Arizonans will have to forgive Idaho’s population for wandering around the Valley in a blue-and-orange haze this week. Boise State’s selection to play Monday in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale is the biggest thing in Idaho since the invention of french fries — seriously.
The founder of the company that invented palatable frozen french fries, Idaho icon J.R. Simplot, is traveling to Arizona for the game. He’s 97 years old.
Boise’s mayor is coming. So is Idaho’s governor.
Consider this: Idaho’s governor-elect, Butch Otter, is scheduled to take the oath of office in Boise in a private ceremony at noon Monday. The event will be short, sweet and closed to the public. The key aspect is that it will be wrapped up fast enough so that Ot- ter can catch a fl ight with Simplot, his former employer and former father-in-law, to get to Arizona in time for the 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
Otter will have a longer ceremonial public swearing-in a few days later.
The Fiesta Bowl matchup against Oklahoma is Boise State’s coming-out party. The Broncos are making only their seventh appearance in a Division I-A bowl, their third appearance in a bowl outside of Boise and their first in a Bowl Championship Series game.
Boise State crashed the party with a 12-0 record and No. 8 national raking.
The game is the talk of the town back in Boise.
“It seems like the whole city has rallied around the team,” said Broncos coach Chris Petersen.
“It seems like there are not many people that are not coming down to the game. If they are not coming down here, they are setting up how to watch it on TV,” he said.
Boise State boosters have gone bonkers since 6,000 showed up to watch the BCS bowls lineup announcements on a big-screen TV. It seems nearly every vehicle in Boise is fl ying a blue-andwhite flag, said Boise retirees Roger and Laura Gleason, who came to Arizona to catch the game.
“It’s huge, huge, huge,” Laura Gleason said.
The Fiesta Bowl quite possibly is the biggest event in state history, she said.
“I can’t think of a single event that’s rallied people as much; nothing so broadly appealing and as energizing as this,” she said.
The Rolling Stones made a rare appearance in Idaho in the past year, and there’s always the first day of skiing, but not everyone likes rock music or snow, she said. The Broncos are different. Even University of Idaho alumni are charged up about the game, she said.
“This game is about the whole state of Idaho,” she said.
Cameron Pluegel, a propane supplier in Donnelly, Idaho, drove 1,450 miles to attend the game. He drove a truck pulling a motorcycle trailer from Donnelly to Las Vegas, then drove the motorcycle from Las Vegas to Scottsdale. The game is that important, he said.
“It’s gigantic. It’s really big. I live up in the mountains, 100 miles north of there, and it’s big,” he said.
Boise State president Robert Kustra said the exposure associated with the New Year’s Day game allows the university’s deep thinkers to promote their academic achievements.
Idaho Statesman columnist Tim Woodward said the Fiesta Bowl probably is the biggest news in Idaho since union man Harry Orchard murdered former Gov. Frank Steunenberg back in ’05. That would be 1905.
Garden Valley, Idaho, residents Lonnie and Elizabeth Bramon and their sons, Chris and Alex, were outside the Fiesta Bowl’s headquarters this week, but they weren’t talking about academia or the Steunenberg murder.
They were talking about meeting friends at the Fiesta Bowl’s offi cial tailgate party.
“This is huge,” Lonnie Bramon said.