An Interview with Brian Murphy

An Interview with Brian Murphy

An Interview with Brian Murphy

“The dynamics are changing. After winning the Fiesta Bowl Boise State looks at itself differently. Readers and TV viewers want every bit of information they can get. It’s reminding me of the Georgia Tech beat…or some beats in North Carolina. We’re competing over every detail and shred of information. Everyone sees the phenomenon of Boise State – that’s the franchise – and more and more resources are devoted to covering it.”

“A lot of letters talked about my east coast bias and about being an out-of-towner. I see on message boards that I’m out of touch with Idaho and should go back to ACC country. I think some of that is starting to wane a bit. I’ve been here a year and people get familiar with you and start evaluating you on what you write as opposed to where you’re from.”

“All my family is on the east coast and I have a lot of friends on the east coast. I didn’t know anyone in Boise, Idaho, or in surrounding states…I was willing to take the plunge personally and professionally…I’ve never been afraid to go places and do things just to do them.”

Brian Murphy: Interviewed on February 14, 2007

Position: Columnist, Idaho Statesman

Born: 1978, Rockville Center, New York.

Education: North Carolina, journalism and history, 2000.

Career: Macon (Ga.) Telegraph 2001-2005; Idaho Statesman 2005 –

Personal: single

Favorite restaurant (home): Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro, Boise “great Sunday breakfast place – the wait to get in on weekends is unbelievable but it’s worth it”

Favorite restaurant (road): Joe’s Stone Crab, Miami Beach; State Line Barbecue “on the road between El Paso and Las Cruces – great barbecue”

Favorite hotel: Marriott “for the points”

Brian Murphy excerpted from the Idaho Statesman, January 2, 2007:

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Discard the old modifiers. Boise State is no longer mid-major. No longer an upstart. No longer Cinderella.

These Broncos are bonafide.

Boise State emptied its playbook and shocked the world, striking a blow for underdogs everywhere by knocking off tradition-rich Oklahoma 43-42 in Monday’s Fiesta Bowl.

In one of the most exciting college football games ever played, the Broncos reached the summit of college football. And, in the process, checked off all the items on their to-do list: perfect season, a Bowl Championship Series bowl victory and, finally, the admiration and respect of the entire nation.

…Bring on No. 1 Ohio State, the only other undefeated team in the nation.

“We deserve a shot at the national championship,” quarterback Jared Zabransky said.

And who can argue with them now?

Certainly not me.

…It’s hard to imagine a better — or wilder, wackier, crazier, more exciting or more unbelievable — finish.

And it led to some of the rawest human emotions.

Boise State’s longtime athletic director Gene Bleymaier collapsed on the field after the game, falling to a knee for a moment of quiet reflection before darting across the field like a running back trying to elude tacklers — a la Jim Valvano, another ultimate underdog — looking for someone to hug.

It was that kind of moment.

One that sent grown men sailing into the arms of others.

One that turned the WAC defensive player of the year into a teary mush at midfield.

One that made an All-American tailback, having just scored the biggest points of his life, fall to a knee and propose to his girlfriend, the prettiest cheerleader, of course.

One that left the Big 12 champions with their jaws agape as they filed off the field in stunned silence.

One that will cause college football’s powers-that-be to rethink their flawed system. One that doesn’t always reward teams for what they do on the field, but for the tradition they have created.

Or, at least, let’s hope it does.

“People will respect us now. We beat the Oklahoma Sooners,” an exhausted Andrew Woodruff said. “We are the Boise State Broncos.”

Yes they are.

And they’re champions, too.

Q. When are the book and movie coming out?

A. The book may be out by mid-August. Me and Chadd Cripe, the beat writer, signed off on doing one. It will be a new adventure – I’ve never written one before. The paper is facilitating it – we tried to go out on our own and ran into a bunch of issues – including putting up money ourselves. Then the paper worked out a deal for us. But we aren’t taking a leave of absence – our workloads will go down over the next couple of months while we try to get it out.

