Reminder this is a “Power Ranking.” It means different things to different people. Some view it as the best team, some view it as hottest team at the moment. At the end of the year, the team that wins the conference may not be No. 1 in our rankings. We had 12 voters this week.

This week [Last Week] | Team | First Place Votes – Points

1. [3] Eastern Washington (12) – 169

Last Week: W Vs #6 Montana 34-28

This Week: @ Northern Colorado

My Ranking: 1

WOW, WOW, WOW! What a show! The wait was worth it. If this truly is a farewell tour, the main event was something to hold onto forever. This will make the best hits album for years to come. The show was so good, maybe this isn’t farewell after all. They have a couple big shows left to maybe show these old souls still have it. That they are more than just their lead guitarist.

2. [1] Montana – 145

Last Week: L @ 28-34 #4 Eastern Washington

This Week: Vs Dixie State

My Ranking: 3

Well shoot. I took Montana in this one and was pretty confident in the pick. Though the one thing I said was Cam Humphrey can’t win this game, and he couldnt. I know Kris Brown was ultimately how it ended, but Humphrey just isn’t a guy to go out and win you a game. Humphrey completed 53% of his passes for 150 yards and a 1 to 1 TD to INT ratio.

Cam didnt lose them the game, he certainly didnt win it either.

That VAUNTED griz defense I thought would give QB Eric Barriere the same types of “fits” Idaho has the past two seasons. (“fits” as in not 400 yards and 4 TDs)

Vs Idaho

2019- Passing: 28/46 365 Yards 2 TDs 1 INT Rushing: 57 Yards 2 TDs 1 Fumble

2020A- Passing: 32/57 339 Yards 2 TDs 1 INT Rushing: 14 Yards 0 TDs

2020B- Passing: 18/38 309 Yards 2 TDs 0 INT Rushing: 54 yards 0 TDs

Vs Montana

2021 – Passing: 26/46 422 Yards 2 TDS 2 INTS Rushing: 41 yards 0 TDs

I guess they kinda did?… But it just wasnt enough.

3. [2] UC Davis – 142

Last Week: W vs Idaho 27-20

This Week: @ Idaho State

My Ranking: 2

UC Davis fans I imagine are okay not being in the top spot after their preformace compared to the ESPN2 showdown. However, #3? My assumption of the 11 other voters is, they rewarded Eastern for the win, didnt want to punish Montana, and the Aggies just played it too close to a team barely in the top 10 of the power rankings.

I made the argument last week in favor of UC Davis having a tougher schedule. Well, what a difference a week can make?! 2 of our top 3 teams are undefeated. Montana (the one with the loss) leads the way in average sagarin ranked opponents, at 130 on average, Easterns’ average opponents ranks 140.75, then UC Davis is a only 193 (out of 258).

Good news for them they only have 1.5 hurdles left to go undefeated.

4. [4] Montana State – 137

Last Week: W vs Northern Colorado 40-7

This Week: Vs Cal Poly

My Ranking 5

You know it is bad when Griz fans were pulling for Montana State. Their opponent last week, Northern Colorado, apparrently ruffled some feathers. People wanted to seem the out of no-where cockiness of the bears cooled down a bit.

The spread was -19.5 Montana State at home. I was one of the people that thought Northern Colorados’ rennassiance was further along and took the spread… Montana State proved they are not.

The Bobcats are sort of sailing under the radar. I think they like it this way. But Bobcat fans beware of flying objects when attending games.

R&R is brought to you by Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Another instant reaction episode, this time Shane Driscoll pinch hits for Thorny and helps Foley give the good, the bad and the ugly from the huge win over Weber State. Thanks to Shane for coming on, and Go Cats! Intro music courtesy of Ugly Duckling
  1. INSTANT REACTION: Weber State
  2. #19 Weber State Preview with Weber State Weekly
  3. Cal Poly Recap
  4. INSTANT REACTION: Cal Poly
  5. Northern Colorado Recap, Cal Poly Preview

5. [5] Weber State – 119

Last Week: W @ Cal Poly 38-7

This Week: Bye

My Ranking: 4

Look for Weber, a backup QB puting up 38 points is a win.

Just werid vibes coming out of Ogden. They are almost in a win or bust situation. They may be able to afford one more loss to a top Big Sky program. But they are running out of statement wins as well. The next 3 weeks are going to be monumental for the Wildcats.

Coming off of the bye, they get Montana State at home which feels like the must win game. Because they follow that up on the road in Cheney. They really need to go 2-0 through that stretch to gurantee playoffs. otherwise it gets iffy and their future may be in others hands. Which is always stressful.

