In April, Boise State announced that they would be adding a baseball program, reviving a team that was shuttered in 1980, and they really haven’t stopped moving forward since then.
In early September, the school announced that they would begin the search for a new head coach to be hired as soon as possible, with an eye toward beginning play once again in 2020. Then, in October, they announced plans to build their own stadium in the campus area, rather than serve as a tenant at a downtown stadium they would share with the Boise Hawks.
The biggest step, however, came in November, when Gary Van Tol was named the head coach of the program. And in keeping with the theme, from the sound of it, despite his team not taking the field for another two years, Van Tol has been a busy man.
He’s spent some time on the recruiting trail, as he’s netted two recruits already, one of whom is in-state first baseman Kase Ogata, whose dad, Ty Ogata, played for the BSU football team. This part of the job has been a big focus for Van Tol to this point.
“Since the announcement and press conference it’s been non-stop and I think the only day I didn’t make a recruiting call was Dec. 25,” Van Tol told B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press-Tribune. “The response has been unbelievable. I can go on the road March 1, so I’m trying to identify as many players as I can, see if they are available and interested in Boise State.”
Scheduling, of course, has also been a focus, and Rains reported in that recent piece that Van Tol has already agreed to some home-and-home series with some big-name programs in college baseball.
Then there’s the stadium and all of the steps that come along with building it, including making a decision on the possibility of the use of blue turf to mimic what you see in Albertsons Stadium, where the football team plays. That has already been a big topic of conversation around the program.
“I’m curious because everybody I’m talking to says it’s a no brainer,” Van Tol told Rains. “We haven’t had any hard talks about it, either way is fine, but it’s a topic of discussion and one that’s asked a lot. The drawings and specs of the stadium, they have a blue option.”
The announcement, and the swift movement by BSU to get all of the pieces in place well ahead of time, is a great development for college baseball.
Too often recently, we’ve seen the opposite happening, as more and more schools sacrifice baseball programs in the name of tightening pursestrings. Just this past season, Buffalo’s baseball program joined the list of the deceased. Before that, it was the University of North Dakota’s program getting the axe.
Not only does this actually add a team for once, but it also puts a team in a non-traditional college baseball locale. The Broncos will be the only Division I team in the state of Idaho, and one of the few in a region featuring states in Wyoming and Montana that don’t have any Division I teams, and others, like Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, that have just a handful between them.
And there are some factors in place that given them a chance to be pretty good. They’ll have a brand-new stadium right out of the gate, they play in of the one of the biggest cities in the Pacific Northwest, and a rapidly-growing city at that, and Boise State is a brand name more powerful in college sports than that of just about any other non-Power Five school. They also have an accomplished, and obviously hard-working, head coach in Gary Van Tol. There will be some growing pains when they first take the field, but it won’t be shocking if they’re competing at the top of the Mountain West rather quickly.
Welcome to Division I baseball, Boise State. We’re happy to have you.