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A la recherche du Big Games perdu. Or Sometimes “Purdue”

Great Losses Build Great Traditions. Are You Listening Boise State?

By Joe Bodolai © 2010, All rights reserved

I wasn’t planning on writing about college football today, but then I didn’t plan on my current haircut turning out like this either. Uncertainty over the plot surprises Saturday’s journey through the schedule brings and how it’s going to end is what I really love about college football more than any other sport. Ohio State’s loss to Wisconsin is a bad haircut they’re going to have to wear this fall, just as they had to endure the unexpected buzz cut at the hands of Purdue last season. Just as Alabama must after their mullet of a loss to South Carolina. I mean, it’s not ghastly or shocking like the pink mohawk the Michigan Wolverines had to wear to the church of St. J. Crew in Ann Arbor on that Sunday after losing to Appalachian State. They now have to wear the geeky no-bowl cut they’ve been sporting thanks to stylist Mr. RichRod of NastyKuts.

Fans of college football teams with great rich traditions are used to enduring the pain of great losses, especially to great rivals,

Now that's a rivalry!

in the great story arcs that cover decades and are passed on through generations. Like Ohio State, Michigan, and every other Big Ten team, or Alabama and every other SEC team, or Oregon (my number one team right now) vs. Oregon State in their “civil war”, these annual matchups are often full of storylines that include redemption and revenge and “bragging rights”, which is often a euphemism for insightful analyses, usually slurred screams using the word “suck.”


Great losses make great victories possible even during the regular season. Even when there is no “mythical national championship” on the line, or even if the two teams are not “ranked” in the “Top Ten”, the Ohio State – Michigan game is almost always the biggest of the year. Just ask Buckeye fans about the crushing loss in 1997, or Wolverine fans about their sixth consecutive loss in the rivalry last year. The SEC may be full of Hatfields and McCoys, but OSU-Michigan is all Sunni-Shiite.

So this is why I cannot care about Boise State. First of all, they play on blue turf! Yes, I’m a traditionalist. I think football should be played on real green grass. I still hate artificial turf but at least it’s supposed to be green. So I’m a traditionalist also in thinking corn should come from seeds, not from Monsanto, which, coincidentally, created Astroturf.

As they are one of a dwindling number of undefeated teams, college football fans really should care about Boise State. We really really should. And we should floss three times a day. So let’s try. What exactly are Boise State’s long and storied traditions? Here is their entire list as found on their totally not official website boise.stateuniversity.com.

Boise State University Traditions

“Few trademarks are as recognizable or as proudly demonstrated as the blue astro turf of Bronco Stadium. Every televised game and following highlight makes the stadium undeniably recognizable to every Bronco fan across the country.”

That’s all? That is the entire section! So the turf at Bronco Stadium is a “trademark”? Or do they mean the Blue “astro turf[1]” (sic) that is “recognizable to every Bronco fan across the country?” No, wait, “undeniably recognizable!” (“Excuse me, Mr. Potatohead. I deny that you recognize that turf!”) I’m sorry, but buckeyes and winged helmets are recognized by every college football fan across the country!  So there’s no “dotting the I” in Boise? No “potato bowl” trophy in a rivalry with, I guess, Idaho? Just blue turf?  And “Bronco fans” to me are probably more prevalent in Denver, home to the NFL Broncos, from whom the Boise State nickname, logo, and colors seem to undeniably derive, created no doubt in the halcyon shag carpet era. (Now known as the Mel Kiper Hair era.)

She Said Yes, Will BCS Computers?

Their football program does include one (1) Junior College championship in 1958, titles won in the two previous years by Texarkana Community College and Coffeyville CC. They have one (1) member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Randy Trautman, about whom the most current information listed is “photo coming soon.” Their program consists of one (1) incredible signature win – the cheerleader accepting the quarterback’s marriage proposal on live TV after they upset Oklahoma in the Doritos Tangy Nacho Bowl. Of course it was a great game, “The Little Giants” surprising everyone with a trick play is  always a great feel good story. And they are no doubt a very very good football team. Just how good, and how much it really matters though, we don’t know. And I really really am trying to care. Almost as much as I do about getting more public restrooms on the Promenade in Santa Monica. Almost. Right now that matters way more.

