There's been a buzz around the College of Idaho campus this week that hasn't existed there since the 1970s.
Last weekend the school played - and won - its first football game since 1977. The Yotes beat Pacific University 35-34. College of Idaho plays its first home game Saturday afternoon against Montana Western at Simplot Stadium in Caldwell.
"Football, for better or worse, is a cultural phenomenon like no other," says College of Idaho President Marvin Henberg. "It brings the community much closer. The excitement in Caldwell and in Canyon County is palpable."
Henberg points to season ticket sales earlier this year as proof of the community's excitement in the return of Yote football. The athletic department's initial allotment sold out in about two hours, forcing the school to make more available.
The Yotes play with a roster comprised of many Treasure Valley natives, nearly all of whom are freshmen or sophomores in their eligibility. Most didn't have the opportunity to play top-tier college athletics. But Henberg says College of Idaho prides itself in having a different model than more recognizable programs in major collegiate athletics.
"Small college athletics is a model unto itself," he says. "It's students-first, academically who maybe [are] a couple sizes too small to play Division I but want to play the game for four more years. Our football players have exactly the same academic profile as the rest of the student body and we've got the best academic profile in the state."
Henberg says he's not certain College of Idaho will win its home opener Saturday, but he says fans who go to the game will see a different type of contest.
"You watch a small college game, you don't see any of the acting out or showboating. You don't see names of the players on the back of the uniforms. It's refreshing."
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