The feelingDon Day | January 5, 2007
As long as I can remember, Bronco football has been an exciting way to spend a Saturday. I grew up sitting with my grandpa, dad, uncle and aunt in good BAA seats in Bronco Stadium. Back then I was more interested in wandering around the stadium at halftime – and checking out the video on the scoreboard then the game itself.
As time went on, the seats got a little farther from the field – but the interest in the action between the sidelines grew stronger. After the win over Idaho in 1994 at the end of the Magic Carpet season, my dad and I went down on the field – and he said to me “remember this feeling.” That moment has always stuck in my mind. I’ve never been a big sports fan – but when it comes to Bronco football, everything stops in my house.
This season has been incredible. The doubters said that a weak schedule and some close calls would weigh on the legacy of this team. Many thought a Fiesta Bowl loss was inevitable — but didn’t seem to mind that thought. Just making it was a big deal.
I traveled down on Friday – and the blue and orange clothing was EVERYWHERE. On the streets of Tempe Sunday – one person yelled “Boise…” and the “State” that thundered back gave me chills. Seeing THOUSANDS of Boise State fans gather around a stage in Tempe Beach Park — more than 1,000 miles from home — was unbelievable.
Game day started early for the KTVB crew — at 4:45am after just a few hours of sleep. A 23-hour-day followed, with hours spent preparing, gathering material, stringing cable and coordinating our effort. The game itself was so deep in to the day – after producing three hours of live TV – that it felt somewhat like an afterthought. As KTVB sports director David Augusto and I watched the game – both of us furiously took notes (including a game blog that I wrote with instant details) – we had a special challenge: keeping quiet. The press box is nearly sound proof – and members of the media are expected to be dispassionate observers and not yell and scream. A few people broke this rule – a reporter from a Boise TV station, and the local newspaper’s web reporter. Toward the end of the game, much of the media left the press box to head for the field. Natalie Hurst from KBCI and I were the only two left in our row – and we could not believe the events rolling out below. The series of THREE 2-point-conversion attempts rocked the stadium back and forth – making fans on both sides of the stadium slip from excitement to despair and back. Then, Zabransky picked off. Sooners score. Broncos roar back with Hook & Ladder. Sooners score first in OT (easily). Broncos fight fight fight for a TD. Broncos go for two. SCORE! Ian proposes. Incredible.
I moved to the sideline for the overtime period, and sat near the Bronco stands updating the action on the game blog. Two Sooner fans (surrounded by Broncos) heckled the cheerleaders and Boise State fans. The two LARGE and clearly drunk fans made a lot of noise… and gave me an uneasy feeling. A security guard came up and said to me “I don’t want to scare you, but if Oklahoma wins, these guys will probably jump.” I looked back, and noting their size – and my position on the field – I quickly got up and scrambled to a new spot.
A confession: With Boise State 4th and 18 in OT — I dared the karma gods: I typed “Broncos fail to score, OU wins the game.” Earlier in the evening I began working on this graphic — and when the game seemed to slip away, I felt like I jinxed it. So I thought “maybe I can jinx it back.” I typed out the OU wins phrase — and watched the play. Holy shit. Backspace backspace backspace. BRONCOS SCORE!
Then the two-point conversion — and the game’s over. Broncos win. Wait… Boise State just won the Fiesta Bowl. A BCS game. Against the Big 12 conference champ. This is happening.
The field quickly flooded with media, players, cheerleaders a few fans and others. I began pulling out cable for our live crew – then started snapping photos and coordinating our post-game coverage with our producer in Boise. They threw my voice on the air — and I tried to describe the feeling. To this date — I still can’t find words. It’s incredible. Despite being up for about 19 hours at this point on just about 3 hours of sleep, I felt like I had a good night’s sleep and was fresh and ready to go.
Dee asked me a number of questions about the marriage proposal – and I set out to find out the scoop. I walked up to a pair of BSU cheerleaders and asked them what the girl’s name was so I could feed the info back to Boise. They told me, spelled out — and I promptly forgot. So about 2 minutes later – I went back to the same girls, who then said — “she’s right here!!! This is Chrissy.” I steered her over to Mark Johnson – and had to do the “non-verbal point” — letting him know that he needed to interview this girl — but since he was on the air, I was unable to let him know why. Taking my word for it – his first question to Chrissy was ’so, I’m supposed to interview you – can you tell me the scoop – what just happened’ — and she told her story. This was her first of many interviews — and we got it by dumb luck.
An incredible day that no Bronco fan will ever forget — ever. I never thought I’d recapture the feeling of standing on the blue in 1994 — but somehow that experience was magnified ten times over standing on the green in Cardinals Stadium on the first day of 2007.