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THE BLOOD LINES OF BRONCO BLUE
A Family History of Boise State Football
Bronco Blue doesn’t just run in our veins or serve as a Heffner family tradition. If there were ever a Heffner family crest, you’d see a picture of Buster Bronco smack dab in the middle. My father played football at Boise State in 1957 for Coach Lyle Smith, back when the field was green. I took the field in 1987 — the first year of the blue turf — and my son is a redshirt junior linebacker today. To my knowledge, we are the only three-generation football family in Boise State history, and we’re insanely proud of that. Growing up as a local kid who graduated from Bishop Kelly, I can genuinely say that this success couldn’t have been predicted. Sure the foundation had been laid by guys like Pokey Allen and Dirk Koetter, but when you look at our “Boise State has never been an elitist status symbol. It’s been a place of the people, where hardworking families send their kids to learn.” consistent progress, the level at which we’re competing is still unfathomable. I’ll never forget a precise moment in my life that illustrates this idea. My wife’s dad played football at Oklahoma, so my son grew up loving both Boise State and Oklahoma. One day he asked me, “Dad, do you think the Broncos will ever play the Sooners?” We just laughed. Five years later, the Fiesta Bowl happened, and the landscape of college football changed forever.
When I was playing, the equivalent to this would’ve been playing on national television. Preoccupied with beating the Vandals and trying to win in Division 1-AA, the thought of opening a season in prime time on a major network wasn’t even comprehendible. Now, the Vandals are in the Big Sky Conference, and Boise State is the darling of college football. I don’t have ill feelings toward the Vandals, but after the experiences I had playing there, and the way both the programs have
gone, I’m not disappointed to play them anymore. It was a great local rivalry in its time, but college football has a way of moving on, and so should we. Football is moving in an interesting direction now, and the Broncos are at the center of it. I see great opportunities ahead for Boise State, but we’ll have to navigate the same tricky waters as the rest of the
teams. There’s a lot of disparity in the game and even more money. I never used to be a fan of paying players, but as a parent, you see your son take the field in a sport where nothing is guaranteed, all the while networks and schools are making millions of dollars off of his and his teammate’s efforts. These aspects have a way of changing your perspective. Even if players do get paid, I don’t see the character of the program ever changing. A little- known fact about this year’s uniforms is that on the inside of the collar, embroidered so only the players can see, reads “Blue Collar.” We’re a program that wins, but we win because of the heart that our team plays with. Boise State has never been an elitist status symbol. It’s been a place of the people, where hardworking families send their kids to learn. If you ever see a picture of the 1980 National Championship team, you’ll know what I mean. “Blue Collar” may be a bit of pun, but I guarantee you, for the 35,000 people that fill Bronco Stadium to watch, and the 105 players that take Lyle Smith Field on a Saturday, it’s a source of pride. And that’s what college football is all about.
– Terry Heffner Branch Manager, Guild Mortgage
Bronco Stadium and Bronco State touchdown by BSUOrangeCrush licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
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