THIS DAY IN SPORTS: Big news from two valley campuses


This Day In Sports…June 17, 2004, 20 years ago today:

In back-to-back days, two local bombshells are dropped during an otherwise slow sports week. Boise State announced a 15-year deal to rename the BSU Pavilion as Taco Bell Arena. It was shocking to some, not only from a commercialization standpoint, but because the revered facility was going to carry the name of a fast food joint. But the local Taco Bell honchos were huge Boise State supporters, and this was the first example of the university dipping into the naming rights world to keep up with the Joneses. It seems so innocent now. The deal lasted the full 15 years—the structure became ExtraMile Arena in 2019.

At the time, we all wondered if Bronco Stadium could be far behind. The Taco Bell Arena process could be used as a blueprint for the home of the blue turf. But there were lots of issues with the stadium. It had a Division II pressbox in a Division I-A world, and it was going to need skyboxes to generate the revenue required to validate and maintain the Broncos’ suddenly lofty status in football (No. 15 and 16 finishes in the AP Poll the previous two seasons). The facility would open the Steuckle Sky Center in 2008, but it wouldn’t get the Albertsons Stadium moniker until 2014.

That arena announcement came a day after Marty Holly, the athletic director at then-Albertson College, first broke word of the Coyotes eyeing a return to football, a sport the school had dropped in 1977. The school’s Board of Trustees formed a committee to explore it. Holly said many felt the campus hadn’t been the same since football was eliminated. There had been a C of I football reunion a couple of years earlier with more than 200 former players attending. One of them was R.C. Owens, the legendary San Francisco 49er of “alley-oop” fame who starred at College of Idaho in the mid-1950s. Owens stayed in touch with Holly about the idea.

Holly said no institutional funds would be used to resurrect the program, which he hoped would kick off by 2007. It took a lot longer, of course. One move that helped the push for football was restoring the “College of Idaho” name to the institution in 2007. The big announcement finally came in 2012. Mike Moroski was hired as coach in 2013 and led the team through its formation during “zero-year” that fall. The first College of Idaho game was played in 2014. The program evolved quickly and is now an NAIA power. Moroski is still there with a 63-40 career record as the Yotes come off a 10-3 season and a trip to the NAIA Playoffs semifinals.

The realities of modern college football preclude any thoughts of C of I ever playing Boise State, but the playing field was a lot more level when the Broncos became a four-year program in 1968. Their first two seasons were played at the NAIA level, and they faced the Yotes in a four-year “Battle of the Valley” series that served as the season finale for both teams. In the last meeting in 1971, Boise State escaped with a 28-21 victory three weeks before going down to Sacramento and winning the Camellia Bowl.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)



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