Ten Years Later, Bowl Game In Frigid Idaho Is Still Kicking Around

The game played on the blue turf in Boise has become a staple

Dec. 29, 2007

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The snickers were inevitable when it was decided to bring a bowl game to frigid Idaho and play it on the funky blue turf at Boise State's Bronco Stadium.

There are still plenty of critics scoffing at the thought of spending the college football postseason dealing with snow, ice and the other weather-related issues that come with playing a bowl game in the wintery climate of Boise.

But while games around the country, in places like Seattle and San Jose, Calif., have come and gone since the Humanitarian Bowl debuted 10 years ago, the game played on the blue turf in Boise has become a staple of the postseason calendar.

"This is a very unique bowl," said Kevin McDonald, executive director of the bowl. "We play in cold weather. They practice in cold weather. We have a winter sports day where they get to play in the snow. I don't think there is another bowl anywhere that can offer that kind of experience for the kids."

Organized in 1997 by officials of the Big West Conference, the game has overcome sponsorship fluctuations, changes in conference affiliations and the stigma that Idaho's capital city is miserable in the winter.

Truth is, most players don't mind spending their postseason in Idaho.

"When you get here, it's nice, it's beautiful. It's one of the most beautiful places I've been too," Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice said. "It's about the same as Atlanta, it just has snow."

The bowl has been embraced by the Boise community, much the same way as the Broncos. Signs on businesses are all over town, welcoming Georgia Tech and Fresno State for this year's game.

But McDonald believes the most important relationship the bowl holds is with the Atlantic Coast Conference, bringing name schools recognizable to the entire country.

"It brings big name teams to our bowl. That's important to us and to the fans of this community to have those kinds of teams playing here in Boise because you don't get to see them," McDonald said. "There are great regional matchups here."


 

 

This is the fifth-year of the bowl's relationship with the ACC, and Georgia Tech is the first school to come twice. Miami, Boston College and Virginia are the other three ACC teams to make the trek.

The moment that made McDonald feels as though the bowl had arrived was last year when Miami beat Nevada 21-20 in front of 28,652. The matchup was the night before Boise State played the biggest game in school history, its now famous overtime upset of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

"Last year, really, the watermark was established," McDonald said.

While crowds never seem overwhelming at the 30,500-seat stadium, the percentage of the stadium filled on gameday rivals any of the non-BCS or tradition-rich bowls.

Only once in the last five years has the game failed to draw a crowd of at least 28,000, and the home Broncos have played in the game just twice in that span. Three years ago, Fresno State beat Virginia 37-34 in an overtime thriller in front of 28,516.

"The last time we came here, we really felt like the home team," Fresno State's Tyler Clutts said.

Added Fresno State coach Pat Hill, "It's a great matchup for our conference to get an ACC team. The town is great, they really roll out the carpet for you when you come."

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