Blog Entry

Boise's come a long way during home streak

Posted on: October 25, 2010 11:51 am
Edited on: October 25, 2010 1:47 pm
Editor's note: NFL Blogger Andy Benoit shares his stories about Boise State's rise over the last 20+ years. The Broncos will be going for their 59th consecutive regular-season home victory on Tuesday night against Louisiana Tech. Boise State actually lost the Humanitarian Bowl to Boston College 27-21 in 2005, but it doesn't count in the regular-season winning streak. The University of Miami had a 58-game home winning streak in the Orange Bowl that included wins over nine Top 10 teams, four No. 1 teams and three bowl games.

By Andy Benoit

Whenever I come across a word I don’t know, I’ll write it on an index card and put it in my weekly pile of vocabulary flash cards. (Cute, right?) Last week, one of my vocab words was parvenu. Definition: a person who, having risen socially or economically, is considered to be an upstart or to lack the appropriate refinement for his or her new position.

This being a Boise State  story, you can probably guess where we’re going here. But this story isn’t another addition to the debate about the BCS or strength of schedule or polls or any of the other things people love and hate about college football. Rather, this is about the fans of Boise.

For the past 24 years, I’ve been part of a Boise community that has seen its hometown team go from the Big Sky Conference (Division I-AA), to the Big West, to the WAC, to, in 2011, the Mountain West. It’s the classic path of growth for a mid-major college football program. Except, in this case, along the way, that mid-major program erupted into a perennial power and national title contender.
The city’s reaction to Boise State success has been not unlike how you might react if, say, on your way to an Oscar party, you suddenly got invited to the actual Oscars. There’s the quick moment of disbelief. Then, the rush to go get the proper attire (you wouldn’t believe the number of orange and blue shirts sold in this city). Then, the quick spreading of the word (guess what just happened!). Finally, there’s the emotional mixture of nervousness and excitement. Except, in Boise State fans’ case, take 90 percent from nervousness and pour it into excitement.

Actually, excitement might be the wrong word. You have to be somewhat knowledgeable about something in order to be excited for it. Enthusiasm is essentially blind excitement. I’d say many – certainly not all – but many of the Boise State fans are enthusiastic these days. People who never followed football outside of watching a Super Bowl pregame show are suddenly living the life of a hardcore fan (or at least mimicking all their behaviors). These "enthusiastic fans" are the ones building the hype. (If you haven’t heard, there’s a Bronco Nation now.)

Certainly, having "enthusiastic fans" is better than not having fans at all. And, though I haven’t been part of the hardcore Boise State fan base since my junior high days (early 2000s, when the team was a few years away from first cracking the Top 25), I’d imagine the longtime hardcore Bronco fans don’t mind the enthusiastic fans coming aboard. Even if the enthusiastic fans have caused ticket prices to skyrocket.

Boise State does not actually have a lot of longtime hardcore fans. The uncomfortable truth is, Boise State is a commuter school. It's littered with non-traditional students and a bunch of kids looking to simply accumulate miscellaneous college credits. (I myself racked up six BSU credits my freshman fall semester when a book tour prevented me from beginning college in earnest at Washington State until spring.) Everyone in this state knows that if you want a classic college experience – lively campus, Greek life, that sense of community – you go up north to Moscow, at the University of Idaho.

In fairness to Boise State, the school is gradually morphing from a commuter school to more of a classic university. But it’s not there yet, which is why its current fan base consists primarily not of alumni but Boise residents. (And most of the alumni actually think of themselves as "Boise residents" first.) The fan base demographic is more like that of a professional sports team.

Because of all this, the truly serious team fans in this town – and, honestly, with this being an outdoorsy town, there might be less than 5,000 true sports fans – are all looking at one another with mutual expressions of trepidation. It’s great what’s happening to this team and city, but we can’t help but wonder if it isn’t wrong. Do Boise fans truly deserve this?

There are no long-suffering Broncos fans. This town never expected such success for Boise State. When the Broncos first cracked the Top 25, we all thought that was it – that that’s as good as it can get. And we were all fine with that. Then when the Broncos started creeping into the Top 15, we thought it was cool. Really cool, in fact. But no one got attached. Then came the BCS bowl bids. Even then, though, there was a palpable sense of "Isn't it great that our hometown boys are doing so well?" It almost didn’t matter if the Broncos won or lost because people knew they were at least trying their best. That’s nice, but as Philadelphians can tell you, that’s not true fandom.
Then the 2007 Fiesta Bowl happened. That put everything over the top. In that game, Boise fans were on the brink of catastrophic disappointment. You know, the type of disappointment that has instilled character in Eagles and Red Sox fans (and fans of countless other teams across the country). But thanks to an unforgettable series of trick plays, Boise fans were treated to magic and invigorated like never before. But they may have also been spoiled.

