When the pursuit of a National Championship is the goal,
perhaps the best way to prepare oneself for the journey towards that goal is to study
those who've come before them and accomplished the same feat. I
was fortunate enough to get a chance to sit down and do just that with one of
the all-time Bronco greats, Terry Zahner. Zahner
was part of the famed Four Horseman, an elite group of players that included the
likes of quarterback Joe Aliotti, running back Cedric Minter, and fullback David
Hughes from 1977 to 1980. Zahner
embodied everything that is Bronco football. He
was hard-working, he held himself and his teammates accountable, he bought into
the system, and like so many before and after him, he didn't take kindly to
being disrespected by anybody.
You live in the Bay Area now. Do you still talk to any of the guys from
that 1980 squad?
8-10 guys. We still talk a little
bit. When they come down to a game
What was the draw for you when you decided to play at
TZ: Well, I
graduated from high school in 1976 and I got a couple of letters from people
saying come on over and walk on at
Do you have any particularly memorable stories that stick out in your
mind from your football days at Boise State?
TZ: When I
first went up there (
At that point, I just picked my butt up off the ground and said to myself, "I'm going to show him why he gave me a scholarship". From there on out I just tried to give it everything I could. I had Fred Good in front of me, Ced (Minter), they had two junior college transfers and a guy named Chris Bell, but they moved him over to DB. So now I'm fifth string. The running backs I thought were a unique group because no one acted like they were in. Everybody wanted to play but everybody wanted to help each other out. I had a couple of good practices and couple of other guys had some bad practices. So I got moved up to third string.
day after practice, Coach Criner called me into his office and said ‘hey,
we're playing at the
What was it like playing for Bronco coaching great Jim Criner?
TZ: I enjoyed playing for Coach Criner. He always got us fired up, kept the team motivated. He had a sign on the wall (in the locker room) and it said "Those Who Stay Will Become Champions" and every day when we went in, we touched that sign. That's what we worked for and that's what we finally attained.
What would you say was his biggest coaching strength?
TZ: He used to
get us so fired up before a game... I don't care if there was a brick wall in
front of us. We would knock it down
to get on the field. We just wanted
to get on the field and tear people up. He
had us prepared; he told us we were prepared. He
set up a game plan for us to win and he said if we executed that plan, we were
going to do it. He used to say to
us, "if you take care of all the little things, the big things like the
scoreboard will take care of themselves". And
he was right.
Hmm, that last part sounds sort of familiar. Have you met Coach Petersen?
TZ: I have,
I've met him a couple times. I've
met Hawk a couple times. I even got
to meet Ian Johnson a couple times. I've
got a lot of respect for him.
So what was your LEAST favorite thing about practice?
conditioning program. Running the
stadiums; I hated running the stadiums. You
know when I was a freshman I made the mistake of eating a whole stir n' frost
cake before practice. I went to
practice that day and you know, I think there's still probably a brown stain
up there from where I puked. There was another thing I hated. I
hated the park run too. That park
across the bridge, I forget the name of it (Julia Davis), but coach would make
us run for distance over there. It
was beautiful (the park), but I hated it.
Living outside of the
definitely, I drive around in my truck. I
have a Boise State Alumni sticker, I have a
They're recognized now, but I do think that people still
look at them as the underdogs. Which
is a good thing.
TZ: I didn't
go to the
Head to head: the 1980 team vs. the 2010 team. Who wins?
TZ: 2010 wins
hands down. They're bigger,
they're faster, and they're stronger. And
I'm not saying that they don't have the heart. They
do, we had the heart, but they're just bigger. Seriously
now, if I had my talent that I had back then, I don't think that
Kellen Moore or Joe Aliotti and why?
TZ: Joe Aliotti. When Joe Aliotti first came up there, I didn't like how he would come out of the pocket and get chased 20 or 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage and then complete a duck for like an 8 or 10 yard completion. I was just so worried (about that) all the time and it pissed me off, but then after he did it time and time again, I was sort of like "this guy is makin' it happen". And then one day in practice we were out screwing around, and I could outrun Joe easy, but I'll be damned if I could get two hands on him. He could move, he was an athlete, he didn't look like it, but he could make guys miss. Then after that day every time I'd see him drop way back behind the line of scrimmage, I was like "okay something good is going to happen now." He'd just step back and make something good happen.
So your pick is Joe and it's no question?
TZ: Oh no,
that's like a toss-up. I respect
the hell out of Joe, but what Kellen has done has just been unbelievable. Especially
as a freshman coming in like that and lightin' it on fire. He
stays cool; he knows the game, the kid is just good. He's
got talent. As much respect as I
have for Joe I still might have to lean towards Kellen, but I'd play with
either one of ‘em.
What is your opinion of the current backs at BSU? I'd say this is as
deep as we've been in a long time.
TZ: Jeremy Avery is just good. The last few
years I think we've had really good backs. Now
Ced and Avery I think are a lot alike. I
think Ced was a hell of a back and I think I was lucky that he got tired once in
a while and could get in the game. I
would say those guys are very similar, I'd take either one of ‘em.
Got any bold predictions for the upcoming season?
TZ: Well the
National Championship is in
So do you think it happens or not?
TZ: I think it happens. I think its destiny.