Q. And a film?

A. Funny thing, there’s a story in the paper tomorrow – Boise State is trying to make a documentary and sell the rights to it – to keep it in-house. Boise State’s approach seems to be unique. I’m not familiar with movies, but the ‘Marshall’ movie was based on a book by Rick Nolte, my former SE in Macon – I consulted with him. There’s always a hope the documentary gets delayed and they make a movie based on our book.

Q. Are there misconceptions about Idaho media?

A. I wouldn’t call Boise a big city, but it’s bigger than you think. Two newspapers cover Boise State. Four TV stations are all doing some sports. Having grown up on the East Coast when I tell somebody I moved to Idaho they say “Iowa?” The second thing they say is “What is there to do out there – is there a market?”

I didn’t know much when I moved out here, but I’ve been impressed. After working in Macon – the Atlanta market – and the Research Triangle, it’s not that different. Beats are competitive, especially Boise State. It’s a growing city with a lot of sophistication – the state capital being here brings lawyer types and educated people. There’s a level of sophistication people don’t necessarily equate with Idaho.

Q. How competitive is the Boise State beat?

A. I’m not the beat writer – I’m the columnist. I think it is competitive – we do a really good job on it. But it’s changing. The dynamics are changing. After winning the Fiesta Bowl Boise State looks at itself differently. Readers and TV viewers want every bit of information they can get. It’s reminding me of the Georgia Tech beat, where I was the beat writer, or some beats in North Carolina. We’re competing over every detail and shred of information. Everyone sees the phenomenon of Boise State – that’s the franchise – and more and more resources are devoted to covering it. We probably have an edge – I would say monopoly but that isn’t the right word. We work hard to maintain our edge. Everybody saw last year what can happen – how much interest there is.

We produced 150,000 posters of the January 2 paper and sold all of them. We also produced posters of our January 3 ‘trick play’s page – we had diagrams of the three trick plays that shocked Oklahoma – the hook and lateral, the halfback pass, and the Statue of Liberty play to win it. That page came with a blow-by-blow of the last quarter and a half. We also produced a special section the next Sunday called “Unbeatable Season”, with a long narrative written by me. We tried to pick 10 or 11 moments to define the season and tell the story through those moments – we got a lot of positive feedback on it. We produced a poster off the cover of that section. Early on when they beat Nevada to go 12-0 and secure a BCS spot, we produced a page of 25 small photos surrounding a larger photo: it said “12-0” and “Broncos Moment in the Sun”.

Q. What has Boise State’s season done for your career?

A. I started here last December, so this was my first football season covering Boise State. The impact on my career – I guess I haven’t seen that yet. I’m certainly flooded with more e-mail than I’ve seen in the past – seems like everybody who saw the game felt the need to comment on it. I got hundreds of e-mails form people who read our coverage online and wanted to say that was the most unbelievable game they ever saw. Our website got 750,000 hits on January 2, a record number. We set the single-copy record for sales, Sunday sales record, and Internet hit record. All of that obviously has to be good for my career. I’m doing a book, something I never had the opportunity to do. I’ve never covered anything like this. This is my first columnist job – it takes awhile to build a name and brand – this season raised my profile in the community. So many people are interested in Boise State and I was writing about them so often it can’t help but get my name out there. The second part is that you have to do a good job – hopefully my columns were well-written and well-received.

Q. Have you critiqued yourself?

A. Things haven’t slowed down to where I can. I’ve had a lot of good feedback inside the paper – the executive editor pulled me aside and said she thought I had grown and was writing authoritatively while not over the heads of the casual fans who had jumped on the bandwagon. That was nice to hear. As far as me going back and looking at it – some stuff I was happy with. We did a good job of covering events and we provided layered coverage that casual fans and die-hard fans could get a lot out of. It reached the point where we could not produce enough. I know some in our business criticize us for going overboard on big events, but for the Fiesta Bowl we sent eight people to Phoenix and we could have sent 16 and I don’t think our readers would have minded it. When you get an event like that readers have to ride with it.

