Special Reports

Ian, Chrissy get star treatment in New York

It’s a good thing Chrissy Popadics and Ian Johnson are in great physical condition, because their Fiesta Bowl workout didn’t end when the football game did Monday night.

Two days after Johnson scored the game-winning 2-point conversion for Boise State University and then proposed to Popadics on national television, the couple was touring New York City, shuttling from one television studio to another and sightseeing with Popadics’ uncle as guide.

With a picture of the wedding proposal in USA Today, the couple were instant celebrities — even on the East Coast.

“We’re outside of Boise and people are still recognizing who we are,’’ said Johnson, who is used to being interviewed, but not with the interest he’s seen since BSU won the Fiesta Bowl.

“People are like, ‘Hey, aren’t you the one who proposed?’ ’’said Johnson. “A few have also said, ‘Hey, thanks for making it so tough on the rest of us guys who want to propose this year.’’’

Both have pages on MySpace, the online meeting place, where well-wishers are posting congratulations.

Johnson and Popadics took a commercial flight from Phoenix to New York City late Tuesday night with Max Corbett, a spokesman for BSU, and began a tour of the television stations at the crack of dawn Wednesday. They appeared on “Good Morning America,” did an interview with ABC radio, and then they were interviewed at the CNN studios. They had planned to appear on the “Today show,” but scheduling didn’t work out.

The Associated Press took a picture of them near Battery Park with the Statue of Liberty in the background, Corbett said Wednesday afternoon by phone from a Manhattan shopping mall. He and Johnson were waiting for Popadics to finish browsing in a Victoria’s Secret store.

Johnson’s winning score Monday night came on a trick play called the Statue of Liberty.

Boise State officials checked with the NCAA in advance to make sure that having the couple’s trip financed by broadcasters was permissible under NCAA rules.

The trip was Johnson’s first to New York City. Popadics, who grew up in Pompton Plains, N.J., said she enjoyed showing him around. Popadics’ family joined the couple before the “Good Morning America” show.

Johnson wore a No. 41 BSU jersey for his TV appearances and said he gave Popadics some pointers on how to handle the attention.

“I tell her it’s not a huge deal. Talk to people as if they’re your friends and tell them what you want everybody to know,’’ he said. “It’s honestly not a big deal.’’

Even Corbett, a media-relations veteran, was taken aback by all the cameras. Popadics, a cheerleader whose role with the team has been relatively low-key until now, said she was taking it in stride.

“It hasn’t even hit me yet. I can’t take it all in at the moment,’’ she said. “I’m just so still trying to comprehend the fact that I’m engaged and in New York City.’’

Having her hair and makeup done and appearing on television was “awesome,” she said. “I felt like a celebrity.”

Johnson’s proposal Monday night came soon after the winning play. He got down on one knee to ask the question as television cameras rolled. The couple said Wednesday that they are waiting to talk to both families — who have met several times — before making final wedding plans. Popadics hopes to wed in July.

She doesn’t want the wedding to happen too close to next fall’s football season, and she doesn’t want to wait until after.

“I don’t want to be engaged more than eight months,’’ she said. “It doesn’t take as long as people think to plan a wedding.’’Johnson said he hoped for a beach wedding in California. The couple met on the beach in Hawaii when the BSU team traveled there for a game.

Popadics, 21, and Johnson, 20, are both likely to graduate in a year and a half.

“If our parents support us being married being in school, we’ll do it,’’ said Johnson. “If they want us to wait, that will weigh in our decision on whether we’ll wait.’’

Popadics had heard hints that a marriage proposal was on the way, but she didn’t expect it at the Fiesta Bowl, because she knew Johnson couldn’t carry a ring with him on the field.

“I didn’t even think about the fact that he could propose without a ring,’’ she said Wednesday.

The diamond ring came later.

The couple — who have been dating for about 16 months — planned to fly today to Johnson’s hometown of San Dimas, Calif., for the rest of BSU’s winter break.

Which side of the country will the couple eventually choose? Johnson said it doesn’t matter.

“We’re the type of couple that it doesn’t matter where we go, we just want to be together,’’ he said. “Wherever life takes us, we are willing to try.’’

To offer story ideas or comments, contact reporter Anne Wallace Allen at aallen@idahostatesman.com or 377-6433.

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