Random Thoughts – Fiesta Bowl Follow Up Edition

BoiseStateI know its April and 3 months since the gloriousness that was the Fiesta Bowl, but since today is the Blue and Orange game, I thought I might wrap up a few random thoughts I’ve had in my head since the bowl.

First and foremost, this is an amazing time for me. Seeing Boise State mentioned all over, in every news outlet, every website, every sports fan was talking about my favorite team, all at the same time. And it lasted for a month solid. Hell it is still going.

This is difficult to explain to a lot of sports fans. Anyone that is a die hard fan of any pro team or major college team just can’t understand what this is like. They are used to seeing references to their teams everywhere. Those teams are included in every season preview. Those teams are covered in every news outlet. You will see them on every SportsCenter.

But growing up a Boise State fan, or of any smaller school for that mater, is a different deal. I was the guy 15 years ago who would rush home from an amazing game hoping to see the Boise State score on the ESPN “crawl” of scores that the bottom of the screen. I would see that and get a jolt of excitement. We were on the map! Granted, no one else in the country gave a damn about a Boise State vs. Weber State score, but dammit, we were included.

Fast forward to now. Being at the game, you didn’t get a feeling for how huge it really is. You didn’t have access to all the talking heads discussing your team. Praising your team. Comparing this game to the greatest football games of all time. By the time we made it back to the hotel and turned on ESPN, we had missed all the college specific stuff, but Boise State was a big part of SportsCenter that night. I knew it was a huge deal when in the airport the next morning ABC World News did 40 seconds on the game and of couse, the proposal. Wow.

Then, all the resulting hullabaloo was just icing on the cake.

Boise State has a seat at the table now. For example, a few weeks ago, USA Today published their college football recruiting round up. Boise State was one of the 15 teams they talked about. I’ve had to totally change the way I search for BSU info now. It used to be, you could pretty much avoid any national publications/broadcasts simply because they wouldn’t talk about you EVER. You had local coverage, and that was it. Six or seven years ago, FoxSports.com used to rank all D-1 football teams 1-115. I read that list religiously every Monday, checking to see the Broncos move from 67th to 64th or something. Or getting pissed if we dropped 2 spots after a win. I know full well, they spent a total of about 30 seconds ranking those bottom teams, but dammit it meant something to me!

But now, ESPN, USA Today, New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Fox, ABC, you name it, they are talking Broncos. When I stop to think about it, it blows my mind.

Just today, the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio spent time talking about the story about Ian & Chrissy’s wedding and how the NCAA is monitoring gifts the couple might get. (The same story was on SportsCenter yesterday).

I’ve heard and read a lot of discussion about college football finally getting a playoff system. Lots of people think that game shows why we need a playoff. Frankly, after thinking about it a lot, I’m in favor of the current system. I mean, suppose we won that huge game with OU, but the very next week we had to go play Florida. They would have kicked our heads in. Instead of ending the season on the immense high that we did, it would have ended in just another loss. The only advantage we had in the Fiesta Bowl was that OU was maybe a little overconfident, and our tremendous coaching staff had a full month to game plan. Both of those advantages would go out the window the next week. And we all saw how Florida made the wire to wire number 1 team in the country Ohio State look like a high school team. I’m ok with Boise State not getting a shot at the National Championship. We’ve only been D-1 for 10 years. Now, would I have turned the offer down? Of course not. But, so long as they give underdogs like us a shot at the big bowls, I say that is just fine with me.

I heard an interview with a kid the Broncos had recruited and signed before the bowl game, who lives in Florida. This kid said that his whole school was rooting for the Broncos in the game, and when we won, he got about 40 phone calls from friends and family congratulating him. He said a bunch of friends in his school bought Boise State gear and started wearing it around. Can you imagine that? Deep in the heart of SEC country, kids are wearing Boise State clothing?

Speaking of SEC, we never have to hear the word “Georgia” ever again. That loss 2 years ago undid about 10 years of work building this program. When the pundits would talk Boise State it was always, “Yeah, but look what happened at Georgia”. No more.

On my recent Oregon Coast trip, people recognized my BSU hat and mentioned the game. I’ve heard stories about people all over the country, and the world for that matter, having their Boise State clothing noticed and mentioned about. That was unimaginable just a few short years ago.

Jared Zabransky on the cover of EA Sports NCAA Football 2008 is huge. It’s something that not a lot of people who aren’t video gamers might not think about, but the amount of free advertising that gives the school is huge! I have last years which had Reggie Bush on the cover, and you see him and USC all over the place. This may describe just how much of a geek I am, but after the bowl was over, and we were driving to the hotel, in my head I honestly thought, “They need to put Z on the cover of the game!”… sad but true.

fiesta-bowl-trip057 I’m so glad that game happened against Oklahoma. They are one of college footballs giants. OU, Michigan, USC, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas… those are the royalty. Oklahoma has SEVEN national championships. They were the Big 12 champs. This wasn’t a down and out Kansas State team. Or a bad Iowa State team that got lucky and made it to the bowl. This was the big dog. Makes the game that much sweeter.

I have watched the game dozens of times. When the end comes, and Z throws that interception, I have never been more conflicted about a play in my life. When it happened, I thought the world was going to end. Game over for sure. I hate interceptions anyway, but that one was the worst of all time. Yet, without it, we would have never had the finish we did. Just an odd juxtaposition it puts me in.

fiesta-bowl-trip086This is getting a little long, but I will end it with this.

I used to have this discussion with people… If you could go back in time for any sporting event to view in person, but not have any knowledge of how the game would turn out (like you were watching it live) which game would you choose? My answer was always easy. The 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team Miracle on Ice vs. the USSR. Now, while I still feel that would be a huge one to be at, I have realized that my answer has finally changed. I would choose the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The amazing thing is, I WAS ACTUALLY AT THAT GAME. I can think of fiesta-bowl-trip081nothing better than being in that place at that time with 30,000 fellow orange clad Bronco fans cheering our guts out for 3 hours. Sometimes I still can’t believe it actually happened.

I will take that memory with me to my grave. And cherish it every single day.