Autographs, Mr. Byrd, and #10aneStrong: My First Fiesta Bowl Experience

December 31st, 2014 is a day I will never forget. Boise State took out the University of Arizona to capture its third Fiesta Bowl win. And I was there to see it all. Thanks to my lovely fiancé Whitney, I was sitting 11 rows from the field with other members of Bronco Nation cheering on our beloved Broncos to victory.

Believe it or not, the win was not the most memorable moment of the day for me. It was the events and moments before, during, and after that made the day special.

Before we begin, I would to apologize to our faithful BNN readers. I stated on twitter that I would post pictures and updates and I didn’t post a single thing. So for that I apologize. However, in my defense, I was using an iPhone 4 on 3G. So with that I say go ahead and try to post on twitter with that over priced calculator while surround by 60,000+ other people with far superior cellular technology.

Pleasant Surprise

My tickets to the Fiesta Bowl were a Christmas gift that was found out early. Partly due to my inviting people over to watch the game and Whitney finally saying, “Stop inviting people to our home, you’re not going to be there. You’re going to be at the game.” So I found out the present early. But I didn’t actually see the beautiful tickets until Christmas morning.

And let me tell you, I have never seen more beautiful pieces of paper in my entire life. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself. 

See, aren’t they beautiful? Well, these tickets were literally tickets to the best day of my entire 2014. Let me tell you why. Besides watching Boise State nab its third Fiesta Bowl victory, I got to meet some very cool people and saw some pretty amazing things.

Upon entering the stadium and finding our section, I was greeted with this wonderfully beautiful view of the field. This picture was taken 7 rows behind ours.

Now I’ve been to many Boise State games. None of them carried this kind of feeling though. There was a certain feel to the stadium that told me it was going to be a good day, win or lose. As more and more people entered, the electricity in the air just got more intense.

Upon entering and finding our seats, Whitney and I proceeded to walk through the stadium and toward the tunnel where our Broncos would eventually charge out of. Many of the players were warming up so we got a nice a view.

Little did I know, that standing at this tunnel opening was going to be a moment that I will never forget for many reasons.

For starters, I got Coach Harsin to sign my hat. And for many of those wondering, Harsin is a really, really cool guy. And if you don’t believe me about the signing, here’s a picture of that too.

A Following

Secondly, I met fans. No, I don’t mean Boise State fans. I mean BNN fans. For the record, I didn’t go parading that I was a writer for a small time, fan run web page. Whose going to care about that? But I did ask permission to take photos of and with people for a fan based webpage.

When asked which one, I told them. After that I was met with, “I LOVE THAT SITE!!!” or “I know that site! I love the article about such and such.” Which, I’m not going to lie, made me feel good.

However, I gotta say, two fans in particular stood out the most. The first being this man right here. 

Meet the father of former Boise State center, Thomas Byrd. While standing by the tunnel getting autographs and taking pictures of players, this man approached the tunnel opening from the stands in order to get the attention of Antwon Murray, the Director of Recruiting for Boise State Football.

Once he concluded his business with Murray, he began talking to me. We chatted a little, then I asked if I could take a picture with him and get a quote. He said yes, and asked what for. I responded with “A little fan run webpage.”

Mr. Byrd responded, “That’s cool, what’s it called?” To which I obviously responded “Bronco Nation News.” Mr. Byrd’s next words took me by surprise. “No way, I really like that site. In fact, all the parents of former team members read that webpage. They really like it.” This also made me feel good. Real good.

After chatting a little bit with Mr. Byrd, he eventually thanked me and went back to his seat. Whitney and I hung around until it was close to game time.

We headed up the nearest steps to get back to our seats where I once again ran into Mr. Byrd. This time with his wife. Mr Byrd said, “Honey, this guy writes for Bronco Nation News.” Next thing I knew, they wanted a picture with me!

Ioane Strong

After a final goodbye, we headed up the stairs and over toward our section. Along the way I spotted a large family wearing custom shirts printed with Ioane and the number 10. I immediately knew who these people were. I asked for a photo and they all happily posed for the camera. Not gonna lie, I got a little teary eyed. 

After the encounter with Ioane’s family, we headed back to our seats to watch the kick off.

The Game

The atmosphere was electric. I was sitting with a plenty of Boise State fans. After Ajayi’s first run of the game, Whitney, a fellow Bronco fan, and myself started chanting “Scooby Doo! Where are you!?”

Arizona fans were not too happy with that. While the game was filled with ups, downs, cheers, and eye closing moments, it ended with a Bronco victory.

Once the final whistle blew, we marched down to the edge of the rows to watch the trophy presentation and high-fived the players and coach Harsin as they circled the stadium thanking fans for coming.


While I succeeded at getting chants about Scooby Wright started, I wasn’t able to get a good Boise State chant going during the game and it bothered me. After the game, Whitney and I headed to the exit and I stopped.

Surrounded by concrete walls and ceilings and coming off a big victory, I knew this was my chance to get a chant going. I walked over to a family and enlisted their help. Without hesitation they agreed to help me.

With what voice I had left, I yelled “BOISEEEEE” to which the family responded “STAAATE!” Once more I yelled “BOISEEEEE” and this time, I had well over 100 people yell “STAAATE!” One last time, I yelled “BOISEEEEE” and received another “STAAATE” from even more people. It. Was. Awesome.

After a gratifying chant and a quick stop at In-N-Out, we headed to the car to drive through the desert and back to Orange County. This trip to the desert I will never forget that meant much more than just another Bronco victory.

Were you at the game? Tell us your most memorable moment in the comment section below, Bronco Nation.


About Mathew Douraghi

Mathew Douraghi
Mathew comes to Bronco Nation News from sunny Southern California. He completed his bachelors degree at Boise State in anthropology in 2012. From there he took his academic pursuits to the Bay Area where he recently completed his Masters degree in Medical Anthropology at California State University - East Bay. Mathew loves sports and like his co-author Steven, he loves all his sports teams down in Southern California. However, that doesn't mean he bleeds any less blue as Mathew has been following his beloved Broncos since 2005. After talking to his co-author and good friend Steven, Mathew joined the BNN staff to share is love of Bronco sports with Bronco Nation. He truly enjoys writing for BNN readers and hopes you enjoy his articles!

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