Living in Florida, when I don any of my Bronco gear, I immediately become someone's best buddy or someone else's biggest jerk. After I explain that my blue and orange is not about the Gators, but this team from Idaho, I get questions about the Fiesta Bowl and the Blue Turf, about whether or not we can keep our brass-cajoned coach, and so they can make some educated generalizations about the Broncos.
My favorite conversations are actually with my boss, a Florida State alumnus who grew up on the coast in Oregon in the 1950s before moving to Florida. He has an appreciation for what I've experienced over the last 10 years. When he was a student in Tallahassee, he had to endure the Darrell Mudra years (going 1-10 and 3-8) in the mid-70s, just before Bobby Bowden's arrival. He is quick to remind me that FSU had some good teams in the 60s, but they were on the ropes then, including a 20-game losing streak. In other words, I tell my boss, FSU was Ida-horrible.
With Bowden, he said the attitude changed overnight, and to see his team undefeated facing Oklahoma in the 1980 Orange Bowl was a magical night, even though the Sooner defense stuffed FSU 24-7. He said he was sure the Broncos would likely have the same disappointment at the Fiesta Bowl that such a meteoric rise would surely end in a Sooner-red crash landing. Needless to say, he watched the entire game, knowing that I was there, too, and saying that he had never seen anything like it in college football.
We now both share a mutual contempt for South Florida, as things have just been given to that program for the sole reason of it being located in Tampa and the Big East has a huge, huge Jones for all things Florida. He says it's too bad that a legit football program like Boise State still can't get into a BCS Conference when a pretend program like USF had it handed to them.
And I think that that's what Bronco football ultimately represents to college football fans, that they represent this blue-collar work ethic, knowing nothing is going to be given them. Yes, my boss teases me about the blue field (imagine a Seminole fan using the word "gauche"), but he does get it and knows what a happy ride I've been on.