Boise State’s 6 p.m. consolation prize

Has Boise State been thrown a bone by the Mountain West? And if so, is this enough of one? The conference has announced its TV package, and two of Boise State’s kickoff times have been finalized. They’re both at the same time—not 8:26 p.m., not even 7:15 p.m., but 6 p.m. One of them involves a date change, as the New Mexico game moves to Thursday, September 14, at 6:00. The Friday game versus Virginia the following week will also be at 6 p.m. These are the two earliest kickoff times at Albertsons Stadium in three years. This has to be considered a win, considering what Bronco fans have been through. Last year, five of Boise State’s six home games kicked off at 8:15 or later, including a brutal 8:21 p.m. start time for a Thursday matchup against BYU. This 6:00 thing is eminently manageable, even on a weeknight.

That leaves start times for the Troy, Wyoming, Nevada and Air Force home games to be determined. Could there be just one afternoon kickoff in there? Boise State athletic director Curt Apsey has lobbied for one. Yesterday on the early segment of Idaho SportsTalk, David Allen floated a theory that nobody around here wants to test. If Boise State wants an afternoon game on the blue turf, the Broncos just have to lose to, like, every game in October. Then they’d get an afternoon kickoff in November for sure, as they’d be shunned by the networks and buried outside of the dreaded nighttime TV window at least once.

Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal has long written about the inequities of Mountain West TV payouts. Now he’s able to report that the playing field has been somewhat leveled. Moving forward, each member of the conference (excluding Hawaii) will receive $1.1 million in TV revenue per year. Boise State’s separate deal with ESPN has been grandfathered in, so the Broncos will receive an additional $1.8 million bonus for a total of $2.9 million. Ironically, Boise State will realize more dollars under the new deal than the old one—it received $2.4 million last year. Schools previously earned $500,000 for a Saturday game on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC or CBS, and $300,000 for weekday games on those networks. Now there’s an even distribution, whether a team’s on top-tier TV or not.

Rob Phenicie has indeed found his way back to Pocatello and will preside over the opening of Idaho State spring football today as the Bengals’ new head coach. Phenicie returned to ISU last weekend, just a week and a half after after accepting a job a wide receivers coach at Northern Iowa. He had been receivers coach for the Bengals before being promoted to offensive coordinator in January. Now he’ll add both responsibilities to his head coaching duties. A week ago today, Mike Kramer “resigned” (read that: “was forced out”) following six seasons as Idaho State’s head coach.

Everybody knows Hawaii needs a new place to play football, and man was that accentuated yesterday. Aloha Stadium was all but condemned in 492 pages of documents compiled by a consulting firm and released by the Aloha Stadium Authority. The facility has “served its useful life and is now a liability to fan experiences, a potential danger to public health and safety and a financial burden for maintenance and operations,” the report warns. The consultant is recommending construction of a new stadium adjacent to the existing one, which was built in 1975 and is most often described as “rusting.” Initial talk is of a 30,000-35,000-seat facility, expandable to 40,000 for special events.

The Idaho Steelheads placed the Alaska Aces one step closer to extinction last night, posting a 2-0 win in emotional Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. Goalie Landon Bow was named yesterday to the ECHL All-Rookie Team, but he got the night off in favor of Branden Komm. All Komm did was record his second consecutive shutout, rejecting all 29 of the Alaska shots he faced. The Aces are three points out of a playoff spot with two games remaining—they’ll need a sweep of the Steelies (and some help) this weekend for the franchise to live beyond Saturday. Saturday night’s finale is sold out in the 6,400-seat facility, and tomorrow night’s game is close, but attendance was less than 3,000 last night.

The valley’s other winter minor league team, the NBA D-League’s Idaho Stampede, played their last game in Boise about a year ago after an 18-season run. They are now, of course, the Salt Lake City Stars. Former Stampede play-by-play man Mark Snider provided some numbers on the transition. The attendance drop-off wasn’t acute—the Stampede was 16th (out of 19 teams) in the D-League last season with 2,006 fans per game. Salt Lake was 17th (out of 22) in attendance this season, averaging 1,625.

The Stamps were 20-30 a year ago, while the Stars were 14-36 this season and ended on a 10-game losing streak, posting the second-worst record in franchise history. What’s really interesting, though: the Utah Jazz had their D-League affiliate conveniently positioned right down the road in Taylorsville, and the Stars didn’t have a single NBA call-up this season (the Stampede had six in 2015-16).

We’re waiting for Boise State to do this. In the meantime, College of Idaho has re-ignited its Athletic Hall of Fame, announcing its first induction class in five years. The group is headlined by legendary basketball player Elgin Baylor, who played one season for the Coyotes in 1954-55 before transferring and eventually leading Seattle University to the 1958 NCAA Tournament championship game against Kentucky. The former L.A. Lakers great averaged 32.8 points and 18.9 rebounds as a Yote. Other new Hall of Famers include All-America baseball player Greg Schelhaas and All-America volleyball player Kristyn Price, as well as the 2001 NAIA Division II national runner-up women’s basketball team. The induction ceremony is set for June 2.

This Day In Sports…April 6, 1987, 30 years ago today:

At Caesar’s Palace, in his first fight in three years, 30-year-old Sugar Ray Leonard goes into his WBC middleweight title bout against “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler as a 3-1 underdog. But Leonard was declared the winner of the 12-round event on a split decision, upping his record to 34-1. Hagler suffered his first loss in 11 years and angrily protested the judges’ decision. The bout was announced by Tim Ryan, a veteran sportscaster who lived in Ketchum for many years and was one of the original investors in KTIK.

(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.)