In just 15 short years, Boise State…

I was going to make a snarky comment about how a certain game from 2005 was missing from the list in this post, but after a careful reading, I think there’s a bigger point to be raised:  has any program managed to gain national prominence as quickly as Boise State has on such a thin resume?

This is a team that’s made its bones on dominating a weak regular season schedule year after year (as far as I can tell, BSU boasts exactly one regular season road game win against a BCS-conference opponent – a game that didn’t make that list for some strange reason – rarely plays a ranked school during the regular season and since 2001 has only played two BCS-conference opponents in the same season once) combined with two BCS wins against one of the most notorious postseason underachievers of the past decade and another mid-major program.

And, hey, good on ’em for getting where they are.  But when I compare BSU’s resume with what programs like Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech have done to become national contenders, it’s not as strong.

Which isn’t to say necessarily that the Broncos don’t deserve to be on the national stage this year.  But if they don’t beat get Zabransky’d by Virginia Tech in this year’s opener, perhaps those holding the program out as élite shouldn’t be too surprised if there’s a fair amount of disagreement about that evaluation.

41 Comments

Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

41 responses to “In just 15 short years, Boise State…

  1. Kudos to you good sir. Paper thin resume is correct. I’ve been one stating the obvious for a while and it is like folks don’t care to here the “weak resume” argument.

    Getting up for 2 games a season isn’t the same as the “playing anybody, anywhere” approach that VT, The U and FSU took in their construction. Their first season in the MWC will be the toughest season in program history and that’s still not equal to playing a BCS conference schedule.

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  2. X-Dawg

    It’s all about the smurf turf, imo.

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  3. Prov

    Most of the pro-Boise crowd I have encountered claim that Boise wants to employ the “anyone, anywhere” mentality but they can’t get the games because there is very little upside for the big boys. I don’t agree but I’ve heard this claim from multiple people.

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    • Until very recently, the problem has been that BSU wanted to be treated like the big boys – i.e., demanding home-and-homes with BCS-conference schools and $1 million+ payouts for road games. The downturn in the economy has led to an attitude adjustment of sorts, which is one reason for the season opener against Va. Tech.

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      • Prov

        A lot of people think that all FBS teams should be “treated like the big boys”. I hope if there is ever major realignment it results in splitting the FBS. Teams like Boise, TCU, etc have no place playing for the national title.

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        • BSU Fan

          Why do you feel that way? Are you elite, or did the broncos beat your team? You a Duck fan? Boomer Sooner? Doubt your a Beav, they’re a classy bunch. Probably not a Dawg. Fresno, Nevada? Must be somethin that makes you a hater? Prov=Provo=BYU? Whatev My guess is you’re just a loser and your team sucks.

          If your team played us and you lost, well, sour grapes. If your team played us and you won, why the hate?

          If your team hasn’t played us, why not, and STFU, loser.

          If your team is 10-2 and boise took it’s place in a BCS game, then STFU. When your team goes 12-0 or 13-0 then you can go to a BCS game. Til then, STFU.

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          • The Realist

            Well thought out, reasoned response, BSU fan.

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          • Prov

            Witty retort. I see you’re well versed in a wide range of internet acronyms; very impressive. The truth is I would love to see BSU get a chance to play in the Big 12 or Pac 10. They have earned the right to prove they can compete against quality opponents week in and week out. What they HAVEN’T earned is the right to play an overwhelmingly weak schedule, with one game against a legitimate opponent, and waltz into the National Title game.

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          • FisheriesDawg

            “If your team played us and you won, why the hate?”

            Because all our team heard about in the offseason leading up to that game was how we were going to get shocked by Boise and when they showed up they were about 100x weaker than advertised.

            You’ll have to pardon Georgia fans if we still have a little bit of a hard time taking Boise State completely seriously. Florida fans do the same thing to us after the past couple of seasons.

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            • WFdawg

              There are still urine stains on the bed from when Jared Zabransky wet it in 2005. That game has become a reference point for Georgia fans when we hear the words “utter annihilation.”

