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The art of being a fan in a no-win situation

You might think that given the title of this story that I'll be talking about the Idaho Vandals or the New Mexico State Aggies or Hal Mumme choosing between jobs as special assistant to Chase Holbrook's dad and a Geek Squad member at Best Buy.

But I'm actually talking about the Broncos. And it will probably be the only time you'll ever hear me use "no-win" and "Broncos" in the same sentence ever again. That is, until the participants in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl are announced.

While I was away, I had a lot of time to think, which was great for my sorting out my feelings about the Broncos and college football but not so great for a horrendously constructed backyard gazebo. If any of my neighbors are reading this, I apologize. And stop parking in front of my house.

My relevant thoughts on Boise State were all over the place, from Titus Young's potential impact to the question of whether or not anyone will score on the BSU defense ever again (points that we'll get to throughout the offseason). But the one that really stuck in my craw was this:

I am rooting for a team that will never be the best in its sport.

It's strange to say out loud, but it's true. Boise State, if things remain the way they are now, will never reach the highest goal that a college football team can achieve. No matter what they do - as evidenced by last year's Utah team, the 2007 Fightin' Brennans, and the 2006 BSU team - it's not going to happen for them. They will continue to be shut out of the national championship, left outside of the top of the polls, and generally considered to be lesser than the other big-conference teams in the country. A BCS win is as good as it's going to get. This is why I'm watching the Fiesta Bowl DVD this weekend in my Marty Tadman jersey.

Think about it; every time the Broncos win, they lose. Winning the WAC championship loses the Broncos respect. Winning the Fiesta Bowl means losing out on the national championship. Winning against the Vandals might as well be a loss for how it affects strength of schedule.

The Broncos play football in a glass menagerie built for adolescent children. They can hardly stand up straight without hitting their head on the ceiling. Gene Bleymaier may have said it best at the congressional hearings last week:

This sucks. (ed's note: paraphrased)

And Gene was right. It does suck. So why should we fans give a rip?

This is where I sat for a good half hour this year, questioning the mere existence of my Bronco fandom. What's the point, I asked myself. And why does it take so long to make a Dairy Queen Blizzard? It's soft serve in a cup; it's not rocket science.

I could root for a team from one of the big six conferences who are virtually guaranteed a shot at the national title if their team runs the table in the regular season. Hmm, an undefeated team with a shot at the national championship. That's crazy! [/Brian Fellows'd!]

I could give up on rooting for college football altogether. After all, it is corrupt, prejudiced, and the only reason I schill extra to DirecTV for CBS College Sports Network. That, and I'm so over Brent Musberger.

I could write a nasty letter to the NCAA about my predicament. I could picket in front of Lidz in the mall, forcing equal shelf space for BCS teams and non-BCS teams alike. I could buy a PS3 just so I could play NCAA 09 and give my fake season a true tournament ending.

But I won't be doing those things, especially considering I've already done the last three and they just didn't work for me.

I'm going to keep rooting for the Broncos, and here's why.

I love the Broncos, and when you love something enough, you're able to overlook some flaws or misgivings, like the stink of never-ending fail. This is how Vandal fans exist.

I'm rooting for the Broncos because I believe in the Broncos. One day, they very well could be the team that sticks it to the MAN (the MAN being the lovechild of Myles Brand and Mark May) and plays for a championship, and when that day comes, I'll be able to look back on the current circumstances and laugh - a good, hearty laugh that hints at the fact that I wasted 15 good years rooting for a team to win a WAC championship.

But that's just it. It's not a waste. Some people might think it is, but those aren't the true Bronco fans. The fact of the matter is that the Broncos' conference affiliation or place in the pecking order of college football should not matter in the big picture of rooting for the Broncos.

The true fans know that all this time spent rooting for our team is worth it. I distinctly remember my joy in hearing the news that the Broncos were going from I-AA to I-A. I remember the day that BSU left the Big West to join the WAC (in hindsight, I probably should not have partied as hard as I did, relative to how things are turning out now). And for all the frustration and hardship and marginalization that's occurred on a national level since then, there are rumblings that it will all change one day. And I want to be there when it does.

Rooting for Boise State is by no means an empty pursuit. I love seeing the coaches and the players approach the game the way they do. I love the gameday feel of a Bronco game (most people call this Friday). I love supporting a local team that is worth rooting for.

These are all great reasons to be a Bronco fan.

However, if you're rooting for the Broncos because you want to see them win a national championship right away, your motivation is in the wrong place. You're going to be disappointed because that championship just isn't happening. Thanks, Hawaii.

What I discovered during my time away is that I root for the Broncos because I love everything about the Broncos - from the players to the coaches to the fans (especially the fans on this website). And I also discovered that if I dwell on the Broncos' circumstances, I am going to be a bitter, angry shell of a man. It's just not worth it.

So rather than finding no point in rooting for a team that will never win it all, I now find no point in concerning myself with the trivialities that the Broncos can't control. Will I still make fun of the WAC on a regular basis? You betcha. Will I complain every now and then that the BCS is evil? Most likely. But I'm not going to let it affect my rooting for Boise State.

All the Broncos have to do to gain my love and affection is show up on Saturday and several Fridays and usually one Wednesday or Thursday, play hard, and have fun.

And beating Idaho doesn't hurt.