Right now it is a 5 team race for conference title and playoff spots. In 3 weeks it could be narrowed down to 4 teams and some “SadCats” – Hot Take Nate

FOOTBALL GAME DAY: Montana State vs. Weber State w/ R&R Cat Cast's Thorny & Foley Weber State Weekly

The end of the bye has finally come and it's time for the Wildcats to face another top ten opponent at Stewart Stadium. This time, it's the Montana State Bobcats who have been taking care of business this year and come in ranked #9.We chat with fellow Big Sky Podcast Network members Thorny and Foley from the R&R Cat Cast to learn more about what the Bobcats bring to Ogden and where the Wildcats will have to play tough to grind out a dub.For more Bobcats commentary or to hear WSW's take on their show, check out R&R Cat Cast on Twitter or their website.Special thanks to our sponsor, WildcatRack.com. Visit their website to check out all their latest Wildcat gear and follow them on Facebook or Instagram.Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or join the Wildcat Fans FB group.
  1. FOOTBALL GAME DAY: Montana State vs. Weber State w/ R&R Cat Cast's Thorny & Foley
  2. Back from the Bye: Junior DE George Tarlas
  3. #MakeOgdenPurple w/ Weber State Alumni Association Board Member Amir Jackson
  4. #AceState: Sophomore Outside Hitter Dani Nay
  5. FOOTBALL GAME DAY: Weber State @ Cal Poly, 10.02.21

6. [6] Sacramento State – 96

Last Week: Bye Week

This Week: Vs Southern Utah

My Ranking: 10

I seriously dont get it?! We punish teams like Davis for beating Idaho by 7. We punish teams like Weber for losing to Top 10 programs. Yet, 2-2 Sac State with a 2 point win vs 206th ranked Sagarin team and an 8 point win vs 222nd sagarin ranked team, just keep being named the best team outside of the elite teams? PEOPLE, they barely beat the team we ranked last this week! So if Sac State is SOOO good why did we punish Idaho State (fell 3 spots). They fell by a 4th quarter field goal. This wasnt ISU making it look close in garbage time. This was Sac State having to come from behind vs (apparently) the worst team in the Big Sky.

#ComeOnMan

7. [7] Portland State – 92

Last Week:W @ Southern Utah 20-13

This Week: @ Idaho

My Ranking: 6

The love everyone seems to give Sac State, should be given here. Portland State is the team it appears the rest of the Big Sky Podcast Network thinks Sac State is.

QB Davis Alexander is #2 in yards, #4 in TDs.

RB Malik Walker is #7 in yards (Sac State RB not even on list), #2 in TDs

WR Beau Kelly #4 in yards , #2 in catches, #1 in TDs

WR Nate Bennet #6 in yards, #4 in catches, T-#2 in TDs

Yup, I did just take half of Portland States space to continue the tar and feathering of Sac State. Sorry, Colter, they arent quite top 5, but looking to be top 6…ish

8. [t-11] Northern Arizona – 76

Last Week: W vs Idaho State 48-17

This Week: Bye

My Ranking: 8

This team has fluctuated lots this season. Been as high as #6 and as low as #12. Which seems to be fitting honestly as no one seems to have a grip on who they are.

I was celebrity guest host on BSPNS’s NAU Sports Show last week and predicited an Idaho State W, but left door open for NAU win. Classic hedge.

Well NAU players and fans can mail me my crow meal. They were Tiger Kings this weekend.

9. [9] Idaho – 67

Last Week: L @ #7 UC Davis 20-27

This Week: Vs Portland State

My Ranking: 9

They move none and match my ranking. Out of 13 teams the only teams I agree with positioning are #1 Eastern, #8 NAU and #9 Idaho.

I know majority of the eyeballs reading this are Vandals, and probably skipped right on down to this point, and Im sorry.

I know we just hung with the #7 team in the country with legit shot to win. But, we didn’t… Look talent wise we proved we might be top 3 in the conference. Hell, just look at recent draft picks and NFL guys since we rejoined the sky in 2018. In 3 seasons we have 3 guys in NFL and the only Big Sky school with a guy who most likely will be leaving early to be drafted (Tre Walker). The worst part in 2018 all 4 of them were on the team together! in 2019 3 of them were on the team together! How can we not win games with this level of talent?oh wait, Coaching.

I’m starting to think you could go down position matchups every week and pick Idaho in the majority. The one I am starting to think we can no longer check is head coach. I have been a defender of Paul for 8.25 seasons… I can’t anymore. No more excuses. we aren’t Independent, we arent transtioning to Sun Belt, we are recruting to a program kicked out of the Sun Belt, we aren’t transitioning to FCS with less scholarships, we arent getting use to another new conference in the Big Sky, we aren’t in a shortened spring season, we dont have QB issues anymore, we have no more excuses.

