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Longtime Boise State fan and supporter Jeff Minert now has a new outlook on social media and a new appreciation for Broncos men’s basketball coach Leon Rice.

Minert, who has been overly critical of Rice on social media in recent years and has called for him to be fired, got an unexpected call from the coach recently after he learned that Minert’s house burned down in Eagle.

“It was totally out of the blue,” said Minert, who had never talked to Rice before the call. “He called and said he was sorry about what happened. I said look I’m really sorry about Twitter and stuff I’ve put out there, and he said ‘dude I don’t even want to talk about that. Your family is going through something horrible. What can we do and how can we help?’”

A few days later more than $1,500 worth of Boise State shoes, shirts, shorts and sweatshirts showed up at the rental property they are currently staying in.

“It’s really amazing,” Minert said. “With the stuff I’ve said on Twitter, he’s a much better person than I am for sure.”

Boise State is not allowed to confirm or comment on the gesture due to NCAA rules since one of Minert’s kids is considered a recruitable prospect due to her age.

The Minert family lost everything when their house burned down on Sept. 29. Carrie came back from a walk and the house was in flames. Jeff hurried home, but nothing could be saved.

“Christmas ornaments my daughter made when she was six, anniversary cards from my wife — everything,” Minert said. “Insurance will replace the stuff money can buy, but all the photos of our kids from before 2013 that were printed out and not saved. All that stuff is gone and we’ll never get those back. It just sucks.

“But we’ll be fine. We still have the memories. We just have to remember that instead of having the actual stuff.”

Minert and his family lost their clothes in the fire, which made Boise State’s gesture to gift the shoes and clothing that much more meaningful.

“For them to take the time to come over and do that, it means more than they even know,” Minert said. “My son is 15 and he was going through everything and he loves basketball and is a huge Boise State basketball fan and he was in tears over it. That’s how much it meant.”

Minert, who contributes to the BAA and is a Lyle Smith Society member, estimated it was $1,500 worth of stuff including six pairs of Nike shoes and Boise State gear.

“He didn’t do it because he wanted any type of recognition or anything in return,” Minert said. “He did it 100 percent because our house burned down and our family lost so much and he wanted to help, and that’s awesome.”

Athletic director Jeramiah Dickey sent Minert a text message the day of the fire offering his condolences as well.

After Minert posted a picture to Twitter and thanked Boise State, Rice’s son Brock retweeted the tweet with the following message: “Hard to put into words what my Dad taught me with this one. If you’ve watched Bronco Twitter the last few years, you know just how special this act of kindness really was. In my 24 years I’ve seen my Dad do a million kind things for people, this is one I will NEVER forget.”

The tweet hit Minert and made him realize the damage his negative tweets toward Boise State’s 12th-year coach had done over the years.

“For me Twitter was a place to mess around and fire things up and express frustration, but you can go overboard on social media and when his son posted that, you see that stuff on social media actually matters in a way I didn’t realize,” said Minert, who became emotional during the interview. “You could tell stuff I’ve been saying has affected him. It kind of hit me like stuff you put out there impacts more than just Leon Rice. He signed up for it, but it affects his family who didn’t necessarily sign up for it. And that sucks.

“It brought it home for me that you have to be more responsible and understand the impact of what you are putting out there.”

Minert said he also voiced criticism toward Dickey in the past on social media and even sent him a critical direct message. He took a break from Twitter as a result, but returned after news of the fire had gone public.

“Jeramiah and I got into a little thing and I just realized, what am I doing? I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to argue,” Minert said. “I just want to be a fan and Twitter was ruining it for me. I’ll go to the games, I’ll go to the tailgates and probably drink too much, and I’ll be a fan of the school. When we win it’s awesome, and when we lose that sucks, but I don’t need to go on Twitter and call out coaches and Jeramiah Dickey for policy stuff. I just want to be a fan.

“I went back and I was reading my tweets and I’m not a (mean person), but if you look at that and read my tweets, I look like a total (mean person). That’s not who I am. Social media has a tendency to be a total cesspool and I fell for the trap. That’s not me.”

Minert said the plan is to find a rental property while his house is eventually rebuilt in the same location. The family is starting from scratch, but the most important thing was that nobody was home when the fire started and everyone was safe.

The fire is believed to have started somewhere by an outdoor kitchen on his back porch, but the exact cause of the fire may never be known.

Minert has season tickets for Boise State basketball games and will be in the stands Nov. 9 when the Broncos host Utah Valley in the season opener.

He’ll cheer for the players as usual. But now he’ll also cheer for the coach.

“Oh for sure, 100 percent,” Minert said. “I’m definitely a Leon Rice fan now.”

B.J. Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013 and is a three-time winner of the NSMA Idaho Sportswriter of the Year Award. He appears on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket every Friday at 4 p.m. for the Blue Turf Sports report.

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