|Dedicated to the Preservation of Athletic History at Colorado State University
|Walking Through Time with the Bronze Boot- 1968 to 2008
A circa 1966 Vietnam War era
US Army Boot, the same style
worn by Dan Romero and that is
bronzed to make the most
recognized traveling trophy in the
Rocky Mountain Region.
The trophy known as the Bronze
Boot. The boot of Capt. Dan Romero
that he wore in Vietnam was made
into a trophy for the CSU/Wyoming
football rivalry in 1968.
Captain Dan Romero
Since 1968, the Bronze Boot has become possibly the most famous piece of footwear in college football history. This US Army combat boot,
gilded in bronze is the traveling trophy that is exchanged between the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University for the winning
football team. In the 41 years the boot has been exchanged, CSU has won 21 games, while Wyoming has won 20 games, making the Border
War the most balanced rivalry in terms of wins and losses over the period since the boot was first introduced.
Few fans of both schools realize the history behind this famous boot before it became the trophy both schools live for each and every football
season. It started as a United States issued Army combat boot to Captain Dan Romero. Romero, a native of Colorado and 1955 graduate from
Pueblo Central High School attended Pueblo Junior College for two years before he graduated from Adams State College. While at Adams
State, Dan Romero met his wife and he played varsity basketball and baseball.
As the war in Vietnam heated up and a draft was immanent, Romero joined the Army before he was drafted. He then attended Officer
Candidate School (OCS) where he received his commission to become an officer. Romero was then sent to Vietnam for a tour of duty and in
the spring of 1968 he returned to the United States where he was assigned to the Colorado State University ROTC Military Science
Department as an assistant professor. Since he was at CSU as an assistant professor, Romero enrolled as a graduate student as expected when
officers are assigned to ROTC duty.
The rivalry between Colorado A&M and Wyoming
heated up in 1948 when the Aggie-Rams defeated the
Cowboys. A&M fans tore down the Wyoming goal
posts which started the Border War. (1949 Silver Spruce)
Bronze that Boot
During his 31 seasons as head coach of the Colorado Aggies, Harry Hughes 1910s
and all through the 1920s, newspapers referred to the seasonal game against
Wyoming and Colorado Agricultural College as the "annual beating of Wyoming." It
was hardly a rivalry with the series so lopsided.
Then came WWII and the GI Bill which allowed more and more ex-military men to
attend college. Both Colorado A&M and Wyoming experienced a surge in student
enrollment and with that came an increased demand for better football. After the
war, the two schools began playing football again with the first game in nearly four
seasons taking place in 1946. Since then the two schools have played one another
every football season, making it one of the longest continuous rivalries in the nation.
When the new resurgence in athletics took place in the late 1940s, the Cowboys and
Aggie-Rams began to play a different kind of game against one another and the fans
took part in more fights and pranks than ever before. The rivalry really heated up in
1948 when Colorado A&M traveled to Laramie and beat an undefeated Wyoming
team. Afterwards Aggie-Ram fans tore down the Wyoming goalposts, which set up
another battle in 1949 when Wyoming beat Colorado A&M in Fort Collins. Fans
tried to keep the Wyoming visitor fans from tearing down the Colorado Field
goalposts and a riot complete with tear gas ensued.
From 1948 to 1955 the two teams battled it out to ruin one another's chances at
conference championships. This created a new and heated rivalry, but hard times
hit Colorado State university football as it transitioned into the late 1950s and the
Rams did not win a game against Wyoming from 1956 to 1965. Although classic
stories such as Cowboy Joe being stolen and ridden around the Colorado Field track
helped fuel the rivalry, it was not until 1966 that the Rams beat the Cowboys again.
That 1966 upset over the #10 Cowboys helped add new fuel to the fire in the
rivalry, but in 1967 the Rams traveled to Laramie as favorites and lost on a long
Jerry DePoyster field goal. The 1968 season dawned as a new period in the rivalry
and a contest for a new trophy was challenged between the CSU and Wyoming
The Bronze Boot tradition coincided with the opening of
Hughes Stadium and CSU entering into the Western
Athletic Conference in 1968. (Fort Collins Museum)
The Rivalry Heats Up
A 1969 photo of the CADRE at the CSU Army ROTC
reveals a photo of Major Vic Fernandez (first person in
front row) who along with Captain Romero developed
the concept for a Bronze Boot trophy. (1970 Silver Spruce)
With CSU in a new stadium and also a new athletic conference (they had been an
independent school since 1962), the ROTC detachments from CSU and Wyoming
decided to have a contest to see what could be designed as a traveling trophy for
the annual football games. Dan Romero and Major Vic Fernandez came up with the
idea to bronze a military boot to use as a traveling trophy. Not just any boot would
do, but a boot that saw combat action in a war.
Since both schools are land grant institutions, the military history at both CSU and
Wyoming date back to the creation of these two universities. The boot trophy not
only served as a piece of the great football rivalry, but according to Dan Romero's
son Jeff, it also was established "as a reminder to all who serve that the price of
freedom is the commitment by America's men and women to protect the ideals the
US was founded on and still live by today."
Dan Romero's boot was chosen likely because he was less than five months from
the time he had been in Vietnam, so the boot had seen the most recent action in the
worst year of the Vietnam War. The right boot was bronzed and once it took to the
process, Jeff Romero stated that the left boot was likely discarded once it was no
longer needed. The newly bronzed combat boot was mounted to a walnut wood
base, a brass plate was attached to record each season's game and the trophy was
born. The ROTC detachments from CSU presented it before the 1968 football game
at the newly built Hughes Stadium and the boot's life as a trophy began.
Through the years the Bronze Boot has become the most prized trophy for both
schools, but in the beginning it was not as well known. In 1973 it was referred to
as the "Brass" Boot in a Collegian article and the ceremony to present the trophy
was not like it is today. Early on, the ROTC cadets presented the trophy to the
winning team's head coach in a ceremony off the football field. Today, the winning
team players grab the trophy in celebration and carry it away from the field.
After the 2005 season, the original brass plate to record the winning games was
moved to the back of the trophy to make way for a new plate on the front. That
new plate will likely be filled with game scores in the year 2043, when a decision
will have to be made as to how the scores will continue to be recorded on the
Some college football experts say the Bronze Boot ranks as one of the nation's top
ten rivalry trophies. Ram fans and Cowboy fans too will say it is the one trophy that
will make or break their season.
Special thanks to Jeffrey Romero for his help on this story.
Jeffrey Romero (holding ball) is Captain Dan Romero's
son and has become the family spokesperson for the
Bronze Boot. Jeffery Romero played for the CSU Rams
1982-1986 and holds his own great memories of games
Bronze Boot. (Photo courtesy of Ramnation)
Read about some of the top battles for the Bronze Boot as voted on by CSU and Wyoming fans
(upper left) CSU head coach Sark Arslanian beat Wyoming in 1974 to
capture the Bronze Boot for the first time in school history. In the early days
of the trophy the boot was presented to the coach rather than run off the
field by players. (above) CSU players show the modern way that the boot is
taken after the 2008 win in Laramie. (left) Cadets from the Colorado State
University ROTC detachment meet head coach Steve Fairchild at the
Colorado and Wyoming state line. Another tradition associated with the
Border War is that ROTC cadets run the game ball from the stadium of the
school that hosted the game the previous season and when at the state line,
the ball is handed to the home team school's ROTC cadets to run into the
stadium on game day. (CSU Athletic Department, Andrew Quirk and CSU