Oh, Boise. Not again.
Fresno State is once again playing for the Mountain West championship, and once again those darned Boise State Broncos stand in the way.
Ugh, not them.
San Jose State may be the Bulldogs’ traditional rival. San Diego State is for in-state bragging rights and (usually) the division title. Hawaii gave us the flying screwdriver urban legend.
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But no opponent conjures up as much hate (and dread) among Fresno State faithful as that nemesis from southern Idaho, which didn’t even start playing big-time college football until 1996.
Why do Bulldogs fans harbor such hatred for Boise State? Allow me to enumerate.
They (almost) always win
Everyone hates a winner, right? Of course they do. And no college football program this century does more winning than Boise State.
Dan Hawkins, the coach who gave the Broncos liftoff, finished his career in the Potato State 53-11. Chris Petersen, Hawkins’ successor, went a ridiculous 92-12 before leaving for Washington. The current guy, Bryan Harsin, owns a career 52-14 mark at his alma mater.
Since 2000, the year before Hawkins took over, Boise State boasts a combined record of 207-39 and an .841 winning percentage. The Broncos have posted 15 seasons of double-digit victories (out of 19) during that span and never finished worse than 8-5.
It’s enough to make you sick.
They ripped out the Bulldogs’ heart, then leapfrogged them
Once upon a time, Fresno State was poised to be the big-time bowl buster. The year was 2001 and the Bulldogs, led by Sports Illustrated cover boy David Carr, were 6-0 and ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press poll.
It all came to a screeching halt Oct. 19, when upstart Boise State marched into Bulldog Stadium crammed with 42,881 fans and emerged with a 35-30 victory.
Twelve years passed (with another Carr at quarterback) before Fresno State re-entered the national conversation. The Broncos, on the other hand, used that 2001 game as a launching pad for two undefeated seasons (2006 and 2009), both capped by Fiesta Bowl victories, and six more one-loss campaigns (2002-04, 2008, 2010-11).
“Boise State did what we wanted to do,” David Carr told me in 2011 for a story marking the 10-year anniversary of that pivotal game. “It’s just unfortunate that they had to beat us to get there.”
The blue turf
Number one, it’s ugly. Number two, it’s gimmicky. Number three, Fresno State has never won (0-9 all-time) at Alberstons Stadium since Boise State introduced its hideously hued field in 1986.
If those aren’t enough reasons for Bulldogs fans to detest the blue turf, here’s the coup de grace: Boise State, in 2009, successfully trademarked its blue turf with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Subsequently, the trademark was expanded from blue to “non-green.”
Which means that any institution or team, from high school to college to the pros, that wishes to install a field colored something other than green must first get permission from Boise State or risk a lawsuit.
That takes some nerve. Which goes arm in arm with …
This one is more of a feeling than something you can put your finger on. But when a program wins as much as the Broncos do, an attitude of superiority and smugness manifests itself.
It’s a sense one gets from observing not only coaches and players, but also fans and (at times) the media covering the program. We’re better than you – and we know it.
The Mountain West likes them best
In 2012, when conferences were busy realigning, Boise State was being wooed by the then-Big East. In order to keep its flagship team, the Mountain West agreed to a deal that guaranteed the Broncos more television appearances on ESPN and more revenue than other schools.
In addition, the conference agreed to certain rules (since changed) that allowed Boise State to host last year’s MW championship game against the same Bulldogs squad they lost to a week before.
Sometimes it feels like there’s one set of rules for the favorite sons and another for 11 red-headed stepchildren.
They get the fairy tale ending. Fresno State gets the pumpkin
When the Broncos have a chance on the big stage, they rise to the occasion. No one will ever forget the 2007 Fiesta Bowl’s decisive Statue of Liberty play or how star tailback Ian Johnson dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, a Boise State cheerleader, after the game.
Those moments are an indelible part of college football history.
The Bulldogs, by contrast, always seem to stumble when they get their turn in the spotlight. Give up 62 points to San Jose State? You’ve got to be joking.
Familiarity breeds contempt
Saturday’s game will mark the fourth meeting between the teams in a span of 372 days. Boise State is 2-1 in the previous three contests even though the Bulldogs hold a 59-58 combined scoring edge.
Fresno State has never played the same opponent so many times in such a short span. Why does it have to be them?
It’s Boi-se, not Boi-ze
Nothing irks Boiseians more when when you pronounce the name of their city with “z” instead of a soft “s.”
Which is why Frezno State Bulldogz fanz have my blezzing to enunciate how they pleaze.