Leon Rice has been very successful as the head coach of the Boise State Broncos and leads them into the NCAA Tournament First Four against Dayton. Boise State was ranked 25th in the Associated Press poll coming into the Mountai West tournament, where the Broncos lost to eventual champion Wyoming. Boise State was one of the last at-large bids after posting a 25-8 record and a 14-4 record in the Mountain West Conference. Rice led the Broncos to the First Four in 2012-2013 and looks to earn an 11th seed and a matchup with Providence in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Here’s what you need to know:
1.He Has Been The Head Coach of Boise State since 2010-2011
Rice was named the seventh head coach of Boise State on March 26th, 2010, replacing Greg Graham. He was a top assistant at Gonzaga from 1998-2010, a time frame where the Bulldogs went 291-73. In his final three seasons with the Bulldogs, Rice was the associate head coach, leading Gonzaga to consecutive West Coast Conference regular season titles. In fact, Gonzaga won 10 consecutive regular season titles under the tutelage of a staff led by Rice and Mark Few. The Bulldogs finished in the top ten of the Associated Press Pool five times while Rice was a member of the staff, with a fourth ranking in 2004 as the crowing achievement. Before joining the Bulldogs, Rice was a part of Yakima Valley College staff that was 103-26 in four seasons. The junior college had 18 players that went on to play for four-year schools while Rice was on the staff.
From the beginning of his tenure, Rice brought his winning legacy to Boise, leading Boise State to the Western Athletic Conference tournament championship game in his first season 2010-2011. The Broncos went on go to the CBI semifinals that season before bowing out to eventual champion Oregon.
2.He Led the Broncos from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West Conference
After a successful first season in the Western Athletic Conference, Boise State moved to the much more competitive Mountain West Conference. Rice has had at least a .500 conference record in each of the past three seasons, winning the regular season conference championship in 2014-2015. The 25 wins for the Broncos in 2014-2015 tie the 2007-2008 team for most wins in a single season in Boise State history. Boise State won 14 conference games in 2014-2015, a Boise State record for most wins in a conference regular season slate. He has made the postseason in two of the four seasons in the Moutain West.
3.He Made $596,573 This Year
Amid speculation that his alma mater Washington State would recruit him to be the head coach, Boise State offered Rice a raise of $100,000 coming into the 2014-2015 season. The contract also speculates that he will get a 3% raise in each of the next three years. Also, Rice will get a year added to his contract each season that he has more than 18 wins or reaches the NCAA tournament. Rice has had three straight 20 win seasons and has now made the NCAA tournament in two of three season. He is now the fifth highest paid coach in the Mountain West Conference.
4.He is Married and Has Three Kids
Leon Rice is married to Robin Rice and has three sons named Brock, Max, and Kade. Brock is now 17, Max is now 15, and Kade is now 11. He was known as a great family man by Mark Few of Gonzaga, who commented when Rice signed with the Broncos that “Boise State is getting a great coach and an even better family into the greater Boise area“. Former San Diego head coach Bill Greier spoke to Rice’s family values: “He is a man of high character and strong family values“.
5. He Has Led the Broncos to Four Twenty Win Seasons
Leon Rice is one of the hottest coaches in the Mountain West Conference, helping Boise State to one of the best homecourt advantages in the conference. Since becoming the head coach of the Broncos, Boise State has a home winning percentage of .805. His coach of the year award for 2014-2015 is the fourth in Boise State’s program history and the Broncos’ 2014-2015 conference title is the sixth in Boise State’s history. Boise State ended the season ranked 25th in the Associated Press Poll; this was the first time in the school’s history that they were ranked.
The Broncos defense is their calling card this season, holding a school-record nine opponents to fewer than 50 points. Five of the past 10 teams to play the Broncos scored 50 or less points, as Boise State finished the season allowing 60.3 points per game. The Broncos finished the season ranked 25th in points allowed and their scoring margin of plus-10.5 was 22nd in the nation. The 11th seed that the Broncos are playing for tonight would be the best NCAA tournament seed in the school’s history, as they were playing for the 13th seed in 2012-2013 First Four.