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What? They didn't pass the test?

The fan experience has taken a step back at Boise State and Idaho football games.

Credit: KTVB
Tom Scott, Scott Slant

Friday, June 17, 2016.

The fan experience has taken a step back at Boise State and Idaho football games. The State Board of Education yesterday voted to revert back to its original policy: no alcohol (unless fans have written invitations separate from their tickets—or, in Boise State’s case, they’re snuggled into the Steuckle Sky Center). Alcohol was approved by the SBOE for the “The Huddle’’ at Bronco games and the “Idaho Fan Zone’’ at Vandal games last spring as a one-year test. So what was the problem? I haven’t heard of any. This especially affects Boise State, as The Huddle was a great addition last year, giving fans a place to hang out and warm up as they awaited those late kickoffs.

It sounds like Boise State athletic director Curt Apsey is trying to salvage the event. “We respect today’s decision by the Idaho State Board of Education regarding alcohol sales at The Huddle prior to Boise State football games,” said Apsey in a statement. “The Huddle is a popular family event that allows fans an opportunity to congregate before kickoff. We will work closely with the Board to identify acceptable policies and procedures moving forward, and from there, determine the future of the event." Apsey did indicate yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk that The Huddle may be too expensive to operate without alcohol sales.

Athlon Sports released its preseason All-Mountain West squads yesterday, with Boise State and San Diego State each placing six players on the first team. The Broncos were represented by two players who weren’t on Phil Steele’s first team the other day: offensive guard Mario Yakoo and linebacker Tanner Vallejo. They join Brett Rypien, Jeremy McNichols, Thomas Sperbeck and Tyler Rausa. Vallejo gets the nod instead of Joey Martarano, who was a Steele first-teamer. Martarano, in fact, doesn’t even make Athlon’s fourth-team defense. Me? I think Steele is smart (both Vallejo and Martarano are worthy).

Athlon ranks Boise State No. 34 and San Diego State No. 36 and projects the duo to face off in the Mountain West championship game. Air Force, at No. 51, is seen as the Broncos’ primary competition in the conference’s Mountain Division. I can’t get over the low expectations for Fresno State these days. Athlon has the Bulldogs as the 108th-best team in the country. Did you ever think you’d see that? Also, New Mexico seems to be underrated in preseason publications considering how far the Lobos came last year. Athlon puts UNM at No. 93. By the way, three other Mountain West schools have sub-100 rankings: UNLV at 106, Wyoming at 114, and Hawaii at 121. Not good for the conference.

After the Boise Hawks finished 30-46 last season, maybe this is a good omen as Opening Night approaches this evening at Eugene. The Colorado Rockies did not exactly load the Hawks roster last year in their first season of affiliation with Boise. The highest draft pick to play here in 2015 was pitcher David Hill, a fourth-rounder. Hill made eight appearances, seven of them starts, and did not record a decision (his ERA was 3.09). This year the Hawks have three picks higher than Hill right out of the gate, all of them college players drafted last week: Georgia pitcher Robert Tyler, taken at the end of the first round, Vanderbilt pitcher Ben Bowden, a second-rounder, and Long Beach State shortstop Garrett Hampson, a third-round selection. It’ll be interesting to see what these guys contribute.

This will be the second straight season the Hawks have elected to go without a local over-the-air radio contract after 21 years on KTIK. This year, though, the Hawks have announced a partnership with TuneIn internet radio to broadcast all 76 of the team’s games. They’ll be found at BoiseHawks.com, the Minor League Baseball First Pitch mobile application (Android and iOS), as well as the TuneIn Radio mobile application (Android and iOS). This season, Steve Granado will be the Voice of the Hawks, and he’ll get started tonight in Eugene.

Catcher Willson Contreras is set to become the third former Boise Hawk to make his major league debut this season, and this one will get some attention. Contreras, ranked No. 2 among Cubs prospects by MLBPipeline.com, will suit up this afternoon at Wrigley Field when the club opens a series against Pittsburgh. He was tearing it up at Triple-A Iowa with a .350 average, nine home runs and 43 RBIs. The 24-year-old Venezuelan has also thrown out 31 percent of opposing base-stealers. Contreras has played more games for the Hawks than almost any other player in club history. He appeared in 124 contests between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, batting a combined .268 with 66 runs batted in.

If the Idaho men’s basketball team was seeking experience in close games, the Atlas Challenge in Suzhou, China, has been the ticket. The Vandals fell to Macedonia 69-67 yesterday in the third game of their foreign venture. Unfortunately, the American-laden Macedonian team closed the game on a 10-0 run. Idaho fell to the Iranian National Team 71-62 on Wednesday after posting a 71-69 victory over Lithuania Tuesday night. Sophomore guard Victor Sanders has led the Vandals in the tournament with 39 total points in the three games. Idaho will likely move to the losers’ bracket tomorrow.

The weather is slated to improve today for the North Fork Championship V on the Payette River. If it’s going to be near 80 in Boise, it will be more than tolerable north of Banks. Find a spot neat S-Turn rapid for this afternoon’s BoaterX—it’ll be fast and furious, with 10 heats of six paddlers each. Two competitors from each heat will advance to the final.

This Day In Sports…June 17, 2004:

In back-to-back days, two local nuggets are revealed during an otherwise slow sports week. Boise State announced a 15-year deal to rename the BSU Pavilion as Taco Bell Arena. That came a day after Albertson College athletic director Marty Holly first broke word of the Coyotes exploring a return to football, a sport the school had dropped in 1977. It would take almost eight years, but Holly’s efforts came to fruition when the school, now once again called the College of Idaho, announced the reinstatement of football in 2012, effective with the 2014 season.

(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.)

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