Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Blue Carpet Conundrum

For years, the most-talked-about aspect of Boise State's football program was the blue artificial turf at Bronco Stadium (as Boise State proudly noted on its athletics website, "Bronco Stadium is the only football field in the world with a blue field." Gee, wonder why?).

But in recent seasons, the Broncos have been edging ever-closer to forcing their way into the BCS Championship game. Their 2010 season-opening win over Virginia Tech means this could be the year. Boise State was #5 in the USA Today coaches' poll going in; Va. Tech was #6.

It's not hard to see Boise running the table and winding up undefeated. They've dominated their mid-major Western Athletic Conference for quite some time. There's still a potential roadblock on September 25th (Oregon State, which might be a Pac-10 force this year). But you don't have to stretch too far to see an undefeated Boise State at season's end.

And then the fun begins. If Boise's the only undefeated team, its inconceivable that they'd be denied a slot in the BCS Championship game. But if one or more other big-time schools end up with no losses, look out, because the Lords of Football (in association with their pals, the Lords of TV) will start the machinations to keep Boise out of the Big Bowl.

The Big Boys love hanging out with the other Big Boys. The Oklahomas and Texases and Alabamas and Floridas hate it when the unwashed like Boise State crash their lucrative party. TV hates it, too, because despite the obvious David vs. Goliath storyline of a Boise appearance in a BCS bowl game, these "small" schools don't deliver the TV ratings.

For Boise State, the season now stretches out like a high wire with no net. Any stumble--even a close win against a San Jose State or a Fresno State--ends the dream. If you like seeing the rich get richer and the fat get fatter, root against Boise State. As the major conferences re-align, there will be fewer and fewer Cinderella stories (read this piece by fellow Alamedan Ray Ratto for a dystopian view of the college football future).

But it you're a real sports fan--if you like a world where the outcome isn't linked to pedigree--you need to hope for a perfect Boise State season ending in a slot in the BCS Championship game.

Just try not to watch too many of their home games. That blue turf is hard on the eyes.

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