Perhaps it started with Gonzaga in college basketball.
A team from a little-known conference on the West Coast popped up and stole the hearts of Americans with NCAA Tournament runs and unprecedented success.
Gonzaga thus became the identity of the little guy taking on the schools from the big money conferences.
Gonzaga, through a pattern of continued success, has since become a power, and Butler seems to be following the same model.
In college football we’ve seen the same thing.
TCU and Boise State have differentiated themselves, making them ineligible for this list. Utah, on the other hand, has gotten itself into a BCS conference (granted, not all of that had to do with success, but television contracts as well).
Now it is time to look at the other schools that may be able to take that next leap from standard mid-major to contender.