Q. Storybook season – have you written anything tough?

A. Some games early in the season were pretty sloppy – I caught a bit of grief from the coaches. They had an 18-point win on the road and my column was not glowingly positive.

More so with the University of Idaho – it’s located in Moscow about six hours from here. Through the year they went through the Dennis Erickson hire – the paper flew me up there. There are probably 20,000 Idaho alums in the Boise area. When Dennis was hired there was a lot of optimism and excitement. But they fired a basketball coach I said they should have kept and made a hire I said was uninspired. I wrote all of that. When Erickson left I took him to task a bit for leaving.

You’ve got to find a balance. I don’t want to be critical just to be critical. On the other hand I do get paid to write my opinion. Coming from a beat writer background where you approach everything analytically – now to be in a position to tell folks what I think probably will be an adjustment period for me.

Q. Is the Boise market as open to criticism as Atlanta or Raleigh?

A. I would say no. On rare occasions when I’ve been critical of Boise State or Idaho I have certainly heard from fans. Part of this is the changing dynamic of the market. It’s had a huge population boom in the last 10 or 15 years but in some ways people here still consider it a small town.

The best example is something I wrote about Jake Plummer, who is from Boise and played high school ball here – he was a hero and won a state championship. I covered the Denver-Pittsburgh AFC title game last year and wrote it was a chance to redeem himself and to silence critics who say he plays too sloppy. He turned the ball over four times and they lost and I was very critical. I got a flood of e-mails – we ran several on the editorial page. I have them posted on my desk: ‘classless bash, ‘out of touch’, ‘Jake deserved better’, ‘biggest mistake is Murphy’s writing ability’, ‘how dare you bash one of ours?’. I’ve gotten some of that with Boise State as well. The Plummer thing really demonstrated it to me – there are a lot of people in the local community who feel the newspaper should be supporting local athletes – whether they turn the ball over four times or not.

Q. Are you viewed as an outsider?

A. Definitely. A lot of letters talked about my east coast bias and about being an out-of-towner. I see on message boards that I’m out of touch with Idaho and should go back to ACC country. I think some of that is starting to wane a bit. I’ve been here a year and people get familiar with you and start evaluating you on what you write as opposed to where you’re from.

Q. Do you feel like you belong?

A. Yeah. I think the more people you meet and the more time you spend here – I’ve been here 14 months and I’ve bought a house. I’m starting to feel like part of the community. Whether that changes how people associate with me, from a personal standpoint…I don’t know. I think I’m more authoritative on the community. Part of it was the lead-up to the Oklahoma-Boise State game – there was a column exchange with The Oklahoman. I felt like I was carrying the voice of Idaho. I did a lot of radio shows. People had never been to Boise – they knew it for the blue turf and they were coming to me to defend and explain Boise State. Going through that made me feel more comfortable as a Boisean.

Q. Why did you take the Statesman job?

A. I’d been covering Georgia Tech in Macon for 3 1/2 years, since March 2001. I just sort of felt it was time to do something different. I was perfectly happy covering Georgia Tech – I loved being an ACC writer and things were good – I would have been happy covering Georgia Tech for another year or two. I didn’t know about column writing but I felt it was time to take another step. At the same time I applied to The State to be a Clemson beat writer. So I thought I had no chance at this. I had done some column writing at Macon – Rick Nolte wrote a sterling letter of recommendation for me and I got my foot in the door in the interview process. I had heard there were three finalists – I was the last to interview – and they decided to take a chance on a young unproven columnist. All my family is on the east coast and I have a lot of friends on the east coast. I didn’t know anyone in Boise, Idaho, or in surrounding states. But I had moved to Macon and didn’t know anybody there. I was willing to take the plunge personally and professionally.

