As the nation prepares for the initial BCS rankings, all eyes are on the Boise State Broncos to see where they will fall in the mix. Many believe that they deserve to be in one of the top two spots, giving them a firm grip on the inside track to the BCS national title game.
While I adamantly disagree with Boise State's title claims being given any credence, let us take a look at the recipe for success the Broncos have used to get where they are and how the rest of the nation could follow suit to their own gain.
Play in a Weak Conference
Whether you are trying to build your program or you are an existing, tradition-rich team, your first move should be to get involved in the weakest conference you can find. Be sure to avoid playing in a BCS—or "elite"—conference so you stand no chance of being beaten by much tougher competition than you will face in your chosen, pathetic conference.
Head off complaints from other programs, experts and fans that you do not play anyone by making sure to schedule a game or two out of conference each season against teams from the elite ranks that are no better than middle-of-the-pack contenders or lower in the much stronger conferences. Do not forget to claim that no one wants to play you in an effort to deflect attention away from the fact that you will play 10 or 11 cupcake games the rest of the season.
You might even consider going independent and playing whomever you want to week after week. Then the claim that your conference is weak would not apply, and you could simply default to saying no one will play you. When asked who is turning you down, stick to subterfuge and cloak-and-dagger tactics by saying that you will not name any specific programs "out of respect" for those teams.
Do not, under any circumstances, schedule a larger number of "elite" teams than necessary (one) to "legitimize" your competition level. This could result in more losses than intended and keep you out of the big game. For reference, see Notre Dame.
Undefeated Is Undefeated
After following step one, it is likely that people will begin to point out that you are only playing "Pop Warner" teams every game. Laugh them all off and point out that you played Louisville or Oregon State (i.e. middle-of-the-pack contenders or lower) in Week 3 of the season, and that should more than make up for playing teams that amount to no more than New Mexico State the other 11 games.
If this excuse does not work, remember to claim no one will play you. This is your mantra. Never forget it.
Regardless of how ridiculously poor the competition level you face every week is, just be certain that you win every game by a solid margin. You absolutely do not want a team like Idaho State sneaking up on you while you are prepping for your next tough opponent like San Diego State.
And winning every game should be enough for the rest of the nation. Sure elite teams will be playing Top 25 teams for as many as half their games each season, but undefeated is undefeated even if you do it against "powerhouses" like UNLV.
Besides, playing perceived weak teams for 95 percent of your season will keep your team fresh since they will not have to endure the weekly pounding from much stiffer competition like everyone else.
Complain to the US Government
Eventually, no matter what you do—no matter how closely you follow this recipe for success—there will be those that see your supposed accomplishments as less than deserving of the merit you so desperately want.
So when beating the snot out of lollipop teams like San Jose State 11 games a year and sprinkling the occasional perennial underachiever like Oregon State in for flavor does not get the rest of the nation to agree that you should be viewed as deserving of national title consideration, write your local congressman or senator. Ask them to appeal to the current administration and force the "establishment" to allow you to compete against them in the title game even though you do not compete against them all season long and instead opt for an Idaho high school slate.
Remember, your team should be quite fresh having played 10 or 11 scout teams while the elites should be roughed up quite a bit after playing their own much tougher schedules. Since you will only have to win this one difficult game against a team that has been softened up for you, finish them off on a neutral field and you will have a great shot at winning it all.
If you can pull off this small but significant feat—at least in your own eyes—the rest of the nation has no choice but to welcome you as a powerhouse program, do they not?
So there you have it. You too can change your program from an anonymous nobody to a legitimate national title contender by following these few simple steps. So if you are an aspiring up-and-comer or a struggling former title contender, this easy recipe for success should be exactly what you are looking for. It has worked for the Boise State Broncos and it can work for you, too.