We SHOULD have won on saturday, the players did…

10. [8] Northern Colorado – 50

Last Week: L @ Montana State 7-40

This Week: Vs #4 Eastern Washington

My Ranking: 8

Well they lost me money this weekend (*Allegedly). Maybe the bears aren’t as far along as some (maybe just me and Bears fans) thought.

Montana State showed the difference between top flight Big Sky team and the pile up between 11ish and 6.

After that ass kicking, I doubt they are enthused with Eastern coming to town. Going to be a sad homecoming. But seriously, lets dive into this. Who in their right mind schedules Eastern for Homecoming? Like, Why? Do you understand you are suppose to win homecoming? is this concept foreign to you? Are you secretly a NAU grad? A Raiders Fan? Christian McCaffery stole your girl? I dont get it? It really makes me want to break a clipboard and throw it. As a “Souvenir” of course.

11. [t-11] Southern Utah – 42

Last Week: L vs Portland State 13-20

This Week: @ Sacramento State

My Ranking: 12

Please refer to the WAC Podcast Networks coverage of this team.

12. [13] Cal Poly – 25

Last Week: L vs #19 Weber State 7-38

This Week: @ #10 Montana State

My Ranking: 13

I mean, not sure how they moved up. They are my 13, though maybe I should just permenently make SUU my 13, becasue screw SUU. (Exept their Social Media team, they are fire. Please dont roast me)

13. [10] Idaho State – 23

Last Week: L @ Northern Arizona 17-48

This Week: Vs UC Davis

My Ranking:11

Well Bengals, You made me look like a fool. Fool me once shame on me, Fool me can’t get fooled again.

*** As always I”m not an journalist so, take your gramatical error comments, & put them in a beg some-Where. Hope you enjoyed the content regarless if you maid it too dis disclaimer 

😉

ESPN For Big Sky Is a Lateral Move, Dont Be Fooled

Today is the day so many fans around the Big Sky Conference have been waiting for. The Big Sky announced it will be joining the ESPN family. Time to rejoice! There have been two things most Big Sky fans seem to @ the Conference office about the most, dropping teams and streaming/broadcast. You can check one of those off your list. Got to ask ourselves is ESPN really what we wanted? 

I know, people just spit out their coffee to yell, “Of course we do, you (insert swear word here).” Well, I’m just going to lay out why I for one am very “eh” on the whole ESPN thing. I feel it is a horizontal move being sold to us as a vertical move. Let me explain. 

First I don’t blame the conference office at all for the move. I am on record saying I think the Big Sky is one of the best ran division one conferences. When you get tweets and emails daily about dropping PlutoTV and Root Sports and moving to ESPN, you find the path of least resistance to be appealing to the mob. After all it is what the people think they want, so the move for conference leadership is a win. They look like heros. I totally understand the move and there are some incredible things they negotiated. Like two football games on ESPNU and one hoops game a year. Something not many conference at our level, with our budget can pull off, and the Big Sky was able to. Cemeting itself again as one of the best ran conferences. But lets be honest, 99% of your relationship with this deal will be spent on the ESPN+ system.

The things most people dislike about the Big Sky’s current TV/streaming arrangement is access to Root Sports and quality of PlutoTV streams. I think there is a common misconception that somehow ESPN has a magic wand and all the quality issues are going to be fixed. Idaho State is going to have better camera angles, UC Davis is going to give the JAMM students the boot and bring in professional crew from the bay area and Northern Colorado is going to buy twelve 4k cameras to watch Dylan McCaffery high fiving dad. None of this is going to happen. 

Just like on PlutoTV, the broadcast standards are set by the conference and the individual institutions are in charge of putting on the broadcast. People may hate the Root Sports games because they are hard to get without DirecTV. But, it is no secret the production quality is A+. Why? Because it is a professional crew out of Bellevue,WA. That when they aren’t covering the Big Sky they are covering the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball, and before ESPN ruined college football were the broadcasters of Pac 12 games for Washington and Washington State.

A similar situation takes place at Montana, Montana State, Idaho and Eastern Washington.These schools all have SWX help put on their broadcasts. SWX is a regional digital sub channel network that focuses specifically on sports broadcasts. When SWX isn’t in charge of the production and the actual institutions are, it is noticeable. Just like when KJZZ cover Weber State. They are professionals crews, not employed by the individual insituions. So the quality is that of a proper broadcast, because it is a proper broadcast. Not a stream. It should be noted that Dennis Patchin of SWX was on our podcast and did say he is not a fan of PlutoTV, maybe we will have him on again to discuss in more detail now

ESPN +/3 does not have stricter standards than what we just had on PlutoTV. If you read ESPN’s School productions broadcast manual you can actually see what the bare minimum is.

