"Lets Give 'em Some Good Stuff," An Exclusive B/R Chat With Jared Zabransky
Former Boise State quarterback and 2008 NCAA Football cover boy Jared Zabransky, in Boise to promote the Allstate Good Hands Roadside Assistance Program, was kind enough to spend a few minutes with Bleacher Report readers and dig into all the hot topics in college football, including the Heisman race, the dramatic finish to the Boise State-Nevada game and the coaching rumors swirling around the country.
I remember watching Boise State travel across the country to take on the Georgia Bulldogs on September 3, 2005. It was supposed to be the game that launched the Broncos into the BCS machine for the first time. A win over an over-matched, but over-sized Bulldog squad that lost NCAA career wins leader David Greene to graduation was to be the first step to an undefeated season and a Fiesta Bowl berth.
Unfortunately, not even Miss Cleo could have foreseen the events that would transpire after kickoff. Thirty-eight unanswered points by Georgia. Six Boise State turnovers. A 48-13 butt-whooping.
The one lasting image from the game for me was watching Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky, a junior at the time, sitting on the sideline after being benched in favor of Taylor Tharp, but not before tossing three interceptions and fumbling once on Boise's first five drives. He would go on to finish the game with four picks, 70 yards passing and two fumbles. Talk about a confidence shaker.
I always hoped that wouldn't be the final image for Zabransky, arguably one of the top three QBs of all time at the university (along with Ryan Dinwiddie and Kellen Moore). Luckily for me, and for Jared, he finished off his road to redemption in a place that has become a second home to the Boise State program, the Fiesta Bowl.
My lasting image of that game isn't the hook and ladder, the halfback pass or even the Statue of Liberty play that won the game in overtime. Rather, it was watching the steely resolve on Zabransky's face as all the cameras focused on him after his "almost" game-ending interception that put Oklahoma on top 35-28 with less than a minute remaining. I just knew he wasn't going to let his team down, or let them lose.
Nowadays, Zabransky is still playing ball, this time north of the border. He's spent the past two seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League, where he has served as the main backup to starter Ricky Ray. He did earn two starts this past season, winning both, and finishing the season with four touchdown passes, 208 rushing yards and his first CFL rushing touchdown.
During the offseason, Zabransky resides in Houston with his wife Melissa.
Here's some snippets from a Bleacher Report exclusive interview.
That Famous Tattoo and Life in the Canadian Football League
Bleacher Report: Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule. And I just wanted you to know that Bleacher Report has a huge amount of very loyal, very dedicated Boise State fans, many of whom are big fans of yours as well.
Jared Zabransky: Well, thanks for that. Let's give em some good stuff.
BR: First, something I've always been dying to know. Right after you threw that interception in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma, I made a promise with myself that if Boise somehow came back to win, I would go get myself a matching "Z" tattoo like yours. It would be a great way to pay homage to a great team and my name starts with a "z" so it works on both fronts. Is there a good story behind that?
JZ: You know, not really. Growing up in Oregon, my brothers always called me "Z," and so did all the local papers, so it just stuck. Did you get yours yet?
BR: Ha! Not yet. My wife won't let me forget that I made that pact though. You just wrapped up your second season in the CFL. What has that experience been like, and what have been the biggest adjustments you've had to make?
JZ: It's been a real good experience. I've been lucky enough to play for a very good organization, the Edmonton Eskimos. It's been a good opportunity, and it's been good to get back on the field and win a few games. It is a lot different. The field is 110 yards, the end zones are longer (by 20 yards) and the field is 65 yards wide, instead of the 50 yards of the pro field. It helps to have that extra guy on the field. It's a whole different game. The only thing that's the same is the leather ball with the white laces.
BR: Are you in Boise often, do you have a home there?
JZ: I moved back to Boise after the 2007 season to graduate and have shoulder surgery. But my wife (Melissa) and I moved back to Houston in 2008 to be closer to her family and where I train. (Jared was with the Houston Texans for a chunk of the 2007 season as a part of their practice squad.)
BR: Much better weather there I assume? I've been complaining the past couple days about our weather here in Florida, but it's only been in the 50s.
JZ: You're not kidding. There's like nine inches of slush on the ground here right now.
Boise-Nevada, and Why You Won't See Coach Pete Leaving Boise Anytime Soon
BR: I'm assuming you caught at least some of the Boise State-Nevada game?