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              • Buster

                Yeah, UGA’s best player that day was Zabransky. He single-handedly made their turnover margin look golden.
                Ever notice how when he got pulled the annihilation stopped? Only by then it was too far gone.

                To this day it is still; “The Game that we do not speak of.” in many circles.

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  4. D.N. Nation

    But they beat ’06 Oklahoma, who was like 50-0 or something!

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  5. JK

    Some preseason love for a mid major who returns all but one starter doesn’t bother me too bad. However, an average preseason ranking of about 3rd in the nation? Give me a break. No mid major should be anywhere above 15 preseason… ever. Be realistic, please. Last year they won a BCS game….. against another mid major with a weak schedule. Before that they beat Oklahoma in a BCS game…… on a bunch of trick plays that rarely, if ever work. They essentially put it all on red 22 and won… like 3 times in a row at the end of the game. And everyone knows, as you pointed out, that Oklahoma has been garbage in bowl games lately.

    The most frustrating part is going to be when they get crushed by VT and stay ranked in the top 10.

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    • gernblanski

      Did you happen to watch that game JK? Yes they pulled out some trick plays at the end, but before that they dominated the Sooners on both sides of the ball. Ian Johnson had over a hundred yards. They forced like 4 turnovers. OU needed a miracle comeback to tie and take the lead. It was that win that put Boise on the national stage and as long as they continue to win 10-11 games a year they will be in the conversation.

      Also, I disagree that they will stay in the Top 10 if they are crushed by VT. If they are crushed, the coaches and media will move them well back in the Top 25. Moreso than any of the preseason favorites, Boise has a paper thin margin when it comes to the BCS and Championship race. They know that one loss knocks them out.

      Given their schedule, I think that is fair. But on a graduated scale, the other BCS affiliated favorites operate under no such pressure.

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  6. The Realist

    1) I had no idea Houston Nutt coached at Boise State. I guess I’ve never really read up on his bio.

    2) Boise State has a handful of bright moments and a bunch of relatively inconsequential moments.

    The real history of Boise State’s rise to prominence: For every win against a team like Oklahoma on the big stage, there is a loss against a team like 4-9 Washington in 2007.

    In 2002, they got blitzed by 27 against Arkansas, yet they beat 7-6 Iowa State (who had lost 5 of their last 6) in the Humanitarian Bowl… which was basically a home game. They finished 12-1.

    In 2003, they lost @ (8-5) Oregon State… the only BCS team they played in a 13-1 season.

    In 2004, they got a marquee win at home against Oregon State (7-5), the only BCS team they played in an 11-1 season (they lost to Louisville in the bowl).

    In 2005, they lost a close one in Athens 48-13, then proceeded to lose to (5-6) Oregon State… the two BCS teams they played that year. They finished 9-4.

    In 2006, they whipped (10-4) Oregon State, then went on to win the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma with the aforementioned trick plays. What is not mentioned? They were outgained by 30 yards, had 7 fewer first downs, and were +1 in turnovers. Oklahoma’s quarterback? Paul Thompson, who turned the ball over all 4 times… including a fumble inside the Oklahoma ten and a pick-six.

    In 2007, they lose to (4-9) Washington (the only BCS team they played). They lose the conference title to Hawai’i, who goes on to be blasted in the Sugar Bowl by Georgia. Boise finished 10-3, including a loss to East Carolina in the bowl game.

    In 2008, they get a little bit more of that big game magic: they beat Oregon (the only BCS team they played that year) 37-32… despite being outgained by 40 yards, having 13 fewer first downs, and holding a +2 turnover margin. Oregon also missed a field goal, an extra point, and had two failed 2-point conversion attempts. Boise would fall to TCU in the bowl game to finish 12-1.

    In 2009, they whipped eventual Pac Ten champion Oregon’s ass 19-8… the only BCS conference team they would play. They defeat TCU in the Fiesta Bowl 17-10 to finish undefeated 14-0.

    Boise State is a good team. They are well-coached, they play well within their scheme, and they are capable of beating anyone when things go their way. When things don’t go their way, they find it hard to really compete with college football’s best. It is just premature, in my opinion, to bestow elite status upon them. They haven’t proven that they can beat big time opponents on a regular (weekly) basis.

