BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, September 12, 2019. 

A lot has been made of Boise State’s season ticket count dropping to 16,588, its lowest point in 16 years.  But it’s a sign of the times.  Attendance is a problem throughout college football, and Boise State is a lot better off than most programs.  The Broncos’ season ticket base, for example, is about 10,000 more than that of Nevada.  Last year, while Boise State’s average crowd increased to 33,068, overall attendance for both San Diego State and New Mexico were down more than 20 percent.  Colorado State saw a big drop in its second season in a shiny new stadium, and Utah State, despite climbing into the Top 25 and compiling an 11-2 record, saw a seven percent decrease (to just 18,717 per game).

Attendance for the home opener against Marshall last week was 31,951.  The most noticeable swath of empty seats was in the northwest portion of Albertsons Stadium in the upper deck, which used to be populated by season ticket holders.  What’s happening here, there and everywhere?  As older fans give up their season tickets, they’re not being replaced by the next generation.  Millenials and Gen Xers have other things to do.  Live sporting events aren’t that big a deal to them when they can get everything they want on their mobile devices.  With that said, the turnout in the Boise State student section at the Marshall game was as good (and electric) as it’s ever been.  The entire section was full—and about three-quarters of them stayed through the fourth quarter.  They can tell their friends: there’s nothing quite like being there.

This week, Boise State faces a double-whammy: an FCS opponent in Portland State, and an 8:15 p.m. kickoff.  The late starts, regardless of opponent, are a key to season ticket abandonment.  That’s not a surprise.  The extra factor this season is a home schedule that doesn’t include a Power 5 opponent, nor BYU, nor Nevada, Fresno State, San Diego State or Utah State.  It seems a foregone conclusion that the draw Saturday will be under the 30,000-mark for only the third time in the past 13 years (outside of Mountain West championship games).  But that’s just the way of the world a couple of decades into the 21st century. 

ANOTHER KOETTER ON THE BLUE 

Davis Koetter was born in Boise while his father, Dirk, was coaching Boise State and building the ground floor of the Broncos’ current 20-year run.  Davis is now a sophomore wide receiver at Portland State.  We don’t know if he remembers anything about the blue turf, but he’ll be  playing on it Saturday night, and he’ll have the same chip on the shoulder that all his fellow Vikings have as they try to knock off No. 22 Boise State.  Koetter wears No. 7, same as Dirk during his playing days at Idaho State.  Davis recorded his first 100-yard game last week in PSU’s 70-7 romp over Simon Fraser—four catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns.  He only had four receptions all of last season. 

A STRUGGLING PASSER & A REJECTED PIRATE 

The first two weeks of October, Boise State faces UNLV and Hawai’i for the first time in two years, so let’s get them on the radar.  Each team has a storyline this week.  The Rebels are hoping upon hope that quarterback Armani Rogers rallies from a horrendous performance last week when he faces Northwestern Saturday.  Rogers remains the starter despite going just 8-of-23 for 42 yards with a pick-six and six sacks for 40 yards in losses.  The Rainbow Warriors meet Coach Pete and Washington, and UH coach Nick Rolovich had this grand idea of using a big yacht on Lake Washington to transport his team to the game.  No visiting team has ever arrived at UW by boat.  Rolovich dreamed of dressing as a pirate and waving Hawaiian flags.  But liability concerns have nixed the idea.

A 2-0 START UNLIKELY FOR THE BENGALS

Utah hasn’t really looked like the No. 11 team in the country the first two weeks of the season, but that provides little comfort to Idaho State on Saturday.  The Bengals face the Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium, the first meeting between the teams since a 56-14 Utah victory five years ago.  ISU settled on Matt Struck over Gunnar Amos at quarterback last Thursday in a 38-13 season-opening rout of Western Colorado in Holt Arena.  Struck threw for 402 yards and four touchdowns in his first start.  Junior Tanner Conner was the breakout player in the Idaho State receiving corps.  Conner had a total of 13 receptions for 172 yards in his first two seasons.  He posted 10 receptions for 173 yards versus Western Colorado

DECEPTION DOES THE JOB IN DALLAS

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News captures the essence of what happened in Kellen Moore’s debut as Cowboys offensive coordinator: “An offense that scored more than 30 points in only three games last season exploded by scoring touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in (the win over the New York Giants).  A team that averaged 21.2 points in 2018 finished the first half with 21.  The Cowboys amassed 494 yards on offense, a number they surpassed only once last season.  They did it with a style and creativity that has been lacking recently in this offense.  No-huddle was a big part of the mix.”  Also, Moore is deceiving defenses the way he did at Boise State. "Have a little shift, then motion and then the read-option play," Moore said.  "You know, a bunch of things for them to look at." 

PRIME NETWORKS ARE ELUSIVE 

Boise State had 16 men’s basketball games tabbed for the Mountain West television package announced Wednesday, if you count two games on ESPN3 and one on Stadium.   The national exposure is average for the Broncos, as the slate features a heavy dose of CBS Sports Network and ROOT Sports.  Two games have a shot at ESPN2—home dates against Utah State and Nevada—but it’s not guaranteed.  Both of those were assigned 8 p.m. tip-offs, but at least they’re both on Saturday nights.  Two Boise home games have been moved from Saturday to Sunday in February (San Diego State and New Mexico).  Start times are to be announced for those.

This Day In Sports…September 12, 1999, 20 years ago today:

The reincarnation of the Cleveland Browns franchise makes its debut, suffering a 41-0 rout at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It was three years after the original Browns, a fixture in Cleveland for 50 years, were moved to Baltimore by the late Art Modell and became the Ravens.  This version of the Browns was an expansion team, though it used the same basic uniforms and color scheme.

(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.)