BOISE, Idaho — THIS DAY IN SPORTS… August 3, 2011:
The name “Humanitarian” disappears from Boise’s bowl game for good, as the organization announces a six-year deal with the Idaho Potato Commission to rename the game the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The game was known as the Humanitarian Bowl for 11 of its 14 previous seasons, the only exception being the MPC Computers Bowl moniker from 2004-06. Despite Boise State’s move to the Mountain West that year, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl would remain affiliated with the WAC for two more seasons.
Believe it or not, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is entering is 13th season under that name and 27th overall. A look back at the bowl’s beginnings gives you a glimpse into a very different time in college football. In early 1997, the Big West Conference (Boise State’s home at the time) was without a guaranteed bowl game for its football champion. With Las Vegas having become a Western Athletic Conference city the year before with the move of UNLV to the WAC, the Las Vegas Bowl had elected to follow suit and switch its affiliation from the Big West to the Rebels’ new league to maintain local interest in the event.
Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier essentially came to the rescue with an idea for a unique bowl game at a cold-weather site. The idea germinated with the support of Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell, and on June 12, 1997, the new bowl received official certification from the NCAA. The event was named the Humanitarian Bowl in a partnership with Boise’s World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame. Over the years, companies such as Crucial Technologies and Roady’s Truckstops were attached to the Humanitarian Bowl name.
The Idaho Potato Commission has provided long-term stability to the bowl. Attendance has been sketchy since Idaho outslugged Colorado State 61-50 in the 2016 game, but that’s not how secondary bowls are judged anymore. Every one of them struggles with attendance because of the time of the year, the TV experience at home, and the nation’s preoccupation with the college football playoff. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is financially healthy. The 2023 game has a rare opportunity, though, as it’s finally been given an afternoon kickoff on a Saturday (December 23).
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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