Jennifer, Lesbians Endure Heartbreaking Losses

Your team needs some “signature losses”. Losses that derail hopes. Losses that last a long time. Like Jennifer felt losing Brad. Then watching him score with Angelina. That stuff hurts, not to mention the envy losers feel, like lesbians watching somebody else hook up with their dreamgirl Angelina and then it having be a man! Must be almost as bad as USC fans watching Vince Young hold up the Coaches’ Trophy.

Boiseans, Boiseites, Boisereans, root like hell. I really do hope your team goes undefeated. I know that 48-0 win yesterday over…. let’s see… San Jose State  must have been another barnburner with just 41 style points coming in the first half. And yeah, you did beat Virginia Tech. But unless there’s a matchup between you and Division I.IX James Madison, who also beat Virginia Tech, we won’t really know much. Stay healthy, finish out your exhibition season, then, please go and lose in the National Championship game or the Rose Bowl or something that will actually mean something and hurt. Hell, win the damn game! The one thing you don’t have is a past, at least not one that matters a whole pile of potatoes to anybody. Losses build a history to make winning matter!

Like a new gang member, you have to get “jumped in”. It might hurt, but until then, you can’t wear the colors.

In the meantime, try to enjoy the Boise State fight song here, which literally does fight good taste to actually be called a song. It’s apparently played after every Broncos touchdown, of which there have been 2,935 scads in recent years, meaning that even after all this repetition the fact that no one who is not actually in the Boise State band can even hum it kinda sums up the whole lack of impact on the national football consciousness thing or something. Sorry, got distracted… Auburn-Arkansas highlights are on.

Boise State Fight Song

[1] Astroturf ® is a registered trademark of the Monsanto Corporation and, as people who run a university should know, is spelled as one word.

  1. Billy
    October 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Yes Joe, you’re absolutely sports writer material. I’m glad you’ve decided to pursue it in earnest. The ‘gotta have a great loss’ angle is fresh. All the other ones talk about is that winning crap. Keep up the good work.

  2. Billy
    October 17, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Oh, that freekin’ fight song is hard to hum.

    • October 19, 2010 at 4:53 pm

      Hey, thanks for your comment. Perhaps you didn’t get the joke? The main one is I spent all that time writing about Boise State saying I don’t care about them. Trust me, I cared enough not to care.

      Now the fact that you thought I am a “journalist” is an insult, although, in fairness, you consider me a bad one, so I do appreciate that.

      The website I quoted is one as described as “the totally not official website”. The point of that was — let’s see if I can remember or just make something up? — oh, that a website about (not “by”) the university can only name one “tradition” pretty much means that we don’t really know much about the tradition of the place. Do students there do anything interesting? Let me know. Also, let me know which half of my material I should have tossed out. I’m always up for making it tighter. If I cut out the vowels, though, I’m just down about 20% (depending on the use of the letter “y” it could go to 21%).

      Now are you telling me the logo of the Bronco is the same as it was in 1933? Wow, if so, that’s a look for that era only comparable to the Jungendstil movement, which coincidentally was also popular in Germany in 1933. (See: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1241656/Jugendstil)

      I am confused by this this point though: “I believe if closely analyzed most of colleges (sic) great traditions would at a (sic) laughed at if they were started today.” Um, isn’t the point of a tradition that it wasn’t started today? And how exactly do you decide how to start a tradition? The whole “quarterback proposing to the cheerleader in the stands” thing never really caught on, but then I’ve seen the cheerleaders. Yes, I know, it is a cheap shot. Not as cheap as the one I heard about the reason Boise State’s turf is blue — “to keep the cheerleaders from grazing”. I think it was a guy from one of your rivals who said that. I just don’t know who those rivals are.

      Wow, “a family of UT and Texas A&M paid ten grand to play a flag football game on the Blue”! That is some kind of family! What was the point spread?

      Sorry about the crushing losses. I really didn’t know Boise State played Georgia. Did anyone in Georgia notice? What were the stakes?

