The start of yet another college football season is not too far off now and everyone who is anyone in the sports media world has already published their preseason Top 25 to this point.
Most pundits agree on who the No. 1 team in the nation will be—the Crimson Tide of Alabama. The picture is pretty clear with regards to the teams after that, but one stands out to me as seemingly out of place.
That team is Boise State, sitting at No. 2.
Let me be clear: Boise State is a good football team. I am not questioning their accomplishments to date on the field. What I do question is the method by which those accomplishments have been attained and whether or not the Broncos should be in contention for a possible BCS title game berth due to those methods.
It is one thing to run unscathed through an entire season while facing high level, BCS caliber football programs each week. Any team that can pull that feat off deserves serious consideration as a premier football team and should be mentioned in any conversation regarding national title implications. But it is quite another to do the same thing against the likes of Idaho, Utah State, Nevada, and New Mexico State and claim the same level of supremacy as the Alabamas, Floridas, Texases and Oklahomas of the college football world.
Let’s compare the top two teams in the polls for this preseason, Alabama and Boise State.
Alabama had a final SOS (strength of schedule) rating of second in the nation compared to Boise State’s final SOS of 96th. Alabama was 7–0 against the Top 30 teams in the Sagarin Ratings (a component of the BCS formula), while Boise State had a record of 2–0.
That means Boise State played a grand total of two teams in a 12 game schedule that managed to get ranked amongst the Top 30 teams in the nation.
Read that again.
I will wait.
This is the norm for Boise State. They play one or maybe two good teams all season long, run the table and then wonder why they are left on the outside looking in at season’s end.
Their SOS over the last ten years is an average rating of 98.9, with 78th being the best and 112th being the worst over that span. That's out of 119 teams, folks.
It will be the same in the upcoming campaign. In 2010 the Broncos have virtually a one game season. They face Virginia Tech at a neutral site in their first game of the season. If they can beat the Hokies—and I do not think they can—they have a veritable cakewalk to an undefeated season unless they slip up against the likes of Oregon State, Wyoming and Toledo.
Starting out the season ranked number two pretty much guarantees the Broncos a shot at the BCS title if they do manage to get past the Hokies. Boise State fans will argue that teams from the BCS do not want to schedule the Broncos for fear of losing and ruining their own seasons.
Their AD, Gene Bleymaier, went so far as to propose legislation to the NCAA to force teams to play against programs like Boise State in home-at home series instead of the usual one and done, rent-a-win format that seems to be commonplace with the bigger schools. Bleymaier even went a step further by invoking Pat Hill of Fresno State by saying the Broncos were willing to play “Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.”
Interestingly enough, Nebraska recently decided to take them up on that offer. The ‘Huskers are willing to play in a home-at home-home series with Boise State (two games in Lincoln and one in Boise) and apparently offered a financial deal in line with what would normally be expected for smaller schools.
To date, Boise State has not accepted the deal.
The crux of the issue for Boise State appears to be that they want a higher payday than Nebraska is offering, effectively looking like a bunch of prima donnas, as if they are entitled to more money simply because of their recent success.
And we find ourselves back to those aforementioned accomplishments.
Granted the Broncos have had very good records over the years, but playing against suspect competition every week forces one to consider if those accomplishments shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt—perhaps even a five pound bag of it.
And here is something else to consider regarding Boise State’s level of competition. Since they began playing in Division I (or FBS) in 1996, the Broncos have faced a total of 21 opponents from the current BCS conferences. They are a meager 6 – 15 in those contests. So one would again have to consider Boise State’s accomplishments and wonder if they would have the same level of success if they played BCS caliber opponents on a consistent basis.
Has Boise State enjoyed great success because of the power of their football team or are the benefiting from having played lesser quality opponents?
Looking at the information provided here, questioning the Bronco’s and their fan base’s apparent sense of entitlement seems like the prudent thing to do. We can only judge them based on the facts.
The facts seem to indicate that Boise State has prospered because they play low level opponents. The facts also seem to indicate that if the Broncos were to play more BCS caliber teams they would not enjoy the same success they have come to expect from their program.
Considering all of this, does it still seem right to have Boise State mentioned in the same breath with teams like Texas, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State when talking about BCS title contenders?
You be the judge, but I believe that the facts speak for themselves.