If You Hate The BCS, Don’t Root For Boise State

Ah, the beginning of October. It’s a magical time, when a good 20 college football teams are still dreaming of hoisting the glass football. That includes Boise State, oddly enough; the perennial mid-major Cinderella is counting its ifs for reaching the title game, according to the IDAHO STATESMAN, and none of them are entirely unreasonable.

Boise State Statue of Liberty
(”Give me freedom or… wait, the Statue of Liberty doesn’t say that. Great, now I just look ridiculous.”)

But wait. It seems paradoxical, but is getting a non-BCS team to the BCS Championship Game really in the best interest of the non-BCS conferences? It really depends on your definition of the word “fair.”

For example, in light of the Utah Utes’ perfect season in 2008, one that included an annihilation of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, the Utes’ inability to be so much as considered for the title - even as Harris Poll members freely admit they never watched Utah play football that season - so incensed the state that they pursued antitrust legislation against the BCS.

At issue was more than just bowl consideration, but a fairly lopsided inequality in monetary distribution, hardly a laughing matter in a bowl system that hands out hundreds of million dollars in bowl payouts a year. This, of course, did not stop the mid-major conferences from re-upping the BCS deal anyway, because cowardice is rooted in smart short-term accounting. Honestly, it is.

So given that the BCS system screwed Utah and routinely screws non-BCS teams (and conferences) out of the $17 million payouts in favor of lower-ranked, BCS conference champions, does admitting Boise State into a title game under circumstances that basically boil down to “we would be shot if we did not let a team with this resume in” absolve the BCS of blame?

Frankly, even as much as we love Boise and their brand of football - the Boise St.-Oklahoma 2007 Fiesta Bowl (click to open the full game in a new window) remains our favorite of all time -  we’re not so sure that the scales even out if the Broncos play for a title.

Moreover, we’re worried that such a trump card: “Hey, when you’re an obvious #1, we’ll let you in” would cripple the non-BCS conferences’ case against the BCS, even as it remains a fundamentally unfair system geared toward filling the coffers of the Big Six conferences at the expense of the smaller D-I schools.

Look. Odds are that, given everything that has to go right for Boise State to get into a title game, this argument will be moot within a matter of weeks. Running the table is hard enough as it is, and the Broncos are at such a systemic disadvantage when it comes to polling and perceptions that they basically need to be the only undefeated team in the country while the top 1-loss contenders fall in conference championship play. We’re looking at a longshot here to begin with.

But though we, as college football fans, would enjoy seeing Boise Sate in the championship game, it kind of seems like the only way we’re going to see that cartel broken up is if the Broncos’ season is, for lack of a better term, martyred. Congress is a lumbering wildebeest, incapable of swift, just action under any circumstances. Obviously, the case against the BCS isn’t strong enough yet, even though people are willing to go homeless in order to fight it.

The only way it’s going to go away, then, is if it proves to be even more demonstrably unfair than is already apparent. A Boise State title shot doesn’t fix that.