Boise State has thrived on being the underdog for the past decade. The Broncos would also thrive on a couple of marquee wins followed by a schedule of mediocre teams. Every year, this team would go undefeated, or close to it, and was always fighting for respect at the end of the year.
None of the BCS schools would ever give it to them, saying that if Boise played in their conference they would have three or more losses every year. Every year there would be SEC teams with one loss who declared that they were better than the undefeated Broncos. Were they right? We don't know, because of the way college football is set up where they don't let teams settle this dilemma on the field.
Boise State finally got a taste of its own medicine this year. The Broncos lost a heartbreaker in Reno to dash all of their hopes of going to the National Championship game. With the one loss, the Broncos dropped to No. 11 in the BCS rankings and were now on the outside looking in to a BCS game.
Many Broncos fans were doing exactly what SEC fans were doing last year, and that was discredit the other at-large teams to make their team look better. Boise State had good reasons to believe that they belonged before a two-loss Arkansas. Some Boise State fans, including myself, argued that they were still better than TCU, and started to argue that Boise played a harder "easy" schedule than TCU did.
I now finally understand how it must feel to be a one-loss SEC team who goes through a gauntlet of games every year and is on the outside of a BCS berth, having to watch while an undefeated Boise State or TCU, who doesn't play anyone, get to play in a high profile game.
Is it Boise State or TCU's fault? Not necessarily.
Boise and TCU have to play whoever is on their schedule and whoever is willing to play them. They are under constant pressure year in and year out to go undefeated, because if they don't they will not get to a BCS game. That's one advantage that the SEC has by having an automatic bid. An SEC team isn't expected to go undefeated, but can still win their conference and go to a BCS game. College football is fair, but mostly unfair.
The only clear explanation to make sure every team is able to play for a national championship is to have a playoff where each conference champion is guaranteed a spot. If you issued a 16-team playoff, that would leave you five at-large teams that can also be invited. They should also eliminate the two-team-per-conference rule. That way a one-loss Michigan State who beat Wisconsin (who beat Ohio State) could also play for a national title.
Boise State, Michigan State and LSU all deserved to play for a national title this last year. With a playoff they would have been guaranteed at least a chance to play. If they lost then at least they had their shot. Every year, there are always thousands of college football fans who are upset that their team isn't playing in the National Championship or a BCS game. A playoff will solve all of their problems and allow all 120 FBS teams to settle who the best is on the field.