Exiled from Bronco Nation: Boise State marches to the championship without McAlister and Avalos

Photo by Niamh Brennan

A lot has happened for Boise State football in November 2023. 

In the month of November, the team is 3-1, most recently beating Air Force and making it into the Mountain West Championship game.

Boise State football is undergoing more controversy than it ever has before, and it’s hard to say what the future will hold, especially when it comes to new recruits and NIL deals. 

“I get the NIL space and all that, but how it’s operating and how certain people do certain things behind the scenes, I don’t know if that’s right for college football, I know it’s not right for college football. We’re going to focus and lock in on the young men that are here and the young men that are going to thrive and go forward,”  Avalos said during his final press conference, following the Fresno State loss

As for NIL deals motivating players to leave the team for money, Avalos had painted the picture that bigger, richer schools may be involved in luring players away from other teams like the Broncos.

“It’s a part of college football right now,” Avalos said in a press conference. “There’s teams that are enticing people to do such things and that’s the nature of the beast right now… When you got guys that are approaching 1,000 yards over the course of the season and will walk out because of other opportunities.”

While the NIL space is controversial, and currently hurts smaller schools more than larger ones, McAlister claims to have not talked to any schools or mentioned anything about NIL being the reason for entering the transfer portal.

“When I was recruited to Boise State, they pitched me with ‘you’re going to come here, you’re going to develop, you’re going to win bowl games,  you’re going to win Mountain West championships, you’re going to go to the NFL,” McAlister said in an interview. “[I] came here, three years, no Mountain West championships, no bowl game wins besides we did win one last year. Three years and all of the records have been kind of wishy washy… so it’s really like how do I see myself and are these guys staying true to their word with winning Mountain West championships, are they staying true to their word with some of the guys. 

McAlister also spoke on how the management within Boise State football can give off fake energy and fake love. 

He also cited how he’d been playing on a hurt shoulder for three weeks prior to entering the portal. According to McAlister, it was so bad to the point where he couldn’t pick himself up after catching a deep ball in the Fresno State game.

“Sometimes when I’m around those guys, not talking about my teammates, just around some people, it would bring the energy out of me almost, like almost my love of the game would be questioned,” McAlister continued to say.

The day after Avalos’ termination, McAlister was already rumored to want to return to the team.

“As a staff we’ve heard that, kinda working through it with our staff right now to what’s the best possible move and what’s the best thing for our team,” Danielson said in a press conference.

McAlister said in an interview that it was fair to say that Avalos’ departure was a factor in his decision to try to rejoin the team.

Following that, on Friday Nov. 17, Danielson said that the team came to the decision to not let McAlister rejoin the Broncos for the remainder of the year.

We’re not going to let him back on the team as of right now,” Danielson said to the media. “I love EMac, I say that from the bottom of my heart… It’s about our players and just working through the best process for our team and obviously the best thing for EMac going forward.”

The sophomore receiver will finish with 47 receptions, 873 yards and five touchdowns in what is likely his last season as a Bronco.

Looking Ahead

With an uncertain future, a questionable moral in the locker room and not too much to show for in regards to a winning culture, Boise State seems like a tough sell for new recruits.

The team doesn’t know who their quarterback is, who their No. 1 wide receiver is, who their head coach is nor do they know if they’ll have a winning season this year.

In a vacuum, all these problems seem fixable, and maybe things could turn around over an offseason or two.

That said, there are schools in the Mountain West Conference alone that are on completely different wavelengths as programs.

Fresno State University has a five year head coach, Jeff Tedford, who’s all-time record at the school combines to 44-19 with the Bulldogs.

San Diego State University had serious chances of joining the PAC-12 prior to its implosion. 

Boise State doesn’t seem to have huge draws to the football program like it has in years past when the team was winning all those MWC championships and bowl games that McAlister was promised.

Athletic director Jeremiah Dickey has a lot to handle in 2024. The new year is shaping up to be a pivotal moment for Boise State athletics.

The university is in the process of renovating the athletics centers around campus, totaling to approximately $300 million.

This is a good first step for the program, but overall what’s most important to a football team is winning.

Hiring the right coach and healing the broken culture in the locker room should be a priority for Dickey, and it seems to be a priority as he addressed the media following Avalos’ termination.

According to Danielson, as recently as Sunday, Nov. 28, he’d been interviewed by Dickey for the coaching position, but also says his No. 1 focus this week is winning the Mountain West Championship in Las Vegas.

“Even though I’m still a first time AD, I’m not a new AD anymore,” Dickey said. “I’m really excited and looking forward to the opportunity to connect with people in our industry to hire the best possible person for this.”

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