Where were you January 1st, 2007?
If you are a college football fan, you were glued to your television watching upstart Boise State beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
We all remember the game: high scores, trick plays (most notably Boise’s Statue of Liberty play to secure the two-point conversion) and the wedding proposal by running back Ian Johnson.
The Broncos were the darlings of American football—a Rocky type of underdog that beat the national powerhouse Sooners.
That night in Glendale changed college football. Suddenly teams, coaches and media were charged to take teams from “non-automatic qualifier” divisions seriously. QB Jared Zabransky was featured on the cover of NCAA Football. Boise State was relevant.
Since that game, the biggest knock on Boise State’s résumé has been its schedule—or lack of schedule, according to Ohio State President Dr. Gordon Gee (not that Ohio State plays a murderers’ row: see Marshall, Ohio, Eastern Michigan)—so it seemed fairly obvious that when discussion of conference realignment surfaced, Boise would be on the front line.
On June 11th, 2010, Boise State announced that it would leave the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West Conference in 2011. The move seemed good on paper: Get out of the WAC, go to the conference with fellow BCS busters Utah and TCU and bolster your schedule with better (not much) competition. Great idea, right?
On June 17th, Utah announced it would be leaving the MWC for the upgraded Pac-12 conference. Additionally, BYU announced it was going independent in football. At that point, the MWC reached out to Fresno State and Nevada to take their places. Sound familiar?
The final nail in the coffin came November 29th, when TCU announced it was leaving for the Big East.
All of a sudden, Boise State became the same old medium fish in a tiny pond. The Broncos will replace meaningless games against Utah State, Idaho and Louisiana Tech with meaningless games against New Mexico, Colorado State and Wyoming. While Utah and TCU will be vying for conference championships in BCS conferences, Boise State will play the same role they are playing now—that of the spoiler.
How will this impact their recruiting? What if Chris Petersen gets tired of being disrespected and goes to a formidable conference? What if more teams leave the Mountain West? We will all have to wait and see how this conference realignment shakes out, but at this juncture it seems like a bad move for the Broncos.
Sure, the Mountain West is more respectable than the WAC, but by how much? They still are a non-AQ BCS team. They knew that when they agreed to move. Now that everyone is leaving, Boise is all alone again, playing no one but the “little sisters of the poor.”
So what exactly was the point of leaving in the first place?