"Attaquons le future"
It doesn’t take more than a rudimentary understanding of romance languages to translate this phrase. Nor does it take more than a passing recollection of 80s sitcoms to understand why it won’t work as an acronym hashtag...
But this phrase is well-worn in the small town of Épinay, France—home to 25 year old Romain Boucher (no relation to Bobby), unequivocally France's biggest Boise State fan. So how does one become a part of Bronco Nation when the only time blue and orange flows through the streets is when the Dutch soccer team is in town for a friendly? Well, you can thank the Frogs...and the Japanese.
No, I'm not using a derogatory term for the French when I say "Frogs"...maybe it's just best to let Romain explain:
"During high school I started to read a manga called Eyeshield 21 to understand football. And it worked ! I was amazed by the almost perfect season of the Patriots in the NFL with the loss against the Giants (it was one of the first Super Bowls displayed on public TV in France). Not too long after, Joakim Noah won the NCAA title with the Florida Gators and being the son of a French tennis star it gained media attention in France, so I digged a little to find that there was also football in the NCAA."
"As I started college, I met many American students on my campus—some were from Kansas, Ohio, Texas, California...and there was a someone from TCU, and one day he was talking about the upcoming Fiesta Bowl— Boise State against TCU. So I searched (Le Google) and I found out that Boise State had blue turf, which I thought was AWESOME and had ties with France with its name and people who emigrated from the "Pays Basque", a region that's close to where my family is from in the south of France ; then thanks to Youtube I enjoyed the trick plays and many highlights of great games."
Generally speaking, Romain followed a similar path that many fans with little or no ties to the Treasure Valley do to stamp his ticket onto the Bronco bandwagon, but it's not a stretch to say that Romain has to work much, much harder to get his Bronco fix. "I use the ESPN college pass," Romain said, "which is very easy to use and not too expensive. Sometimes if I've work to finish (Romain works in the communication department for the Paris metro) I just stay up late until the start of the game at 3 or 4am. But if I'm exhausted I just go to sleep earlier and I wake up early." Keep in mind, Bronco games that kickoff after 8pm locally cause civil unrest. Romain is watching Bronco games when the street sweepers are humming.
And while Bronco fans can hit the stadium, bars, or watch the game with friends and family at home—Romain endures his insomniac Bronco schedule largely by his lonesome. "For now, not many people that I know like or care about football in general, so with Boise State they don't even know where it is or what this is. But I try to change that with my twitter account and with NCAA football on my PS3. I've converted a few friends and sometimes we play together (with updated rosters of course !)."
Whilst floating through the twitterverse, some of you may have stumbled upon the @BoiseST_France account and wondered if it was a courtesy for ex-pat alums or Boise State students on exchange...nope, it's just Romain trying to spread the Bronco love near the city of love. In fact, Romain manages a wordpress site (https://boisestatefrance.wordpress.com) devoted to Bronco football that easily rivals any word count that OBNUG can muster about the Broncos gridiron exploits.
"There's something about football that makes everybody involved in a way or an other," Boucher explained, "For example, I'm not tall (5'7") and kinda skinny (140 lbs), so I can see myself in Shane Williams-Rhodes or Donte Deayon. You can play bigger than you are with technique and surprise your opponent when you're not the average type. And that's something that I like about Boise State, the blue collar mentality, the fact that the coaches can find a role for some players that are not conventional but that they can make successful." An astute observation from someone that's grown up surrounded by soccer, basketball and...uh...handball—in fact, Boucher's overall assessment of the Broncos is a similar refrain to most fans that fell in love with the Broncos in the so-called golden era, "Boise State, to me, is change. It's modernity."
And the same fears and emotions that swirl through Bronco Nation from time to time don't go unnoticed in Épinay, "Just like everybody, I was sad that Chris Petersen left for Washington but it was an opportunity to start a new era with some new faces and ideas. Petersen's legacy won't go away, Bryan Harsin can now build his own and I like that. No wonder why last season worked so well, once again Boise State made the right decisions after the a season that wasn't as good as expected."
Boise State, to me, is change. It's modernity.
The further I prodded Romain, I found that he was well-versed on the Bronco present, "My favorite player on defense is probably Deayon and on offense, Sperbeck, for the way he stepped up last season when Miller couldn't play anymore." the future, "I hope we can see Young and Blakley make an impact this season," and even the past, "I wish I could have been at a game when Kellen Moore was at Boise State, because of his talent but also his attitude, what you want to be the face of the program."
In fact, Boucher may have a better knowledge of the inner workings of the program than greener Bronco fans or transplants—the only difference is that Boucher has to admire the Broncos from afar, "I've never traveled to the US and that's one my top goals. In fact, I'm saving money for about three years to make a trip one day, I'm just waiting on a good opportunity. For 2015, I've considered two games : Washington and Idaho State, but unfortunately, both are scheduled on Fridays (and with the Washington ticket situation that would have been impossible anyway)."
And what would Boucher like to experience aside from a win at Albertsons Stadium? Well, a Nuggie delicacy, of course:
"Have I ever had a Blizzard? No, but a friend from Ohio has mentioned this to me once. I just googled it and that looks as awesome as it sounds."
He also thinks that stadium fare could stand to be a bit more international, "We have something in France that we call the Tartiflette. It's easy to cook : potatoes, cheese (Reblochon is a must for this recipe), and pieces of bacon that we call "lardons" in France. When it's cold, that's a perfect meal to warm up, especially with a white wine from Bordeaux." In turn, I googled Tartiflette and I think it might just be French for "funeral potatoes".
And of course, if he makes his way to Boise, he'll be sure to stock up on Bronco merchandise: "I only have a hoodie that I bought via a sports merch website (Fooball Fanatics), there was a reduction coupon in my NCAA 14 copy so I used it for that. If I come to a game I'll buy a jersey of course. There's so much Boise State merch I don't know where to start. Maybe you guys will be able to help me decide !"
With that, I wrapped up my tête–à–tête (now he's got me speaking French) with Romain, a heckuva Bronco fan and one with much less of a language barrier than you might expect. You can follow Romain's personal twitter account HERE even if you don't speak français, and ask him to translate some of your favorite Bronco phrases. I asked him how to say "Vandals suck" and I gotta tell you, it really rolls off the tongue:
"les Vandals sont nuls"
Vive la France!