Q. Isn’t that the adventure of journalism?

A. It did seem like an adventure. I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career. When I went to North Carolina they reached three Final Fours while I was there. In college I interned at Baseball America and on the ESPN Sports Century project, which required me to move up to New York. Out of school I was hired by Sporting News to drive across country with two other young writers – we covered an NFL game in every city during the 2000 season. I landed in Macon and did high schools but in my second year Georgia Tech reached the Final Four. I come out here and Boise State wins the Fiesta Bowl. Most of those things I had no control over.

I’ve never been afraid to go places and do things just to do them. Moving to New York and doing Sports Century was a risk – it was unpaid and I was working on weekends and spending $40 on tolls every week. People tried to talk me out of the Sporting News internship…I guess I looked at them as adventures.

Q. Can you describe yourself as a writer?

A. Developing. I don’t think you ever master it. That’s a tough question – I’m not good at critiquing myself.

Q. Writers you admire?

A. I read a lot of people. Bill Simmons (espn.com) – I really enjoy reading him – the way he can blend sports and culture is interesting. Steve Hummer and Jack Wilkinson at the Journal Constitution. Mark Bowden – he wrote “Black Hawk Down” and “Killing Pablo”. I like people who can take the newspaper form and expand it – who have the basis in reporting in detail but can tell longer stories – that’s really cool.

Q. Where do you get your information?

A. A lot from espn.com. Sports Illustrated forever. The Atlanta Journal Constitution online. Raleigh News and Observer. I just have an interest in what’s happening in those areas. I read the LA Times online. I’ll go to sportspages.com – the top 10 – and blow through that.

Q. Do you read blogs?

A. There’s no Boise State blog, although we do one. I do read the fan sites – you have to, in today’s day and age. I know it’s anonymous and you don’t know where it’s coming from, but a lot of information is coming from those boards.

Q. What do you think of beat reporters who post on fan sites?

A. I’ve seen that done in a solicitation manner. As in, “I’m looking for a fan who has seen every Boise State game”. I haven’t done it. I’m not sure why someone would do it other than to find a fan. But there seems to be a better way to do that than getting on a board.

Matt Winkeljohn of the Journal Constitution, in his blog, acknowledges criticism from those boards, and even in comments at the end of his stories. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. When those people know you’re a person, in some ways it helps the dialogue between the reader and writer. On boards they can post anonymously and say whatever they want, even making nasty comments about your family. When there’s interaction you’re more likely to get constructive criticism and less blanket slander.

Q. Do you blog?

I started writing a blog this week, for the Statesman. We’re trying to bulk up our online site. Mine is the second true blog.

Q. How will it work with your column?

A. Good question. I’m still figuring that out. I’m not sure. There always seems to be extra stuff, whether it’s been left over or doesn’t rise to the level of a column. I’m still trying to discover a happy medium.

Q. How many columns do you write?

A. Between three and five a week. Sunday is a protected day – we make sure to have one. Events dictate the other days.

Q. Is it cold in Boise?

A. We’ve had a mild winter. I’ve only been skiing once.

(SMG thanks Brian Murphy for his cooperation)

No doubt about it, these Broncos are big time

Brian Murphy

678 words

2 January 2007

The Idaho Statesman

1

English

(c) Copyright 2007, The Idaho Statesman. All Rights Reserved.

Brian Murphy

Staff

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Discard the old modifiers. Boise State is no longer mid-major. No longer an upstart. No longer Cinderella.

These Broncos are bonafide.

Boise State emptied its playbook and shocked the world, striking a blow for underdogs everywhere by knocking off tradition-rich Oklahoma 43-42 in Monday´s Fiesta Bowl.

In one of the most exciting college football games ever played, the Broncos reached the summit of college football. And, in the process, checked off all the items on their to-do list: perfect season, a Bowl Championship Series bowl victory and, finally, the admiration and respect of the entire nation.

“It puts Boise State on the map. There are no little guys at BSU,” wide receiver Legedu Naanee said during the Broncos´ euphoric celebration at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Broncos erased all doubts and debate about their standing in college football. Champions of the Western Athletic Conference, they proved they can go toe-to-toe with any team in the nation.

