The masochistic BCS football mess is behind us. But before closing the door at our house, I’ve got a couple more thoughts; some likely familiar to older Beavers, Ducks, Huskies and Cougar fans. Maybe some others.

There was a time … long, long ago … when no one had ever heard of the Boise State Broncos. A little college on the banks of the Boise River with a green grass playing field like everybody else. It was the ’60’s-’70’s. Coaches were Smith, Knapp, Setincich, Criner and a few others. Not many heard of them, either.

Benches in the stands were aluminum with little ridges that made your butt sore. Or cold. Winter games were often played with temperatures in the 20’s. But you bought your ticket, brought along some hot bourbon and lemonade, wrapped up in your hunting clothes, huddling with other fans on that little campus few knew about. Not important games. But they were OUR games. That was enough.

In the 80’s, some fast talking stadium carpet salesman slickered the college into laying down an unnatural blue field where the green had been. In the 90’s, Dirk Koetter became coach. In a year or two, we had ourselves a pretty good team. Then Houston Nutt. Then Dan Hawkins. The Broncos moved up, too: from Big Sky to WAC. The good times started rolling!

More seats were added. Covered ones for high rollers were expanded so we old timers were moved out of our familiar 40-50 yard seats to make room for these new, moneyed fellas. Then still more seats built in other parts of what was now a “stadium” if you please. More dislocations. But we were rolling! Even national TV a few times.

Of course, during all of this, ticket prices kept inching up. And free parking disappeared. Then, to get your ticket, you had to pay several hundred dollars more each season to a booster club you didn’t want to join. Then parking … free or otherwise … disappeared if you didn’t buy the package. Then more ticket price hikes. And more national television. But things were rolling!

Then Hawkins went to Colorado and a new fella … Chris Petersen … was our guy. And the Broncos went from just rolling to high speed!

Some of us who had sat on the cold aluminum benches during the “nobody-ever-heard-of-the-Broncos” years, well, we watched it on TV. For a lot of us it wasn’t that we couldn’t pay the fees; it’s was a case of wouldn’t. We felt betrayed. We felt ignored. After all those years of supporting the team, helping buy new equipment when necessary, showing up to cheer when only penguins should have been out, taking the many losing years in stride … well, all that didn’t count for much. Things were in overdrive!

Now BSU’s president says more money’s needed to expand the stadium. Yet again. They did it last year with high-priced “sky boxes” at $60,000 a pop per season! Got to do it again! Need to attract those bigger schools with larger crowds. And more national TV.

I suspect mine’s not an unusual tale. Really long-time supporters at Autzen, Rezer, Husky and any other college or professional stadium probably have similar stories. There were early years when the teams were “your” teams; when you sat in much smaller, half-filled stands, sold peanuts for Lion’s or Kiwanis clubs, ate cold hotdogs and suffered through a lot of losing …and freezing … seasons. Enjoying every minute.

There are some generations behind us, now enjoying the games in those “stadiums,” hosting tail-gaters, going to booster events, riding charter jets to far off domed stadiums and taking it all in stride. They’re rolling! How all that happened isn’t even a thought.

But some of us remember when stands were only on one side of the field, colleges needed fund raisers to buy the right football shoes for the guys, pep parades borrowed our tractors to pull the floats, a flask of Jack Daniels warded off the cold, a local doctor volunteered to be team doc, and games were played early not for TV schedules but because there were no lights for night games.

Just a few years ago.

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PERSONAL NOTE: To those still clinging to the failed thesis Boise State got where it did in football rankings this year because of a so-called “weak schedule,” I direct your attention to the words of Coach Petersen after beating the #4 team in the country: “We’ve done everything we were asked to do.” That says it. Go Broncos!

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