Can Boise State Save The BCS From Itself?

Matt WilliamsContributor ISeptember 10, 2010

Boise State's DJ Harper
Boise State's DJ HarperGeoff Burke/Getty Images

The Boise State undefeated scenario has many people believing and hoping the end of the BCS strangle hold on big time college football is near. There is no doubt an undefeated Boise State would put enormous pressure on the BCS to put Boise State in the BCS National Championship Game. Can the Broncos actually be good for the BCS, or is an undefeated Bronco season the beginning of the end for the BCS?    


A quick look at the BCS website and you will see links and references to the “Every Game Counts” mantra being sold by the BCS promoters, fanboys, AQ coaches, and ADs.  The BCS rules, at least on their face, do not prohibit non-AQ teams from being in the BCS National Championship Game.  

Does every game really count as they say? If you are an AQ school, maybe every game counts. If you are a non-AQ school, there is a good chance none of your games count, especially if you are Boise State or TCU. If Boise State runs the table this year and is again left out of the BCS National Championship Game, it will mean that their last 26 games did not count.  

The BCS system has put big time college football on the same tier as figure skating, diving, synchronized swimming, and ice dancing—Chinese judge, they can decide who wins not the participants.

What Utah Senator Orin Hatch, Boise State, and others are saying, is the BCS system uses its monopoly over the big bowl games to unfairly restrict access to the BCS games, especially the BCSNCG. The use of a monopoly to restrict trade and competition is actionable by the Department of Justice (note Microsoft) and or Congress.  

In the United States Constitution, Congress is given the authority to regulate interstate commerce. The biggest bowl games clearly fall within the meaning of “interstate commerce”, and as such, Congress could bring pressure on the BCS to change the way they place teams in their group of bowls. Such action would not be unprecedented, as the BCS did change some of their criteria for team placement in their bowls after Congress threatened to take action.


If Boise State runs the table, finishes the year undefeated, and is left out of the BCSNCG, the Broncos will be the centerpiece of the argument for the demise of the BCS. The argument will go something like this.

If Boise State going undefeated in the regular season four out of five years, returning nearly the whole team from the latest undefeated team, coming off a BCS bowl win against a top five team, started in the top five in the polls, beat a top 10 team 2,200 miles from home in a very hostile environment, and goes undefeated again, is not sufficient to land a spot in the BCSNCG, then there is no realistic scenario where a non-AQ team can reach the pinnacle of college football.  

This argument will be a powerful argument, which will present the point that non-AQ teams are locked out of any opportunity to play for the BCSNCG. Couple this with the fact that the upper echelon BCS schools refuse to schedule home and away games with non-AQ schools, the deck is stacked so high against non-AQ schools that it is impossible for them to reach it (read my article on BCS scheduling

Thus, the monopoly by the BCS and the AQ schools is preventing the non-AQ schools from reaching the top. This argument will be very powerful, especially if one or two loss teams are taken ahead of Boise State (or an undefeated TCU for that matter) for the BCSNCG. The argument will only be strengthened if the AP crowns Boise State their National Champion and Boise State was denied the opportunity to play for the BCSNC.


The analysis above (or other analysis similar to that above) paints only a bad picture for the BCS. It seems nobody is considering Boise State may be the team that saves the BCS and ensures we as college football fans are stuck with this perverted system for many years to come.  

How can this be you ask?  

It is very simple. The BCS selects Boise State (they finish ranked 1 or 2 in the standings) to play in the BCSNCG. Very few would disagree that this year’s Boise State team is almost the perfect storm for the BCS. Not to repeat the accomplishments listed in the preceding paragraph, but no non-AQ team has accomplished what Boise State has done when considering nearly the same team went undefeated and finished No. 4 in the BCS standings the previous year.

Since 1998, how many times has an non-AQ team accomplished this?  

The answer is none so far. If the BCS selects an undefeated Boise State team this year for the NCG, the anti-trust argument evaporates faster than the sweat on Gary Patterson’s visor on a hot dry day in Arizona. Such a selection would free the BCS to continue to exclude undefeated non-AQ teams without much scrutiny because they could always point to the 2011 BCSNCG where Boise was selected and say, “See, it is not impossible because Boise State did it and another non-AQ can do it too.”  

They would say the non-AQ team just didn’t show enough during their regular season, as reflected in the polls, to warrant a trip to the BCSNCG. This scenario could potentially save the BCS from the Department of Justice and/or Congressional action, and without outside pressure from either Congress, the Department of Justice, or both, the fat cats that control the BCS will not voluntarily give up their stranglehold on the money.

In short, if the Broncos go undefeated, it will present a difficult choice for those voting and controlling the BCS. If an undefeated Boise State is not ranked in the top two at season’s end, the BCS will most certainly gain an extra level of scrutiny and possibly be broken up just like Ma Bell. If Boise State makes it to the BCSNCG, be prepared for many more years of the BCS style BS crowning of a champion.