Mid-major schools are always discounted as irrelevant. Always. 1984 National Champion BYU Cougars aren't really credited with it, because their bowl game was against a 7-5 Michigan team, back then, that was the best team they could get during the Bowl Alliance Era.
Utah would have to wait until the creation of the BCS, which is by far better than the Bowl Alliance, yet still exploits the flaw with a bowl system, to get their chance at a major bowl victory.
Urban Meyer-coached Utah defeated Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-7. Despite winning a BCS game, as did Auburn, and going undefeated (12-0), Utah did not get a slice of the National Championship. That year, it would be USC winning the title game and Auburn earning a slice.
Prior to this Fiesta Bowl, Tulane in '98 and Marshall in '99 would also go undefeated and not even make a BCS game. They would have no say in a National Co-Championship and just some minor pre-January bowl game.
The next time the Fiesta Bowl saw a mid-major school, it would be the one of the greatest college games ever played. Boise State would play Oklahoma, and I have no need to say how much of an impact it had.
The fact remains that Boise State, the only undefeated team that season, did not earn to be Co-Champs with Florida. Florida lost and people were arguing they shouldn't be in the Nat'l Championship. Boise State beat a storied program and gets no share.
Last year, Hawaii would be the next undefeated mid-major school to make a major bowl game. They began to struggle at the end of the season after Colt Brennan's concussion. They would come out flat and never recover in a Sugar Bowl blowout by Georgia.
People began talking about how mid-major schools don't deserve to be there; they can't run with the big schools. It doesn't make much sense, considering BYU, Utah, and Boise did, but Hawaii laid flat after struggling for the final three weeks.
Then, Utah decided to do the College Football World a favor. Utah jumped on Alabama 21-0 in the first quarter of the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Never did Utah trail in this game and proved that mid-major schools can indeed run with the big schools.
Mid-major schools are 3-1 in BCS games, and I think that's not too bad of a record. Who knows, if Colt didn't have that concussion against Fresno State, maybe it'd be 4-0.
I just have one question...Why are mid-major conferences so underrated or so bad?
Bad scheduling? When a mid-major school...like, let's say Hawaii, has a precursor season to what they might be, those "big" schools cancel the game, they don't want a mid-major school to beat them or even put up big plays on them.
Take Hawaii in in 2007, for example. Their first game was supposed to be Michigan... but Michigan replaced them with...well, you know who.
My point is look at these teams: BYU, Utah, Hawaii, Boise State, Ball State, and TCU have all been in talk to have a chance at being in BCS games at some point since 2003. I am going to say that MWC and the WAC are really good conferences and underrated at that.