Here are the three indisputable facts about the Boise State Broncos:
1) They have one of the best records in college football over the last four years.
2) They have beaten BCS competition.
3) They play in the WAC—for now.
That last fact is the one that raises the ire of most every college football fan who detests the endless hype Boise State has received—since stunning the Sooners in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. That infamous "Statue of Liberty" play, executed perfectly by former Broncos signal-caller Jared Zabranski, both announced Boise's arrival to the rest of the college football world and began the conversation that continues to intrigue us all today—"is Boise really that good?"
The fact that the question continues to exist and pose heated debates among fans and experts alike, nearly five years later, has made it difficult for Chris Petersen's program to receive the two things they are certain they deserve the most—respect and a shot at the BCS Championship.
You see, in 2006, it was okay that Boise won a lot of games and dethroned the big bad Sooners—it was a Cinderella story and every dog is entitled to its day. But, now that they've stuck around long past midnight, long enough to make a fuss about not having a shot at a national title, all anyone wants them to do is go away.
They are supposed to go back to being the "little school" in the "soft conference". The message from the peanut gallery it loud and clear: We don't want you here at the big boy table.
The oft heard refrain has become: "If they played (insert your automatic-qualifying BCS school here) schedule, then they wouldn't go undefeated every year."
However, we all forget that college football left the door open for teams like Boise State, and their "soft" schedules when they decided, in 2004, to omit "strength of schedule" as a factor in determining the BCS standings—it's merely a consideration now.
With that fact in mind, Boise State has only done what they were supposed to do—play the schedule they have in front of them, and beat every team on it. The WAC may not be a powerhouse conference but that's hardly Boise's problem—is it? Even more, is the schedule they play soft because the opposition is so bad or because Boise is so good?
Think about it, objectively for a moment, why hasn't any other team in the WAC been as consistently good as Boise State has? Fresno State and Nevada have both had opportunities to come out on top—why haven't they?
Admittedly, the latter is a debatable point because there are so many factors to consider—recruiting, coaching, out-of-conference (OOC) schedule, etc. However, when you consider the fact that Boise has beaten Oklahoma, Oregon (twice), TCU, and Utah in the last four years while Fresno and Nevada have fallen short when given their shot to shine, you have to give a little credit to the Broncos.
Boise has, consistently, shown up when given the opportunity. So, again, what's the problem? Why the outcry of "they're not worthy"...an outcry that this author has, at times, screamed quite loudly as well?
For one, the fans of college football still consider the difficulty of the schedule when assessing Boise as a contender. They simply do not respect the fact that the Broncos play cupcakes all season—no way around that fact.
Secondly, the arrogance of the fan who has a team in one of the BCS "power" conferences immediately cries foul at the fact that their school's road is so tough while the Broncos, seemingly, skate through theirs—remember that refrain mentioned above?
Whether or not "strength of schedule" is a factor, perception is still reality for the everyday college football fan. They don't give a hoot about Boise getting respect because, in their minds, they haven't earned it yet.
That said, even if Boise defeats a legitimate power, the natural inclination will be to belittle Boise and make excuses for the other team—several examples follow.
Against Oklahoma in 2006, the excuse was Stoops' teams always choke when the opposing team has time to prepare. People referred to the Sooners as "Choklahoma" and pointed to the loss as yet another example of an overvalued team getting their jocks handed to them—Boise didn't win, the Sooners were just overrated.
When Boise beat Oregon last season, it was, "Yeah, but if they played Oregon later in the year, that game would have been different"...uh-huh, well, they played them in August—what can they do about that?
Again, Boise didn't win, the Ducks just weren't ready to play yet.
Their win against TCU in the Fiesta Bowl prompted more excuses: "So what? TCU didn't get stomped or anything. The game was won by the Broncos because TCU's offense stunk." Boise didn't win, TCU lost.
So, here we sit, eight months later, still talking about how good the Boise State Broncos aren't, how they do not deserve to be ranked in the topfive, and how Virginia Tech will prove all of this on September 6 when the two teams meet—poor Frank Beamer.
This game was just supposed to be the one that replaced their home-and-home series with Syracuse. However, what it has transformed into is a lose-lose for the Hokies.
If Frank Beamer's team wins the game, the Boise naysayers will rejoice and say, "see, we told you." If they lose, the Boise State "we deserve a shot" train continues—with nothing to stand in its way.
In either case, the Hokies are shouldering a monumental burden because the media and the fans have made this game into an epic event—for both teams.
In truth, however, this is just a game between two teams in the top 10. Nothing is guaranteed—despite what anyone tries to tell you. Boise State could win this game, run the table, and still not get their shot. Or they could win and be upset later—it doesn't matter—that's why they play the games.
As for Frank Beamer, no coach in college football wants to be in his shoes right now. Win or lose, the rest of his team's season will be judged according to what they do in this game. The kicker is, his team has question marks coming into this match-up too, they have some holes to fill too—there is a reason the Broncos are favored to win.
One thing is for sure, if the Broncos win this game, in convincing fashion, the rest of the season will be a calling card to the BCS...sponsored by "No More Excuses."
(This article appears courtesy of The Lady Sportswriter)