January 20, 2007: More than 25,000 fans fill the streets of downtown Boise and jam around the Capitol for Boise State’s Fiesta Bowl Celebration Parade and Statehouse Salute. The crowd surged toward the flatbeds carrying the team that had upset Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime 19 days earlier in Glendale, AZ.Ian Johnson, whose two-point conversion on the Statue of Liberty won the game after the Broncos’ stunning hook-and-lateral and halfback touchdown pass, probably got writer’s cramp while signing autographs. The buzz hadn’t subsided a bit since the historic, BCS-busting takedown of the Sooners.
The parade ended at the Statehouse, where new Governor Butch Otter spoke, and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter led the throng in the Basque chant “Gora Gora Gora!” The loudest chant was a “Pete-Pete-Pete” reserved for coach Chris Petersen as the Broncos lined the steps behind him. Petersen had just won the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award as national Coach of the Year after going 13-0 in his first season. A roar almost as large went up when Fiesta Bowl offensive MVP Jared Zabransky stepped to the podium. Zabransky soaked up the adulation a little over a year after hearing some boos while accepting the MPC Computers Bowl MVP trophy.
Zabransky had been the storybook subplot in perhaps the greatest college football game ever played. Goodbye to the Georgia dehydration and deflation in 2005, and to the season-ending bowl game interceptions in 2004 and 2005. Hello to the MVP trophy and a roar on the Statehouse steps. It was “Friday Night Lights” with the alternate ending. Star quarterback throws pick-six. Star quarterback regains composure and leads team to unbelievable tying touchdown. Star quarterback perfectly executes Statue Left with star running back for all-or-nothing two-point conversion to win biggest game in school history.
ESPN’s Pat Forde put a bow on it earlier that month in a column headlined, “Fiesta shockwaves might be felt for years to come.” Forde wrote, “Now that the Statue of Liberty has been run and the Fiesta Bowl has been won and we’ve all become citizens of Boise State’s Trickeration Nation, it’s time for an assessment of what we saw at University of Phoenix Stadium: simply and succinctly, it was the most amazing football game I’ve ever attended. Never seen that much nerve from a coaching staff. Never seen such nerves of steel from the players executing the razzle-dazzle in do-or-die situations. Never seen both teams appear hopelessly beaten in the final minutes of regulation.” Goose bumps again, anyone?
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)