Boise State to a BCS Conference? Why It Will Happen in the Next 5 Years
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For Bronco fans, the idea of Boise State finally making it to a BCS conference is not so far fetched, though the rest of the country sees it differently.
The team out of Southwestern Idaho known for its trick plays, scrappy attitude, and blue turf (called the "The Blue" to fans and "Smurf Turf" to haters) has finally come into its own as a team that you can count on being ranked in the top 25 every year.
Deny it or not, year in and year out, the team just wins and wins big with mid-major recruiting. There are a myriad of reasons why they are not a BCS school right now including money, stadium and relative newness to the national scene, but here is a breakdown of why Boise State will be a BCS school within the next five years.
Bronco Stadium Expansion
Courtesy of Boise State University
Currently, Bronco Stadium holds a measly 33,500 and they can cram in an extra 1,000, if need be.
The current attendance record is 34,137 when they played Oregon State in 2010, which pales in comparison to their neighbors to the west at Oregon and Oregon State, who routinely have 45,000-55,000 fans at their games.
That is about to change since the stadium is expanding from 33,500 to 53,000. Phase one of the project, which will remove the track and lower the field to add 3,300 more field-level seats, is set to be completed by the 2013 season.
The remaining phases will follow as the school continues to raise money for this $100 million expansion. I project that, at least, Phases 1 and 2 will be completed within the next five years, becoming a much more lucrative stadium for BCS teams to play in with a seating capacity of over 50,000 fans.
But can they fill those seats?
Boise and Its Fan Base Are Growing
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Yes, they will fill those seats. Idaho is in the top 5 for fastest growing states and the Boise Metro Area is in the top 10 fastest growing metro areas. In 1990, the Boise Metro area had 295,000 people in it; in just 20 years, it has grown to over 615,000 people, and that looks good for the television market.
Boise State’s come-from-behind 33-30 win against Virginia Tech earned a 7.3 rating, which tied USC-Ohio State as the best since Florida State-Miami 16 years ago. Boise is larger then the metro areas for many BCS schools including fellow western schools like Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State, and Stanford.
In that same 20-year period the attendance rate at Boise State University has risen from just 13,500 to 20,000 students, meaning more students, more fans. Boise State's inability to fill the stadium over the past decade does not come from lack of population or the team not winning. It comes from the opponents they play and on what days they play them.
You will see attendance jump this year as the Broncos move in to the Mountain West which has better competition. If BSU played teams like Oregon, USC, Washington, and Arizona every week by joining the PAC12, they would definitely sell out.
The same goes for Boise potentially joining the Big 12 because if Texas came to Boise, there would be no problem filling a 50,000-seat stadium. Playing Utah State on Wednesday does not equal playing TCU on Saturday in Boise.
Old Mountain West Conference Logo
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It's inevitable, the conferences will re-align. Whether its the Big 12 wanting to bring in more teams to make them the Big "12" again, or the PAC 12 wanting to begin the trend towards super conferences, all it will take is one domino to fall.
That one domino was almost Texas A&M going to the SEC. Whether the Big 12 collapses or expands, Boise State will benefit.
Lets say the Big 12 collapses. Perhaps some of the lower level Big 12 teams, like Baylor for instance, moves to the MWC because they can't find another home. The MWC will begin to look more lucrative as a potential BCS conference, especially if they bring in more quality teams to balance the numbers.
Maybe Houston or Tulsa to compliment Hawaii, Fresno State, and Nevada joining. It is only a matter of time before the Mountain West gets accepted to the BCS, their teams win too many bowl games to keep getting looked over.
On the other hand, if the Big 12 or PAC 12 look to expand, teams like Boise State, BYU, and Air Force are all very likely possibilities. The Mountain West may go the way of the WAC if that happens.
It Will Appease the Masses
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UConn going to a BCS bowl was a travesty last year. Everyone knew Boise State was better then Connecticut and it would have been a better game if BSU had played Oklahoma. It probably would have brought in more ratings, as well.
But the rules handcuffed the BCS powers-that-be while the fans cried foul. What better way to alleviate the pesky BCS buster then by having them join the BCS? Other than a Hawaii, that is good once every five years, Boise State is the last true BCS buster to not be invited to a BCS conference.
