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The Stages of Grief: A Bronco Perspective

Boise State v Utah State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

One of the side effects of becoming a passionate fan is that your emotions, for better or worse, can often become entangled with the outcomes of your team’s games. Try as we might to deny it, or minimize it as “just sports”, a small part of us lives and dies with our team on the field, however far away we may be in reality.

Grief is usually a result of feeling loss. While clearly not as dire as the death of a friend or family member, having to suffer a loss with your team can certainly bring on grief. Instead of running from it, we as fans should embrace it, let it wash over us, and process through our grief so we can move on. Everyone is on a different timeline for their own personal grief, but as college football fans, we have a limited time period in which to live out our emotions before the next game. With that in mind, we here at OBNUG will take a seat in the therapist’s chair and try to counsel you through your grief on this bye week.

A commonly accepted view of grief is that there are five phases: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. They may not necessarily occur in that order or any certain set time frame, but for our purposes we’re going to charge right in and take them on in order. This might open some old wounds, but remember, this is a healing process. Sometimes you gotta break a few eggs to heal an omelette.

Denial – Nevada 2010

The first kick was good. I was there, high up in the cheap seats, but every BSU fan in the stadium could see that first kick was good. Even the blue & orange fans in Nevada’s endzone student section celebrated. Then the refs decided to ignore their eyes and we went into overtime.

We all saw the images after the game, with taunting fans and devastated Broncos. But we all knew that first damn kick went through the uprights, close though it may have been. The uprights were too short, the refs didn’t stand with the proper angle, hell the TV replay shows the truth!

Deep down we all knew there were a dozen plays that could have changed the game and turned the silver and blue tide, but that magic moment from Kellen to Titus with the diving catch and the miracle kick to extend the dream season…

Nevada didn’t win. The refs took that game from us.

Anger – Virginia 2017

We don’t lose on the blue.

We don’t let some trashy team from back east come and disrespect our house like that. Not since Boston College ran their mouth in a bowl game that didn’t count against our home streak, at least.

Once upon a time we got walked on in our house, but from 2001-2011 we shut that door. But now the mystique seemed to have left the blue carpet, though, and we’d lost some hard-fought squeakers. Somehow it’s easier to accept a hard-fought loss, but not this. Virginia did to us what we’re supposed to do to others, and Virginia isn’t a good team.


Bargaining – TCU 2011

We just needed more time. Kellen never lost on the Blue, and we knew better than to let it come down to a kick! TCU was a fine team, but this was our house, our year, our win. Just needed ten, maybe fifteen more seconds for Kellen to work his magic.

Why was it always a kicker? Couldn’t Pete recruit kickers? Maybe that Tyler Jones kid had a little brother. Dan’s a good kid, but we KNOW better than to leave a game up to a kicker.

Just a little more time...

Depression – Idaho 1996

The fans today don’t know darkness like we used to. Pokey Allen was one of our brightest lights, one of the first coaches the whole of Boise actually kinda knew and liked. Kooky, happy, and successful. He’d been on a downward health spiral, and missed most of the season while battling cancer, but this was supposed to be his welcome back game.

Idaho missed the memo, and as if to add insult to injury, they went full-tilt RUTS. Flags for excessive celebration, rumors of Tormey sending his players to run over Pokey Allen on the sideline, and the final score. I was there, but all I really remember was the cold. Everything sucked and I just wanted to go home.

A cold, dark day for a loss.

Acceptance – Georgia 2005

Going in, I was about as excited as I’d ever been for a game. We’d had a hell of a run in ‘04, and Hawk was ready to lead us onto the big stage. Georgia is one of those places you see old black and white highlight reels of, but we were ready.

Except we weren’t. It went quickly, but by halftime I was trying to figure out how many miracle deep-bomb TD’s and turnovers we’d need to have a shot at a comeback that never came. They were too big, too fast, too good. We’d probably never beat them if we had ten tries. Maybe we’re just one of the little guys.

Just a WAC team that’s too small.

Moving Forward

I don’t know about all of you, but after chewing on that Oklahoma State game for a while, I’m ready to move on. Unlike these five stages, I can’t deny we lost. They were better, and they were ready for us. I can’t be angry, we played good, clean football (aside from some special teams gaffes) and looked like we belonged. I’ve come far enough as a fan that I don’t play the bargaining game, trying to wish away some fluky problems for a closer score. We could have been much better, but that’s the way it goes. I’m not depressed about it. We’re still a damn good team, in a position to make a solid run through our conference, and OSU is a really legitimately good football team.

Accept it, learn from it, and go 1-0 next week.

(no, I did not talk about Utah State 2015, and neither should you; some things are better left repressed)