For the 2011 season, Bleacher Report has jumped into the polling game by releasing a weekly college football poll. The poll's voters are some of the site's top college football writers, and it has been interesting to watch how our poll compares with the Coaches Poll, the AP Poll, the Harris Poll and now, the BCS rankings.
In the first poll, released after the first games had been played, Boise State received two first-place votes, and debuted as the No. 4 team in the nation, according to the Week 1 B/R Top 25 Poll.
In that very first poll, even after an impressive victory over then-and-now-ranked Georgia, there were reader comments about how the two pollsters that put Boise at the top of their ballots “need to be fired.”
As the season progressed, the Boise-hating comments continued, including such gems as “Boise would get sissy-slapped by [Oklahoma]” and “How [Boise State is] ranked ahead of Ok State and Clemson is beyond rational comprehension.”
Finally, by Week 7, Boise had lost one of their first-place votes, and had fallen to No. 5 in the poll in favor of new No. 4, Wisconsin.
That didn't last long as Wisconsin stumbled at Michigan State, but the first-place vote lost to the Badgers did not return (instead going to LSU). Boise State still clings to their lone first-place vote and their No. 4 position in the B/R Top 25.
Well, it's time to come clean. Like Scott Wolf from the LA Daily News in the AP Poll, I have also placed Boise State at the top of my ballot each week.
The first thing most people will say, especially southerners, is “are you nuts?”
Probably, but that's a threat I'd rather not tug at right now. In regards to putting Boise State at the top of my ballot, I don't think it's that big of a stretch.
First, I refuse to blame or penalize the Boise State coaches and players for their lack of schedule strength (which, incidentally is ranked as No. 30 in the FBS, ahead of No. 37 Alabama and just behind No. 28 LSU). Those rankings are sure to change after Saturday, but the point shouldn't be lost that prior to this weekend, Boise State's SOS ranked right between LSU and Alabama.
A win is a win is a win, and it doesn't matter if you're coaching pee-wee rocket football or an NFL team, going undefeated is really hard to do. And Boise State has done it a few times lately (2011 would be the Broncos' fifth undefeated regular season since 2004).
Boise State also has two BCS berths—both victories—in the past five years. There are loads of BCS AQ programs that can't even come close to two BCS wins over that span.
So what does Boise need to do to prove to the naysayers that they can compete with anyone in the nation on any given day?
In short, nothing. They've already proven that.
But most people would want to see Boise State play the “big boys” during the season. Admittedly, that would be really nice. But the struggles of Boise State to find anyone willing to play them have been well-documented over the years.
When Boise does find a quality AQ opponent, like Oregon, Virginia Tech or Georgia—and wins—the naysayers jump back into the discussion, saying how “bad” Oregon was on that day (never mind winning the Pac-10 that season and appearing in the Rose Bowl) or how “bad” Virginia Tech was to begin the year (never mind winning the ACC that season and appearing in the Orange Bowl).
This season, Georgia is 6-2, and 5-1 in the almighty SEC, and has a real chance to reach the SEC Championship Game. And we haven't even mentioned Boise State's thrilling win over a darn-good Oklahoma team in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
So remind me again how Boise State doesn't play and beat anyone that matters?
What really needs to happen is a little more acceptance by the rest of the nation. Slowly but surely, some top AQ programs are coming around.
Michigan State, for example, recently signed a three-game deal with Boise State, which includes the Spartans traveling to Boise. If Michigan State is brave enough to play the Broncos in Boise, why won't the Crimson Tide? Why won't the Sooners? Why won't the Trojans?
It can all be summed up in one ugly word: elitism.
Some of the greatest and most blatant examples of elitism I've ever seen are the comments made by people like Craig James and Lee Corso.
On the November 5 edition of ESPN's College GameDay, Corso said that even if Boise State was the only undefeated team in the nation, they still don't deserve a shot at the BCS title.
Recently, Craig James admitted on air that he ranked pre-USC Stanford as No. 3 on his AP ballot while ranking Boise State No. 10 on the same ballot. James's reasoning was simple, and horribly misguided: his infamous and tired “body of work” argument—an argument shared and supported by many college football fans across the nation.
Okay. Let's take a quick look at what Craig James was looking at. Stanford had played San Jose State, Duke, Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, Washington State and Washington. Of those teams, only one—Washington—was ranked or had a winning record at the time.
Now, take a look at Boise State's “body of work.” Boise State began the season with a win over then-No. 22 Georgia, which just happens to be the exact ranking Washington held at the time of the Stanford game. The Broncos then beat Toledo (winning record), Tulsa (winning record), Nevada (winning record), Fresno State, Colorado State and Air Force (.500 record).
That's one ranked team (No. 22 in each case), and Stanford's one opponent with a winning record versus Boise State's four opponents with a winning record.
So again explain the “body of work” argument that places Boise State at No. 10 and Stanford at No. 3?
Even B/R readers are guilty of BCS elitism, the most distasteful of football sins. One reader even inexplicably wrote, “[Boise State hasn't] been around long enough to be entitled to much of anything,” when talking about BCS berths and national championship races.
By that logic, a team who has been around the block a few times is automatically entitled to play for a national championship just because of who they are and what they've done over the history of the game.
I wonder if that reader was ESPN's Craig James using a pseudonym.
You can't in one breath argue that Boise State's past successes shouldn't be used as a reason to justify their inclusion in the BCS, and simultaneously argue that other programs are “entitled” to a shot because of who they are.
I happen to agree that past seasons should have no bearing on this year's BCS selections, and that's an argument many make when talking about leaving Boise State out of the championship race. But by that same logic, there would be a whole host of teams left out of the conversation (Oklahoma, Stanford, Oregon, just to name a few).
At the end of the day, this doesn't mean that Boise State should be the top team in the nation. Anyone can make a valid argument for LSU, or Alabama or Oklahoma State, or any other undefeated team in the nation. But from my perspective, I placed Boise State at No. 1 on my first ballot, and they've given me no reason to punish them this season.
Kellen Moore is (or should be) a legit Heisman candidate, and is now the winningest starting quarterback in FBS history (after Saturday's win over UNLV). Chris Petersen has the best win percentage of any active FBS coach. The coaches and players are beating all willing opponents brave enough to face the Broncos on the field. Until they lose, they'll be the top team each week on my ballot.
And if you're an SEC-phile or BCS-lover, you should be rooting for a Boise State berth in the BCS Championship Game, not arguing against it. Boise State has the best record of any FBS team over the past several years, and if you want to be considered the best, you need to beat the best.
Playing Boise State will give you the perfect opportunity to prove on the field that you're better than Boise State. Prove me wrong, Alabama. Prove me wrong, USC. Prove me wrong, Oklahoma. I dare you.
Until the Broncos get that chance, the legitimate question of Boise's place in the college football world will remain unsettled.