A Bronco olive branch to football fans

Boise State football season ticket pricing is out for 2017, and the athletic department felt it was worth a press release. Why? “Ticket prices will remain flat across the board for the fourth time in five seasons, with the exception of the Family Plan, which will decrease in price by nearly $100.” Packages start at $165 for North Endzone seats. “We realize there are several factors that impact whether or not someone buys a ticket,” Athletic Director Curt Apsey said in what could be a veiled reference to late kickoff times. “We need our fans more now than we ever have.” The release reminds us that the schedule includes Virginia, the first ACC team ever to face Boise State on the blue turf—and I remind you that it’ll mark the return of former BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall to Albertsons Stadium.

Dan Graziano at ESPN.com posted a feature this week headlined, “Meet the NFL’s Class of 2016: Players who have graduated to stardom.” Graziano calls it “a look at some players who started the NFL season with question marks, but graduated into full-blown stardom.” On the list is former Boise State star Jay Ajayi as he heads into his first Pro Bowl Sunday in Orlando. Graziano takes us through Ajayi’s benching in Week 1 for “attitude-related” reasons that resulted in him being left home. Writes Graziano: “What he did: Handled all of that well enough to get another shot once Arian Foster got hurt. From Week 6 forward, Ajayi led the NFL with 1,155 rushing yards. Who he is now: Certainly the starter for the Dolphins moving forward, and a back who has demonstrated enough that the team can run its offense through him.”

Columbia High offensive lineman Brandon Kipper will have a chance to compete on the blue turf as a college football player. That would be in 2019, when Hawaii is next scheduled to face Boise State. The Statesman reports that Kipper has committed to the Rainbow Warriors over offers from Army, UTEP, Montana, Montana State, Weber State and Portland State. Kipper, a 6-7, 265-pounder, said he’s especially drawn to Hawaii’s cultural diversity.

After Boise State’s 76-57 loss to Nevada Wednesday night, the Broncos’ worst in Taco Bell Arena in seven years, there was big-picture perspective from coach Leon Rice. “With this young team, you have to have anticipated some bumps in the road, it’s never a direct line to the top, there’s going to be some learning, there’s going to be some things we have to work through, and that’s where we are,” said Rice. “The thing that I’m banking on and the thing I love is we have some great guys. They’re going to stick together, they’re going to work hard and they’re going to find a way to keep getting better. Every game is going to be tough. We have to really do the right things and we have to really get each other shots.” Rice pointed out the Broncos have to make those shots—they’ll try again tomorrow at Wyoming.

Defensively, Boise State will want to shore up the fringes. Nevada nailed nine three-pointers Wednesday, the most made threes this season versus the Broncos, who lead the nation in fewest treys allowed. It was the three-pointer that sealed the game midway though the second half, when the Wolf Pack canned a trio of them on three consecutive possessions during a 16-2 run. That facet of the game would seem to be in Boise State’s favor in Laramie, as Wyoming shoots just 32 percent from beyond the arc.

The Cowboys used to be a team that was happy with scores in the low 60’s, but things are a lot different with head coach Allen Edwards having taken over for the retired Larry Shyatt. Wyoming now pushes the tempo and is averaging 77.5 points per game, second to Nevada in the Mountain West. That could be a factor tomorrow at 7,220 feet. Boise State played just seven guys against the Wolf Pack (outside of garbage time and a four-minute cameo by Robin Jorch). Rice will likely need to go deeper into his bench this time out.

The Idaho Steelheads will play the rest of the weekend in Anchorage without forward Branden Troock, who’s been recalled again by the Texas Stars of the AHL. Troock has been pretty effective in his time as a Steelhead, producing seven goals and nine points in 14 games. But the Steelies will still be able to turn loose guys like Corbin Baldwin on the Alaska Aces. The Aces used to turn Baldwin loose on Idaho, as he played 53 games with Alaska two seasons ago. Baldwin has a plus-7 rating this season and has four assists over his last 12 games.

The first round this week was much better than last week for Graham DeLaet. The former Boise State star opened the Farmers Insurance Open by carding a four-under 68 yesterday on the South Course at Torrey Pines. DeLaet is tied for fifth and is three shots off the lead (and eight strokes ahead of Tiger Woods). Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge has a spot in the Farmers—he was even at 72 in the first round. Troy Merritt soared to a six-over 78 and is poised to miss his third straight cut of the new year.

The Boise State women are anxious to turn things around when they return home tomorrow to host Wyoming. That’ll be a challenge, as the Cowgirls are tied with Colorado State for the Mountain West lead with a 7-1 record. The Broncos have lost four of their last six games since upsetting CSU on the road on New Year’s Eve. Their three starting guards were 4-for-32 from the field and 0-for-16 from three-point range in Wednesday night’s 69-62 loss at Nevada. Also, the Idaho Vandal men fell at Montana State 94-91 last night in a wild double-overtime affair. The College of Idaho men are home tonight and tomorrow night for a couple key Cascade Conference matchups with Northwest University and Evergreen State. And NNU lost to Western Oregon 69-67 last night and is home versus Concordia tomorrow night.

Other campus notes: The first Treasure Valley appearance by the 14th-ranked Boise State women’s gymnastics team is a “neutral floor” meet tonight against BYU in CenturyLink Arena. It’s the feature event of the 41st Gem State Invitational, the boys and girls gymnastics extravaganza that this year has attracted more than 1,000 competitors and 30 teams from five states. The Broncos and Cougars met in this event last year and drew 2,715 fans to the downtown venue. The Boise State women’s swimming team finishes the regular season by hosting Northern Arizona and Nevada in a tri-meet tomorrow at the Boise West YMCA. And the Bronco wrestlers host a Pac-12 meet against Stanford tomorrow afternoon in Bronco Gym.

This Day In Sports…January 27, 1973:

Keith Wilkes scores 20 points and Bill Walton adds 16 as UCLA breaks the college basketball record for longest winning streak, notching its 61st victory in a row in an 82-63 win at Notre Dame. It was on that floor in South Bend that the streak would end almost a year later after being stretched to 88 games. The run had started in January, 1971.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)