If there's a cynical sound to my headline this rainy morning, don't let it fool you. The rain may be falling to create a miserable mess outside, but in my mind, the sun is shining throughout Idaho. Comes a time every so often in life when the little guys show the big guys the true ingredients of grit, talent, determination, pride, teamwork, and heart. And, when that happens, we can all celebrate. Fiesta Bowl, 2007: Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42.
Years ago when my first book was published, my editor wrote a short bio for the page "about the author." She said something about how it takes toughness and a sense of humor to live in Idaho. She was right. We've spent our lives being mocked, forgotten and dismissed because we're the hicks from the potato state. This has worked well until recently to keep the bluebloods of the world from wanting to live alongside of us cuz after all, we're stupid, right?
Well, the bluebloods are coming because they've discovered that we sodbusting hayseeds may have discovered something very special long before they did. We knew it all along, but try to tell anyone outside the state's borders. If the secret never quite managed to make headlines, Boise State's Broncos changed that last night. For nearly five hours, they rammed the Idaho message into the faces of a bunch of cocky sportscasters and a team of "blueblood" football players from Oklahoma.
I don't know how many people tuned in for the pre-game, but I will tell you that the comments made by coaches Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer turned the air blue in the Lovestead, where three Boise State alums often visit Mom and Dad Love. A Boise State logo sat above the TV screen where Jimmy Johnson was proclaiming that the only way Boise State was going to win this game was if Oklahoma helped them out and former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer was dismissing the Broncos as a "mismatch" for his Oklahoma Sooners.
One of the commentators even asked, "Whoever heard of Boise State anyway?" The pregrame show even made fun of the BSU blue turf. By the end of the game, I have a feeling a few of those cocky casters were seeing a little blue or feeling a little blue about the blue collar athletes from Boise who scripted probably the best Cinderella story I've ever watched.
Bill and I sat in the living room glued to every second----he in his Boise State cap, I, in my new Broncos sweatshirt. Before the game, Bill had ceremoniously placed the Boise State logo, designed to be inserted into the trailer shaft on back of a vehicle, atop the tube. Though sitting there precariously, the logo never once toppled from the TV set, no matter how loud we yelled or how hard we clapped throughout the game. We had received the sweatshirt, cap and logo Saturday night at our hotel in Seattle, shortly after returning from Key Arena where we had watched a basketball game where our beloved Zags had lost a thriller against Nevada.
Christmas presents from Willie and Debbie, our son and daughter-in-law (both Boise State grads) had been transported from Boise by two other BSU grads who'd gone home for Christmas. Annie, our daughter (also a Boise State grad) who works at the Marriott, joined us for the gift opening. Last night Annie gathered with some other BSU grads at a bar in Seattle to watch the game.
Willie and Debbie could not join us in Seattle because Willie had to stay in Boise to cover the Miami-Nevada bowl game for the Idaho Press Tribune. He'd been given the assignment when his colleagues learned they'd be in Phoenix covering the Fiesta Bowl. I'm sure he was working the sports desk last night during the game and savoring the information that would appear in today's paper about the dismissed hicks from the sticks who demonstrated to the nation what Idahoans are all about.
After the game, I checked the "Huckleberries Online" blog and wrote a comment about the game. This morning, while reading other comments indicating that many Idaho Potatoes have turned into Broncos overnight, I zeroed in on a brilliant analogy submitted by an "Uncle Rico," suggesting that the Boise State quarterback could be compared to Napoleon Dynamite, the nerd in an Idaho-made movie of the same name.
Napoleon Dynamite almost overnight turned into a cult movie, beloved by virtually anyone who watches it once, twice or two dozen times like my husband. In this movie, Napoleon, in his eccentric way, makes meat of the egocentric jocks and jockettes who've always dismissed him as an idiot to be mocked every day of his life. While supporting his buddy Pedro for student body president, Napoleon wows a cynical teen-age crowd into giving him a standing ovation for his unbelievable dance moves, and to Pedro, they give the presidency.
Whoever Uncle Rico is that posted on "Huckleberries," he's hit the nail on the head. The Ugly Betty's of the world and the Napoleon Dynamites occasionally get their moment in the sun, and when that happens, they stand up as the true heroes for all us regular joes who go through life one step at a time doing our best but being dismissed for most of the route.
And, for those of us who live the "stupid Idaho" jokes most of our route, last night's Boise State performance will sustain us and our misunderstood state for years to come. Idahoans are true blue-collar Rodney Dangerfields, who've finally gained some respect, and it's oh such sweet potatoes.