Well, that didn't take long.
It's been three days since Boise State's season, for all intents and purposes, ended in Reno, and now we're hearing about the backlash. About the hate messages, threats, taunts, jeers, what have you, brought against kicker Kyle Brotzman, who missed two chip shot field goals that would or could have won a game that cost the Broncos a national title chance.
There are many who are angry with Brotzman. There are many who support him. The supporters, including coach Chris Petersen, have said the normal things you say when someone messes up in a big moment.
"All the players are responsible."
"The game isn't decided by two plays."
"It's unfair for everyone to blame one player."
They're right. For the most part.
No player—let alone a college, and therefore amateur, athlete—deserves harmful threats. Nobody deserves to fear for his own safety, or his own security, as a result of a sporting event. That's just too much.
But the real truth is harsh. If Brotzman wanted to avoid all backlash, he should have made the kicks.
Neither kick was difficult by college football standards. High school kickers who struggle to convert extra points make those. Inside of 30 yards, straight on. Ball game. And Brotzman pushed one, pulled the other.
Now Boise State fans are angry at Brotzman. They should be.
Brotzman isn't the only person who is at fault for the loss. The defense blew a 17-point halftime lead. The offense couldn't score in overtime. All true.
But if you keep shuffling the blame because each unit wasn't 100 percent responsible, then eventually no one's guilty. The fact is that Brotzman should have made the kicks. Either one, preferably the first. And he didn't.
There was a lot of pressure on Boise State that Friday night, and it had only intensified by the time Brotzman took the field to win the game. But he signed up for that pressure. He signed up to kick for a team that's had national title hopes for the past half decade. He knew he would be in big moments and kick in some big games. That challenge wasn't a secret.
And when the challenge came along, Brotzman didn't meet it.
If Brotzman is sitting in his room, afraid to walk out for his own physical or mental health, that's wrong. And it's good that more and more fans are coming to his aid in that regard.
If Brotzman is upset that fans are blaming him for the loss, however—tough luck. He missed the kicks. He's on the team to kick, he came to kick for a contender, and he didn't do his job. He has to meet the negativity that comes with that, just as Kellen Moore would if he had thrown five interceptions and blown the game by himself.
A lot of what's being heaped on Brotzman is uncalled for. But the fans have a right to be upset and be upset at him. After all, he had a chance to reverse his fortune.
Drew Bonifant is a writer for the Concord Monitor and can be reached via Twitter at twitter.com/dbonifant.
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