    They basically get a one-shot deal against Virginia Tech in prime time in week 1. Just imagine if Georgia got to play one game to determine whether or not they are worthy to play for the BCS title. After that game, they get to play teams like San Jose State, New Mexico State, Utah State, Hawai’i, Nevada, and Louisiana Tech, with only one other contest against a better-than-average BCS conference foe like Oregon State. If it was just assumed that Georgia would go to the BCS title game if they won out against a schedule like that, teams like Florida who have to play Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, & then a conference championship game would take serious offense… and I think understandably.

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    • BMan

      +1 (billion)

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      • J

        Why do we look as far back as we can, you know, back when no player or coach that is on the team now was playing. You have to look at what the team they are fielding THIS year is like. Of course we will ignore that. This years BSU team is loaded. The mid-major, as you put it, that BSU beat last year was one of the best in the country, whether you think so or not. You are just elitists and when the broncos bring home the NC trophy this year after beating who ever, you can cry then.

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  7. Ward Eagle

    “Has any program managed to gain national prominence as quickly as Boise State has on such a thin resume?”

    F$U

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  8. You want mustard w/ that bit of garbage? Why? Because your going to end up eating it.
    Go Broncos.

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  9. Catfish

    As a Bronco fan, I just wanted to say I love your article. I’m worried that the national media is jumping on BSU’s band wagon, and as much as I feel our team deserves the attention, glowing praise doesn’t make for very good bulletin board material. Thanks for reminding BSU that not everyone gets it yet.

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  10. One of the stupidest things you could do is fall for pre-season hype (like the article you referenced). Most Boise State fans didn’t like the list (Houston Nutt … really?!)
    http://www.obnug.com/2010/6/29/1542947/wake-up-bronco-nation-boise-state#40821357

    The next stupidest thing you could do is being to underrate a team that has had as much success as it has had … regardless of it’s weak schedule. No other team has had Boise’s success — and I’m not talking BCS teams with tough season schedules, I’m talking other teams from the WAC, C-USA, MAC, & MWC. The fact is that Boise State dominates their conference. Weak WAC or not, that’s incredibly hard to do in any level of play. Boise State has done FAR better than any team ‘should’ do with their budget, location, and facilities.

    With these limited assets, your persecuting a team for losing to a BCS team every now and then?!

    You don’t have to jump on their band wagon, but to say Boise State doesn’t deserve a shot at something big because of their phenomenal success spells petty ignorance and/or jealousy.

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    • With these limited assets, your persecuting a team for losing to a BCS team every now and then?!

      You don’t have to jump on their band wagon, but to say Boise State doesn’t deserve a shot at something big because of their phenomenal success spells petty ignorance and/or jealousy.

      I appreciate the sentiment, but that’s not what I’m saying.

      It’s not a matter of whether BSU deserves a shot. It’s whether you guys are being realistic about how others should perceive your program at present. Just because the resume is thin doesn’t necessarily mean that the program isn’t elite. But the Broncos can’t keep whiffing against ranked opponents in regular season road games (especially considering how few they play) and expect everyone to give them the benefit of the doubt, either.

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      • In that case, I whole-heartedly agree. I never want the title “elite.” I hate teams for that (USC, ND, lower-tier SEC, wanna-be SEC[FSU]).

        Some Boise fans may want that perception, but with the types of coaches hired and players recruited at BSU, that would never be allowed.

        I’d like to think that a win vs. VT this year and Ole Miss next year will redeem us from the Zabransky calamity in Athens. But I doubt that will happen. I don’t think we’ll get the respect unless we’re in a BCS conference (the MWC won’t cut it) and/or schedule 4 top 10 BCS teams for our OOC schedule. …and I’m ok with that.

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        • You guys beating Va. Tech would be huge from a perspective standpoint, particularly if it was followed up with a win against OSU.

          Moving to the MWC will help, as well. You’ll face two or three talented conference teams every year, as opposed to what you get out of the WAC.

