Rebound From Heartbreak

Some teams would be devastated by a one-point loss in a bowl game. Not when you're a team as young as the Broncos. Instead, the team and its fans are using the TCU loss as a building block to better things in the future.

If you were not lucky enough to have attended the Bronco Bowl Extravaganza in San Diego, then here is a nice little inside story from the eyes of a Bronco.  This game should not be remembered solely as a loss, but as the unity of Bronco Nation...  

Ok, so the experience started out the night before bowl day with a wonderful trip down to the University of San Diego for an action-packed basketball game.  After a full day of work, we left Orange County a few hours before the game and managed to end up at the University of California-San Diego campus.  Yeah, this was the home of the Tritons, not the Toreros.  So, after a little re-routing, we found the Jenny Craig Pavilion just in time for tip-off.    

As we strolled up to the will call window, a bus from Boise pulled up and dropped off a group of Bronco fans who had driven straight from The City of Trees to the basketball game.  As we all get in line, a bit of Boise small talk and reminiscing pursues.  Feels like home already.  

Well, as the game played on I noticed that we had 3 1/2 entire sections sold out, and then some, and definitely had more fans than the home team did.  Our band did the National Anthem, and our dancers did the halftime show.  Even their fans were impressed how dedicated our fans were.  Gene Bleymaier and Bob Kustra were rows away, and I heard Naanee from the Chargers was there.  Channel 6 and 7 news were both there.  It truly felt like a home game.  

Not to mention, we won a close one by 3 points!! We had aisle seats right behind our bench, and after the game the team ran up the aisle and high fived everyone.  It was a great time, but I think my lady friend might have been a bit overwhelmed by the experience as it was her first college basketball game ever.  She used to be a cheerleader, so we both enjoyed watching the cheerleaders and dancers as well.  =)   

Oh, and that was just a warm-up for the bowl game!!!  

Despite the heartbreaking one point loss, the bowl game was still an experience to say the least.    

My buddy Adam arrived at my place around 1:00 pm and we stopped to grab some lunch in Laguna Niguel before heading South.  Boy did we get some strange looks wearing our bright blue and orange "Game Day" t-shirts.  Next stop was Longs Drugs to grab an extra pair of socks and some gloves, just in case.  Shortly after, we hopped on the 5 freeway toward San Diego.  To our amazement, we saw a Boise State flag on a truck with California plates headed the same way.  Of course we were proudly sporting our flag, and the people in the truck gave us some thumbs up and smiles.  Keep in mind that we are just out of Mission Viejo (hometown of former Bronco Marty Tadman), and still have about an hour, hour and a half left till we reach the stadium.  That's how far the Bronco Nation has spread!    

As we creep into downtown San Diego, we see more flags, and airplanes flying overhead with advertisement banners.  We knew it was time for some football.  We pulled into the Qualcomm parking lot, and drove around looking for as much Blue and Orange as we could find before parking.  There was actually more TCU fans than I expected, so we tried not to run any of them over.  At this point, it felt like home, as footballs flew through the air, along with the distinct smell of barbeque,  surrounded by a sea of orange, 1A plates, and plenty of excited faces.    

It was merely an hour before kickoff, so we decided  to head in and locate our seats for the pre-game show.  But first, we had to pop the trunk and load up on Bronco gear from the Blue and Orange kit!  This included orange ponchos, "defense" banners, pom-poms, and of course my trusty Bronco Santa Hat (hey, it was only 2 days before Christmas).  Once inside, we took a lap around the huge stadium to Section 2, Row 11, seats 17 & 18. Right on the 20 yard line, behind the Bronco bench, super close to the field, smack dab in the middle of Bronco Nation, and right on the aisle. We couldn't have asked for better seats than these, it was just perfect. Still a bit early, so we went to scope out the merchandise tent.  Not the largest selection in the world, but a few bowl shirts, hats, and what not.  There was quite a line, so we decided to come back during the game.    

The pre-game show was nothing more than a bunch of giant balloon figures, a few fireworks, and advertisements.  After the National Anthem took place and some fighter jets flew over head, it was time for some football!!!  Of course, first return of the game turns into an exciting trick play as our side goes wild.  We quickly made friends with the nice older couple in front of us, high-fiving on every big play.  Adam and I were so amped that we were ready to stand the entire game.  That is until some fellow a few rows back asked us to sit down, and we were shocked that he had come all this way to be a football scrooge.  Since I saw the section in front of us and the one to the left standing and yelling the entire time, I told the guy, "hey, this is a football game!" But, of course we followed scrooge's demands and still sat down, for the time being.  Nothing was going to stop us from having fun and enjoying a great football game.    

Obviously, if you watched ESPN, you know how the rest of the game unfolded.  The loudest point of the night was Ian Johnson's break away, record-breaking touchdown.  The crowd just erupted, and I ended up in the aisle jumping and yelling as if we had just won a million dollars.  I thought we were about to witness another blowout, as Boise State extended their lead to 13-0.  

As halftime approached, the score was 13-7, we were all a bit afraid of the fact that we actually had a football game on our hands.  The halftime show was a nice little dance show followed by a firework extravaganza.  The smoke billowed across the field as the kickoff pursued.  At this point it was getting colder, but we were thrilled with the lack of rain and/or wind.  The guy in front of us said it was the nicest night since he arrived in town.  By this time, there were giant lines for concessions and the bathroom, and all the Boise State and bowl merchandise was sold out.  There were still some TCU shirts left of course.  I was surprised at the amount of fans we had, it was quite incredible.  The Horned Frogs had a decent amount of fans, but a lot of them just local Charger fans pushing for TCU since it's LT's (LaDamian Tomlinson) former school and all.  Nobody half as dedicated as the Bronco Nation.  Some people had flown into town, some took a bus, some carpooled, and some only came a few miles.  Doesn't matter how they got there or how long it took, the Bronco Nation was there.    

As the game reached it's closing seconds, and we had been defeated for the first time all season, there was a bitter disappointment in the air.  Thousands of us, exiting the building, with the same bummed out looks on our faces.  But, as we sat in the parking lot, waiting to head home, a few cute Boise girls ran around to the cars with a "Honk 4 Boise State" sign, and you bet we laid on that horn.  We may have lost this game, but we still love our Broncos, and our hometown.  Nothing was going to take that pride away.    

We had made some new friends, made some enemies, saw familiar faces, laughed, yelled, and sighed.  On the way back, we stopped into a McDonalds a few miles up the road, and ate away our devastating loss with about 20 other Bronco fans.  Once home and in bed, it was time to turn on the DVR and watch the game all over again.  Next season can't come soon enough!!!



Bronco Country Top Stories