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Boise State football: Doing some stadium math

It increasingly looks like there will be Boise State football this fall. If you go, will there be no one sitting within six feet of you?
Credit: Steve Conner
Boise State mascot Buster Bronco with fans in the first half of an NCAA game against Air Force, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 30-19.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has a model for socially-distanced stands at the Horseshoe this fall. Ohio Stadium’s capacity is 102,780. One scenario would allow crowds of 20,000-22,000, and another one goes from 40,000-50,000 “if guidelines are relaxed.” Apply that to Boise State. If estimates say social distancing would reduce capacity by about 80 percent, that means you’d only be able to get about 7,000 fans into Albertsons Stadium. At 40-50 percent, you’re looking at a crowd of between 14,000 and 18,000. That first number would really neutralize the Broncos’ massive homefield advantage.

But some of Boise State’s smaller crowds over the past 10 years have been uncommonly loud, because the hardcores are there, and—consciously or not—they try to make up for those who aren’t there. Examples: the three Mountain West championship games and the 9-degree night against San Diego State in 2014. And any socially-distanced throngs we see this fall would surely consist of hardcores. The next math we might have to do is how much of the crowd noise would be muffled by masks.

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MORE THAN ONE REASON FOR PIERCE

KTVB’s Will Hall conducted an exit interview of sorts with former Boise State safety DeAndre Pierce over the weekend. Pierce, of course, is headed to Arizona State to finish his college career with his father, ASU defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce. It wasn’t just his Dad, Pierce said, but “to give myself the best shot at the next level, I felt like I need to challenge myself. Better competition—top schools like Oregon Washington, USC.” It’s hard for a lot of people to hear, but the level of competition is attractive in the Pac-12. Here’s hoping Pierce gets enough playing time with the Sun Devils to stand out. Nevertheless, it wasn’t easy leaving Boise State. “It was hard, the hardest part was leaving my teammates,” Pierce told Hall. “Those are my brothers...I want nothing but the best for them.”

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THE UNDER-THE-RADAR TRANSFER

As Leon Rice waxed eloquent with the media Friday about the possibilities for his Boise State men’s basketball roster, I couldn’t help but think that one of the most, shall I say, under-mentioned of the Broncos’ many transfers is Marcus Shaver, Jr. The former Portland Pilot guard has now had a year in Rice’s program and could be ticketed for a starting spot with guards Justinian Jessup, Alex Hobbs and Marcus Dickinson now gone. Shaver was solid at Portland, earning honorable mention All-West Coast Conference honors each year. He led the Pilots in 2018-19 with 14.3 points per game and 52 three-pointers and averaged 12.3 points as a freshman.

CSI LOSES IT HOOPS PIONEER

Less than two months after being told he had made the 2020 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, legendary coach Eddie Sutton passed away Saturday of natural causes at the age of 84. Sutton’s first head coaching job beyond high school hoops came in Twin Falls, where he founded the College of Southern Idaho program in 1966 and went 83-14 in three seasons. He recorded more than 800 wins as a Division I coach and was the first to take four different schools to the NCAA Tournament: Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State. Sutton finished his career as interim coach at San Francisco in 2007-08.

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VAN TOL IS WORKING AHEAD FOR 2021

Memorial Day weekend started with a solid commitment for the Boise State baseball program. Coach Gary Van Tol announced the signing of John Boushelle, a graduate transfer from McNeese State. Van Tol brought in the former McNeese State pitcher to round out his 2021 pitching staff. Nice to have that squared away now. Boushelle, who was picked by the L.A. Dodgers in the 20th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, gave up one hit with six strikeouts in three innings pitched for McNeese before COVID-19 shut down the season in March. He played his freshman year at Kansas State.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…May 26, 1998:

Two seasons of a bloated, unmanageable 16-team WAC is more than enough for administrators at BYU, Utah, Colorado State, Wyoming, Air Force, New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV. Citing financial concerns and the erosion of rivalries, the schools announced they were breaking away to form a new league in 1999. It would be called the Mountain West Conference. Trying to schedule in the WAC’s four quadrants within two divisions that seemed to be in a state of flux frustrated the mutineers.

(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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