Boise State Football

Murphy: Boise State football will never be the same again

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Chris Petersen's wake-up call this morning was delivered at 7:45 by a radio producer requesting a live interview.

Minutes later, T-shirts heralding Boise State's 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, ones with the score printed on them, arrived at the Broncos' team hotel.

They were the first signs — among many — that Boise State football will never, ever be the same again after a thrilling Monday night in the desert.

By 10 a.m. — not even 12 hours after the Broncos shocked the college football world and a national television audience — ESPN's "Cold Pizza," "The Jim Rome Show," "The Dan Patrick Show," "Good Morning America" and "Inside Edition" had requested interviews with Petersen, quarterback Jared Zabransky or tailback Ian Johnson.

Boise State's sports information directors, the liaisons between the media and the team, hardly had time to complete one phone call before the next request would arrive via voice mail or e-mail. Several media outlets offered to fly the Broncos to New York or Los Angeles for live interviews.

It's just the tip of the iceberg, one far larger than anyone could have imagined before the Fiesta Bowl. Back then, a mere 24 hours ago, the Broncos were a cute feel-good story — equal parts Cinderella, Rocky Balboa and David to Oklahoma's Goliath.

"We were playing for the little guys, apparently. We were playing for the mid-majors. We were playing for the people back home," Johnson said. "We never saw ourselves as the little guys. We never saw ourselves as David and Goliath, but we'll take it because David always wins."

So do the Broncos.

Now Boise State is the talk of the country — and not just the sporting one. The other New Year's Day bowl games are a mere footnote to the Broncos' captivating and miraculous victory.

Johnson's end-of-game marriage proposal to his cheerleader girlfriend thrust him into the mainstream. Petersen's go-for-broke mentality — three trick plays in the final moments, all producing points on the board — endeared him to every free spirit in a nation full of them.

There is no telling where this will end.

The top 5 in year-end polls? The cover of Sports Illustrated? Or People? A playoff system in Division I-A?

The transformative impact of the victory will extend far beyond Boise, Idaho, where BSU is entering rarified air. The aftershocks could rattle the very core of college football, especially if Florida defeats No. 1 Ohio State — the nation's other undefeated team — in Monday's national championship game.

In that case, the Broncos will collect No. 1 votes in the Associated Press poll. Not nearly enough for a split national championship, but enough to make people think that they deserved a chance to prove it on the field.

"This means everything for college football — everything," Zabransky said from Fox's post-game stage on the middle of the field at University of Phoenix Stadium.

On that field, in that moment, such hyperbole was to be expected. But this morning, when the newspapers hit the doorsteps and the television talking heads began their spin and the requests came fast and furious, it didn't feel like an exaggeration at all.

BSU football will never be the same again.

To offer story ideas or comments, contact sports columnist Brian Murphy at 377-6444 or by e-mail at bmurphy@idahostatesman.com.

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