November 28, 2010
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      Ordinarily, I don’t care much for college football.

      I used to.

      But lately the college game leaves me cold.   Maybe it’s the resentment factor.   After all, these pimply geeky lucky-ass kids are all young enough to be my….no, let’s not go there.

Kyle Brotzman, grabbing his head, suffers the agony of ‘da feet….

Kyle Brotzman, grabbing his head, suffers the agony of ‘da feet….



      Thank God that once in awhile I still allow myself a three-hour romance with the colleges.

      Because once in awhile, once every emotional ice age or so, a stray college football game reaches right inside my chest and gently massages my tired old heart.   The best college football game I ever saw was just a few years ago, Boise State vs. Oklahoma, when the underdog, upstart Broncos came up with trick play after trick play and somehow managed to beat the mighty Sooners in triple overtime in the Fiesta Bowl.   Remember that one?   Yeah, that’s right, the one when right after scoring the winning touchdown some guy (Ian Johnson from Damien High School in La Verne) knelt down and proposed marriage to his cheerleader girlfriend.   Right there on the sidelines.    Wonder if those two are still married….

      And then, just last Friday, it was Boise State again.   I love small schools like Boise State.   Normal sized kids.   These 340-pound linemen on teams like Nebraska or Wisconsin aren’t so much born and raised as they are bred and corn-fed.   But small school or not, the undefeated and untied Broncos had switched places over the years, now they are the fat cats, and they stormed into Reno on Friday set to demolish the University of Nevada Wolf Pack en route to a possible BCS bowl appearance and a Cinderella national championship for the ages.   They were favored by 14 points, were these 4th-ranked Broncos.   They couldn’t lose.   They had beaten Nevada ten straight times.   This one was a slam dunk.   (Don’t you love it how sportswriters never run out of stupid sports clichés?)

      Anyway, things started out according to Hoyle (we know card game clichés too), with Boise State jumping out to a 17-point lead.   Ho-hum.   And that’s when the worm turned (uh, I don’t know, call it a biology cliché).   The Wolf Pack offense finally got going, they came up with a few Boise-esque trick plays of their own, and next thing you know we have a tying touchdown for Nevada with only 13 seconds left on the clock.   Overtime seemed certain.

      Not so fast.

      Y’see, this wasn’t an ordinary game.   This was pretty much the greatest non-bowl college football game I have ever seen.    More plot twists than a 1-week Brett Favre news cycle.

      Boise runs the kickoff back to the 38-yard-line.   Takes only four seconds.   Nine seconds left.   And then quarterback Kellen Moore heaves one about 60 desperate yards, whereupon his receiver—whose name is Titus Young, and it’s a name that deserves to be mentioned—makes pretty much the best catch I have ever seen.   The young man dives through the air, parallel to the ground, yeah, like Superman, grabs the ball out of the damp Reno night, and while still flying through the air he manages to somehow twist his body around so that his belly goes from pointing at the ground to pointing at the sky, thus preventing the ball from being dislodged at impact, and immediately after finally falling back to planet earth with a thud the kid immediately makes the letter “T” with his hands to call for ‘time out’ with one second to go!   I’m telling you, the Sports Philosopher almost fell off the couch and dropped his 1985 Chicago Bears commemorative coffee mug….

      So all Boise State has to do now is boot a chip-shot, automatic, 26-yard field goal and they will have gone undefeated and won the Western Athletic Conference championship yet again and readied themselves for a possible national championship bowl game.   And their kicker, Kyle Brotzman, is a good one.   Leads the nation in scoring.   This one is in the bag (ah, now there’s a cliché for all seasons….).

      Kyle Brotzman.   Remember that name.   We need to come up with a suitable term or label or dare I say cliché of sympathy for this young man.

      Because he missed it.


      The snap was good, the hold was good, it wasn’t blocked.   He just missed it.   A measly 26-yard kick.   Pushed it wide right. 

      Some kickers go through their entire careers without missing a kick that short .   It was a sure thing.   But I guess there is no such thing as a sure thing when the weight of an entire university—make that an entire state—is sitting on your shoulders.   Idaho isn’t exactly a hotbed of entertainment diversity.

      Funny thing is, as errant and genuinely bad as the kick was, it still looked to me like maybe it sneaked through on the right.   I replayed it a hundred times, I’m still not sure he missed it.   But that’s another column.

      Suddenly we had overtime after all.

      Boise State got the ball first.   In college overtime is not sudden death, but rather each team takes the ball and they alternate possessions until one team has more points.   Less dramatic than sudden death for sure.   But more fair.

