Boise State Football: Could Broncos Ever Receive Invitation To Join SEC?

Nick R. BrownContributor IIISeptember 9, 2011

Many of you read that title and your heart skips a beat for one of two reasons. Either because you went into cardiac arrest from disbelief of the idea even being suggested, or because of unbearable excitement at the possibility of moving up to play week in and week out with the "big boys."

As a conference contributor to athletics, Boise State has very little to offer to the SEC. Well, that's not entirely true either. They have a great women's soccer team, and I'm fairly certain the SEC has a few of those; they dominated the WAC in tennis. Oh, and if you weren't aware, the Broncos compete in the Pac-12 in wrestling, which they have dominated, winning six conference titles in the last 12 years.

But when it comes to the SEC, football is king. And we all know that Boise definitely knows how to play football. The back breaker here is that Boise doesn't know how to play the SEC's second- and third-most important sports, basketball and baseball. The Broncos have only seen one NCAA tournament berth in the last 17 years, and I'm not even sure if they field a baseball team. However, they do have a cross country team, if that was a concern of anyone.

So what are the major hiccups with a Boise invitation to the SEC?

For one, it is insanely impractical. But football fans are never practical, so let's just skip that one for a minute. We'll come back to how it may be semi-practical.

Travel is going to be an issue for, well, every away game. You'll have at least four of those. But what's worse is that they'd going to have to travel in all sports, not just football. 

Attrition will already be a major factor with an SEC football schedule, and the travel will just multiply the affect. It would actually factor in at some point.

Consider that if you slip on over to TravelMath and you run the numbers for a flight from Columbia, South Carolina (USC) to College Station, Texas (TAMU), SEC's soon-to-be newest member, it's roughly a one hour and 50 minute flight, beating out the trip to Fayetteville, AR (UA, the other one) by an additional 20 minutes. The trip from USC to Boise State University would, however, clock in at four hours. At least they will get to watch two movies on that flight.

Boise may initially balk and say that it does not have the money for the expenses necessary to participate in the SEC. It may be a valid point.

So why does the SEC invite Boise State anyway?

Maybe it can be semi-practical. Just as BSU participates in the Pac-12 for wrestling, it could solely participate in the SEC in football. There is no reason that Boise must bring all its athletics down south ways. They would not be the first team to do this either. There have certainly been football teams in the past that have either competed as an independent or in a different conference in football than in other sports. 

Is travel really that big of a deal? Sure, it's an extra two hours in a plane, but only four times a season. I suspect that the benefits of the league could help administration get over the additional eight hours travel time on the season fairly quickly.

Attrition is apparently not a factor for the Boise State Broncos. In comments throughout an early post I wrote this week and in articles across Bleacher Report, I have been told repeatedly by the BSU fan base that attrition is not an issue. That playing Toledo, Wyoming and San Diego State in a row is the same thing as playing Tennessee, LSU and Alabama in a row, amongst others.

If that's truly the case, then the SEC schedule of attrition, nor the stress of eight additional hours on a plane should bother these bucking Broncs one bit! 

Any concerns Boise has about additional football expenses in the SEC are semi-valid...right now. The top three football budgets in the SEC are Alabama ($31.1 million), Auburn ($27.9 million) and LSU ($25.5 million). Boise State is currently spending $8.1 million on football operations.

That doesn't seem like much, but consider that Mississippi State is only spending $1.8 million more than Boise State, and that they have proven with the right coach—Dan Mullen—that they can compete then this isn't a terrible worry.

While not the grandest example after the last two seasons, and certainly a questionable one after the opening week of college football, consider that the University of Georgia brings in the second-most football revenue in the SEC at $70.8 million, but has only been spending just over $18 million on football operations.

From 2001-2008, the Bulldogs had a record of 82 wins to 22 loses with a .788 winning percentage. Even including the last two down seasons, UGA maintains a 96-34 record with a .734 winning percentage since the introduction of head coach Mark Richt.

So while things are not exactly where Bulldawg Nation wants them to be, there is evidence that you don't have to spend money like the top spenders in the league to be successful (maybe you just have to spend money like that to win championship).

The bottom line though is that Boise State has plenty of money to maintain football operations. They could probably even teach some SEC athletic directors about efficiency and effectiveness considering that Boise only spent $158,000 on recruiting expenses last season.

Where's the invite then?

If partial inclusion just in football isn't a problem, attrition isn't a factor, and money is of no concern, then where's the invite? Certainly there is an argument that BSU is capable of winning in the SEC, and may even resemble an SEC type school and football mentality at this point in time. Gone are the days of Fiesta Bowl trickery to win football games. Now exists one of the most NFL-esque pro-style offenses in college football today.

That was certainly evident in this past Saturday's contest with UGA, who is arguably rebuilding, but was still beaten in almost every facet of the game straight up outside of the fact that the Broncos refused to kick to the Bulldogs' game-changing return man, who was quite possibly the only Georgia player participating in the contest that night.

The trouble with Boise with the SEC is the Idaho market. I guarantee you there are thousands of Americans that could not even point to Boise, Idaho on a map. This is a problem. The Southeastern Conference would fill Boise State's treasure troves so full it would be able to buy golden potatoes for years to come. This would help the university to grow and develop. It would help develop its other athletics and build up the football programs facilities and stadium.

But Boise can't bring in anything in terms of the television market. However, I would suggest that this may be overcome in the interim in the amount of money BSU would bring in over the first several years as it met new SEC opponents on a weekly basis and played in much-desired revenge game with UGA.

These meetings may boost ratings and SEC television revenue in the interim until a point came for renegotiation of TV contracts and the possibility of Boise selling itself as a national brand that would bring in markets from every corner of America to make up for the lack of their home market.

While there is promise for why Boise State could work in the SEC, there is one final question to be asked: Does Boise State really want to come to the SEC?

Often in sports, as in life, perception is everything. There is a psychological element to sports that generally cannot be explained. Recall 10 years ago when Texas simply could not beat Oklahoma. Georgia still can't get even two in a row against Florida in 20 years after completely and utterly dominating them for the preceding 75. One does not simply walk into Doak Campbell in the 90's and win football games. Miami was so good in 2001 that it could beat an NFL team; people said the same about a couple of USC teams as well.

Perception is everything, and the Broncos have a perception of giant killers. And that they are. They also hold a dominating home-field winning streak (62 as of this article). Whether BSU fans like it or not, the schedule will forever haunt them in regards to a BCS National Championship berth, and their last real hurdle is to find a way to play in the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC or go independent and improve their strength of schedule to prove that they can do it on a week to week basis.

Some Broncos fans say they can do it, and that they want the chance to prove it. But I suspect that other fans like those huge scores on Saturdays, the home-field dominance and the giant killer title. And it worries them that the perception they have built may be tested in a more difficult league.

It is a concern that the polished veneer may start to peel if the team landed in the SEC and started having even 9-3 seasons. Even a 10-2 season would prove the point of most fans of BCS automatic qualifying conferences.

Perception works the opposite way as well. And while there is boatloads of positive perception, the perception that Boise couldn't cut it in a big-time conference will also always and forever ring from the mouths of opponents and analysts, no matter what bowls they win or traditional tier-one programs they beat in a single game.

Even if Boise State was to manage to make it into the BCS National Title game and even win it, it will not alter this perception, because college football fans at large will always see their schedule as a cake walk.

The bottom line is that Boise State must find a way to convince a tougher league to invite them to an AQ conference. Once this is done, put up or shut up. I for one welcome our new Bronco "overlords" to the SEC.

I would love to see Boise "give it the ol' college try."


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