Bring on No. 1 Ohio State, the only other undefeated team in the nation.

“We deserve a shot at the national championship,” quarterback Jared Zabransky said.

And who can argue with them now?

Certainly not me.

Nor the legions of other prognosticators who picked the Sooners, convinced that their size and speed would win out in the end.

But Boise State has never listened to the skeptics before and it wasn´t about to start on New Year´s Day.

Instead, the Broncos — using every trick in their vast arsenal — found a way to topple the vaunted Sooners. In the final minute of regulation and in overtime, Boise State used a hook-and-lateral, a pass from a running back on fourth down and a Statue of Liberty play for a 2-point conversion to secure the victory.

Having almost given away a certain win, the Broncos then snatched victory back from the jaws of defeat.

“It might go down in college football as the best game — ever,” said Zabransky, whose late-game interception gave the Sooners a 35-28 lead with 1:02 remaining.

It´s hard to imagine a better — or wilder, wackier, crazier, more exciting or more unbelievable — finish.

And it led to some of the rawest human emotions.

Boise State´s longtime athletic director Gene Bleymaier collapsed on the field after the game, falling to a knee for a moment of quiet reflection before darting across the field like a running back trying to elude tacklers — a la Jim Valvano, another ultimate underdog — looking for someone to hug.

It was that kind of moment.

One that sent grown men sailing into the arms of others.

One that turned the WAC defensive player of the year into a teary mush at midfield.

One that made an All-American tailback, having just scored the biggest points of his life, fall to a knee and propose to his girlfriend, the prettiest cheerleader, of course.

One that left the Big 12 champions with their jaws agape as they filed off the field in stunned silence.

One that will cause college football´s powers-that-be to rethink their flawed system. One that doesn´t always reward teams for what they do on the field, but for the tradition they have created.

Or, at least, let´s hope it does.

“People will respect us now. We beat the Oklahoma Sooners,” an exhausted Andrew Woodruff said. “We are the Boise State Broncos.”

Yes they are.

And they´re champions, too.

To offer story ideas or comments, contact sports columnist Brian Murphy at 377-6444 or by e-mail at bmurphyidahostatesman.com.

Cutline:Boise State running back Ian Johnson jumps into the crowd after he scored on a 2-point conversion in overtime. The conversion allowed Boise State to defeat Oklahoma 43-42 in the Fiesta Bowl on Monday night.

Cutline:Boise State linebacker David Shields, top, and teammate Colt Brooks smother Oklahoma running back Allen Patrick in the third quarter.

Document BSID000020070105e31200004

ports BULLDOG

Boise State football will never be the same again

Brian Murphy

596 words

2 January 2007

The Idaho Statesman

2

English

(c) Copyright 2007, The Idaho Statesman. All Rights Reserved.

Brian Murphy

Staff

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Chris Petersen´s wake-up call this morning was delivered at 7:45 by a radio producer requesting a live interview.

Minutes later, T-shirts heralding Boise State´s 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, ones with the score printed on them, arrived at the Broncos´ team hotel.

They were the first signs — among many — that Boise State football will never, ever be the same again after a thrilling Monday night in the desert.

By 10 a.m. — not even 12 hours after the Broncos shocked the college football world and a national television audience — ESPN´s “Cold Pizza,” “The Jim Rome Show,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” “Good Morning America” and “Inside Edition” had requested interviews with Petersen, quarterback Jared Zabransky or tailback Ian Johnson.

Boise State´s sports information directors, the liaisons between the media and the team, hardly had time to complete one phone call before the next request would arrive via voice mail or e-mail. Several media outlets offered to fly the Broncos to New York or Los Angeles for live interviews.

It´s just the tip of the iceberg, one far larger than anyone could have imagined before the Fiesta Bowl. Back then, a mere 24 hours ago, the Broncos were a cute feel-good story — equal parts Cinderella, Rocky Balboa and David to Oklahoma´s Goliath.