Because of that game, Boise fans have tasted some of the sweetest flavors of victory without ever having to swallow a bitter defeat. This fits the classic description of a bandwagon fan base. But we can’t call Boiseans bandwagoners yet because they haven’t had an opportunity to hop off. Sure, thousands of people hopped on once this team became a national power. But that’s how most fan bases start. The test will come once the Broncos truly lose.

That, of course, may not happen this season. Boise State has already survived the tough part of it schedule. With the exception of the Nevada and Hawaii games, Boise State has cupcakes remaining. It used to be, you couldn’t talk to fans around here about the questionable strength of schedule. They either didn’t understand the concept (literally) or refused to admit it was a mark against the program.

But this season, people have been at least halfway level-headed about the very legitimate topic. I imagine that will change, though, if Oregon and Boise State both finish undefeated but only the Ducks get to play in for national championship. Boise fans will get defensive about scheduling because, they’ll argue, the Broncos beat the Ducks last year and now they’re getting robbed of a chance for a title. Last year, of course, isn’t relevant, and this argument itself would be mostly illogical, but that won't matter to Boiseans.

At least then Boise fans can start hating another team (Oregon). The Broncos have no rival these days. BSU fans dislike no one. Opposing fan bases come into town, whisper among themselves about how obnoxious the Broncos fans are, but the Bronco fans have no idea because they’re oblivious to all other programs. In fact, after Boise State’s prime time victory over Oregon State a few weeks ago, I actually saw a college-aged girl decked out in full Beavers regalia walk through the jam-packed streets of Boise’s downtown nightlife district. There were gobs and gobs of Broncos fans downtown celebrating the game. You know how many of them heckled – or even playfully teased – the Beaver fan? Zero.

When you get big but continue to face little schools each year, you lose the sense of rivalry. It wasn’t always this way, of course. For the longest time, the biggest day of the sports year in Boise was the day of the Boise State vs. Idaho game. Those two fan bases truly did not like each other.

However, you know that one best friend you had growing up who never changed after high school? And you know how, when you bump into this old friend years later, you’re still shocked by how little they’ve changed (and, consequently, by how much you’ve changed)? The Idaho Vandals have become that friend to Boise State. Yes, the Broncos play in a 33,500-seat stadium, which is tiny. But at least it has new facilities and luxury boxes. And at least ESPN is here every other week. And at least people know about the blue turf. The Vandals still play in the 16,000-seat Kibbie Dome, which is somehow dinkier than it sounds. The Vandals still want to hangout with he Broncos (you know, like old times), but these days, the Broncos only smile and say, It was good to see you, take care of yourself. (By the way, regarding that blue turf – Boiseans hardly think about it. Outsiders love it, but here, it’s incredibly normal. One of the weirdest experiences I ever had was visiting the New York Jets training camp in high school and seeing a synthetic green field in person for the first time.)

Anyway, I only share the Boise State-Idaho bit because earlier this year, Boise State’s president, Bob Kustra, said publicly that there is no rivalry between the schools anymore, and that once the Broncos move to the Mountain West, there will be no benefit for them putting the Vandals on their schedule. Kustra’s assessment is 100 percent true, but still, even the Bronco fans cringed when he actually said it aloud.

Kustra’s attitude is the very attitude Boise State has grown to hate from other schools. Big-time programs have never been willing to play against Boise State because if the big-time program wins, it was supposed to win; if it loses, it’s screwed. Boiseans used to wear this as a badge of honor (those arrogant bullies are scared to face us!). Now, Boiseans don’t talk about it too much because Boise State is becoming one of those arrogant bullies.

It’s all a natural part of the process, though. And Boise fans are learning. A few weeks ago, I actually went to a Broncos game for the first time in several years. (The whole ordeal cost about five times more than it used to cost.) I noticed immediately that the tailgaters were far more widespread and sophisticated than before. And so were the fans inside. People used to call out players by their numbers. (Come on 20! Or, Get your head in the game, 97!) Now, they call out players by name. And they clearly understand concepts (noise for the opposing offense, playing field position, clock management, etc.) Plus, these fans are more invested in the team.

Literally. In the past, if you’d had shown someone a photo of a random crowd shot at Bronco Stadium, it would have taken a very shrewd detective to decipher what event the fans were attending. But at Bronco Stadium the other night, I almost felt self-conscious for not wearing orange or blue.