ESPN MINIMUM EQUIPMENT SPECS
The following equipment is the minimum needed for an ESPN3 Network production.
Cameras
 2 hand held camera
 2 hard camera
Lens
 3 – (14 x 4.3)
 1 – (40x)

  • All “tight” lenses must be of no less than 40x and must include extender feature. (If less than
    40x production must have special approval from ESPN3)
  • All cameras must be 720p or 1080i / 59.4 frames per second
    Replay system (Digital server based)
     Minimum 4 input / 2 output
    Video Switcher (minimums)
     10 inputs
     2 keyers
     1 ME
     8 auxiliary buses for isos, monitors and transmission
  • All switchers must be 720p or 1080i / 59.4 frames per second (minimums)
  • Optional router depending on production needs
    Audio Consoles
     24 inputs
     8 sub mixers
     2 output
  • Additional audio to complement production – camera microphones, crowd microphones
    Video
     All ESPN3 Network telecasts must have video operator on site to handle video needs of
    production. No cameras can be put into auto-iris function at any time.
    Graphics
     All ESPN3 Network productions must have a graphics system capable of supporting the ESPN
    Network graphics package. Most reasonable option: Ross Xpression.

Now does any of this really sound different then the current Southern Utah broadcast? Other than the fancy ESPN graphics that must be used? NO. Because the conferences set the standard of what their member institutions must meet in production quality. This is not going to be like when Idaho was in the Sun Belt. This is going to be the same broadcast just presented to you in an ESPN package.

Go watch our peer conferences around the FCS. St.Francis does not have even C- quality broadcast, nor does Dayton. Heck ask Bobcat fans in 2018 who couldn get stable broadcast from Western Illinois game on ESPN+. It was so bad many resorted to bootlegged Instagram live feeds from fans in attendance. Wetsern Illinois is a member of the Missouri Valley, one of, if not the biggest conference at this level. Small budgets, means small production. ESPN is not the savior, the people that think it is, are going t dissapointed really quick when watching Sac State v San Digeo and the camera is pointed at the sky and you get a paintball highlight from 2007 after a touchdown, but were expecting the same quality of Tulsa v North Texas.

I know I just came across as a debbie downer and that ESPN is evil and PlutoTV is a blessing. PlutoTV was not perfect and ESPN provides a very accessible product to wide audience. I am just trying to temper some peoples expectations. We are not going to have MAC quality broadcasts over night. Why? Because they have multi-million dollar TV deals. Not just the rights to stream their content on ESPN the Ocho.

The Mid-America Conference is set to make 24 million in 2021 from TV Deal with ESPN/ABC. The Big Sky I imagine is going to make next to $0. Why were Idaho’s broadcast so much better in the WAC and Sun Belt? The Money we had to put into production to meet conference broadcast requirements. It was easier in 2017 to put on a better broadcast because Idaho was receiving around $475,000 to $500,000 to put on the productions.

Let us also not forget the lack of interest ESPN has showed in our product of football. Outisde of the FCS playoffs (which they are contractually obligated to televise), they televised less than five games this past spring. When Americas most popular sport was competing with Cornhole, Bowling and World Series of Poker coverage on their six channels, and the FCS brand of football lost. Despite having the rights to 65 of the 84 teams participating this past spring.

Meanwhile what did PlutoTV do for us this spring? They became in essence the hub for FCS coverage. They were the host of all the FCS All-In episodes this spring. Which was an almost bi-weekly check-in from every conference about the season, or a peak into some history in every conference. This seemed to be well received on the twitter verse and FCS Fans Nations’ (the fan hub for FCS) Facebook page. Noteworthy is fact this was all free. It was not behind a paywall.

Now while ESPN+ is techincally behind a paywall, it is 2021. Most peoples cats have subscriptions to ESPN+ or the Disney bundle. I just think PlutoTV was a ready and willing partner to the FCS and specifaclly the Big Sky Conference. But do to a spell of misinformtion about how the broadcasts actually work, took the blunt of the twitter hate for any productions flaws. I was one of them, I wrote a slighlty beer fueled tweet in 2019 during the Idaho vs Central Washington game. Being so furious my feed kept cutting out and i was unable to watch a healthy chunk of the game. I took to twitter at-ing the Big Sky Conference, PlutoTV and even Deputy Commisioner Dan Satter. Claiming this stuff never happened when Idaho was in the Sun Belt and we were on ESPN platform. I was so mad I started to research the issue to write a blog bagging on PlutoTV, Big Sky and FCS as a whole. Turns out I was wrong. It was not PlutoTV or the FCS fault, it would be the same on any platform. The problem was Idaho and in larger degree the Big Sky for not requiring a better product. Thats why it worked for Idaho at Sun Belt and not the Big Sky.

