Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winning the Bronze Boot

UW photo
Wyoming players celebrate the 2006 win over Colorado State.

By Richard Anderson
Wyoming Sports.org

Saturday marks the 100th time that the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University have battled on the football field. The game will also be the 41st time the two teams have fought for the “Bronze Boot.”

In 1968, the ROTC detachments of the respective schools initiated the Bronze Boot, a traveling trophy awarded to the winner of the contest each year. The Boot was originally worn in Vietnam by Colorado State graduate Jeff Romero Sr.

Normally each year leading up to the Wyoming-Colorado State game, the game ball is carried on foot in a shuttle relay by the ROTC detachment of the visiting team to the Wyoming-Colorado state border, where the home team's ROTC detachment receives it and runs the game ball to the stadium hosting the game.

This year Colorado State head coach Steve Fairchild will ride on a U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter from the Colorado National Guard to the state line of the ROTC detachments from both schools, running the game ball to Wyoming ROTC representatives.

Kickoff Saturday at War Memorial Stadium is set for noon.

For the Cowboys, they can list BYU, Utah and even Air Force as rivals. CSU can certainly do the same, along with Colorado.

But under no circumstances are any of those matchups bigger for both teams than when Wyoming plays Colorado State.

“Our big game of the year is against Colorado State,” Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said Tuesday during the weekly MWC media teleconference. “It is a great rivalry. We talk about the Bronze Boot, what it stands for, what it signifies, what it represents. It is huge for both teams. CSU has it right now and the ‘Pokes want to get it back. It would be a great way to finish the season.”

Fairchild said that this game is as big of a rivalry as his school has.

“I think both universities do a great job of making this important, not only to the athletic departments, but to the entire schools and the communities,” Fairchild said. “That Bronze Boot is important to a lot of people. We’re fortunate at Colorado State. We have the CU and the Air Force games that, in their own right, are pretty good rivalries. But there is none that is more important to us than the Border War.”

The Rams won last year’s game 36-28, spoiling a chance for Wyoming to become bowl eligible. At 5-6, Colorado State has that same chance with a win over the 4-7 Cowboys.

Possibly a case of déjà vu all over again in reverse?

“I’m not looking to screw them up. I’m looking for us to finish on a high note,” Glenn said.
Then again ….

“It’s a chance to go out and get the Bronze Boot with a victory over your arch-rival,” he added. “It couldn’t get much better than that.”

The Bronze Boot is symbolic of who wins the game, Glenn said, between the two universities that “happen to be 70 miles apart.”

“That boot gets put into the trophy case, right as you enter the athletics department,” Glenn said. “We shine it up clean and bright, for everybody to see. I hope CSU does the same when they have it. It is a rival game and rival games are always the most fun part of the game.”

Glenn said that the rivalry reminds him of his playing days at the University of South Dakota, when they faced off against South Dakota State University.

“I remember the fever pitch, the spirit, the love for the game and wanting to win this game against guys I really didn’t know,” he said. “It’s for my school against their school, for my colors against their colors, for my alums against their alums. It meant a lot to me.”

Both coaches admit that they make sure their players know the significance of the rivalry.

“I really care about our kids knowing that,” Glenn said. “It’s been a battle. The home team has won it every team that I have been here and we’re at home, so 'Go ‘Pokes.'”

Fairchild not only previously coached in this game as an assistant coach, but he led the Rams to the 1980 Border War win as the starting quarterback. He is making sure that his team is surrounded by former players and coaches who have experienced the game.

“This whole week, it started Sunday night, there are various people who will visit with our football team and will share with our team their experiences about this game and how important that it is to them,” Fairchild said. “I think it is my job, my responsibility to enlighten our football team, particularly our newer players, on how important this rivalry is and how important it is to so many people out there.”

Both teams have 20 wins in the Bronze Boot series.

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