This will cause problems as BSU also happens to perpetually be ranked the highest of the past BCS Busters, therefore they always seem to be in the BCS discussion.
If they are in a BCS conference they have to win to go to a BCS bowl, and if they do win, then the strength of schedule argument goes out the window and they definitely deserve to be in a BCS bowl.
What was once a murmur of unfairness from the BCS busters has turned into a roar of lawsuits, congressional hearings, presidential claims, etc. If Boise State was in a BCS conference, that would all go away for a little while at least.
ESPN Still Loves Boise State
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Boise State may not be on ESPN as many times this year as it has in the past due to its move to the Mountain West Conference, but the network still gobbled up their three eligible non-conference games and will also cover their bowl.
Unfortunately, past those four games, Boise State will be relegated to Versus, The Mountain, and CBS Sports Network. However, Boise State is still the darling of ESPN because of its underdog status, media-shy coach, and Heisman-candidate quarterback.
But more than anything, Boise State is usually guaranteed to be a part of a high-scoring game and as I said in a previous slide, they bring in ratings when playing BCS schools. Its no coincidence that Boise has played in one of ESPN's biggest season-opening games in the last two years and this year is no different.
The Gameday crew has made the trip to Boise once already in its short tenure and more than likely, if TCU and Boise are undefeated when they face each other on Nov. 12, the Gameday crew will make the trip up north once again. ESPN and the BCS are tied together, and when ESPN supports something, the BCS will follow suit.
Boise State Beats BCS Teams
2006 Fiesta Bowl
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When they do get to play BCS teams or appear in BCS bowl games, they win. Boise State has played six BCS teams in the Chris Petersen era (the last five years) and they have lost only one game to Washington in a rebuild year. They have also won both BCS bowls they were invited to.
During that time period, BSU beat Oregon when they were the PAC-10 champions in 2009 and Virginia Tech when they won the ACC in 2010.
Say what you will about their competition, but when Boise State gets the opportunity to play a BCS team, they win.
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Chris Petersen may coach a Non-AQ team but he is a BCS-caliber coach. His list of accomplishments in his short tenure thus far are very impressive.
1. 61-5 in five years as head coach with two BCS bowl wins.
2. The only two-time Paul "Bear" Bryant Award winner in history.
3. Four conference championships in the past five years.
4. No. 3 behind Nick Saban and Gary Patterson for the Sports Illustrated top college football coaches.
5. Molding a 6-foot, three-star quarterback from Washington into arguably the best quarterback in college football.
Coach Pete has been offered positions at multiple BCS schools but is content to stay at Boise State because he has an opportunity to do something very few coaches can: build a legacy from the ground up. You could say it started with Dan Hawkins, Dirk Koetter, or Houston Nutt, but no coach has skyrocketed a team from relative obscurity to powerhouse in such a short amount of time.
If Petersen stays in Boise, you can expect that his presence alone will be a major factor in moving Boise to a BCS conference.
Coaches and AD's may come and go in Boise, but Chris Petersen is the key to the program. He was a driving force behind the expansions of the stadium, is a big player in the community, and is all around a stand-up guy.
Boise State Will Play in at Least 3 BCS Bowls in the Next 5 Years
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The only game that will be trouble for Boise State this year is its season opener in Georgia. Air Force and TCU come to Boise, where the Broncos do not lose, and San Diego State offers nothing BSU hasn't seen before.
If Boise State goes undefeated, they are obviously in a BCS bowl game and possibly the national championship. Over the next few years, with TCU moving to the Big East, Boise State will still be the best team in the Mountain West, even in rebuild years.
This means they will be the best non-AQ team year in and year out. Here are the rules for Non-AQ going to a BCS bowl:
The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:
- A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or,
- B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls
Boise State will fulfill this criteria at least three times in the next five years because there is no other Non-AQ team poised to be ranked higher then BSU in the years they win the Mountain West.
Due to their schedule, they will win a lot of games all season and qualify for a BCS bowl just by being ranked in the top 12 and winning the MWC.
It is a loophole BSU will exploit and bolster their prestige by consistently playing in a BCS bowl while not being a BCS team.