JZ: You know, I caught some of it. I watched until they were up 24-7 and then I went to bed (like most of the country) and woke up the next morning and there it was. But you know, anytime you run only five offensive plays in the fourth quarter, that's not good.
BR: I just wanted to get your view on a couple of coaching questions. Do you have any thoughts on (former BSU coach) Dan Hawkins being let go at Colorado?
JZ: Well, I mean, you could see it coming couldn't you? That was year five right? Yeah, year five, and anytime you're at a big school like that and you're not producing results you aren't going to be around too long. That's wishing on a star. I do wish the best for him, and especially his staff. He took a lot of good guys over there with him (assistant coaches Romeo Bandison, Robert Prince, Kent Riddle, Ron Collins and strength-and-conditioning coach Jeff Pitman) and I just really wish the best for them. Hopefully they can find something.
BR: Kind of along that same front, I think we've all seen how hard it is for coaches to transition from success at Boise to somewhere else (Dirk Koetter, Houston Nutt and now Hawkins). Taking that into consideration, do you think Coach (Chris) Petersen will ever leave Boise?
JZ: You know I don't. He's got a good thing going. And you know, he's a really intelligent guy. He's got two kids (Jack, 13 and Sam, 10). And he's well established. He could really be like Bobby Bowden. He could be the Joe Paterno of college football at Boise. As long as they continue to increase his salary for all these games he keeps winning. He has a great philosophy and he has it good in Boise. Why would he want to leave that?
BR: In your opinion, what has been the overall key to success at Boise State? This is a school that turns walk-ons and rejects from other schools into All-Americans, and just keeps on winning. Who, or what is responsible?
JZ: It's in the water (laughing). You know, it starts with the coaches. They like to work, and they work hard. It's a very blue-collar mentality. They put in the work and the players buy in. It's amazing to see all these guys buying into one system, one mentality, and what can happen when you do. The coaches at Boise teach winning. They keep the players in the right mentality and are not afraid to work and to make the players work. The number one thing is that they get the kids to believe in working hard.
Allstate Good Hands and the 2007 Fiesta Bowl Champions Legacy
BR: Absolutely. So you're here in Boise in partnership with Allstate and their Good Hands Program. Tell me a little bit about that.
JZ: Yeah, definitely. We're here in Boise promoting the Allstate Good Hands Roadside Assistance Program. Basically how it works is it's free to join, anybody can use it. There's a flat rate for a tow, a flat rate to fix a flat and no annual charges. It's really great, especially for Boise, a college town with lots of commuters. Most of the students should love this.
Mostly, we just want everyone, including college football fans to travel safe. We're going to be at the End-Zone for a meet and greet with fans, do a little Q-and-A, do some autographs. And Allstate is also going to be giving away two tickets to the Sugar Bowl. It's a great program.
BR: Okay, last question. If you had to compare your senior squad, the 2007 Fiesta Bowl champions with this year's team, who comes out on top?
JZ: Oh, that's a tough one. I guess that would depend on where you'll be playing. I think the one difference between our 2007 team and this year's is the depth. This year's team is so deep. Back in the Fiesta Bowl that's one of the reasons we went for two in overtime. We were just so gassed, and didn't have the depth. Now, they've got at least three or four deep. Still, as good as this year's team is, I'd put our 2007 team up against any in the nation that year.
BR: Which reminds me, you have any predictions for the potential championship between Auburn and Oregon?
JZ: I definitely think it's going to be those two teams, and that it is going to be an offensive shootout, obviously. Oregon's offense is just so good. I don't think any defense can stop them. And Auburn, Cam Newton is just so good, I mean he's going to win the Heisman, and Oregon is really going to have to put some spies on him, and confuse him a little.
BR: Awesome. Well, thank you for your time Jared, and good luck next season in the CFL or wherever you end up, and have a great weekend.
JZ: Thanks, you too.
I'd like to thank Jared, first and foremost, for taking the time to share some thoughts about the season, his career and of course, the 2007 Fiesta Bowl with Bleacher Report readers and writers.
Also, I'd like to thank Allstate for making Jared available. Thanks for allowing one Boise State fan to get to relive some glorious moments and get some questions answered that have been bugging him for years now (that tattoo question).
More info can be found about Jared, Allstate's Good Hands Roadside Assistance Program, the Canadian Football League and some other things we discussed at these sites:
And you can also check out some tidbits Jared shared with the Idaho Statesman earlier today here.