The late Rodney Dangerfield said it best.
“I don’t get no respect.”
Double negatives aside, the Boise State Broncos have been making that case for a while now.
It seems like just yesterday. This relatively unknown team wearing blue and orange ran a Statue of Liberty play right into our hearts. Running back Ian Johnson proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend immediately as the game ended. A better story couldn’t have been written.
It’s debatable that anyone in the nation, except perhaps Boise State fans, expected the Broncos to remain in the spotlight. Boise State’s current record, including that magical 2006 season, is 57-4. That is an amazing statistic by itself. As the college football world looks back at other teams considered the greatest ever, the Broncos’ achievements might not seem so impressive.
Let’s use the mid-90s Nebraska Cornhuskers for comparison. From 1993-1997, Nebraska went 60-3 and unleashed a team in 1995 that several other fanbases consider one of, if not the, greatest team ever.
The Cornhuskers defeated 19 Top 25 teams during this span, 10 of them ranked in the Top 10, six in the Top Five. Eleven of those Top 25 games were played in conference and Nebraska finished no lower than sixth in any poll come season’s end.
The 1995 Nebraska team was astounding. The closest margin any team could manage was 14 points. The Cornhuskers punted 12 times all year and never gave up a sack. For those who would argue that Nebraska’s offense was entirely run-based, the Cornhuskers put up 1,721 yards through the air (156.4 per game) not including the bowl game.
Let’s compare this to Boise State’s current run and assume that they finish the 2010 regular season undefeated.
From 1996 to current day, Boise State has defeated five Top 25 teams. Two of those victories were over Oregon both at home and at Autzen Stadium.
All five teams were ranked No. 14 or better. Assuming that the Nevada Wolfpack stays ranked, they will be the last notable team that Boise State faces until their bowl game.
This is where the most scrutiny occurs in the debate over just how good the Broncos truly are. The argument is constantly made that if Boise State were in any automatic qualifier conference, they’d crumble.
This is not true.
The SEC, for example, would be admittedly difficult. Given its current state of flux, it would be foolish to count Boise State out of legitimate competition.
The problem is that the Broncos play teams that are scheduled elsewhere for easy wins in their own conference. Nebraska and Alabama fans groaned when they saw San Jose State on their schedule. Utah State? Just another patsy. Hawaii provides an amazing offense, but consistently leaves their defense at home. Boise State sees these teams every year.
No doubt, the Broncos hope that things will improve upon their move to the Mountain West Conference next year in terms of national credibility. While this might increase slightly, other current members are already looking to head elsewhere. This certainly isn’t Boise’s fault, but it only hamstrings their hopes at getting a shot to win the BCS championship
What’s Boise State to do? The solution may be closer than it seems.
The current Big 12 conference loses Nebraska and Colorado to the Big Ten and soon-to-be Pac-12 respectively after this season.
The University of Texas, perhaps the most influential school in the Big 12 conference, might want to consider the Broncos and another Texas school such as Rice or Houston to hold a true Big 12 together.
In theory, this would work out wonderfully for Boise State. They would gain national recognition, play a respected conference schedule, more than likely play in a conference championship and would have absolutely no roadblocks to the BCS national championship game. That scenario would clear any doubt of Boise State’s dynasty status if they continue to put up similar statistics and win.
Would the Broncos actually be willing to make those moves to ensure automatic qualification? According to history, they’re not interested barring the presence of an incredibly thick safety net.
Boise State’s bludgeoning of lower-tier foes isn’t doing them any favors and barring some amazing luck, they’ll likely be left out of another national title game despite going undefeated this year. The Broncos need to make a move to a legitimate conference and do it soon. Fans around the country want to see the BCS busted—Bronco fans or not.
Until Boise State steps up and consistently plays with the big boys, their chance may never come. In the meantime, while the Broncos continue to feast on cupcakes for the majority of the year, the automatic qualifiers dine on steak.
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