Only in the BCS: How Boise State Hurt Itself

Brian NelsonCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2009

BOISE, ID - SEPTEMBER 3: A Boise State Bronco coach instructs players Dan Paul #47 and Daron Mackey #45 to get back after LaGarrette Blount #9 (not in photo) of the Oregon Ducks punched a Boise State Broncos player after the Boise State defeated Oregon 19-8 on September 3, 2009 at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

LeGarrette Blount was out of line last night. Not surprisingly, he was suspended for the rest of the year.

All that talent, all that offseason work, years of stellar production and NFL dreams thrown away. So abruptly.

What a tragedy.

I know he was frustrated. I can't pretend to know what led up to LeGarrette's outrage. His behavior was unacceptable.

But LeGarrette was prompted. He was egged on by the taunt and ridicule of the winning team.

That's exactly how the Broncos shot themselves in the foot despite an otherwise perfect night for the blue and orange.

Boise State caused this with their childish, small man complex of rubbing the outcome of the game in Blount's face. Taunting is for middle school. Even then, most kids have grown past it.

How LeGarrette responded is deplorable. But he's already set to pay a steep price. So will his team.

And guess what? So do the Broncos.

In fact, no one outside of Oregon is hurt more by this morning's suspension than Boise State themselves.

Why? Because in the current BCS past opponents are your best friends.

That's right Oregon-Boise State: BFFs!!!

The Broncos' ticket to the BCS train was always going to be the Oregon Duck Express led by the balanced one-two punch of dual-threat Jeremiah Masoli and LeGarrette Blount.

Not any more.

In the crazy BCS system that over-emphasizes the regular season, the strength of your conference, and overall strength of schedule, the fate of many college football teams are sealed and bound by their opponent's success or failure.

It's why smart, goal-oriented teams in the BCS era would be wiser to embrace their opponents after the game. Giving them tips on improvement, post-mortem analysis, insights to future opponents, facebook invites, and twitter updates.

It should be a love fest.

It’s given rise to a strange new paradigm of gamesmanship and spectatorship that has competely changed the rooting behavior of coaches, players, and fans.

A new list of rooting priorities.

(And it happens to come right out of the SEC fan playbook, who recognized long ago that the perceived strength of the conference as a whole can carry a host of benefits.)

1. Team
2. Conference
3. Out-of-Conference Opponents (although for the SEC this is usually FCS)
4. Whoever’s playing the guys ranked in front of us
5. Whoever’s playing the rival

In the end, it's especially true for non-BCS teams. Teams who really have to shine at every opportunity to garner any national visibility or credibility they can muster.

The orange and blue delivered big time last night. On national television.

They were phenomenal. Kellen Moore looked very composed and unstoppable in the pocket. The offense was well-balanced between run and pass. The O-line gave Moore all the time he needed to make his progressions.

The defense looked impenetrable.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the headline this morning. It was all about Blount and his sucker punch. Not the punch in the mouth the Broncos D just laid on a pretty explosive Oregon offense.

(Or was Oklahoma State's defense really that bad in last year's Holiday Bowl?)

That hurts the Broncos. But what really hurts is the loss of Blount for the season. Blount was one of the top backs in the country, often considered a dark-horse for the Heisman. He was a cornerstone of the Duck offense.

Now he's gone for the year. And as we saw yesterday, Oregon is not good when they are one-dimensional on offense. This will devastate the Ducks' season (if it wasn't already by Chip Kelly's dismal coaching performance last night).

The worse the Ducks look, the more down-to-earth it makes the Broncos look. Without a victory over another top-25 team, it will be hard to stay relevant in the rankings and on the computers. Not enough at least to garner a BCS berth.

Especially with three Mountain West teams in the polls. After Boise's convincing victory over No. 16 Oregon Thursday, the Broncos should have no problem staying well ahead of the MWC triumvirate.

At least for the short term. 

But the win over Oregon is all the Broncos will have to cling to for the rest of the season. Just like they did last year.

It got them far, but not nearly far enough. Undefeated Utah passed them up, and Boise State's terrific season was largely ignored. Had Utah lost to TCU, it would have been one-loss TCU instead of undefeated Boise State.

And that will almost certainly happen again if the Broncos' BFF lose to Utah on September 18.

A Utah victory over Oregon at Autzen will trump anything Boise State can do all year and virtually clinch a BCS berth for a one-loss or an undefeated MWC champion.

Blount or not, Autzen is not an easy place to play and Utah will have a LOT to overcome, but the Broncos just made it a lot easier for the Utes.

So the Broncos can taunt all they want, but from here out, nobody will care or listen when it's coming from the Humanitarian Bowl.




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