The Boise State Broncos host the Fresno State Bulldogs at Albertsons Stadium for the Mountain West Conference Championship on Saturday (12/6) at 8pm (MST).
8pm. We’ll get back to that kickoff time in a moment. First, some numbers. Starting with the 1998 season, and concluding with the past game against Utah St., the Boise State football program is 181-36. That’s roughly an average of 10 wins and 2 losses per season. During this time, the Broncos have made 14 bowl game appearances and own bowl victories over teams such as Arizona St., TCU, Washington, and of course, Oklahoma. [JasonAD]
Since the year 2000, the Broncos are an astounding 91-4 in games played at home. Currently, the Broncos have not lost at home since a loss to San Diego State in the 2012 season.
8pm. This kickoff time for the championship game was announced over the weekend and in a matter of minutes, a small percentage of fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their frustration over the time. This has been a running complaint throughout the season. In this instance, these fans didn’t even take the time to say, “Hey, you know what? My favorite college football team just earned a right to play for a conference championship. Let’s celebrate”.
This issue has followed Boise State football all season long. Fans are responding by not buying tickets for the Boise State home games. To be clear, this is not true of all fans. The Broncos are not playing their games in an empty stadium. Might be hard to sustain a program if that were true. The problem is, capacity for Albertsons Stadium is not being met. For a fan base as rabid as Boise State’s claims to be, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
For example, let’s look at the home game against Utah State. Not only was it senior day for the Broncos, but this game had at stake a berth in the Mountain West Conference Championship game. The town was a hive of excitement and the temperature set to be in the 30’s. Not too shabby for late November football.
33,940 dedicated fans showed up for that game. That’s out of a possible capacity of 36,387. On the year, the average attendance was 33.570. Still fourth best in school history, but for as passionate a fan base that Broncos fans claim to be, attendance can be improved.
Fans of Boise State football yearn for the Broncos to be an elite program. To maintain that high level on and off the field, certain sacrifices must be made. The success of the Boise State football program has led them to becoming a cog in the big business that is NCAA football. Money controls the system and with it, varying degrees of control of kickoff times. Hence, the many 8pm or later kickoffs fans experienced this year.
As part of Boise State’s agreement to remain in the Mountain West Conference, a favorable television contract was born. This season, according to an interview Athletic Director Mark Coyle gave to KTVB, the Broncos earned $500,000 for each game played on ESPN (or its affiliates). Add that up and it’s quite a bit of money for the athletic department and the university. In turn, this leads to a better fan experience at the the stadium, with the new scoreboard as one example.
Apart from the money windfall for the school, the television exposure is great for recruiting athletes and students. It also provides a chance for Bronco fans across the nation to see the games. Opportunities that weren’t readily available that often ten years ago. Opportunities that could be lost, to recruits and fans alike, amongst the plethora of college football games that are televised during the afternoons on Saturdays.
Of course, games times are not the only reason fans are staying away. Season ticket holders are citing a rise in costs in addition to these game times as a reason to stop attending games. Ticket prices are a reasonable concern, as situations in life can dictate where a person or family chooses to spend their money. Citing money is understandable. Game time kickoffs are not.
Those clamoring for earlier game times may have to wait some time to see that happen. The current television deal is in place for another four or five years. That means many home and conference games will be dictated by what channel the game is being shown on.
Preferable to fans would be a compromise. A compromise in which early season games can be played later and the November/December games can be moved to earlier in the day. The earlier kickoff times would hopefully drive up ticket sales and allow more fans from outlying areas to attend the games.
As it is, for the foreseeable future, the trend of 8pm kickoffs will continue. For Boise State to remain an elite program, fans will need to get behind this. Albertsons Stadium should be filled to capacity for every home game. Michigan does it, even with down years like this one. USC, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Notre Dame do it, all with bigger stadiums than ours.
Yes, thee are all programs steeped in football tradition. In those regards, Boise State is still young in nationally recognized tradition. The program is building towards a better future, one that holds its fans dear to its hearts. To keep building, sacrifices must be made. Part of competing on a national level is by going along with the business side of NCAA football. To continue putting an elite product on the field is done by bringing in the right coaches and players. Keeping those type of people here plays an integral part of continued success.
— Bronco Nation News (@BNNBroncoNation) December 3, 2014
Losing fans because of kickoff times is a fickle reason to abandon your favorite team. There is nothing like attending a game in person. The noise. The atmosphere. Getting excited when the team does. Feeling their agony when something doesn’t go their way. It’s all part of the joy of attending a game live.
Rise up, Bronco Nation. Your team is playing for its first outright Mountain West Championship. The program is playing for a possible chance to play in a third Fiesta Bowl in the past 8 years. Fill Albertsons Stadium on Saturday, Bronco Nation. Enjoy these winning ways now, no matter what time the game starts. Time goes by quickly and winning doesn’t always last forever. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Florida Gators.
*Records, stats, and attendance numbers compiled via Wikipedia and ESPN