The quest to keep the numbers up

It’s a pivotal time for Boise State football season ticket sales, and the athletic department e-mailed a survey to fans yesterday to see how sales can be boosted. A feature section of the survey: “Please rank in order what would deter you from purchasing either Boise State Football season tickets or single-game tickets.” The choices (at least as I ranked them) were gametime, ticket prices, and convenience of watching at home. Down the line I had: lack of team success, stadium lines, stadium security, and parking options. The Broncos are working on the kickoff times, and ticket prices will always be an issue. The home TV experience is something nobody can do anything about. “Lack of team success” is not an issue at this time.

There were a couple questions in the survey about “The Huddle” in the Caven-Williams Sports Complex (the indoor facility). The pregame fan tailgate was popular in 2015—especially with late-night games in November—but was nixed last year due to an issue with the approval of alcohol sales. It feels like Boise State is wanting to bring “The Huddle” back somehow. Good idea. With walking distances increasing from far-off parking, fans have to arrive earlier, and families need a fun place to go.

It’s hard to believe this is already the fourth edition since football was reinstated at College of Idaho, but the annual Purple & Gold Spring Game is upon us tonight at Simplot Stadium. What fans see at quarterback won’t be representative of what the Coyotes put on the field this fall, as dual-threat sparkplug Darius-James Peterson will be sitting out while he rehabs an injury suffered early last fall. Peterson set a C of I school record with 17 rushing touchdowns in 2016. That means Boise High grad Tyler Cox will get the reps with the No. 1 offense. Cox shared time with Peterson last season, eventually becoming a third-down specialist. Cox threw for 1,768 yards and eight touchdowns.

Got my dates mixed up last week—it’s tonight that the Idaho Vandals go down the hill to Lewiston for the second scrimmage of spring football. Everyone checks out the offensive stats in the spring, but the Vandal defense continues to make strides. That’ll happen when you return essentially your entire linebacker corps—juniors Kaden Elliss, Ed Hall and Tony Lashley, and sophomores Mike Linehan and Ty Graham. The unit is led by Elliss, who was second on the team with four interceptions last year and made one of the plays that really launched the turnaround season for Idaho. He had a pick-six at UNLV, helping the Vandals rally for a 33-30 overtime victory. Elliss also recorded four tackles in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Boise State has a plethora of talented guards on its hoops roster, and now you can add another. The Broncos have a new commitment from Cameron Christon, a 6-5 shooting guard from Allen, TX. Christon averaged 15.3 points per game for Allen High last season, earning district player of the year honors. He chose Boise State over Northern Iowa. The Broncos got significant contributions in 2016-17 from guards Paris Austin, Justinian Jessup, Alex Hobbs and Marcus Dickinson and also have Malek Harwell and redshirt Derrick Alston on the roster. With one scholarship left to give, it has to be up-periscope for a post-type player. The early signing period ends May 17.

Nevada basketball coach Eric Musselman has done it his own way, loading up on Division I transfers, and it’s worked so far. Now Musselman has made an impressive addition to his staff, adding former LSU coach Johnny Jones, who was fired last month right after finishing a 10-21 season with the Tigers. Jones’ co-workers will not be unfamiliar to him. Musselman, Wolf Pack assistant Ronald Dupree and grad assistant Hays Myers all worked with Jones at some point in Baton Rouge. As for the roster, Caleb and Cody Martin from North Carolina State, Hallice Cooke from Iowa State and Kendall Stephens from Purdue all come of the shelf next season after sitting out this past one due to transfer rules. There won’t be any more Cameron Oliver sightings, though, as he said yesterday he intends to hire an agent.

The chippy playoff series between the Idaho Steelheads and the Colorado Eagles resumes tonight in CenturyLink Arena, with the home team in what is pretty much a must-win situation in Game 4. In the chippiness department, Colorado will be without Sean Zimmerman, who has been suspended for three games and fined an undisclosed amount by the ECHL. Zimmerman is sitting as a result of a charging incident in the second period of Wednesday night’s 4-2 Eagles win. He delivered a blow to the back of Jefferson Dahl’s head, rendering the Steelheads captain injured and unable to continue on the ice. The Steelies have to hope this series goes back to Colorado next week. Because if it doesn’t, that means the season is over.

Troy Merritt is looking for a strong second round at the Valero Texas Open today, as he’s on the cut bubble in this week’s PGA Tour event. Merritt opened with an even-par 72 yesterday and is tied for 72nd. The former Boise State standout bookended his round with bogeys on the first and last holes. From the “time flies” department, it’s been nine years now since Merritt won seven tournaments in 2008, the most in Division I-A, including a WAC championship.

Boise State president Bob Kustra expressed regret yesterday—but not much hope for the Broncos’ discontinued wrestling program. “This is a decision that was made for the future that is falling very hard for those in the present,” said Kustra in a statement. “I deeply regret that these wrestlers were caught off guard, and I regret the timing, which was a direct result of having to take time to figure this out and how to do it. Boise State is committed to honoring the scholarships of all wrestling student-athletes, and has offered extensions for the coaching staff so they are better able to determine their next steps.” One of the Broncos’ all-time greats, Kevin Wood, is spearheading a drive urging the school to reconsider. Not gonna happen, though. “I appreciate that wrestlers and their families want to petition, but this isn’t a decision that is revocable,” Kustra said. “This is the final decision. We have to move forward.”

This Day In Sports…April 21, 2002, 15 years ago today:

For the first time in 10 years, Boise State has two players selected in the NFL Draft, and both of them are from Idaho. Grangeville’s Matt Hill, an All-WAC offensive tackle, was picked in the fifth round by Seattle. And Eagle’s Jeb Putzier, who led Division I-A tight ends in touchdowns in 2001, was chosen by Denver in the sixth round. It was the first time ever BSU had two players go in the first six rounds.

(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.)