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          • AZ Bronco Fan

            You’re right, this season’s test against VaTech and OSU will be big for the outside perspective. Particularly if those teams perform as projected and possibly even win their respective conferences. I think the skeptics will be surprised to see the speed and skill of Boise St. on labor day vs. a top national contender. It may even change some minds about this team. This will be the biggest regular season game for the Broncos and the fate of the season hangs right there.

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  11. ferg

    Yes! This is the kind of talk that Bronco players and fans love to see. Just another hater to add a little motivation. The Broncos will just quietly go about their business of playing the teams on their schedule and coming up with W’s. The Broncos are 4-1 under Chris Peterson against AQ conference teams. This is a team that has lost 1 game in two years and gave the Ducks a beatdown twice in two years (I think the Ducks won the PAC-10 last year.) Keep telling yourselves that the Broncos “get up” for 1 game a season and for some reason the other teams don’t get up for the Broncos. (If you read any press last year from Oregon you heard nothing except how excited they were to get another chance at playing Boise State after they had an embarrasing home loss to the Broncos.) Why wouldn’t all the teams in the WAC “get up” for their showdown with Boise State? Somehow the Broncos have dominated the conference. Why isn’t there a dominate Sun Belt team or MAC team or consistent MWC dominate team? Boise has a great record against teams from better conferences who have 10 times more money in their athletic budget. You gotta love how that program is run and the quality coaching and recruiting that is done to bring in great athletes and character kids.

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  12. Buster

    Since Chris Petersen became head coach in 2006, the Broncos are 49-4, 4-1 against BCS opponents, and have completed 3 (THREE) undfeated regular seasons. I can understand the “weak” schedule argument, but playing bad teams doesn’t make them a bad team. No other team out there is doing what Boise State is on a yearly basis. The MAC, Sun Belt and C-USA are arguably “weaker” conferences and yet there is n0 standout from either who regularly goes undefeated. Why is that, if this is easily reproduced by anybody who gets to play weak teams in conference?

    2005. If that’s all you hang your hat on then how much longer will you cling to it? One guy, had a horribly bad performance (4 INTs 2 Fumbles) and because of that you question an entire decade of utter dominance? Bit of a leap…?

    2007 Fiesta Bowl. How quickly we forget those things which do not help our argument. Boise State not only led, but was dominating an Oklahoma team one game removed from the National Championship. I seem to remember a regular season loss for the Sooners in Eugene, OR at the hands of some, shall we say “questionable” officiating (the officials were later suspended for the horrible call), on an onside kick, that ultimately cost Oklahoma the game, an undefeated season, and consequently, a National Title bid. Boise state led 28-10 (that’s a three score lead) well into the 3rd quarter of the Fiesta Bowl, before Oklahoma was able to mount a torrid comeback on the wings of a freak play where a Bronco in punt coverage, was pushed backwards into the ball, a two-point conversion that was tried THREE times, and a familiar Zabransky pick-six with 1:02 left to play. Only then, did the bag of tricks open up. And why not? What was their to lose? It was 4th and 18 from the 50 with 7 seconds remaining, trickery was the only way to get to OT. Did you prefer the traditional heave-ho “Hail Mary”? I think Boise State actually had designs on winning that game.

    Short story long, If the Broncos complete another undefeated regular season, they’ll be 38-1 the last three years (the lone loss to TCU in the ’08 Poinsettia Bowl). There is simply no other team in DIA doing that. Period.

    You don’t have to like the resume. But the performance is what stands out. 112-17 since 2000. You don’t get hired by fancy resumes, you get hired by your performance. Of course that’s in the real world where things like that matter.

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  13. Buster

    Since Chris Petersen became head coach in 2006, the Broncos are 49-4, 4-1 against BCS opponents, and have completed 3 (THREE) undfeated regular seasons. I can understand the “weak” schedule argument, but playing bad teams doesn’t make them a bad team. No other team out there is doing what Boise State is on a yearly basis. The MAC, Sun Belt and C-USA are arguably “weaker” conferences and yet there is n0 standout from either who regularly goes undefeated. Why is that, if this is easily reproduced by anybody who gets to play weak teams in conference?

