From Humble Beginnings...

Boise State has much in common with the elite western colleges. They didn't start out as football powers. In fact, they didn't start out as four-year colleges.

The Boise Junior College School of Truck Driving?  

The University of Oregon doesn't have one.  The University of Oregon doesn't have a School of Engineering …either.  Boise State University has one of the finest schools of engineering in the country.  U.S. News and World Report rates the program as the twelfth best in the nation.  MIT, Stanford , Cal Berkeley, and Harvard must also agree.  They are partners in research programs with Boise State .  

This writer got tired of the denigrating Boise Junior College "dumb speak" coming mostly from the fans of the so-called BCS elite schools around the west.  This writer decided to do some Internet snooping into the founding history of the likes of the UCLA's, the Oregon 's, the Arizona 's, and Washington 's.  What this writer discovered is humbling, hold-my-hat-in-hand stuff, for many of the stuffy western university elitists.  

In their beginnings, Boise State University , UCLA, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, the University of Washington , and Arizona State University were two-year colleges or high schools.  

Boise State was founded as St Margaret's Hall in 1892 as an Episcopal Church two-year institution of higher learning for women desiring to be nurses or teachers.  

UCLA was founded 27 years later than Boise State as a stepchild of their parent to the North in 1919.   California Gov. William D. Stephens signed Assembly Bill 626, establishing a southern branch of the University of California ( Berkeley ).  The Los Angeles campus opened offering two-year undergraduate programs to 250 students and 1,250 students in the Teachers College.  

The University of Oregon was founded in 1876 as a two-year institution, and graduated its first class in 1878.  

Oregon State University was founded as Corvallis College in 1856 or 1857 by alternating organizations of Episcopal-Methodists and Southern Baptist's but closed its doors after one year.  The institution was referred to as a " Pioneer Academy ", a common term describing a high school in the mostly rural west.  

The University of Washington was founded in 1861 but closed its doors the first time two years later in 1863 for lack of students.  

Arizona State University was founded in 1885 and was named, The Territorial Normal School at Tempe .  Entrance was open to sixteen year olds.  Degrees were granted after completion of a two-year course of study.  Course of study requirements for a degree were extended from two years to three in 1899.  

The University of Arizona was chartered in 1885, twenty-seven years before Arizona became a state.  It was founded not as a university, but a two-year normal school, with the prime function as a high school because there were no high schools in the territory.  The "institution of higher education" was about to be abandoned until two gamblers and a Tucson saloonkeeper donated land for a permanent school site.  

The University of Utah was founded in 1850 as an LDS institution given the name, University of Deseret .  The institution closed in 1853 for lack of students and feeder schools.  The school was reestablished in 1867 and in 1892 became the University of Utah .  

BYU was founded in 1875, not as a university, but as a high school named Brigham Young Academy , a feeder school subservient to the parent institution in Salt Lake City , the University of Utah .  

Granted, the schools listed are fine institutions with excellent football programs.  All have aspirations of winning a (Football Bowl Subdivision) National Championship.  Boise State has the same goal of winning a national championship, an idea scoffed by many as impossible.  

Let's look at the record.  Of the nine western schools discussed above, five have no football NC's and three, UCLA, BYU, and Washington have one each.  Boise State has two.  

Let's look at Boise State 's record from the beginning. The Boise State football mystique began in 1947.  A young coach by the name of Lyle Smith took over the program, which had won only 36 games since 1933.  Smith and his new team won their first game together and the next 36 in a row, including a 25-7 blowout victory in 1949 against heavily favored Taft Junior College before 12,000 of their fans.  Boise brought 300.  The game was played in the Potato Bowl in Bakersfield , California , thirty miles from Taft, and was the first postseason game in the school's history.  

In the beginning Southern California junior college football folks laughed at Boise JC and the suggestion the team from rural Idaho could beat them, much less win a national JC football championship.  This attitude was not surprising.  The city of Boise had a population of 30,000 and Boise JC had a student enrollment of only 850.  The Broncos proved them wrong over and over, compiling a record of 209 wins against 61 losses, and winning a Junior College National Championship in 1958 against Tyler ( Tex ) Junior College.  

The football nation laughed again when they became a 1-AA program with a goal of winning a National Championship at that level.  The Broncos won one in 1980 against Eastern Kentucky .  In 1994 they beat Marshall to reach the NC game again.  This time they lost to Youngstown .  

Boise JC became a four-year college in 1968 and a university in 1974.  They continue their amazing winning ways to this day with close to an 85% winning percentage since their first game in 1932.  

Since 1999, the Broncos' record is 108-20 with eight conference titles:  Big West Conference 1999-2000, Western Athletic Conference 2002-06, 2008, and five wins in nine bowl appearances.  The Broncos finished the season in the Top 25 polls in 2002 (12th), 2003 (15th), 2004 (13th), 2006 (5th), 2008 (14th), and started the 2005 season ranked 18th, the 2007 season ranked 22nd, and the 2009 season 12th.  The Broncos have had three undefeated regular seasons in the last five years, the only team in America to accomplish that feat.  

Now…a question college football fans...don't you think a team with a record of winning like Boise State will someday reach the NCAA D-1 pinnacle of achievement and win an FBS national championship? 

Bronco Country Top Stories