Overall, Boise State has been great for this city. And, this city has rallied around Boise State with a vigor I could have never imagined. But as sports towns go, this one, like the Broncos program it roots for, is still maturing. In fact, it’s just barely approaching the teenage stage. What makes me leery – and, I’d imagine, fans in other towns a little annoyed – is that this teenager has been bestowed with a level of wealth that most people, if they’re lucky, only achieve late in life.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Boise State

Since: Jul 28, 2008
Posted on: October 27, 2010 10:18 am

Boise's come a long way during home streak

Let's just put this debate to bed already.  Below is the official stance from the NCAA.  UM has the record and Boise has a ways to go to break it...Period...end of story!

Note: The NCAA observes "home winning streaks" as a particular team's unbroken series of winning on that particular team's home field. With regards to winning streaks, to include home winning streaks, the NCAA does not differentiate a regular season loss from a postseason loss; moreover, the NCAA does not discriminate a regular season win from a postseason win. In accordance with this standard, the NCAA recognizes the Miami Hurricanes as possessor of such a record, in consideration of three Orange Bowl victories, which sets the record of home winning streaks at 58.

Source: NCAA
(page 213)

Since: Oct 27, 2010
Posted on: October 27, 2010 5:41 am

Boise's come a long way during home streak

Wow...REALLY???  Sounds like somebody has a small manhood issue.  We have only been in the big show since 1995 there pal.  How long has Miami been in the bigs?  85 years.  NOBODY will schedule us, so you can take your Wake Forest, Maryland, Virginia and DUKE???.... power schedule and blow it out sideways man.  Miami did most of its damage when you could have 95+ scholarships allowing your southeast colleges to LOAD and STACK a first string quality player and make them 2nd string.  Hence, you will not have to play against that defensive end who might have went to another school in your weak conference.  Lowering the scholarships to 85 was the smartest thing the NCAA has ever done to even the playing field.  Just ask Bobby Bowden.  You could see the tears in his eyes when he was asked why FSU hasn't been doing so well as of late.  Bowden replied. "We can only have 85 scholarships."  How many times has Miami been on probation?  How many of those victories should be taken off the board due to NCAA violations?  Your postseason bowl record is 18-15.  Just 3 games over .500 huh?  Not so good for someone who has been in the "FBS" for 85 years?  Isn't it true that Miami footballers have a higher arrest record than graduation record?  Hoodlums won your championships and they are in prison now.  PROPS...GOOD JOB!!!  That's sure is something to be proud of!!!  2001-2002 were great teams, I'll give you that.  But Miami has been in the toilet ever since Erickson left them with probation violations.  Butch Davis drove the bus into the lake. 
As for VA Tech., I look at that issue as if we beat them twice LOL.  Va Tech was physically and mentally beat on that Saturday after playing us on Monday.  4 DAYS TO REST AND PREPARE FOR ANOTHER GAME THAT WEEK.  Blame the AD for the scheduling blunder, not our quality win with nearly 100,000 Va Tech fans in the house.  Last time I checked James Madison was a pretty good FCS team.  On November 20, Va Tech will ERASE any chance you think you have at an ACC title.  All of your south-east blueblood, blue hair, slave owning bias mamba-jamba is .."Embarrassing. Laughable. Pathetic!!!!"  How would YOU like it if you were in our shoes?  Everyone in the south saying we play in a weak conference.  Haven't paid your dues.  Always making excuses and avoiding the real fact.  The Team and quality of players.  We would SMOKE Miami this year.  You know it and that's why you are so bitter.  You should take a page from Dwayne Johnsons respect playbook.  He actually laced them up, battled in the trenches and YOU didn't!!!  The power of Karma will keep programs like yours in the toilet.  North Carolina and Florida are the next southeast schools to receive the death penalty.  Moral of the the story.  DON'T CHEAT like the BCS does.  At least the BCS is better than the pollsters that got you into 4 championships.  What a crock tale!!!

Since: Oct 27, 2010
Posted on: October 27, 2010 12:25 am

Boise's come a long way during home streak

Let me get this straight, you think Oregon wears all green uniforms at home?  When is the last time you have seen all green uniforms Oregon had wore at home that acutaully match to the field color.  80+ uniform combinations, not one like BSU.  There is no mistaking Bronco's field is a color match to the uniforms.  I will respect BSU's game at home, they have beat a few select teams at home (3 or 4 at most) and a but load of average to below average teams. 

Since: Apr 28, 2008
Posted on: October 26, 2010 10:19 pm

Boise's come a long way during home streak

allCanes: I don't think the written piece is meant for competition! Writing articles is not Sparta v Roma. Toe to toe? Benoit covered all of your points of contention...and nowhere was it meant to be a spit in the face. Jealous much? Just enjoy the article. Oh, and if you want to write one on the Canes...go right ahead. We won't resent it...unless it is tinged with the same sense of self-justification and little man syndrome as your reply. Jeez. Chill, buddy.

