When Boise State and Georgia play in the Chik-fil-A Classic on September 3, fans will be treated to a game featuring two of the best teams in college football.
One team has built its football tradition with 115 years of athletic excellence. The other is the new kid on the block, the upstart Boise State Broncos.
Georgia appears to have it all. A national championship (1980), a pair of Heisman Trophy winners including Herschel Walker (1982), and a legendary coach in Vince Dooley. Boise State on the other hand, is still fighting for respect even though they enter this game ranked well ahead of Georgia.
How did Boise State get to the upper echelon of college football? It’s more than blue turf. It’s been a long and winding road, with humble beginnings. Beginnings like from 1933-1967 when Boise was a junior college.
In 1947, Boise had it’s first undefeated season as a junior college football program under the direction of head coach Lyle Smith. In 1958, Boise Junior College won the NJCAA National Championship and they were ready to move up.
After a couple seasons testing the deeper waters of college football at the NAIA level in the 60’s, Boise State College competed at the NCAA Division II level from 1970-1072.
After three consecutive Division II playoff appearances, Boise State University moved to what is now the NCAA FCS and more success followed.
Looking to keep moving, in 1996 Boise State moved up to the FBS or Division I level to compete against bigger schools in the Big West Conference.
A move to the WAC, and a bowl game appearance at the Humanitarian Bowl came in 1999. People outside of Idaho started to take notice. The Broncos would go on to win eight WAC football championships in dominating fashion. In 2002, they finished #15 in the AP poll and #12 in the poll where coaches vote at the end of the season.
2006 was a magical year for the Broncos. Not only did they win the Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma, but they went undefeated for the first time at the FBS level. An undefeated season would occur again in 2009 (14-0) and a season end ranking of #4 made all of college football take note.
What started as a dream on the junior college level has now become one of the most respected programs in college football.
2011 looks to be another big season for the Broncos. A high national ranking to start the year, a Heisman candidate in quarterback in Kellen Moore, and a nationally televised opener against an SEC opponent signals Boise State has arrived in a big way. We’ve all taken notice.
Rick Limpert covers sports, technology and events in and around Atlanta. He will be covering the Georgia./Boise St. game to start the college football season.