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Boise State: The Basketball School & Leon Rice

Everyone knows Boise State for the Statue of Liberty play to beat Oklahoma. They had many years of impressive football finishes which gradually have now become more pedestrian by their previous standards. As their football has regressed their basketball program has made impressive strides under Leon Rice. Last year they finished 23rd in the AP poll, and this season they are currently 22nd in the NET rankings.

RPI listed pre-2018

2022-23Leon Rice (16-5)22
2021-22Leon Rice (27-8)NCAA: First Round834
2020-21Leon Rice (19-9)NIT53
2019-20Leon Rice (20-12)90
2018-19Leon Rice (13-20)149
2017-18Leon Rice (23-9)NIT50
2016-17Leon Rice (20-12)NIT72
2015-16Leon Rice (20-12)101
2014-15Leon Rice (25-9)NCAA: First Round1140
2013-14Leon Rice (21-13)82
2012-13Leon Rice (21-11)NCAA: First Round1344
2011-12Leon Rice (13-17)173
2010-11Leon Rice (22-13)113
2009-10Greg Graham (15-17)203
2008-09Greg Graham (19-13)110
2007-08Greg Graham (25-9)NCAA: First Round1487

It’s been an incremental climb, but Rice seems to have the program where he wants it now. This despite losing a couple of important players from last years team. They have managed to improve to this point and build off of last year.

Rice the former Gonzaga assistant until 2010 has now been at Boise State 13 seasons. At the age of 59 it doesn’t appear he will leave either as previous football coaches have. The stability has certainly paid off and it seems possible Boise State may have another decade of Rice at the helm building this program. He’s originally from Washington and has spent most of his career in the pacific northwest.

This is the kind of long term partnership most non P6 programs can only dream of. Having spent a decade at Gonzaga as an assistant while they were building their program into a national power it seems maybe he has a different perspective and may value building something. Up until last year the success had been nice but fairly mild. If he maintains this type of season and another top 25 finish or run in the tournament a bigger fish may come with some serious offers. He’s at the age he may want to take that big money last job before he retires. There isn’t much history of programs hiring “mid-major” type of coaches at 60. Kermit Davis was the last I can recall in his lat 50’s. By our research he is roughly the 103rd highest paid coach.

This is an impressive building job, and a situation that deserves monitoring. Everyone wants the young up and coming coach, but if you are a school like Washington, Oregon State, California, or Stanford this would be who I targeted. He still has time to rebuild your falling programs. It would be nice to see him stay in Boise and continue to build a basketball program to rival their football as well.

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