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Boise State football: Albertsons Stadium 50th anniversary, Part VIII

Twenty years ago, there were no color-coded pie charts to check before Boise State games. And there wasn’t this night, either. But it helped make it happen.
Credit: Otto Kitsinger
View of Albertsons Stadium in Boise, ID, during a game between Boise State and Idaho State on Sept. 18, 2015.

BOISE, Idaho — Friday, May 15, 2020.

It’s Friday—time for another great moment in my early-bird celebration of Albertsons Stadium’s 50th anniversary. When you scan the stands at the stadium today, you see mostly blue and orange, whether there’s a color scheme or not. Before 2002, it was a potpourri of colors, as wearing Boise State gear wasn’t a thing. That changed in October of 2002, when the Broncos staged their first Orange-Out in then-Bronco Stadium. They chose the Fresno State game, almost one year to the day after Boise State had shocked the eighth-ranked Bulldogs in Fresno. On this night, the stars aligned. B.J. Rhode started the game at quarterback, then in the second quarter Ryan Dinwiddie returned from a six-week layoff due to a broken ankle. Dinwiddie threw for 405 yards and five touchdowns as the Broncos romped 67-21.

A then-record 30,924 dressed up the stadium for the Broncos’ first-ever Friday night game on ESPN, and it couldn’t have been scripted any better. I mean, Fresno State was good, having won three games in a row and bringing in the biggest offensive line in the country. But the Boise State offense was lights-out, rolling up 688 yards, at the time the most in school history. After this game, the Broncos started seriously knocking on the door of their first Top 25 ranking. They’d get it three weeks later.

BEHLER SHOULD GET PAID FOR THIS

“Voice of the Broncos” Bob Behler has been spending time thinking about—what else?—Boise State football. There’s been a hypothetical conference-only schedule going around for the Pac-12. There isn’t one for the Mountain West, so Bob came up with it. He understands that the inability of some teams to play, like the California schools and Hawaii, could blow it up. But if all 12 programs can play, there would obviously be a round-robin 11-game MW schedule. At this point, anybody would take that. Bob was able to take the existing conference slate and leave all 96 games in place except one. He then plugged in the cross-division match-ups that are idle this year (for Boise State: Nevada, Fresno State and San Diego State).

The Broncos would open the season against the Aztecs on Labor Day weekend. Other feature games to kick things off would include Fresno State at Wyoming and Hawaii at Utah State. Teams would have no more than two back-to-back road games, and each would have two byes during the season (none back-to-back). Behler and I talked Thursday about another far-flung possibility: that only six Mountain West schools and four Pac-12 schools are left with football this fall—and that they just have to play each other.

HEADING OFF FINANCIAL FALLOUT

San Diego State is trying to fast-track its new 35,000-seat stadium in Mission Valley through the San Diego City Council. And why not? California faces massive budget cuts in the face of the pandemic. SDSU had hoped the council would approve the deal, which includes more than $660 million in funds previously allocated by the California State University Board of Trustees to cover the land, stadium construction and site infrastructure, at its meeting next Tuesday. But it’s not on the agenda. And the university fears that if it isn’t approved quickly, financing could all fall apart.

THE MAC REGULAR SEASON COUNTS

Here’s hoping the Mountain West doesn’t have to do what the MAC did this week. The Mid-American Conference is changing its postseason layout for 17 sports, including eliminating eight conference tournaments. Beginning with the upcoming academic year (immediately, in other words), MAC champions in eight sports, including softball and baseball, will be based on regular-season league records rather than postseason tournaments. Football is unaffected. On second thought, if that’s the worst thing that happens in the MW, we’d all survive.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…May 15, 2007:

The Idaho Steelheads complete a dominating dismissal of the regular season’s two best teams in the ECHL by beating the Alaska Aces, 3-2, to win the National Conference Finals on the way to the Kelly Cup championship. The game-winner came on a shorthanded goal by the guy who had played more games than any other player in Steelheads history, current Idaho assistant coach Scott Burt. The Aces had the second-best record in the ECHL that season—the Steelies had already polished off the league leaders, the Las Vegas Wranglers, in the second round of the playoffs.

(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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