      I do admit Boise State handled Oregon very well and those were great wins. Unfortunately, they were early in the season. So keep on winning Broncos!

  3. Don W
    October 19, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Isn’t it common to do just a little research for an article?

    “And “Bronco fans” to me are probably more prevalent in Denver, home to the NFL Broncos, from whom the Boise State nickname, logo, and colors seem to undeniably derive, created no doubt in the halcyon shag carpet era.”

    The Denver Broncos came into being in 1959 as a franchise of the old AFL. By that time BSU had been the Blue & Orange Broncos for 26 years.

    The website you cite is not affiliated with the university. Dot com means commercial while dot edu means educational, (as people who purport to be a journalist should know). Why don’t you try http://www.boisestate.edu/ or http://www.broncosports.com/ if you want information on BSU. Of course if you did you would have had to toss out half of your material.

    As far as The Blue is concerned. I believe if closely analyzed most of colleges great traditions would be looked at a laughed at if they were started today. Dotting the “I”, isn’t that cute! Seriously? UGA what the hell does shrubbery have to do with football!?!? Fight songs? How flipping roaring 20’s is that? Do you listen to Glenn Miller in your spare time? Over time we stop analyzing and start accepting. You might as well start accepting The Blue. Local opinion is 4 to 1 in favor of keeping it and we really don’t give a Flying Dutchman what others think. Despite your opinion The Blue is one of the most iconic college football traditions. If you disagree go check out Sports Illustrated’s list from a few years back. Recently a family of UT and Texas A&M paid 10 grand to play a flag football game on The Blue.

    As far as crushing losses how about UGA in 2005. That one, (along with the one against South Carolina), is still shoved in our faces as, “proof”, that BSU can’t handle the big bad SEC. Doesn’t matter that it was our worst team of the last several years or that it pretty much was one player having a complete mental breakdown on the field. It doesn’t even matter that there’s nobody left on the current team that played in that game. It’s still used as proof we can’t handle the big boys. Of course we’re not allowed to site BSU’s domination of Oregon last year because, of course, that was last year. Based on BSU’s experience with their loss to UGA they decided they’d forgo the usual lessons learned by losing and just win all of their games. The results have been positive so far we’ll keep you posted.

    Could we please just get a playoff so that all the big boys can just put the BSU, TCU and Utah’s of the world in their place and be done with it. What could the big boys possibly be afraid of? We know they’ll do anything for money and a playoff would generate ungodly piles of cash.

  4. Moon
    October 19, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    You missed the Division I-AA (FCS) championship in ’80 as well. Kinda hard for a school largely comprised of non-traditional students and a football program that has mainly served as a stepping stone for most coaches to create a list of storied traditions.

    Also of note, Boise State has only been playing football as a four year school for something like 40 years, only the last 14 years of which have been played as an FBS school. Would it seem normal to you for a bunch of commuting students to go ‘hog wild’ over the football team their school produces when they play in games like the Division I-AA championship and only 8,000 people show up to watch?? I don’t think so. Who the heck is going to get riled up about us playing Eastern Kentucky? I’m sure I could find better things to do. Ohio State has been playing football on a stage of national importance for 118 years being crowned national champions 5 times in this span. Boise state has been nationally important, to some, for less than 5 years.

    Give it time, the traditions will come. Boise State is growing fast and has been increasing its number of traditional students each year. There has been one tradition, however, that has always been a constant at Boise State, whether nationally important or not, and that is its bitter rivalry with the University of Idaho. For more info on this rivalry check this article written by a local sports enthusiast and statistician. If you felt passionately enough about this issue to write about it it’s worth a glance. This article only touches the surface of the rivalry and lists some of it’s more comical occasions.

    • Moon
    • LaveSusManos
      October 19, 2010 at 10:29 pm

      #4, our “author” Joe here is a sarcastic little fart. The obnoxious kind that occurs after eating a large pile of broccoli. I found his piece to be hilarious, but only from the standpoint of his ignorance trying to pass itself off as comedy. I say if he wants to live in the past, let him. His beloved Oregon team has been whipped by BSU twice in the past two years — once on their turf, and once on ours. Does “early in the season” matter (as he says)? Funny, at the end of the season the powers that be look at the total list of W’s and L’s, so no, it doesn’t. Facts are facts: His beloved Oregon team was whipped by BSU the past two years straight. In the end, he’s just another blowhard looking to make excuses and trying to be funny while he does it. He’s just like the other obnoxious little farts I know. Let him be. It’s entertaining as hell to watch this type squirm, especially when they insist they’re not squirming.

