Boise State: the rags to riches story of college football

By By Natalie Dicou and By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The Boise State Broncos are living the American dream.

A mere 10 years ago, Boise State was a 1-AA football program. Even though the Broncos won the 1-AA national championship in 1980 and reached the title game again in 1994, they were nobodies as far as big-time college football was concerned. Playing on national TV would have been unheard of for the little Idaho school with the blue field.

But against all odds, Boise State has become a regular fixture on the college football national radar screen in recent years.

Led by long-time athletic director Gene Bleymaier, who is in his 21st year at the helm of Boise State sports, the Broncos have successfully hopped to bigger and better conferences over the years and are constantly moving to greener (or is it bluer?) pastures.

In 1996, Boise State’s football team gained Division I status. The Broncos left the Big Sky Conference and joined up with the Big West Conference.

They made another dramatic leap in 2002 when they joined the WAC, a league they have since dominated.

Since 1999, Boise State has had a flurry of success in the postseason, coming out victorious in three Humanitarian Bowls, beating Louisville, UTEP and Iowa State. In 2003, the Broncos beat TCU in the Fort Worth Bowl.

“Dirk Koetter got (BSU’s football success) started back seven or eight years ago and really got that thing going,” U head coach Kyle Whittingham said.

Since then, the Broncos have been led by two other head coaches, but have had continued success despite the changes.

“Coach (Dan) Hawkins took over from there and now coach (Chris) Petersen,” Whittingham said. “We’re still early in the season. But it looks like they haven’t missed a beat.”

Boise State’s most noteworthy season came in 2004, a year when they started the season 11-0, but were overshadowed by the Utes, who were having a magical season of their own.

BCS-busting doesn’t happen every day, and there was no way that two outsiders were getting invitations to a coveted BCS bowl game.

Ranked No. 10, Boise State met up with No. 7 Louisville in the Liberty Bowl.

The game ended in heartbreak for the Broncos as they were defeated 44-40 after being intercepted in the end zone as time expired.

It was the highest-scoring Liberty Bowl ever and despite the loss to Louisville, who left Conference USA for the Big East following the 2004 season, Boise State’s solid effort on a national stage made believers out of college football gurus and fans across the nation.

Commenting on Boise State’s continued success, Whittingham said, “They’ve done a great job getting the right kind of players in there to fit their system. They’ve done a very thorough job of recruiting and that’s where it starts.”