With Pokey Allen, the Bronco football team was reborn. The legendary former Portland State coach took Boise State to the Division I-AA national championship game for the first time in 14 years. Along the way, he became a folk hero.
"Pokey" Allen, Jr. (1943
– 1996) compiled a 25-24 record in four seasons as the 10th head
His tenure included the 1994 "Magic Carpet Ride" season, going 13-2
and reaching the Division I-AA National Championship game.
That season also snapped the Vandal streak, as Boise State beat the Vandals
27-24. The Bronco faithful – led
by Offensive Coordinator Al Borges – stormed The Blue and hung from the north
end zone crossbar.
Pokey" grew up as a multi-sport high school star in
His nickname was handed down from his father, a large but lumbering
offensive lineman, who was the original "Pokey".
He threw a couple of no-hitters in baseball, won two state basketball
championships, and started at quarterback in the East-West Shrine game of
Montana All-Stars. His achievements
came amongst what was surely a golden age of
high school athletics,
Dave McNally, who
accumulated 184 wins with a 3.24 ERA in 14 Major League seasons mostly with
Wayne Estes, the
1965 Coaches and
Basketball Player of the Year while at
who finished sixth in the 1968 200-meter dash, behind Tommie Smith and John
Carlos, who would shortly thereafter raise their gloved fists on the podium
on play quarterback and defensive back at
, but not before almost
Concerned he might not get any playing time behind a sophomore starter,
Allen embarked on a Steve Martin-like trip including planes and buses from Salt
Lake to Logan, Utah – but not before passing through Burley, Idaho.
Fortunately for the Utes, he would ultimately enroll.
He was the Most Valuable Player of the 1964 Liberty Bowl, where his
two-way play resulted in an 11-yard touchdown run and third quarter
Allen's playing career concluded following stints in the Canadian
Football League with the British Columbia Lions and Edmonton Eskimos.
coaching career began at
before becoming the Defensive Coordinator at the
After a stop at
, Joe Kapp hired Pokey as the
defensive backfield coach at
, where he met Al Borges and
was on the sidelines as "The Play" unfolded in their dramatic victory over
Stanford. Pokey also spent time with
the Los Angeles Express and the Portland Breakers in the United States Football
moved on to the Portland State Vikings following the demise of the Breakers and
the USFL. His seven seasons resulted
in two Division II National Championship appearances and 63 wins, including a
51-26 win over
on the The Blue in 1992.
When Skip Hall vacated the head coaching job at the end of the season,
Pokey would be hired, bringing his wacky advertising campaign and Al Borges to
fans will always remember Pokey for the 1994 season when BSU started 6-0 en
route to a Big Sky Conference title. Along
the way they sacked Dave Dickenson 13 times to beat #1-ranked
In the regular season finale Tony Hilde hit Ryan Ikebe for three
made good on Joe O'Brien's
victory guarantee with a 27-24 victory over
, the first win after 12 long
entered the playoffs #3 in the
country, and defeated
The defense snuffed Appalachian State 17-14 in the second round, setting
up a semi-final matchup with
Thundering Herd twice opened 17-point second quarter leads, but Tony Hilde
re-entered in the third quarter after injuring his shoulder and ultimately hit
Lee Schrack midway through the fourth quarter and the defense batted away a
desperation ball to seal a 28-24 win. All
three of the playoff wins came in
and all three were come-from
behind victories over the #1, #2 and #3 teams in Division I-AA.
The season would end with a 28-14 loss to
, coached by current
head coach Jim Tressel.
after that season, Pokey's fight with a rare tissue cancer –
rhabdomyosarcoma – would begin. He
would endure stem-cell transplant surgery and still return to the sideline the
following year. Pokey was still the
official head coach, although Tom Mason was acting on an interim basis, when the
Broncos entered Division I and the Big West Conference in 1996.
He and the magic would return one more time when Pokey returned to lead
the 1-9 Broncos to a 33-32 win at
Andre Horace took a handoff from Ryan Ikebe on a bobbled kickoff with 27
seconds to go and raced to the Aggie 22. Hilde
then found Dave Stromswold and Pokey got a D1 win from the sidelines.
Pokey died a few weeks later, December 30th, 1996.
thanks to Bob Evancho for his collaboration with Pokey in their book, The
Good Fight, from which much of this was borrowed.