“We were playing for the little guys, apparently. We were playing for the mid-majors. We were playing for the people back home,” Johnson said. “We never saw ourselves as the little guys. We never saw ourselves as David and Goliath, but we´ll take it because David always wins.”

So do the Broncos.

Now Boise State is the talk of the country — and not just the sporting one. The other New Year´s Day bowl games are a mere footnote to the Broncos´ captivating and miraculous victory.

Johnson´s end-of-game marriage proposal to his cheerleader girlfriend thrust him into the mainstream. Petersen´s go-for-broke mentality — three trick plays in the final moments, all producing points on the board — endeared him to every free spirit in a nation full of them.

There is no telling where this will end.

The top 5 in year-end polls? The cover of Sports Illustrated? Or People? A playoff system in Division I-A?

The transformative impact of the victory will extend far beyond Boise, Idaho, where BSU is entering rarified air. The aftershocks could rattle the very core of college football, especially if Florida defeats No. 1 Ohio State — the nation´s other undefeated team — in Monday´s national championship game.

In that case, the Broncos will collect No. 1 votes in the Associated Press poll. Not nearly enough for a split national championship, but enough to make people think that they deserved a chance to prove it on the field.

“This means everything for college football — everything,” Zabransky said from Fox´s post-game stage on the middle of the field at University of Phoenix Stadium.

On that field, in that moment, such hyperbole was to be expected. But this morning, when the newspapers hit the doorsteps and the television talking heads began their spin and the requests came fast and furious, it didn´t feel like an exaggeration at all.

BSU football will never be the same again.

English

(c) Copyright 2007, The Idaho Statesman. All Rights Reserved.

Brian Murphy

Staff

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Division I-A college football, among all American sports, is the least true to the nation´s ideals. It´s not a meritocracy. It´s the dominion of giants, whose monopoly is rarely — if ever — broken or challenged.

Which is why Boise State´s appearance in tonight´s Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma represents a triumph — and a chance.

We, a nation that began as the ultimate underdog, have always held a special place for the scrappy upstart. Sports, more than anywhere else, is where the story line gets played out. Sports is littered with unlikely champions.

Cassius Clay. The Joe Namath-led New York Jets in Super Bowl III. Buster Douglas. The 1985 Villanova Wildcats. George Mason.

Each got a chance to prove their worth on the field or in the ring. They delivered in stunning fashion. But the little guy doesn´t get many opportunities to prove himself in Division I-A college football.

Until now.

Tonight, Boise State has an opportunity for the ages, a real shot against a national power on one of the sport´s biggest stages. The Broncos can turn the small crack available to the sport´s little guys — opened with threats of legislation and lawsuits — and bust that door wide open.

Or Oklahoma can slam it right in their face.

“We definitely can send a message to the BCS and to everybody that, ´OK, the small teams can´t play with

the big boys,´ ” Oklahoma senior defensive end Larry Birdine said.

“Or they can send a message saying, ´You´ve got to respect us, the Boise States and the Central Michigans and all them guys that play in the little conferences.´ “

Throughout tonight´s national television broadcast, Fox will hammer home the little guys vs. big guys theme.

(If the network´s reputation for overkill carries into its college football coverage, fans will want to kill themselves with David´s slingshot by the fourth quarter.)

Though the Broncos have insisted, rightly, that they are more concerned with their program, their school and their state than all the other non-BCS conference schools, tonight´s outcome will have an effect on all of them.

If the Broncos win, the Fiesta Bowl could go down as one of the most important games in college football history.

It would become important in the way Super Bowl III, which proved that AFL teams could compete with their NFL brethren and sped the pace of the leagues´ merger, is important. It would prove that the gulf between BCS and non-BCS is not as large as most believe.

“We can´t lose this game because it would be a devastating blow to all the big programs,” Birdine said. “Everybody is going to be like, ´Why hasn´t the BCS implemented a fifth game for these guys to begin with?´ “

And other questions would come up.

