Attendance is a focus on Friday

Since the Washington game, the question moving forward has always been what the crowds will be like. With so many Boise State season ticket sales driven by the opener against Washington, the question moving forward has always been what the crowds will be like. Now the Broncos have to try to draw after a loss, and they can’t count on Idaho State faithful to fill in the blanks Friday night. The Huskies attracted 36,836 fans, the second-most in Albertsons Stadium history. That will be the only sellout of the season in a place that used to sell out often. To be sure, attendance is a problem at many venues around the country, but the timing is particularly bad for Boise State. The Broncos are struggling to get noticed by Power 5 conferences—and without a full facility, they’re at a disadvantage.

After seeing and hearing the scene at BYU last Saturday, I still think the crowds in Albertsons Stadium are louder per capita. But sheer numbers (attendance 63,470) created quite a din at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The noise when Tanner Mangum connected on his kind-of Hail Mary at the end was as loud as anything I’ve ever heard on the blue turf. And props to the Cougars’ student section, completely full and rocking in unison. BYU students (and other fans) did not leave at halftime as we witnessed at the Boise State-Washington game. The tribute to Taysom Hill at the end of the third quarter—with students waving about 10,000 blue cards emblazoned with the numeral 4—was very cool. BYU is Big 12-worthy right now. Despite its status as the Mountain West’s model football program, Boise State has a way to go before it could be considered the Cougars’ Big 12 travel partner. But Colorado State does, too. It is what it is.

Two players have scored all 40 of Boise State’s points this season. Running back Jeremy McNichols has 30 and kicker Tyler Rausa has 10. The Statesman’s Chadd Cripe did the research—McNichols is the first player ever to score the Broncos’ first five touchdowns of the season. Obviously, it’s time to spread the wealth. No wide receiver sightings in the end zone? No tight ends? Expect that to change Friday night when Idaho State pays its first visit to Boise in seven years.

The Boise State offense has to play its way out of the perception that it’s stuck in quicksand. Whether it is or not, the fourth quarter sticks out like a sore thumb over the first two games. The Broncos have run 27 plays in the final period, gaining just 35 yards on nine possessions, with five three-and-outs, two turnovers and one first down. Oh, and zero points. They’re out to change some minds now.

Idaho State coach Mike Kramer is always good for some brutally honest quotes. How did Kramer feel about the Bengals’ 34-14 loss to Portland State? “They just were tougher than we were. Period. Flat across the board,” said Kramer. “It sounds trite, and it sounds like a coaching cliché but they were way more mentally tough than we were. They deserved to win and they did. Period. We didn’t play like we were excited to play at home. We didn’t play tough at home.”

Idaho needs to get well this week, and it can as it also hosts an FCS opponent. Wofford comes into the Kibbie Dome after a 49-10 loss at Clemson in the opener and a 34-14 victory over Tennessee Tech last week. The Terriers are no slouch, though. Wofford rushed for 444 yards and totaled 560 yards of offense versus Tennessee Tech. That’ll be the test for Idaho, as defense is a priority right now after the 738-yard onslaught by USC last Saturday night. The Vandal offense has settled down a bit—to the point that Matt Linehan went without an interception against the Trojans and was not sacked in the game.

Nevada coach Brian Polian’s latest in-game outburst has cost him $10,000. Polian was slapped with two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for yelling at officials during the Wolf Pack’s 44-20 loss to Arizona last Saturday in Reno. The fine was levied not by the NCAA nor the Mountain West, but by Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth. Polian will be punished for any further transgressions, and Nevada will have “an administrative presence on the sidelines.” A chaperone? The Wolf Pack plays Saturday at Texas A&M, where Polian was special teams coordinator and tight ends coach on coach Kevin Sumlin’s first staff in 2012.

Austin Pettis may not have passed his audition in Dallas. The former Boise State star was one of four wide receivers who worked out for the Cowboys yesterday as they try to fill the roster spot vacated by the injured Dez Bryant. But now Dallas has acquired wideout Brice Butler in a trade with Oakland. Pettis was among the final cuts with San Diego September 1 after spending training camp with the Chargers. He played four seasons for St. Louis after being drafted in the third round in 2011. Pettis started 11 games for the Rams, catching 107 passes for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns.

Boise State’s full men’s basketball schedule has been released, with seven non-conference home games in November and December. The marquee Taco Bell Arena matchup—by far—is the one against Oregon on December 12. Elsewhere, San Diego State claims it hasn’t been notified, but a report from CBS Sports.com says the Aztecs’ basketball program is under investigation by the NCAA for potential rules violations. The story cites “multiple sources” that say the issue is “potential rules violations allegedly committed by the staff,” that could include “possible improper benefits to prospects.” According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, former Aztecs standout Dwayne Polee II responded to a Twitter post about the alleged investigation by tweeting: “They hate to see the underdog win.”

A seventh former Boise Hawk has made his major league debut this season. Righthander Jay Jackson made his first appearance Monday night for San Diego, although it didn’t go so well. Jackson pitched 2/3 of an inning and allowed two runs on four hits in the Padres’ 10-3 loss to Arizona. That amounts to an ERA of 27.00. Jackson began his pro career in Boise in 2008 and is the 10th player from that Hawks team to make the bigs.

Congratulations to Mike Safford Jr., the longtime College of Idaho Director of Athletic Communications, who’s been named the recipient of the 2016 Clarence “Ike” Pearson Award, given annually to an outstanding NAIA Communications and Sports Information Director. Safford has been the Coyotes’ SID for 14 years and does a terrific job. He doubled as the Voice of the Boise Hawks for 10 seasons (before they dropped their radio broadcasts). Safford is busy right now getting Simplot Stadium’s house in order as defending NAIA national champion Southern Oregon comes in Saturday to take on the Yotes.

This Day In Sports…September 16, 1993:

Dave Winfield of the Minnesota Twins gets the 3,000th hit of his career off a fellow future Hall of Famer, Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley. Winfield accomplished the feat in the Metrodome, making him the first player to collect his 3,000th hit indoors. Winfield was also the first player to be drafted by an NBA, NFL, and MLB team, being selected by all three leagues in 1973. On this day in 1996, another Hall of Famer, Paul Molitor, registered his 3,000th hit.

(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.)