But what is the conference to do? Yes they could require better production standards. That is the obvious answer. But how do you tell a program like Eastern Washington, that is in debates whether to field a football team at all over budget issues, to invest in production quality? Or Schools like Northern Colorado that are trying to just get their facilities to a competetive level in FCS. Individual schools are going to focus on improving product on field and in person expirence before they improve at home expirence. Northern Colorado doesnt make any money from you sitting on your couch and watching the game on ESPN+, so they need to invest in gameday experience. They need fans on campus spending money in the bookstore, at the ticket booth, concessions stands etc. To put it polietly they dont care about the Bobcat fan that is pissy the stream sucks to watch, that makes them 0 dollars. If anything it works in their favor as it entices you to attend the game in person next time. Again, making them money!

ESPN+ does have its benefits. Most sports bars have ESPN+ these days. Making it easier to explain to a bartender in Pocatello, ID how to put on the UC Davis v Weber State game. Rather then saying “you need to download this free app called PlutoTV, and dont worry after the game is over you can use it to watch James Bond or MTV dating shows on repeat.” The ESPN platform puts us in front of many more eyeballs. This is a true statement, we will have way more eyeballs scrolling past our games on their way to find the Wisconsin v Nebraska game. We need to be honest about what our product is and what it isnt. It is a niche viewing expierence. The average breakdown of people watching the Causeway Classi is probably 90% fans of Sac State and UC Davis, 6% other Big Sky fans, 1% FCS Fans, 2% Sacramento area people <1% of random ESPN scrollers. The overwhelming majority of people watching our games will be watching them regardless of the platform they are on. The difference now is we traded in a platform in Pluto that seemed to care about the product, to ESPN which lets just say shows a lack of detail to FCS schools. FCS games on ESPN+ are notoriously mispelled or have the wrong logos or colors. Which at end of the day who cares. But maybe we should?

More voices are becoming louder about making the FCS brand stronger and more respected. While ESPN on the surface does that, it also slaps us in the face more times then not. And while having two games on ESPNU is a huge win, as no other FCS confernce outside of the SWAC has anything like that. We all know it going to be Brawl of the Wild and a flex game. If you are not a Griz or Bobcat youare still not going to be on TV. All it means is the bigger schools will continue to have local broadcast entities like SWX and KJZZ broadcasting the schools with the big budget. Allowing them to not have to invest in production themselves. While the NAU (who has been rarely mentioned because they actually do a fantastic job on NAUTV), SUU, Cal Poly and Idaho State will still have to pay money out of pocket to put on games and increase production quality.

I liked PlutoTV for being unorthodix and the Big Sky seemignly trying to be on cutting edge of whats next for broadcasting. The same things being said about PlutoTV and being an obscure app were said back in 2010 when I used to have to go the SUB on Saturday at 11am to watch Idaho v Virginia on ESPN3 because being on AirVandalGold wifi was only way to get ESPN3. I would have loved to see ESPN be the backbone for all our sports, but have found a way to standout from the crowd for football. The MLS and Concacaf soccer have expiremented with having games live on Twitter, Amazon has been looking to add a sports catalog to Amazon Prime Video and YoutubeTV has created MLS team specific channels in the past if you lived in the area and were available on ESPN+ if not. I would have loved to see the Big Sky make an advancement for the sport and not just become another coat in the coffers of ESPN. The conference slogan is “Expirence Elavated”… this is is a minor elavated expirence, one in which I am confident we will have similiar twitter tiraids about in a few short months when people realized nothing has changed. ESPN is not a silver bullet, it is kicking the can down the road on fixing the true qaulity issue. Hope I am wrong and im sure we will get more information in coming days.

*** As always im not a journalist so just take your gramatical error comments and put em in a bag next to you know whats I give.

Idaho, A Basketball School?

The Big Sky men’s basketball champions are crowned! I couldn’t help but shake one little statistic I heard during last nights broadcast: this was Montana State’s first title game appearance since 2009. If they had pulled it off, it would have been their first title since 1996, making it only the 3rd time in school history they made it to the big dance. This is a school that, admittedly, is not a basketball school. They don’t claim to be, they don’t have a rich basketball history, and in fact most years there’s a running joke about Bobcat basketball! Yet, here they were in the title game.

What about the victor? Eastern Washington University, financially strapped and in the shadow of one of the greatest college hoops dynasties of all-time, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, punched their tickets to the big dance. For the Eagles though, this is more common. They have 9 title game appearances all time. That is the third most in Big Sky history. They will also be playing in the NCAA tournament for the 3rd time in program history, two of the appearances in the past 6 seasons (2015 & 2021). Once again, all this recent success while financially unstable and in the shadows of the Kennel.

