AT's Blog – From A to T

Occasional observations and random musings from Cali to DC

Growing up a Boise State Bronco fan

Posted by ataylorblog on September 24, 2010

As Kirk Herbstreit and the ESPN College GameDay commentators descend upon Boise, ID this week to prepare to talk all things college football on Saturday morning to those of us gridiron junkies who wake up early in order to hop on the couch & get set for wall to wall college football, my head is filled with many wonderful memories of growing up a Boise State Bronco fan.

I know jaws are dropping out in cyberspace right now, but for those of you who didn’t know…yes, it is true.  I am a native of the 43rd state.  I was born and raised in Mountain Home, ID (a town about 40 miles southeast of Boise).  Growing up, the speed limit was 55 mph, so getting to games was a “road-trip”, but nowadays Mtn Home is nothing more than a suburb of Boise (taking some of us with lead feet 20 minutes to get there).

It sounds like viewers are in for a special treat this Saturday morning as the GameDay set will be live from the “Smurf Turf”!  Don’t adjust your TV sets.  Folks in Boise (except for those University of Idaho Vandal fans) are pretty excited about the national media attention they’ve been receiving & plan to show up en masse.  Apparently, Nebraska holds the record for 16,000 fans attending the morning show, so I hope that Bronco Nation takes the challenge & comes out to break the record.

I was talking to a friend recently & he challenged me to think of a collegiate program that has had such a dramatic rise to acclaim in our lifetime than Boise State has had over the course of the last decade.  He mentioned Miami “The U” Hurricanes and their rise to dominance in the 80’s after relative anonymity (by the way, the ESPN 30 in 30 episode on The U was very entertaining).  Maybe you can reference Colorado’s success in the ’90’s and West Virginia’s success during a similar time frame, but you will be hard pressed to identify a program that has witnessed as monumental a journey as BSU.

Founded in 1932 as Boise Junior College, BSU didn’t become a four-year institution with university status until 1974.  That’s just 36 years ago.  The Broncos won the I-AA Championship in 1980 and was still competing in I-AA football as recently as the mid-1990’s.  Less than two decades later, they are a legitimate contender & have become regulars on the bowl scene.

As someone who has to regular help folks with their geography lesson (no, Idaho is not in the midwest) and must distinguish Idaho from Iowa or Ohio…times like these make me want to reminisce about my days of “growing up a Boise State Bronco fan”.  Here are 10 special memories that popped into my mind tonight (in no particular order):

  1. Watching from the bleachers in the end zone as the Broncos took on the Grambling Tigers in the I-AA semis in 1980.  It was FREEZING that day & I had on what seemed like 20 layers of clothing.  We had a blast watching Everson Walls (who later was drafted by my Cowboys) and the Tigers compete.
  2. Snagging some cash from my dad so that I could run across the street from the stadium to get a burger from the Bronco Grill before games.  I always kept the change : )
  3. Finding a $20 bill in the bushes the afternoon before our rivalry game versus the U of I while tailgating with our family friends the Wright’s & Harvey’s (I was like 9 years old, so this was a big deal…I went on to open my first bank account with that $20)
  4. Climbing the stairs to where our season tickets were (nosebleed).  I was too scared to look down.
  5. Attending BSU games when my brother Gary was being heavily recruited by them.  We sat across the field from our parents’ seats near the student section (which made me feel pretty cool) and my mom armed us with a huge brown bag of home-made popcorn (with extra butter of course).
  6. Trying to catch the plastic footballs the cheerleaders threw into the stands.  Never caught one sadly.
  7. Sneaking down to the seats that had heat lamps…not much luck here either.  Those folks weren’t giving up their seats.
  8. Watching my oldest brother Greg play for the Broncos.
  9. Watching Cedric Mintor run for touchdown after touchdown & Hazen Choates run & pass for touchdowns.
  10. The Blue Turf.  Enough said.  I admit I was a little skeptical when I first heard they were installing blue turf, but when Sports Illustrated covered it, I thought…maybe it’s not so bad after all.  I will admit that I have not “personally” witnessed birds diving into the turf, but I have had the rumor from numerous sources!

Now the question you probably all are wondering about.  Does this native Idahoan feel that the Broncos legitimately deserve a chance to compete for the BCS Championship?  Yes, I absolutely do and it’s not just because of my fond memories of growing up in the Great Potato State.  I realize that all of the naysayers out there feel that they are not deserving simply because of their weak conference schedule.  But in a free market society, shouldn’t everyone have an equal chance to compete for the right to hold up 1 finger (get your minds out of the gutter…I’m talking about the finger that signifies that you are #1/the best/the champions)?

While some programs have the chance on an annual basis to compete for the championship, the system has forced the Broncos to have an amazing cumulative body of work over the last 3-4 years in order to garner a ranking high enough at the onset of this season to even be in the conversation for the national championship game.  All these kids can do is play the teams on their schedule.  Unless the NCAA finally changes the current BCS system to create a true playoff system, the major conferences are shoe-ins for these game. Until then, based on what they have done on the field, an undefeated Boise State team absolutely deserves to play in the big game.  I think we all would love to see it.  David versus Goliath.  A program that has overcome the odds.  Kids who have achieved an amazing feat.  A city that is now known for more than potatoes and blue turf.  That’s stuff that dreams are made of & a made for TV movie.

I, for one, hope that BSU’s “body of work” the next couple of months justifies the voters to give them a chance at history & the computers validating their on-field success.  If it happens, I may have to withdraw that $20 bill from my account, have my mom dig out some of those blue & orange pom poms we used to take to the games & get my tickets to watch history being made!

Go Broncos!

**The only thing better than seeing the Broncos in the BCS Championship game this year would be watching BSU vs. Stanford in the championship game!!!  Go Cardinal too!!!

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