    2005. If that’s all you hang your hat on then how much longer will you cling to it? One guy, had a horribly bad performance (4 INTs 2 Fumbles) and because of that you question an entire decade of utter dominance? Bit of a leap…?

    2007 Fiesta Bowl. How quickly we forget those things which do not help our argument. Boise State not only led, but was dominating an Oklahoma team one game removed from the National Championship. I seem to remember a regular season loss for the Sooners in Eugene, OR at the hands of some, shall we say “questionable” officiating (the officials were later suspended for the horrible call), on an onside kick, that ultimately cost Oklahoma the game, an undefeated season, and consequently, a National Title bid. Boise state led 28-10 (that’s a three score lead) well into the 3rd quarter of the Fiesta Bowl, before Oklahoma was able to mount a torrid comeback on the wings of a freak play where a Bronco in punt coverage, was pushed backwards into the ball, a two-point conversion that was tried THREE times, and a familiar Zabransky pick-six with 1:02 left to play. Only then, did the bag of tricks open up. And why not? What was their to lose? It was 4th and 18 from the 50 with 7 seconds remaining, trickery was the only way to get to OT. Did you prefer the traditional heave-ho “Hail Mary”? I think Boise State actually had designs on winning that game.

    Short story long, If the Broncos complete another undefeated regular season, they’ll be 38-1 the last three years (the lone loss to TCU in the ’08 Poinsettia Bowl). There is simply no other team in DIA doing that. Period.

    You don’t have to like the resume. But the performance is what stands out. 112-17 since 2000. You might get noticed with a fancy resume, you’ll get hired with outstanding performance. Of course that’s in the real world where things like that matter.

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  14. cexeko

    Paper-thin resume? Of course it is. We are talking about 15 years as a Div. 1-A program. What do you want? Boise State to start beating USC, OSU, LSU and Oklahoma from the day they stepped onto the Div. 1-A scene? Talk about being realistic.

    What you are forgetting, is that in 2001 when Boise State moved into the WAC they were thought of as a weak team just like everyone else in that conference. Sure, I could see how they might have fluked their way into a 68-4 conference record over that span, but they aren’t just skating by, they are dominating the WAC to the tune of 35-7 on average. They’ve never lost a WAC game at home. Let’s forget about the OCC games and the bowl games for a minute and let’s let that sink in, 68-4. Against comparative competion, comparative athletic budgets, comparative recruiting bases.

    Let’s look back even further that just the past 15 years. Let’s go back to 1978, when Boise State became a Div. 1-AA school. Since then, Boise State has the 7th winningest football program in Div. 1 history. They won the Div. 1-AA Championship in 1980. It took just three years to reach that milestone. In 2005, Boise State became the fastest school to win 300 games as a four year school.

    It’s a brick-by-brick mentality at Boise State. You take your lumps, you learn from them and you come back stronger. Keep clinging to UGA’05, I’ll keep living in the now.

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    • I love the straw man argument you Boise State faithful spout. I really do.

      Bully for you guys on the WAC record. And, no, I didn’t expect BSU to beat “USC, OSU, LSU and Oklahoma from the day they stepped onto the Div. 1-A scene”. But how about just beating one stinking ranked opponent in a regular season road game? How unrealistic is that?

      Boise’s had fifteen years to accomplish that feat and hasn’t done so yet. That’s not living in the past. That’s the here and now.

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      • AZ Bronco Fan

        Actually, we did beat a ranked BCS team on the road in 2008, check it before you spout off. I hope we get a blog post from you after labor day. I know the cards are stacked again the Broncos, as they are every season. Even last year it took a meltdown of some good programs for us even to get into a BCS game as the #6 team. It will probably take a similar meltdown of BCS teams for Boise St. to get into the NCG. But if that happens, it won’t be because of our tradition, name or number of star recruits, it will be because we are one of the top 2 teams in the nation. When that happens, who cares that we lost to Washington in ’07 or got trounced by Georgia in ’05.