      • Moon
        October 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

        haha, thanks for the enlightenment! I didn’t realize he was an Oregon fan! This explains a lot.

  5. October 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I’m not an Oregon fan! I do like the Ducks, and they have 300 or so uniform combinations, which you might think I wouldn’t respect but I do. I just don’t know who does continuity when they edit their highlight films. I like all schools with good academic programs too.

    Are terms such as “sarcastic little fart”, “blowhard”, and “this type” taught in the BSU English department? LaveSonCul does have command of punctuation with his use of quotation marks for the word “author”.

    I think it would be great for all Boise State fans if your team does go to the National Championship. It would be like the Florida Marlins in the World Series. And whether they win or lose, it would be a great step for your school in the national consciousness. My point is really simple; Boise State has earned some attention, but who knows anything about them other than blue turf? And remember, if you have to “do research” on the team, doesn’t that kinda mean nobody really knows much about them? I don’t need to “do research” on Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Navy, Florida, The U, etc. But for Boise? I’m glad they have a rivalry with Idaho and I will check out Moon’s suggestion and look it up. See, that’s how comments work to further communication and ideas.

    Secondly, if the irony of the whole thing is lost on Don and LaveSurMar, here’s the point: I WROTE about NOT CARING!!! If I didn’t care, I would do what I always have done, and probably will go back to until January, is absolutely not caring. Get some media attention for something other than blue turf and the great wins will give a mental picture to America about who Boise State is, what goes on there. Get Todd Blackledge to go to a Broncos fan diner and show us your… potato souffle or whatever specialty they have. Something about tailgating. What have the students done on game days? SOMETHING!!! A tradition is people not plastic grass.

    • Don W
      October 21, 2010 at 9:05 am

      I would say that the irony of the piece is the fact that you wrote a piece about not caring about a college football team that you just spent time writing an article about.

      If you didn’t care why write the article…see…ironic…

      You CARE! Aw, how sweet!

      • October 21, 2010 at 9:41 am

        Thanks for explaining it Don. Now just go out there and get a bunch of fans together and start something fun and unique to Boise. Then, whether you win or lose, at least we’ll know something about who you guys are. Make me care about something other than just the score.

  6. Mashfeldt Pregoria
    October 23, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    I love your column Joe. We love football, it’s a great diversion, but, if you sour milk critics haven’t noticed, the country is going to hell in a hand basket. If you don’t go out and vote, then you and every other college team deserves the crappy candidate you don’t elect by not voting.

    Boise it’s time you get a tougher schedule, …we’re pulling for you, Boise.

    And thanks Joe for the fight song. Am I alone or does it lacks a certain snappiness, that J.P. Sousa hummability or should I say da-da-da-dability. But don’t despair BSU. Remember Illinois the year they played Carolina in the NCAA finals? They got whomped but everybody loved their spirit (conflict of interest statement: my kids went to UNC). Joe’s right. By losing they have earned a proud tradition at the top.

    And by the way, whoever you are, Joe’s my friend, and yes he can defend himself well enough alone, but the sign of a true champion is that you don’t whine about being kidded. So do what he says and make yourselves careable (sic) by being uniquely Idahoanish. And please have some dignity. Don’t act like the cute but weepily pathetic Iowan fan, whose visage was the highlight of the last two minutes of the game against Wisconsin. She should have been crying about how the Hawkeye coach used his last time out instead of having the QB spike the ball on 1st down. That’s something to cry about. Instead I worry that her whole esteem depends upon whether her team won or lost. If so she should get an appointment at Student Health asap.

    So all in all, repeat after me: Boy-oh-boy-oh-Boise!

  1. October 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm
  2. August 14, 2014 at 6:18 pm

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