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Booze at Boise State football games? Trend is growing, but Broncos remain cautious

Boise State AD Curt Apsey - Sept. 26, 2016

Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey discusses the game-day atmosphere, the Huddle not returning and potential alcohol sales at Albertons Stadium.
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Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey discusses the game-day atmosphere, the Huddle not returning and potential alcohol sales at Albertons Stadium.

If a nationwide trend continues, Boise State could eventually serve alcohol during football games at Albertsons Stadium — but don’t expect it to happen any time soon.

Nearly one-third of college football stadiums allow alcohol sales to general ticket holders, according to CBSSports.com, and even the NCAA began allowing it this year at one of its own events, the College World Series.

“For now, no, I don’t see that as a possibility here,” Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey said. “If it was something we wanted to consider, we’d have to sit down with the appropriate people, obviously. It has not been discussed on our campus, nor with our State Board. It’s a sensitive issue here in Boise, and we need to respect that.”

Currently in the Mountain West, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State and Colorado State allow alcohol sales inside their stadiums. Boise State allows it only in the Stueckle Sky Center to premium ticket holders.

The 20th-ranked Broncos (9-1, 5-1 MW) host UNLV (4-6, 3-3) on Friday (7 p.m., ESPN2).

Boise State experimented with “The Huddle” last season, providing pre-game beer and wine sales to all ticket holders (over 21, of course) at the Caven-Williams Indoor Complex. The Idaho State Board of Education voted in June to end the event after one year. Apsey did say the school will look into the possibility of bringing it back.

“We’re very respectful of State Board decisions. ... We need to follow what they say, but it might be something we address going into next football season,” Apsey said.

According to the New York Times, West Virginia makes about $4 per beer sold, while CBS Sports reported that Texas made $1.8 million in sales last year. Apsey said The Huddle lost about $15,000, but that isn’t an anomaly. Minnesota lost $16,000 its first year selling alcohol in 2012, and made $180,000 the next year.

As athletic departments seek new revenue streams, it has become more common. The amount of schools allowing alcohol sales to general admission ticket holders has more than doubled since 2010.

“There’s an upside in revenue that I think can help our program, but there are a lot of people that need to be comfortable with that,” Apsey said.

One hurdle would certainly be safety. The combination of pricey drinks and being able to control the amount sold to prevent over consumption has been part of the formula. Apsey said there were no incidents reported at The Huddle last year. The New York Times story said incidents involving police at West Virginia dropped in the five seasons after sales began.

“I think there’s some risk there as well, one of the things you can see across the country. ... It might in some instances be a little safer,” Apsey said. “I think we’ve had to do a lot more research, talk to a lot of people across the country that are doing it before even looked down that road.”

No. 20 BRONCOS WILL HONOR 20 ON FRIDAY

The group of 19 seniors will add a 20th member Friday when junior long snapper Matt Cota will be honored before the game. Cota has decided to end his playing career after this season.

An Eagle High graduate, he was put on scholarship during fall camp and played in the first nine games, but did not make the trip to Hawaii on Saturday.

Junior wide receiver Brock Barr snapped on punts against the Warriors, and true freshman Nicholai Pitman made his debut, snapping on extra points and field goals.

MOUNTAIN WEST KICKOFF SET

The Mountain West championship game has been set for 5:45 p.m. MT on Saturday, Dec. 3 and will be televised on ESPN.

The date was set this summer with a 5:30 or 5:45 kickoff on ESPN or ESPN2. San Diego State (9-1) has already locked down a spot as the West Division champion. The game could potentially pit the 11-1 Aztecs and 11-1 Broncos if they both win their final two games.

McNICHOLS A DOAK WALKER SEMIFINALIST

On Wednesday, junior running back Jeremy McNichols was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, honoring the nation’s top running back.

The other nine are Brian Hill (Wyoming) and Donnel Pumphrey (San Diego State) from the Mountain West, Saquon Barkley (Penn State), Dalvin Cook (Florida State), D’Onta Foreman (Texas), Leonard Fournette (LSU), Aaron Jones (UTEP), Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

McNichols is No. 5 in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing with 1,369 yards and is tied for No. 1 among running backs with 18 rushing touchdowns. He also has 428 receiving yards, most among the 10 semifinalists.

“It’s just consistent, it comes from the offseason training, being a little smarter, watching more film on opposing teams,” McNichols said.

NO ISSUE WITH SPARSELY-USED FRESHMEN

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said Tuesday he doesn’t have any regrets playing 10 true freshmen this season, even though he hasn’t been able to play most of them as much as he would have liked.

“We don’t regret it, because the guys are getting a lot of work in practice,” Harsin said. “This is going to pay off down the road. Certainly would like to get them some more opportunities, we just haven’t been able to do that.”

Harsin points to wide receiver Bubba Ogbebor as one he wished would have played more at this point, but the veterans ahead of him have played too well to keep them off the field.

Some true freshmen are playing well and playing large roles, including running back Alexander Mattison (283 rushing yards), cornerback DeAndre Pierce (17 tackles) and safety Kekoa Nawahine (10 tackles, one for loss). Seven of the 10 who have played are on defense.

The 10 true freshmen (the most in at least a decade) who have played are: Pitman, Ogbebor, Mattison, Nawahine, Pierce, defensive tackles Chase Hatada, Sonatane Lui and Emmanuel Fesili, linebacker Tyson Maeva and cornerback Reid Harrison-Ducros.

QUICK HITS

The Broncos, before losing to Air Force on senior day last year, had won by an average of 37.2 points per game in their regular season home finale. ... Boise State’s four-game winning streak over UNLV dates to 1977, when the Broncos won in Boise against former Boise State coach Tony Knap the year before the Rebels moved to Division I. ... If the Broncos win two more games, they will make it 15 straight senior classes that have won 40 games.

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_BroncoBeat

UNLV at No. 20 Boise State

▪ When: 7 p.m. Friday

▪ Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise

▪ TV: ESPN2 (Adam Amin, Kelly Stouffer, Molly McGrath)

▪ Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)

▪ Records: Boise State 9-1, 5-1 Mountain West; UNLV 4-6, 3-3

▪ Series: Boise State leads 6-3 (won 55-27 in 2015 in Las Vegas)

▪ Vegas line: Boise State by 28 1/2

▪ Kickoff weather: Low 40s, 15-20 mph winds

▪ Tickets: Available for $20 at BroncoSports.com/tickets, using promo code RANKING.

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