First-year Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin and his staff have taught the players the school fight song throughout fall camp.
One phrase stands out: “Go! Orange! Go! Big! Blue!”
Those are the school colors — and they’ve been lost a little bit the past three years in the quest for the trendiest uniforms.
On Wednesday, Harsin made it clear that the program will embrace its traditional colors by surprising the players with new orange helmets that they’ll wear in the season opener Aug. 28 in Atlanta against Ole Miss.
The helmets were waiting in the locker room Wednesday morning. The players slept on the blue turf of Albertsons Stadium on Tuesday night, were woken up by an airhorn at 6:03 a.m. and found the helmets while still in a sleepy daze.
Players shouted words like “sick” and “tight” as they made their discoveries.
“A little early in the morning still, so I’m not really sure what’s going on,” senior quarterback Grant Hedrick said in a video posted by the school, “but these are cool.”
The orange helmets with chrome decals and chrome facemasks cost the football program a little more than $20,000. They add to an inventory that includes blue, white (added in 2011) and black (2012).
According to the Helmet Project on nationalchamps.net, Boise State wore orange helmets in 1969 and as a junior college from 1957 to 1967.
The Broncos wore blue helmets six times, black helmets four times and white helmets three times last year. They wore orange pants twice — they didn’t wear their orange jerseys — and wore at least one black or gray element five times.
“It was something coach Harsin talked a lot about once he got hired — could we come out with something a little different in the fall and bring back a little more of the traditional school colors,” said Brad Larrondo, the assistant athletic director for football. “We haven’t had a lot of orange, so it’s time to maybe mix that back in and work it into our uniform combinations.”
The rest of the Broncos’ closet remains the same this year.
They have blue, orange, white, black and gray pants and jerseys in the same designs as recent years. Players now have five helmets each — orange, blue, white and black for games and blue for practice.
The uniform combination for the opener will be announced Friday. The Broncos are the away team, so orange pants and white jerseys are considered the leading contenders.
The orange helmet was designed inhouse by Boise State and chosen from eight or nine designs, Larrondo said. Other variations included a blue eye in the Bronco head and an entirely blue Bronco head.
The staff wanted an “attention-grabber,” Larrondo said.
Chrome is the latest trendy feature on college football helmets.
The players, Larrondo said, appreciated the chrome facemasks.
“This one we wanted really clean so the orange jumped out and the chrome jumped out,” he said. “We just felt like the chrome look was the next new thing for us. We didn’t have it on anything else.”
The Broncos purchased more than 100 orange helmets in a total of six styles from three different manufacturers. The decals came from a separate company in Oregon — owned by former Broncos safety/linebacker Travis Burgher — and the 15 or so different styles of facemasks arrived Tuesday afternoon.
The helmets were kept in boxes around the Bleymaier Football Center.
“That’s the advantage of a new football center,” Larrondo said. “We’ve got a lot of different closets and nooks and crannies.”
The equipment staff worked late Tuesday night to assemble the helmets and prep them for the players. Harsin tweeted the design right before the players saw them — “Shh,” the post said — and the football staff texted photos of the helmets to the 21 former Broncos in NFL training camps.
The current players sang the fight song after the big reveal, got dressed for practice and worked out from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. in their new helmets.
“It was pretty cool seeing the looks on their faces,” Larrondo said. “It’s like a kid on Christmas Day. You see something new and you grab it and you want to wear it and go try it out.”
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