They are "the man" to every fan of college football in the west. They are an effective and efficient boogeyman. In addition to birthing the racket dubbed the "BCS" they also gave us a Gator Bowl featuring Notre Dame and NC State. They tune into the 11:00 PM SportsCenter and watch their local sports team coverage. They are aware of a conference called the PAC-10, but are hard pressed to name all ten members. These fans are pretty sure that BYU is in the WAC along with schools that have mascots that you can only see on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. That is the level of awareness. It starts and stops with the early games that get coverage on SportsCenter. This is a cartel in every sense of the word. They are an evil insidious bunch that have to be slapped in the face in order to recognize football or basketball played outside of the Eastern or Central time zones. Thankfully, the NCAA provides us with March Madness as the great evening agent for basketball. Football is a more difficult nut to crack.
Where does Boise State fit within this football universe? Until December 31 the answer was nowhere. From personal experience I can relate the following stories. At the beginning of this season most members of the ECBC assumed that Boise State was a school I made up on my resume. After the bowl game people still think I made up my resume but that I at least had the decency to pick a school with a damn fine football team. In the South, that matters. Since the bowl game I have taken a bunch of calls from people giving props to the boys that play on the blue. Sometimes in our little Bronco world we forget how important ESPN appearances and name brand teams are to a growing program.
I didn't feel the same excitement after watching the Broncos dominate Iowa State that I did watching the Broncos annihilate Fresno State and Hawaii. However, everyone I know back here that is affiliated with the ECBC is coming up to me tooting Boise State's horn louder than I can. Friday night games are nice, but bowl games on New Year's Eve matter. And contrary to Mr. Prater, people back here seem to genuinely get a kick out of watching football on a frozen rug in a state that most couldn't identify on a map if their lives depended on it.
I think that members of the ECBC are shocked at how Boise State manhandled a Big 12 team. They are impressed with the team's speed and ability across both lines of scrimmage. They are impressed with corners that stick to defenders like the certain Boise elected officials stick to five-star restaurants and hotels. They are doubly impressed with a coaching staff that pulls every trick out of the book. After watching season after season of Fulmer, Nutt, and Paterno, Hawkins' brand of football reminds them why the game is entertaining for spectators and players alike.
Until the Iowa State game, people back here didn't respect Boise State. They knew the Broncos were a good WAC or Big Sky team (It's tough to tell them apart, and does it really matter to Tennessee or Florida?) I preached the gospel of Huff, Vian, Forsey, Q Mikell, Ako, Dinwiddie, and master philosopher Hawkins for the last four months without converting a single soul. However, when the Broncos outmuscle a Big 12 team and shut down a legitimate Heisman candidate on national television on New Year's Eve, people notice. People are ready to buy any coaching philosophy book written by Hawkrates.
I suggest that the win over Iowa State is the most significant win in Bronco football history not just because Iowa State is the best team the Broncos have ever defeated, or because the Cyclones represent the BCS. The Bronco win over the Cyclones is the biggest win for the Broncos because it is the first time the Broncos have out-muscled, out-hustled, and overpowered a nationally recognized team on a national stage. Folks, this game mattered more than any game in Bronco history because a loss would have been devastating. These are just the observations of one person who sees the world through blue and orange tinted glasses from over 2,500 miles away, but Boise State's visibility is higher now than ever before for football amongst members of the ECBC. What high school football star wouldn't want to be a part of this growing monster??
An East Coaster's Perspective
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