Since: Oct 16, 2008
Posted on: October 26, 2010 10:18 pm

Boise's come a long way during home streak

If you're going to accuse a team of having an unfair advantage for wearing uniforms that blend with the field then hell yes, you have to include those teams that wear green on a green turf. You're simply showing your bias otherwise.

Since: Apr 28, 2008
Posted on: October 26, 2010 10:13 pm

Boise's come a long way during home streak

Lame complaints Beardown. The Jets shouldn't wear green, either? Do you seriously believe they have an advantage becaues their unis are a similar color to the field? Seriously? Do you also find it tricky to eat cheerios when they are so similar in color to the milk in which they bathe?

Since: Nov 23, 2009
Posted on: October 26, 2010 9:32 pm

Boise's come a long way during home streak

I am all for the non-BCS teams getting their due, but that blue turf just reminds people of how amaturish Boise St is as welll as the conference as a whole.  You want respect, then a good start would be replacing that gay turf.  Act and look like a D1 team and maybe people will respect you as one.  Plus, a big reason you are blowing out these teams is because of the advantage you have with your turf-matching uniforms.  Not sure why Boise St is allowed to wear uni's that blend into the turf color.

Since: Oct 26, 2010
Posted on: October 26, 2010 8:46 pm

BSU's beat up on nobodies, building a weak resume

Boise State lost to Boston College on December 28th, 2005. That ended the 'home' win streak. 
Doesn't matter if it was a bowl game and if they were 'technically' the away team. Home turf. Loss. Period. 
Even sadder, the fact that Boston College was one of the better teams to play on that blue turf. The others who came to town to take on Boise State at home this past decade? 

Idaho. Utah State. Hawaii. Fresno State. Rice. Louisiana Tech. Idaho State. Wyoming. Tulsa. Oregon State. BYU. Southern Methodist. Bowling Green. Portland State. New Mexico State. Sacramento State. Utah. Weber State. Southern Miss. Oregon. Miami (OH). UC Davis. 
Embarrassing. Laughable. Pathetic. 
Miami's biggest wins on their climb to 58 straight? 
No. 1 Oklahoma (9/27/86) ... No. 10 Notre Dame (11/25/87) ... No. 8 South Carolina (12/5/87) ... No. 1 Oklahoma (1/1/88 - national championship) ... No. 1 Florida State (9/3/88) ... No. 8 Arkansas (11/26/88) ... No. 6 Nebraska (1/2/89 - OB) ... No. 1 Notre Dame (11/25/89) ... No. 2 Florida State (10/6/90)... No. 10 Houston (9/12/91) ... No. 9 Penn State (10/12/91) ... No. 11 Nebraska (1/1/92) ... No. 3 Florida State (10/3/92) 
Boise State doesn't have ONE win over that caliber on their schedule. Highest ranked team the Broncos beat? No. 16 Oregon last year. After that, No. 24 Oregon State this year. 
As for Andy Benoit's cute little piece, I'll go toe-to-toe with you any day, amigo. I'm 36 years old, born and raised in Miami and grew up going to games at the Orange Bowl. 
From the time I was in fourth grade through my senior year of high school, I witnessed FOUR national championships for the Canes - not to mention a few that UM left on the field. Real football games. Not some piddly little wins over glorified high schools. Those games I listed above? I was in the house for all but two. 
Credit Boise State for being a solid football team this year, but the revisionist history needs to stop. It's truly been a few impressive seasons -- not the twenty year climb you paint it as. 
It'll take more than beating a Virginia Tech squad that James Madison upended a week later to consider yourself hanging with the big boys. It'll also take more than another bowl win over TCU - another Cinderella squad that plays nobody all year, en route to playing the BCS system like a fiddle. 
Even if you won 158 games in a row on that turf, y'all will never touch what Miami did. -

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: October 26, 2010 8:03 pm

Boise's come a long way during home streak

No school sees any advantage in altering there goals to somehow provide Boise St with some kind of legitimacy. If you are an SEC power, and have 11 tough games and an SEC Final, why try to give Boise St their 3rd or 4th win and they get essentially a bye to the NT.

Boise St gets a bye to the NT with the win. Their opponent has 12 tough games instead of 11, and the game does nothing much for their chances, as Boise St is just shown as a paper tiger and gets eliminated.

So that is the problem in a nut shell. Their conferences simply lack quality teams and they are hard to judge. And though Boise St can fairly say: PLAY US.... the others say, why???????????

If Boise St had a tough conference, they might get better OOC offers; but then again, would they want them? Boise St might then say, why play a tough OOC game, we have moved from 3 to 9 already.

Since: Nov 22, 2007
Posted on: October 26, 2010 6:42 pm

Boise's come a long way during home streak

The author is 24 years old and he is sharing "his stories" of BSU over the last 20+ years. Give me a break.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or