Dear Boise State: The Big East Thanks You

Paul SieversAnalyst IJanuary 5, 2010

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 23:  Head Coach Chris Petersen of the Boise State Broncos meets Heads Coach Gary Patterson of TCU Horned Frogs after the Horned Frogs 17-16 win over the Broncos during the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 23, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Dear Bosie State,

Congratulations on your second Fiesta Bowl victory in the past four years, certainly no easy feat.

If you haven’t silenced all your critics yet, then those remaining sound about as smart as Miss Teen South Carolina ; you are an elite football program.

Your matchup with TCU in a BCS bowl was a victory for the “little guy.” As a Big East fan, I’m just glad that you emerged as king of the underdogs.

Let me explain…

I’m sure you have heard the cries from your mid-major neighbors to the south that they are deserving of an automatic BCS bid more so than the Big East. Had TCU defeated you last night, those cries would have only grown louder.

Mountain West fans will point to their elite teams as evidence that their conference plays a brand of football superior than the football played by those pretenders in the Northeast and that Utah, BYU, and TCU are undoubtedly great programs.

Who knows, these three teams might even stack up favorably with the top three from the Big East (Cinci, WVU, and Pitt). We’ll know more when my beloved Pitt Panthers take on the Utes next season.

Supporters of the Mountain West’s cause will also cite their bowl record this season, a more than respectable 4-1 mark.

The Big East was 4-2, both conferences had the misfortune of losing their most visible bowl games.

While I could belittle the practice of judging conferences by their bowl records, that’s a different argument for a different day.

So why is the Big East more deserving of an automatic BCU bid than the Mountain West?

Well, to put it simply the Big East dominates every metric that does not involve measuring elite versus elite. Whether it be the Sagarin rating (Big East ranks as the fourth best conference, while the Mountain West ranks seventh) or a composite record of the conference members (Big East members finished 26 games over .500; Mountain West teams finished nine games over .500), the Big East is simply a much deeper conference.

In order to be a Big East champion, a team has to win tough games not only against the teams at the top of the standings but also against teams in the middle of the pack as well.

With the exception of Syracuse and Louisville (who compare favorably to San Diego State, UNM and Colorado State), every team in this league is good enough to knock off the first place team. Let’s not pretend that seeing "at Air Force" on your schedule is anywhere near as daunting as "at Rutgers."

Here is the best part about the Mountain West’s anti-Big East argument: they claim their teams don’t get any respect because they lack prestige, and that prestige is the main reson why Big East teams are BCS haves and they are BCS have nots.

Let’s take a look at the Big East’s neighbors to the South, the ACC.

The ACC and the Big East compare very similarly. The ACC teams compiled a record of 14 games over .500 this season. They finished the Bowl Season 3-4.

The ACC is barely ranked ahead of the Big East in the Sagarin rating (.06 points separate the two; no other conferences scored within a full point of each other) and compiled a 4-3 record (including bowl games) in head-to-head games against the Big East. That 4-3 record included three games played in ACC stadiums and two bowl games played in the home state of the ACC school.

So with both the ACC and the Big East pretty evenly matched, why is the Big East the conference that many say should relinquish their BCS bid to the Mountain West?

That’s right, prestige.

Because the ACC has schools with a more storied tradition, ACC fans never have to deal with rumors of their BCS demise, while Big East fans have to deal with those same rumors constantly. The reasons Mountain West fans cite as why their conference doesn’t have a BCS bid are the same reasons they subconsciously selected the Big East as their BCS whipping boy.

Am I saying that the Mountain West shouldn’t become the seventh BCS conference?

Absolutely not. The Big East and the ACC are not head and shoulders above the MWC, so why not add another automatic bid conference?

Or maybe the Big East and the ACC should lose their bids, leaving only four conferences. Maybe there should be no auto-bids. Maybe we should blow the BCS up (I’ll buy the dynamite) in favor of either a playoff or the old bowl system where conference tie-ins determined everything.

All I am simply saying is that the Big East should not lose their bid to a conference that is not clearly superior, especially when there is a comparable BCS conference that nobody is mentioning as a candidate to lose their auto-bid.

By beating TCU, you Boise State quieted the Mountain West backers and saved Big East fans a huge headache in the process, so thank you.

And if you ever decide to pick up and move your campus (blue turf and all) to New England (great skiing and potato farming, just like Idaho), the Big East would be more than happy to have you. Thanks again.


                                                                        Paul Sievers


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