Albertsons Stadium 50th anniversary, Part IV

It’s Friday, and my head-start commemoration of Albertsons Stadium’s 50th anniversary continues with a visit to September, 1977. The last of a six-year home-and-home series between Division II powers Boise State and UNLV drew an overflow crowd of 20,575 to Bronco Stadium, largely because of the legendary Tony Knap. It was Knap’s first game back in Boise since leaving for Las Vegas the previous season following an eight-year run that saw him go 71-19-1 with three Big Sky championships and four trips to the postseason. He was the first head coach in Boise State’s days as a four-year school.

Boise State coach Jim Criner, Knap’s successor, really wanted that victory, and the Broncos ambushed the Rebels 45-14. Former Borah High star Terry Hutt sealed the deal with an 85-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Hoskin Hogan. The Broncos—with 629 total yards—bounced back stunningly from what is to this day the worst total offense output in their history, 69 yards the previous week in a loss at Fresno State. Criner called the win “sweeter than the Rose Bowl” (he had been linebackers coach at UCLA when the Bruins defeated top-ranked and undefeated Ohio State two seasons earlier)

FIRST COMMIT IN FOR 2021

The logo on coach Bryan Harsin’s “Go Broncos” tweet late Wednesday night said “Stampede 2021.” And with that, Boise State landed its first verbal for next year’s recruiting class. Jai Jones, a 5-10, 230-pound linebacker from Dallas, keeps the Broncos’ Texas pipeline active. According to 247 Sports, Jones had SEC offers from LSU, Georgia and Missouri, plus five other Power 5 schools. This is pretty early in the going, so Harsin’s staff will be paying close attention to Jones to make sure his commitment lasts all the way until December. Rivals.com tabs Jones as the third-best linebacker in the Dallas area for the class of 2021.

AND ONE MORE IN FOR 2020

Now Boise State has eight tight ends this coming season. Mason Sikes, a 6-4, 243-pounder from FCS Lamar, is set to join the Broncos as a graduate transfer. Sikes will be somewhat of a mystery man until he hits the field. The 6-4, 243-pounder logged just 20 catches for 442 yards and six touchdowns over the past two seasons. One other Boise State football note: Ezra Cleveland will be one of 58 top prospects participating virtually in the NFL Draft in two weeks. Cleveland and Utah State quarterback Jordan Love are the only two Mountain West players to get invitations.

MORE STOCKING OF THE BRONCOS’ HOOPS CUPBOARD

There was a hoops scoop Thursday from B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press. Boise State has a commitment from 6-10 Center Lukas Milner from Johnson County Community College in Kansas. Milner has every right to play with a chip on his shoulder. According to Rains’ story, he wasn’t even good enough to start for his freshman team in high school and had to e-mail his JC coach to ask for a tryout. Then this past season, Milner averaged 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Now he’ll join a Broncos program known for player development, and his best basketball days are probably ahead.

Go read Rains’ piece, because Milner has quite the back story. Both of his parents are deaf—his father, Kevin, is principal at Kansas School for the Deaf—and he learned sign language before he could speak. On the basketball side, Milner grew three inches between his freshman and sophomore years at JCCC. The first day of the spring signing period is next Wednesday. Coach Leon Rice still has a couple scholarships left for next season, but the addition of Milner appears to round out a very deep Boise State squad. Milner, for example, can pair up with 6-10 transfer Mladen Armus on the block.

AN ADDED YEAR IS NOT A GIVEN

Those among the 34 seniors listed on Boise State spring sports rosters who wanted to return for the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA have to be bracing themselves. The NCAA had left it up to the schools to offer the additional season, and Wisconsin officials announced Thursday that they aren’t going to. Finances played a part, and that’s the key. Combine the possible loss of revenue from a shortened or canceled football season this year with a six-figure price tag on the extension of spring scholarships, and this well-intentioned idea may not work.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!

April 10, 1993: The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers 4-2 to win their 17th consecutive game, setting an NHL record that still stands today. The Pittsburgh run, paced by NHL scoring leader Mario Lemieux, would end with a 6-6 tie against the New Jersey Devils (back when there were ties) in the final game of the season. The Columbus Blue Jackets came within one game of matching the Penguins’ streak in January, 2017.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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