The city of Montreal has brought the world some amazing things.
First off, it has supplied us with the gifted thespian and sometimes singer William Shatner. His uncanny ability to put so much conviction into his roles makes him one of the world’s true credit to American cinema. Whether he is cast as Captain Kirk, or the Priceline guy, Shatner brings it every single time.
Next, you have the Montreal Canadiens. Truly, the greatest hockey team to ever grace God’s green planet. “Les Habitants” have won 23 Stanley Cups, and have been home to some of the greatest array of talent the NHL has ever seen, like Jean Beliveau, Maurice Richard, Ken Dryden, Larry Robinson, Patrick Roy and Bob Gainey.
They are the New York Yankees of their respective sport. Still to this day, the bleu-blanc-rouge are one of the best teams in the National Hockey League.
Another French-Canadian made his mark in Boise in the early 1980’s, helping the Broncos win a NCAA Division I-AA National Championship in 1980. He was a guy that terrorized offenses from Montana to Nevada to Northern Arizona to everywhere in between.
At 6’5 and 275 pounds, this tough customer was an All-American during the 1981 season, and made All-Big Sky during the 1981 and 1983 seasons. He then brought his gritty style of play to his home country of Canada, playing for the Ottawa Rough Riders and Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL.
This tough customer was Michel Bourgeau.
The early 1980’s Broncos were a really good mix of fluid, efficient offense, mixed in with black and blue defensive ability. Bourgeau was part of that tough as nails defensive corps.
In his freshman year in 1980, Bourgeau made a solid first impression, grabbing 38 tackles as the Broncos won the Big Sky Championship, setting up a meeting against Eastern Kentucky in the Division I-AA title game in Sacramento.
The two teams battled neck and neck through a great contest, with Boise State edging out the Colonels, 31-29. It was a tremendous accomplishment for Boise State at that time, and Bourgeau contributed to that success.
In 1981, Bourgeau and Boise State had another solid season, going 6-1 in conference play, and finishing 10-3 overall. Bourgeau earned not just All-Big Sky that year, but earned an All-American honor as well, finishing with 57 tackles. During a five week period, the Broncos finished 5-0, not allowing more than 20 points during that span.
Bourgeau was joined on the defense by Curt Hecker, who had 139 tackles and an interception. Also providing solid defensive help was Dan LeBeau, who had 82 tackles and a fumble return, and Randy Trautman, who had 77 tackles, including 6 for loss. Other than a 45-43 shootout between Boise State and Idaho on November 21st 1981, the Broncos’ defense pretty much was iron clad, having many games that year where they only gave up 8 points or less.
Yeah, they were that good.
Bourgeau won another All-Big Sky nod in 1983, as the Broncos allowed only 17.6 points per game. Joined by guys like Butch Fisk, Carl Keever, Marcus Koch and Jeff Caves, Bourgeau finished with 60 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery as he solidified himself as one of the best defensive tackles in Boise State history. His chances looked good for a shot in the National Football League.
In 1984, he was drafted in the 11th round by the New Orleans Saints. However, Canada seemed like a more promising future for the young Canadian star, and in 1985, the Ottawa Rough Riders signed Bourgeau. It was a homecoming of sorts, as Ottawa is right on the border of Ontario and Quebec, and is just 2 hours from Bourgeau’s hometown of Montreal.
Bourgeau played for the Rough Riders until 1989, when he was traded to the Edmonton Eskimos, a team that had just won the Grey Cup (Canada’s version of the Super Bowl) two seasons earlier. With the move, Bourgeau had a chance to contribute to a winning franchise.
The 1993 Eskimos team was loaded with talent. Led by head coach and all-time CFL quarterback great Ron Lancaster, Edmonton had a tremendous QB talent calling the shots. Damon Allen (wh0 had a famous brother by the name of Marcus), threw for 3,394 yards and 25 touchdowns that year as Edmonton beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 33-23 to win the Grey Cup. Bourgeau contributed to the Eskimos defense that year, picking up 14 tackles for the eventual CFL Champion.
After the 1993 season, Bourgeau decided to hang up his cleats and call it a day. He has thrived in retirement, working for such companies as Hewlett-Packard and St. Alphonsus. He is also the developmental officer of the Boise State Varsity “B” Club, where he includes past Boise State players in Bronco athletic events.
He also decided to get a little wet for a great cause (see video below).
Whether it be on the gridiron, or in business, Michel Bourgeau has tackled every task that has been put in front of him, and has done it well. He is without a doubt one of the greatest defensive players in the history of Boise State football.
And that’s something to be proud of.