Like should the Broncos have gotten a shot at Ohio State?

Like the p-word: playoffs, the ultimate meritocracy.

Once those questions started, once the media got rolling and the little guys started lobbying again, it would be hard to stop that momentum. The six-conference cartel that controls college football could begin to crumble.

But a very bad Boise State loss would cripple that talk for a very long time.

Boise State, specifically, would forever be haunted by skeptics.

Non-BCS conference members, in general, would have to meet higher and higher standards to earn votes in the polls that determine who plays in the biggest bowl games.

That is all on the line tonight. Boise State is playing Oklahoma. But, for many, they are proxies in a much larger game.

The Broncos have done a very good job of not concerning themselves with that. Oklahoma is just the next team on their schedule.

You can bet, however, that others have thought about it. That college football´s little guys have pinned their hopes and dreams on a Bronco upset.

The wait is almost over.

History calls.

To offer story ideas or comments, contact sports columnist Brian Murphy at 377-6444 or by e-mail at bmurphyidahostatesman.com/ To read his previous columns, visit IdahoStatesman.com/murphy.

brian Murphy

Statesman sports columnist Brian Murphy is looking forward to the Fiesta Bowl to see how the Broncos, lauded in their own back yard, really match up against a big team from far, far away.

Here, according to Murphy, are more good reasons to watch the game:

1. “The little guy angle.” BSU is playing for all the teams that generally don´t get to play in big Bowl games.

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is a conglomeration of the country´s biggest football conferences, like the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten.

The BCS changed the rules just this year, Murphy said, adding a fifth bowl game so schools like BSU, who are not in the BCS conference, have a better shot at competing.

The first non-BCS team to play in the Fiesta Bowl was the University of Utah two years ago. Utah beat Pittsburgh — but Pittsburgh wasn´t much of a team that year, Murphy said. Oklahoma is and will be a real test for the Broncos.

2. Murphy agrees with Hawkes that this game means big exposure for the Broncos and Boise. The Broncos were on the cover of USA Today and the Fiesta Bowl will be broadcast on Fox, right after the Rose Bowl (kick-off is at 6:50 p.m., MST).

“The lowest-rated BCS game had double the television viewers of BSU´s best game ever,” Murphy said.

3. BSU and Oklahoma both have good human-interest stories. BSU´s Zabransky, booed at home at last year´s MPC Bowl, has had a “season of redemption,” Murphy said. His quarterback rating last year was the lowest of his career. His rating this year is his highest.

Then there´s junior offensive lineman Jeff Cavender . He´s filled in this year for his injured twin brother, Pete. Cavender has worn his brother´s No. 64 jersey this season in homage.

Oklahoma has had a rough season. The team lost to Oregon because of bad officiating and tumbled out of contention for the national title after losing their quarterback because he accepted exorbitant wages from a car dealership and was thrown off the team.

The Fiesta Bowl also will mark the last college game for running back Adrian Peterson. He finished second for the Heisman trophy when he was only a freshman and has come back from a collar bone injury this year. He´s considered one of the best running backs in the country and will likely be a first round NFL draft pick next April.

This may be your last chance to be able to say, “I saw him when …”

Win or lose, this season is a great one for first-year coach Chris Petersen. Colorado offered him a job along with beloved coach Dan Hawkins. Petersen decided to stay with the Broncos instead and fill Hawkins´ considerable turf shoes.

4. Crowds love the Broncos. They lured 6,000 fans to Utah and 8,000 fans to Nevada. After that win, which cemented the Broncos´ place at the Fiesta Bowl, fans charged the field and lifted celebrated sophomore running back Ian Johnson aloft.

Five thousand fans showed up at Taco Bell Arena on a Sunday night to hear the official word the Broncos would go to Arizona, even though everyone knew it already.

“Most people think Oklahoma is big and fast. The national guys admire BSU´s spunk. Big and fast usually beats spunk, but you never know. That´s what makes sports great,” said Murphy.

SEE BSU ON LIFE 5

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