Before attempting to explain the secret sauce that sits atop a Bronco Burger, the first thing I need to do is invite you to take a bite. Oh, and by the way, you can only get one at Boise State's Bronco Stadium. If you're a fan of college football, and not just a fair-weather fan of just one school, Boise would love to have you come visit.
Trying to describe the Boise State college football experience is a little like trying to explain Custard King. Now, I've tried custard from coast to coast, but about eight years ago a business colleague interrupted a pretty important meeting and dragged me to a nondescript counter in south Tulsa. Minutes later, I was hooked. I haven't returned to Tulsa since, but to this day I have longed for Custard King. Why? I have no idea. I guess I could have asked for the recipe, but what's the point? That's pretty much how I feel about Boise State football.
If I had to start with describing my affection, I guess I'd start with the chef ... uh, coach. Everything you've heard about Chris Petersen is true. Coach Pete is an enigma. Now, I'm sure you've heard the same about a half dozen coaches, from Urban Meyer to Nick Saban. But Petersen is the real deal. He keeps his cards very close to the vest and could care less about the BCS or Bowl Games (until it actually comes time to play in one). Honestly. Want to know what he really cares about? His conference. He focuses entirely on winning a conference championship and allows post-season play to be sorted out by the suits. This year he cares about the WAC. Next year, it will be the Mountain West (when Boise State jumps to a new conference). You can ask Peterson about the bowls until your face is as blue as the Smurf turf, and you will have wasted your time.
Which brings us to the blue.
As in the big blue. As in the big blue football field at Bronco Stadium. I'm guessing that when you see the blue turf on TV, you think it's butt ugly (by the way, I really hope your butt isn't blue). But in person, the field is kinda nice. Really. It's unlike any other football experience in the country. Sure, there are some high schools with blue fields (and Eastern Washington University has recently gone red), there's something special about watching big-time Division I teams (and yes, that includes Tulsa) play on the blue. Very cool. Literally and figuratively. And believe it or not, it's easy on the eyes.
Next, let's talk about strength of schedule. For the past few years, gridiron prognosticators (usually from the East Coast) bemoan Boise State's weak schedule. Truth is, they're right. The Western Athletic Conference blows. Sure, Nevada and occasionally Fresno State man up. But I couldn't be happier about Boise State's shift to the Mountain West. Anyway, Fresno State and Nevada will also be moving to the Mountain West year after next. And as for non-conference play, Boise State has risen to the challenge time and time again. Just ask Oregon or Virginia Tech. And Oklahoma and Texas Tech have seen the business-end of bowl game matchups with the Broncos.
Above all, Boise State fans are a swell bunch. The older folks fondly remember the days of Division II football in the 1970s, followed by a 1980 Div. I-AA national championship. But contemporary fans have been treated to players who display class and style like quarterback Kellen Moore, tailback Doug Martin and wide receiver Titus Young. And heaven help the young man who pulls a cheap shot or makes an inexcusable mistake. Coach Petersen will have none of it. And he will not think twice about benching anyone, no matter the game. Class. Boise parents regularly point to the coach and his team as role models.
I'm not a Boise State alumnus, but since the day I moved to Idaho ten years ago, I've been a season ticket holder. I've held season tickets for college and pro teams in California, Pennsylvania and yes, Texas. But I can tell you, without exception, the best time I've ever had at a college game has been at Bronco Stadium. And I'm pretty sure that it will only be surpassed by the next game. They're that good.
Editor's Note: George Prentice is the news editor of Boise Weekly. His column appears here as part of an exchange with UTW's Dwayne Davis. You can read Dwayne's column this week online at boiseweekly.com.
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