Which got me asking myself… Where is Idaho? 

Idaho, a program that clings to a 1982 sweet sixteen appearance and the great Hall of Famer, Gus Johnson. But as the motto goes, what have you done for me recently?

The Idaho Vandals men’s team has not made the NCAA tournament since 1990, garnering a 13 seed and losing to 4 seed Louisville 78-59. That loss is the end of an era, an era that saw us make the NCAA tournament four times in nine years and the NIT once in that time as well. I remember growing up hearing about how good Idaho was in hoops. But last night made me realize, I’ve never really ever seen it for myself. It has been 31 years since Idaho has made the NCAA tournament. I am 28 years old. In fact, 1993 was the last year Idaho was even in a conference tournament final, until a miracle run in 2014 as the 5 seed in the WAC. We have barely even made any semi-finals appearances since 2004 in the Big West and recently two in the Big Sky. But is that the standard for a great, historically good hoops program or are we just living a lie?

Maybe I was a bit blinded to this fact as notably I am not a hoops guy, and growing up I had heard the stories but never watched the team. When I got to campus in 2010 things were better than they had been in a white. We had made the CIT twice while I was in school, made the conference tournament final once (2014) and had a huge instant classic upset win against #17 Utah State on ESPN2, following that up with a trip to Boise for a hard fought loss against the Broncos three days later on ESPNU. When I left campus in 2015 my takeaway on our men’s hoops program was, they are good, they just choke in the conference tournament. We had been upset in the conference tournament so many times. I didn’t think coach Don Verlin would ever even get us a win in one. I was pretty close on that prediction. Though getting us to 5 post season tournaments in 11 years (4 CIT’s, 1 CBI) and constantly being around 20 wins, 2 semi-final appearances in Big Sky tournament (2016 &2017) and the WAC conference final in 2014, Verlin went 4-11, with 4 upset losses in conference tournaments.

Yet, today, that feels like the glory days. Being a high seed, usually getting upset in the conference tournament and having All-Decade players like Kyle Barone, Jeff Ledbetter, Stephen Madison, Vic Sanders, Djim Bandoumel, etc. is better than what we have now. Hell, it is better than what we had before. We had very little to hang our hat on from 1991 to 2009. It was 18 years of just existing, telling stories and being a part of three different conferences.

So what happened to Idaho? Was Don Verlin really what got us looking to be as close to our 80’s self as we have looked since? Are we really so lost without him, that everyone wants the new guy out so bad they can replace him with coaching retreads like Larry Eustachy and Dan Monson? Is that really where we are at?

Giving a coach one year and thinking our next move is a guy like Monson? He will be 60 years old, hasn’t had a winning season since 2015, and we probably won’t have to pay a buyout for, because he might be flat-out fired from his current school? Or Eustachy who is 65 and hasn’t coached in three seasons and was put on leave by his former employer for “creating a culture of fear and intimidation”. Is this really where we are at? Because I’m going to be honest, those options suck.

Luckily for Idaho we get to turn to a new page and start a new chapter. We are building a new beautiful basketball arena that will be the gem of the Big Sky Conference and one of the top mid-major facilities out west, AKA the house Jon Newlee built. We should become a destination school for hoopers in the west.

Things look grim right now with the announcement that five players have entered the transfer portal (Hunter-Jack Madden, Anthony Youngerman, DeAndre Robinson , Ja’vary Christmas & Scott Blakeny). But, a reminder, the portal is a double edged sword. It can give as much as it takes. It now means we have room for five more players we wouldn’t have otherwise had. Which after this year’s results, is probably a good thing. You look at a team like Weber, who with a few transfers last year, went from 9th in conference to 3rd. Or, to bring it full circle, Montana State, whose entire starting lineup is almost all transfers. In this day and age, it is more possible than ever to go from last to first.

Let’s settle down now that the emotions of the season are over. Claus is our guy for next season, whether you are happy about it or not. He has a three year contract, meaning he has two seasons remaining. If he cannot get it done with the roster openings, guys like McHugh coming back, and a beautiful new arena to attract recruits? Then we have real problems and should move on. If that is the case, the next guy we get, I hope is better than Eustachy and Monson. Because we are better than that, or at least should be.

If Claus isn’t the young, energetic, trend breaker this program needs, then I hope Athletic Director Terry Gawlik flexes some of those Wisconsin connections, snoops around Spokane area, or hell, even steals Leon Rice. But surely we can find someone to get us back to our 80’s dominance, or at the least, a more reliable version of the Verlin era. We have to be able to… right?

If on Selection Sunday 2026, after five years of the tournament being in Boise, I am still not writing about Idaho in a championship game, with all the positive things going for us in coming years, then it is time to quit calling ourselves a school with a rich men’s basketball history.

