Blue turf, frigid Idaho now postseason staple

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BOISE, Idaho --- The snickers were inevitable when it was decided to bring a bowl game to frigid Idaho and play it on the funky blue turf at Boise State's Bronco Stadium.

There are still plenty of critics scoffing at the thought of spending the college football postseason dealing with snow, ice and the other weather-related issues that come with playing a bowl game in the wintery climate of Boise.

But while games around the country, in places like Seattle and San Jose, Calif., have come and gone since the Humanitarian Bowl debuted 10 years ago, the game played on the blue turf in Boise has become a staple of the postseason calendar.

Organized in 1997 by officials of the Big West Conference, the game has overcome sponsorship fluctuations, changes in conference affiliations and the stigma that Idaho's capital city is miserable in the winter.

Truth is, most players don't mind spending their postseason in Idaho.

"When you get here, it's nice, it's beautiful. It's one of the most beautiful places I've been too," Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice said. "It's about the same as Atlanta, it just has snow."

The bowl has been embraced by the Boise community, much the same way as the Broncos. Signs on businesses are all over town, welcoming Georgia Tech and Fresno State for this year's game, which will be played Monday.

But bowl executive director Kevin McDonald believes the most important relationship the bowl holds is with the Atlantic Coast Conference, bringing name schools recognizable to the entire country."

This is the fifth-year of the bowl's relationship with the ACC, and Georgia Tech is the first school to come twice. Miami, Boston College and Virginia are the other three ACC teams to make the trek.

The moment that made McDonald feels as though the bowl had arrived was last year when Miami beat Nevada 21-20 in front of 28,652. The matchup was the night before Boise State played the biggest game in school history, its now famous overtime upset of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

While crowds never seem overwhelming at the 30,500-seat stadium, the percentage of the stadium filled on gameday rivals any of the non-BCS or tradition-rich bowls.

Only once in the past five years has the game failed to draw a crowd of at least 28,000, and the home Broncos have played in the game just twice in that span.


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