      The Broncos can’t get in the end zone so they line up for a field goal.   You see where this is going, right?

      Kyle missed it again.

      This one was only 29 yards.   This time he yanked it to the left, to give him one miss to each side within a span of about 15 minutes.   It is beyond belief.   I have never seen the nerves and brain and muscles of a human being more severely crippled by the sheer weight and suffocation of pressure.

      Nevada kicked the game-winning field goal on their 1st possession of overtime, hoards of delirious fans swarmed the field, and they were still there, partying like Mardi Gras, over an hour after the winning kick split the uprights which had of course been immediately torn down.   It was a monumental and colossal upset, the greatest victory in the history of the University of Nevada football program, and they got to have their on-field celebration in front of the home folks, unlike, say, the San Francisco Giants, who had to celebrate on the Texas Rangers’ home field earlier this month when they won the World Series.  (Bet’cha thought I’d forget to mention the Giants in this column, huh?   No chance.)

      Back to Brotzman.   God, I feel for this kid.   Watching him on the sidelines after each gigantic missed kick I, well, I guess I sorta felt like he was my own son.   I felt like taking him to the store and buying him something, just to take his mind off of what had happened.   That sort of thing always works with my own son.  

      The problem is it will only get worse for the young man.   This was Boise State’s big shot.   This was their golden moment in time.   They are a small school with a big-school football program, always swimming upstream (three clichés in one paragraph, yowzah!) against the powers-that-be.   They will probably never get this close to the national championship game again.   And poor Kyle will always know that he was the one who denied them their destiny.   Not once but twice.

      Therefore, we all need to start using his name to signify sympathy for a guy choking.   From this day forward.   If a guy gives up a game-winning home run with his illiterate impoverished mother in the stands watching him for the first time, we’ll say, “The poor kid; he didn’t deserve to pull a Brotzman.”   A kid misses a jumper to blow the NBA championship after staying up all night with a sick friend, we’ll say, “How could he Brotzman such an easy shot?   He deserved better than that.”   Conversely, if an athlete chokes something away but is not a candidate for Brotzmanlike sympathy, we’ll apply the new verb, or noun, differently.   Let’s say Tiger Woods has a six-foot putt to get into a playoff for the 2011 Masters but he yanks it badly to the left, while no doubt thinking about which fat blonde gold-digging girls will be waiting for him back in his hotel room, whereupon he’ll snarl and of course drop a couple of F-bombs for the cameras, and we’ll say, “Who cares….he’s won the Masters before….it’s not like he Brotzmanned it.”

      Poor Kyle.   There’s obviously too much pressure in college football being placed on young men that are really still boys.   Not fair.

      Here’s to hoping that kid discovers a cure for cancer someday.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0024

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and lover of college football—once in awhile.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels and over 20 short-stories.    Samples of his best fiction work can be discovered by clicking the comically underappreciated links below:






One Response to “A Hug For Kyle Brotzman by THE SPORTS PHILOSOPHER”

  1. Mr. Eastland,

    I did like most of your article, but please don’t use Kyle’s name in vain for someone who chokes. If you have followed the Broncos in their second Fiesta Bowl win, you would know that he is the man behind the “Riddler”. (fake punt for non-Boise State folks) He has 100% pass efficiency. He is the highest scoring player in the history of Boise State, the WAC, and possibly all of the NCAA college football depending on the last two games.

    This young man is one of the finest individuals on the Team full of the finest individuals in College footall. Yes, I am a Boise State fan, but this young man has done way too much to be remember for only two kicks. This was simply not Boise State’s night. The whole team messed up in the second half, not just Kyle. I would still put Kyle out there any time to kick a field goal with 1 second on the clock, and I would still put Boise State up against any college team in the country.

    I have to admit that I am a little sensitive, because there were some folks who lost money on the game that made fools out of themselves. There are over 30,000 Boise State fans that would love to find these individuals, so if you find any of them, please give me their name and address. I would love to have a little chat with them, and explain that this is why it is called gambling, and why college football is still so exciting.

    I do have to say thank you for the kindness in your article. We do appreicate the kind words. We will get the chance to play Nevada again next year, and they do come to Idaho. I would start praying for them now, because there is a ton of locker room art already on the wall. Boise State will be in the running again next year, and hopefully many years after. Boise State just has a great system that finds great young men, like Kyle Brotzman. They also have a great coaching staff that builds young boys into men. They will be good.

    Thank you.

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