Tubs at the Club Podcast: Back To The WAC

Football in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) is coming back! But, should Idaho go back to the WAC? The WAC has FBS ambitions and could be a back door to an FBS return for the Vandals. Will it be an FBS-worthy conference? We discuss that and what it means for Idaho’s FCS and FBS future…again.

On the mic: Chris Hammond, Brian Marceau, Alex Boatman
Release date: Jan. 8, 2021

Click on the links below for our podcast pages. Embeds below!

Please support us on Patreon! Your support helps us create the best content and bring on more exciting Vandal guests.

University of Idaho Vandals men’s basketball All-Decade team

Now that we’ve compiled the most definitive, trustworthy and legit All-Decade team for the University of Idaho Vandals football program we decided we’d go ahead and do the same thing for men’s basketball.

It’s been an interesting decade all around with players who’ve achieved history with the program individually, Top 25 upsets, postseason appearances, great conference finishes and overall an immensely more successful decade than the last. Unfortunately, it’s ended poorly and we haven’t actually gone dancing.

Still, we want to honor the best of the best who gave this program their all, putting it out on the court night in and night out to represent our great university and to try and restore what makes us proud about this Vandals program.

Six voters including Tubs at the Club contributors as well as friends of the site compiled their lists of a starting five and a sixth man bench player. We’ve compiled this to a First-Team starting squad, a sixth man and the rest of the bench to fill out 13 spots.

If you’d like to complain about our list, please hit us up on Twitter!

* = Consensus selection

(Cover photos from Spencer Farrin Photography. If you’re on the Palouse and have anything you need photos for, especially sports, please pay this man. He is an absolutely talented professional and you will find no better service for photography. You just won’t. Oh, and he’s a Vandal).

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Men’s Basketball All-Decade Team

Point guard: Victor Sanders*

(2014-2018)
Victor Sanders arrived in Moscow as an unbelievably under-recruited prospect from Portland powerhouse-program Jefferson High, home to the NBA’s Terrence Jones and fellow Vandal All-Decade teammate Stephen Madison. You’d think by the time Sanders arrived in the fall of 2014 programs around the Northwest would learn to trust players from that program. Their loss was Idaho’s gain. Victor left Idaho’s SECOND all-time leading scorer behind only Orlando Lightfoot. The lengthy guard changed the way Idaho’s packline defense worked, causing havoc with his ability to jump lanes and get transition started. He could drive, he could rebound, he was often Idaho’s best shooter when Connor Hill wasn’t on the court. He was an all-around talent who exemplified how Idaho recruited and developed prospects. The Vandals won 38 conference games in the last three years of Sanders’ tenure as he became a regular starter, and he also went 3-1 against Washington State. Most of all, Sanders was a fantastic teammate. The three time All-Big Sky selection sported Perrion Callandret’s No. 1 jersey on Senior Night in 2018 to show solidarity for his teammate who could not shake a terribly unfortunate injury situation.

2-guard: Connor Hill

(2011-2015)
The pride of Post Falls, Idaho expected to be able to head to Pullman under coach Ken Bone, but having only received a preferred walk-on he decided to keep it in the Gem State and head to Moscow instead. The Cougs probably regret that decision. Hill arrived in 2011 and graduated in 2015 as Idaho’s all-time leading 3-point shooter with 340 made treys in four seasons, and left as the fifth leading scorer of all-time. He’s since been bumped to sixth. Hill’s tenure included an appearance in the WAC Tournament championship game and a win over Washington State his senior season. Hill continued to develop as a seasoned shooter throughout his career, mastering the four-point play and needing only the slightest amount of space to get off his deadly snipes.

Small Forward: Stephen Madison*

(2010-2014)
Stephen Madison was not supposed to become as legendary as he became. Madison came to Moscow having been overshadowed at Jefferson High School by a pair of teammates who would end up at Washington and Kentucky respectively – and then the NBA soon thereafter. A lanky kid who was only comfortable shooting 3s, Madison became Idaho’s most lethal weapon inside the paint and the perimeter. He stretched the floor with his ability to pull up and shoot, and his ability to put the ball on the floor for drives or body up defenders in the paint if he wanted. He became a master at getting the line and coming up with big baskets when Idaho needed them. Madison was an All-Conference selection his senior year, barely losing out on Player of the Year in a tight contest with a rival from New Mexico State. His last game as a Vandal was in the WAC Tournament Championship game having left as the second all-time leading scorer in Vandals history at the time. Sanders has since bumped him down to third. Madison scored 51 points in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the tournament in order to get Idaho on the precipice of its first NCAA Tournament since 1990 before falling short.

