Certainly, loyal, long-term Bronco fans and traditionalists would without hesitation point to the in-state university 300 miles to the north. And even newbies to the rivalry can clearly see why. Auburn has Alabama. Nebraska has Oklahoma. Ohio State has Michigan. Straight Guys have Queer Eyes. BSU has Idaho. Frenzied rivalries, all.
However, as the Bronco football program continues to evolve under the leadership and guidance of Coach Hawkins and his staff, plenty of other interesting rivalries are being developed, some with the potential of supplanting the University of Idaho as BSU's #1 target.
Here's a look at a few of the most encouraging:
FRESNO STATE: They've got tradition. They've got one of the finest football stadiums in the country (as an article on Sportline.com last season confirms). They've got the national recognition. They've got Pat Hill, one of the best coaches in the WAC, if not all of college football. They've got recent victories over numerous BCS schools including Oregon State, UCLA and Wisconsin, just to name a few. The Dawgs have rabid (pun respectfully intended) fan support. And they've got deep pockets to keep it all going.
Most importantly, they've got BSU's admiration – and even envy – for all of the reasons stated above.
This is clearly a budding rivalry, yet BSU has been a thorn in FSU's side on the field, posting a 3-0 record against them since joining the WAC (including 2-0 at Sweeney Field, one of the toughest football venues in the west), and prohibiting them from winning an outright WAC title. So when it comes to BSU, the Bulldogs clearly have a bone to pick.
And don't think ESPN hasn't noticed: each of the past 3 games have been broadcast as ESPN's game of the week, and it's likely that next season's BSU/FSU contest will be, as well.
Like Pamela and Tommy, this could be the beginnings of a beautiful, ugly relationship. Just the kind true football fans crave.
HAWAII: Ah, I can hear what you're thinking. You're thinking, "But Penelope, how can you possibly consider Hawaii to be a Bronco rival when they're 0-3 against us in the last three years?"
First of all, my name's not Penelope. Freaks.
Secondly, two words: June and Jones. Okay, that's three words with the "and" in there, but take out the "and" and it's two words. Point is, he's one heck of a coach, and can recruit talent with the best of them. He's a former NFL head coach whose only shortcoming, if you can call it that, was that he didn't get along with Jeff George; but then, who did? Rumor has it George once met Mother Theresa, and she smacked him.
And then they had tea.
But as long as Hawaii has Coach Jones at the helm and their Run & Shoot & Shoot Some More offense is intact, they're a threat for the WAC crown, and that makes them a bona-fide rival. These guys score more than Bill Clinton at an intern convention. But the question is, is BSU even a blip on Hawaii's radar? Or is Fresno their #1 target?
NORTH PARK UNIVERSITY: Don't count out the Vikings. All this D-III Chicago school needs to do is increase enrollment by, oh, 15 or 20 thousand, expand stadium capacity by a factor of 30, boost attendance by a factor of 50, move into D-1A and join the WAC. Oh, and field a competitive team. (2-8 last season) That's it.
At least they'd lead San Jose State in attendance.
BYU: This rivalry is so close, so intense, that BSU only holds a 1-game lead in the all-time series!
Of course, the Cougs and Broncs have played just once, a 50-12 Boise State victory in Provo last year. But there's oodles of potential here for a nice, long, heated, scorching, blistering, oozing, dripping and disgusting rivalry.
Second, both schools' acronyms are nicely similar: BSU vs. BYU. That's good for marketing.
Third, the LDS community is prominent at both universities; it's like a family thing. Ever get into a fight with a sibling? Case closed.
Forth, it's been suggested that the BSU teams of late resemble the BYU teams of old: winning with tons of offense and a play-hard-for-60-minutes, never-give-up attitude.
And finally, they're in rival non-BCS leagues clamoring for national respect. "My conference can beat up your conference" is always good fodder for a heat debate.
VASSAR: Just kidding. Though it would be a fun rivalry. At least our team would have less body hair. (That wasn't very PC, was it? Don't blame me, blame the BroncoCountry editor who should've caught it because, after all, that's their job, dang it.) (**Editor's note.. we DID catch it.. but left it in to spite bro.)
IDAHO: Ah, perhaps the now and forever crème-de-la-crème of BSU rivals. There's loathing. There's history and tradition. There's regionalism and statewide bragging rights. The all-time series is close, with Idaho holding a slim 17-15-1 advantage. There's Idaho's former 12-game winning streak over BSU, and BSU's current 5-game winning streak over Idaho.
BUT, there's also Idaho's struggle to match BSU's success in recent years and their desperate need to boost attendance to meet the NCAA's upcoming minimum requirements for a 1-A program. Idaho's lack of recent success on the gridiron has also been a detriment to BSU's "Strength of Schedule," a key component to the NCAA's eternally-flawed, un-American, unhealthy and undoubtedly criminal BCS formula. Looking forward, if the Vandals are unable to meet NCAA standards and sink into 1-AA, the rivalry will almost certainly sink with it.
Ironically, however, it's in both BSU's and Idaho's best interest for the Vandals to improve under their new leader, Coach Holt. The more the Vandals succeed, the more national recognition they gain, the stronger BSU's Strength of Schedule becomes, and the more heated the rivalry will get.
And if you think Paris Hilton has a better chance of being accepted into Mensa than Idaho has of becoming a perennial 1-A football contender, consider where BSU was only a few short years ago.
OTHERS: Nevada has a nice, fervent history with BSU, and also has slot machines and legalized pro…uh…gambling. Tulsa's future looks promising with Coach Kragthorpe in control. UTEP, under Coach Mike Price, could rise to WAC prominence soon enough. Who knows what the future with these schools will bring?
For the moment, though, there's no current Boise State rival that can match the University of Idaho in terms of tradition and passion. Each school would undoubtedly label the other as their #1 rival; it's not clear whether the other schools mentioned could do the same. Would Fresno? Maybe. Hawaii? Possibly. BYU? Doubtful, not with the Utes in their ‘hood.
Will the Vandals remain BSU's #1 rival five years from now? Or will one of these other schools replace them?
Only time will tell.
What do you think? In five years, who will Boise State's biggest football rival be? Click here to share your opinion.