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      • Buster

        “straw man argument”?

        I thought the “comparative competition, comparative atheltic budgets, and comparative recruiting bases” part was fairly solid.

        I love how Boise State can be seen as playing nobody if they don’t schedule titans on the road, and yet Georgia and Floirda and the like schedule Citadel and Charleston Southern and it gets glossed over.

        Spare me the “our conference is brutal” retort. I seem to remember a story about Boise State having an open road date in 2011, and ESPN was reaching out to “several Top Ten programs” to set up a match, yet they had no takers. Which perennial titan did they end up with; Ole Miss. Oh wait, they aren’t perennial, they’re centennial.
        It’s easy to say Boise State doesn’t play anybody on the road especially when those same programs they should be playing won’t pony up and schedule them themselves. it’s kind of.. I don’t know.. circular?

        Last, and of most import, Boise State’s regular season road victories versus ranked opponents. (though the evidence would indicate they’re being avoided, not because BCS teams are afraid, oh no, it’s because they don’t want to risk validating the Broncos true strength by losing to them.) They do have more than one though.

        2001- #8 Fresno State 35-30 in Fresno
        2008- #17 Oregon 37-32 in Eugene
        #21 Fresno State 61-10 in Fresno

        Just clarifying, here and now and all that…

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        • Thanks for the info on the FSU games. That’s a fair rebuttal.

          The rest of it? Not so much.

          I think you got my straw man reference confused with somebody else’s. My point wasn’t that I expected BSU to destroy college football powerhouses straight out of the box, just that the Broncos haven’t played the “we’ll play anybody anywhere, anytime” game that programs like Florida State did when Bowden built the program into national prominence. Hell, Fresno State’s played that game better than Boise State has.

          And I’m not going to give you guys the benefit of the woe-is-us-because-they’re-afraid-to-schedule-us doubt. Your AD has been notorious over the past few years for insisting on home-and-home arrangements and huge road guarantees. It’s no surprise that there have been few takers. He’s only backed down on that recently because of the budget crunch. That’s why BSU has a game with Virginia Tech this season.

          What I’m amused about with all this is that I’m rooting for Boise State to win that game. I think it would be great for the game if that happened. My only point in the post is that you guys shouldn’t expect the rest of the college football world to see your program as elite if the Broncos don’t win that game.

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  15. Nonaq

    I think there is a lot to be said for the weak strength of schedule argument. BSU does play at least 8 games that could be settled in one half of football instead of a full game and save us all some time.
    As a Bronco fan I wish Nevada, Fresno, and Hawaii could figure it out and be consistent year after year. But we are given the schedule we are given and we play the teams we can. But I think it would benefit the BCS schools to finally recognize that the immense gap between automatic qualifying schools and non aq schools is shrinking. And the level of coaching at these smaller schools is incredible and given a month, I believe schools like BSU, Utah, BYU, and others can scheme, prepare, and ultimately beat almost anybody. If I were a BCS conference school, I would worry just a little if I was the first or last game of the year. You just might have something to be scared about when you see the level of play from some of these “unworthy” teams.

    By the way, I can’t wait for the chance to watch BSU play Georgia again.

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    • If I were a BCS conference school, I would worry just a little if I was the first or last game of the year. You just might have something to be scared about when you see the level of play from some of these “unworthy” teams.

      One reason why I think the BSU-VT game is going to be entertaining…

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  16. joe

    Gee,
    Looks like some BSU fans got their panties in a wad because they weren’t loved on in your blog.

    Waaaaaaaa!

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    • ferg

      BSU fans don’t expect to be loved or respected. Bronco fans are used to the pundits and “experts” committing the falacy of composition–
      The WAC is not a good football conference
      Boise State plays in the WAC
      Therefore Boise State is not that good of a football team.

      Recent history indicates that this current Bronco team is pretty good (Kellen Moore is 26-1) in two years and this year’s team is returning nearly everyone. The high praise and expectations are deserved until they are beaten. I expect nothing less than a great game against VT which is a great team and a great program.

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