Stretch Forward: Brayon “BJ” Blake

(2016-2018)
Brayon “BJ” Blake is the only junior college transfer to make the starting five, which just goes to show how good he was and just how important his impact was on this basketball program. Blake came to Moscow from North Idaho College, by way of Seattle powerhouse Garfield High. Blake was an instrumental part of a core of Pacific Northwest players in 2018 which teamed to put together Idaho’s most successful win total in 24 years, marking up 22 Ws in 2017-18 en route to a second-place finish in the Big Sky. Blake was a first-team All-Big Sky selection who collected 12 double-doubles and came 0.4 rebounds per game away from averaging one. Oh, and he smashed Washington State in his one contest against the Cougs in Moscow. Blake was a special talent, able to bang in the paint for rebounds and post points, but also able to step out and shoot comfortably. Defending him wasn’t easy, he was a versatile defender and he presented the coaching staff with lineup options. His senior season was pretty comparable to the season in which Kyle Barone won WAC Player of the Year.

Center: Kyle Barone*

(2009-2013)
Kyle Barone personified the transformation of the Idaho Vandals program from a cellar-dweller joke in the 2000s to a competitive force in the 2010s, which may not have been a great program but one that was going to make it difficult for teams to come to Moscow and win and put the program in a position to compete. Barone was a key component of two Vandal teams which finished third in a stacked, competitive Western Athletic Conference, beat Utah State in back-to-back seasons at home (including a season in which the Aggies were ranked), and went on the road to beat Pac-12 opponents Oregon and Oregon State in back-to-back seasons. Barone capped off all of that with a WAC Player of the Year campaign his senior season averaging 17.2 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game. Barone is currently seventh all-time on Idaho’s scoring list. One would be tempted to call Barone a finesse player given his ability to pull up from mid-range and utilize space, but that wouldn’t do justice to a player who ended his career 260 offensive rebounds and 122 blocks in four seasons, two as an every-night starter.

Sixth Man: G Mike Scott

(2013-2015)
Mike Scott came to Moscow in 2013 when the Vandals had a point guard crisis with the departure of Landon Tatum. The season before featured a revolving door at the position in which nobody had made enough of an impact to hold the job down. The roster reshuffled, and in came Mike Scott from Antelope Valley College. Scott locked the job down mid-way through his junior season, with the coaching staff loving his ability to distribute and protect the basketball. His senior year featured an offensive transformation, becoming one of the best shooters on the squad and leading the Big Sky in assist-to-turnover ratio. Idaho didn’t quite have the depth to compete during Scott’s two-year tenure, though Scott was important in ushering the Vandals into the Big Sky and developing the younger of generation of player who would see the program attain success in its new conference. Scott allowed the Vandals to push the pace when they wanted with his speed up and down the court, as well as his ability to crash the boards to start transition.

Bench:

G Landon Tatum, G Jeff Ledbetter, F Djim Bandoumel, G Perrion Callandret, G Deremy Geiger, G Mac Hopson, F Jordan Scott

  • Tatum (2009-2012) Started every game as a senior on a 19-win team. Calm, tactical floor general +++ Ledbetter (2009-2011) A pure shooter, played an instrumental role in an offense which beat Oregon and ranked Utah State in 2010-11 +++ Bandoumel (2010-2012) Definition of a role player, efficient scorer, versatile rebounder, great defender, didn’t turn the ball over. Key to the 2012 third-place squad +++ Callendret (2013-2018) Injuries couldn’t diminish the talent and hard work put in by Callandret, who still put up 900 career points, gave us electrifying dunks and contributed to the historic 22-win squad +++ Geiger (2010-2012) All-around guard and go-to scorer on 2012 third-place squad. Represented the Vandals with a long European pro career  +++ Hopson (2008-2010) An important part of Idaho’s transition into the current decade’s success, averaged over 15.4 points per game in his career, ushered in the decade by destroying Boise State down in Boise +++ Scott (2014-2018) Spent four seasons developing into one of Idaho’s best defenders ever, tough offensive rebounder coming from the perimeter, offensively efficient attacking the basket.

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Theo

Brian

One Victor Sanders Mike Scott Mike Scott Landon Tatum Landon Tatum Mike Scott
Two Jeff Ledbetter Deremy Geiger Connor Hill Victor Sanders Jeff Ledbetter Mac Hopson
Three Stephen Madison Victor Sanders Victor Sanders Stephen Madison Victor Sanders Victor Sanders
Four Djim Bandoumel Stephen Madison Stephen Madison BJ Blake Stephen Madison Stephen Madison
Five Kyle Barone Kyle Barone Kyle Barone Kyle Barone Kyle Barone Kyle Barone
Sixth Man Connor Hill Connor Hill BJ Blake Perrion Callandret Connor Hill BJ Blake