RENO It wasnt the raucous, frolicking celebration that followed Boise States 2006 victory here. And it certainly wasnt the somber disbelief that followed the Broncos 2010 stunning defeat here.
Instead, the scene outside the Broncos locker room after Saturdays 27-21 victory against the rival Wolf Pack was one of quiet satisfaction, of a job well done, of a mission accomplished.
The players and coaches had a few moments of celebration in the locker room, their cheers and chants echoing outside, the joy apparent. They donned their gray championship hats with pride.
This team earned it.
It was anything but a typical Boise State season defense, not offense, carried the day; there were close games and even some losses but it ended the way most Bronco football seasons end: with another championship trophy for the display case.
This team, perhaps more than his previous six, is a testament to the program that coach Chris Petersen has built in Boise. It can withstand massive personnel losses and assistant coach turnover and crank out another 10-win season. It may seem routine. It is not.
This team a collection of unheralded seniors and young emerging players kept working, kept getting better, kept finding a way to get wins. Even if they were never the prettiest 60 minutes youd ever seen.
A very satisfying thing about this year and this team is where we were against Michigan State isnt where we were when we played Miami, Ohio. Same thing when we played BYU. You go down the line. Each game we got better somewhere, quarterback Joe Southwick said. Thats what makes champions, and I couldnt be more proud of these guys.
That was the feeling as family and friends and former players gathered outside the Broncos locker room. A sincere pride in what they accomplished. Not a lament at what could have been. Not a wistfulness at opportunities lost or longing for those to come.
This team did what it set out to do win a Mountain West title. Something last years more glamorous and decorated squad couldnt get accomplished.
It was our biggest emphasis all offseason and then all the way through this season. This was our biggest goal to win the Mountain West, and we were able to do it, senior linebacker J.C. Percy said.
Few embodied the spirit of this team more than Percy, a hard-nosed linebacker who finally got a chance to start. He responded with 101 tackles, the most for a Bronco since Korey Hall in 2006.
Or Southwick, the oft-criticized quarterback tasked with doing the impossible: replacing Kellen Moore. Southwick ignored the slings and arrows and just got better. He looked as comfortable as ever against the Wolf Pack, even lowering his shoulder against a defender at the first-down maker in the first quarter after a season of awkward slides.
A lot of people said we werent going to be the same team or we were going to be different but we have guys in here who fight and we fight for each other and we fight for our coaches and it really showed today, senior cornerback Jamar Taylor said.
People are always seeking a reason for the Broncos amazing success. Petersen, he of the 83-8 record and seven 10-win seasons in seven years, is coveted by schools all over the country, hoping he can bring Boises magic formula to their program. Offensive line coach Chris Strausser called it culture after the win, something that is a product of many factors and not easily replicated somewhere else.
The program rolls on. With new names and new faces, but similar results. One veteran passes it on to one younger player. One current player wants to get the win for one alum who wasnt able to quite finish the job.
Its a testament to the guys before that set the foundation, the stage on how to do it, and show the young guys how to do it, Petersen said. You get good players, they want to come here and be part of this thing. Its everyone. Once you get them here, its just a tremendous, tremendous amount of work.
The Broncos did not bring the Mountain West championship trophy to Reno. They left it in Boise.
They didnt need it to know what they had accomplished. It was apparent in every proud smile.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444; Twitter: @MurphsTurph