This Day In Sports: Bleymaier’s long, successful journey begins

February 25, 1982, 40 years ago today: Boise State fires Mike Mullally as athletic director after a public outcry over his priority seating plan in Bronco Stadium and names 28-year-old assistant athletic director Gene Bleymaier to the post. Bleymaier was a Borah High graduate and was part of the Lions’ epic 34-game winning streak under De Pankratz. He went on to play tight end at UCLA, catching passes from quarterback Mark Harmon.

The promotion to AD would begin a Bleymaier tenure that would last almost 30 years, encompassing the opening of what is now ExtraMile Arena, the installation of the blue turf in 1986 (Bleymaier’s idea), a move to Division I-A and the Big West in 1996, the birth of the Humanitarian Bowl (now the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl) in 1997, a move to the WAC in 2001, Bronco football’s climb into the top 10 early in the new century, and a move to the Mountain West in 2011.

Bleymaier had a string of golden coaching hires at Boise State, including Dirk Koetter, Dan Hawkins and Chris Petersen in football. He was fired by president Bob Kustra in August, 2011. Kustra pointed to the ramifications of an NCAA investigation into the Bronco program as the core issue. The following year Bleymaier would take the AD job at San Jose State.

Bleymaier had some successes with the Spartans, including facilities upgrades, at SJSU. But putting an athletic program on the Bay Area map in the shadow of the 49ers, Raiders, Giants, A’s, Warriors and Sharks, not to mention Stanford and Cal, was a tough proposition. Bleymaier stepped down in 2017 and is now retired in McCall. He was elected to the Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame two years ago, but the induction ceremony has been postponed twice by COVID. Maybe this fall? It will be a well-deserved salute.

(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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