It is hard to argue—Boise State’s program has national relevance that has reached the level of Notre Dame Football.
Certainly the Fighting Irish have a long, storied history and better recruits. However, when you look at the meteoric rise of the Boise State program and combine it with all of the media outlets at your disposal, fans from Chestnut Hill to Eugene know who the Broncos are.
The Broncos are 56-2 at home and 98-17 overall since 2000.
They have carved out a marketing niche with the goofy blue turf, prompting every national broadcast to start out with the now hack-like intro, “Do not adjust your TV sets…”
Speaking of which, they have six games televised on ESPN’s family of networks in 2009.
And of course, we all remember David taking down Goliath in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
With the Broncos finishing last year’s regular season unbeaten, they never had the chance to go to a BCS bowl game, because Utah stood in their way after finishing perfect in a stronger conference.
So where should Boise go from here?
I have read some articles in this fine community about thought of Boise State joining the Mountain West conference. After all, the MWC is still looking for respect and inclusion in the big-time bowls, while Boise essentially is penalized by the system for beating up Idaho and New Mexico State every year. The MWC and Boise look like a great marriage, right?
Boise will get caught in a crowd of “disrespect” with Utah, BYU, and TCU. It might only lead to even more squawking about how great the MWC is and that they should be sending two teams to January bowl games.
So instead I propose this: go “barnstorming.”
This is an antiquated idea I know, and I do not mean barnstorm in the true sense of playing road games all year, but I think it is something that will allow Boise to gain more respect nationally. Yes, there are benefits from being associated with a conference, but long-term this could be a huge windfall for the Boise State program. For now, the Broncos should leave the WAC and make themselves an Independent.
They can pick and choose their schedule (like Notre Dame); go win some games on the road against the big guys (like the Broncos did at Oregon in 2008). They play at least one game per year against a Pac-10 team now; add two or three more and that will parallel the Irish’s schedule, which includes multiple Big Ten teams. Add one of TCU, Utah, and BYU to a rotation and give it one of those silly trophies and title (the Old Mountain Bucket-Axe, or something). Throw in games against Houston, or Tulsa, or maybe even Colorado and a middle-tier SEC team. Get rid of Sacramento State and Idaho State from the schedule, while we're at it.
The Broncos could also negotiate their own bowl contracts (not instantly, but long-term) if they went and proved themselves week after week like the BCS teams do. Instead of being sent to the Poinsettia or Humanitarian Bowl for running the table in the WAC, perhaps they could seal a Holiday Bowl, Sun Bowl, or Cotton Bowl bid as a FBS Independent.
Boise State needs to start measuring themselves against the nation, not the WAC or the Mountain West. I would consider it an audition to potentially join up with the Pac-10 and get a tie in to the Rose Bowl.
The “Big Three” in the Mountain West would do good to consider this idea as well if they want their pieces of the pie.
Mountain West Faithful, I await the firestorm...