Monson: Utah, BYU, justice have ally in Boise State

Published May 25, 2010 4:13 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I am not a fan, but now am tempted to root for a team uniquely positioned to help continue to mess over a system that's as unjust as anything going in modern sports. Maybe we all should root.

BSC is the team and BCS is the system.

Talk about acronymic irony.

Boise State is all grown up now, no longer Boise State College, the name having been upgraded to reflect university status in 1974. But as far as the Bowl Championship Series is concerned, the school and its team still haven't grown up enough to fully belong.

B.S., says Boise State president Robert Kustra, who issued a no-bull statement Tuesday decrying the BCS's continuing discrimnatory practices.

The Broncos have busted into BCS bowls -- and won them -- twice: at the conclusion of the 2006 and 2009 seasons.

They, like Utah in 2004 and 2008, blew through an undefeated season, won a BCS game at the start of the following calendar year, and never had a shot at a national title.

Perfection, as at least partially attained through a WAC schedule, wasn't enough to gain that privilege. No matter how talented and together Boise State was as a single team, the fact that it played in a designated lesser league of supposedly weaker teams, it got no opportunity to prove itself in the biggest bowl under the brightest lights.

Same with the Utes in their two undefeated seasons, and with TCU last year.

The fractured, regionalized nature of college football, in which teams play in conferences of varying strengths with limited scopes, leagues that are sometimes difficult to gauge in any given year, is the exact reason a comprehensive playoff is necessary to properly crown a champion.

It goes beyond fairness, straight to common sense.

It wasn't the Utes' fault, for instance, that much of the Mountain West was not competitively strong in 2004. That was not within their reach, not part of their responsibility. Their reach and responsibility was to put the best team they could on the field and to win each game. Reasonable people with eyes to see could witness for themselves a team that season that could play with and maybe beat any opponent.

Certainly, Utah was worthy of playing a team better than Pitt, an outfit it predictably dominated in the Fiesta Bowl.

Anyone with still closed eyes had to open them four seasons later when the Utes, another undefeated team with no chance at a national championship, repeated the feat, crushing Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

Back to Boise State.

The Broncos not only finished unbeaten last season -- dropping a TCU team that showed itself to be one of the top teams in the country by, among other accomplishments, crushing Utah and BYU -- they return virtually their entire squad for 2010.

The BCS, straight up last week in a letter to Orrin Hatch, continued to argue its indefensible justifications for its unfair and unjust existence, should be afraid of this coming Bronco team. It is real good, despite the disadvantages non-BCS programs face in finances and recruiting and opportunity.

If the Broncos are undefeated, again, when the "BCS Championship" game is set this fall, it will be simultaneously fun and frustrating to watch the contortions of the cartel this time around. On the other hand, if Boise State some miraculous way gets into the title game, the BCS folks will use that as an example of how and why the BCS works.

Kustra isn't holding his breath. In addition to his Tuesday statement, the Boise State president released an accompanying chart

that graphically illustrates BCS discrimination against non-BCS teams. That chart compared figures over the past few years of the performance of the MWC/WAC champion in BCS bowls versus ACC and Big East champions. The numbers were broken down by TV ratings, rankings, attendance and, then, revenue.

The MWC/WAC was superior in the first three categories, but lagged behind, by half, in the last.

Said Kustra:

"University presidents and others who care deeply about what higher education stands for should take a hard look at the chart. The lesson embedded in this chart teaches that it is fine to employ a system, such as the BCS, where the revenue is rigged in favor of some, at the expense of others, regardless of who performs better. That is the last lesson we should be teaching our students.

"... The BCS system is designed to make it virtually impossible for teams from outside the six automatic qualifying conferences or Notre Dame to ever win the national championship. ...

"In college basketball, where such revenue and access discrimination does not exist, a playoff decides the national champion. But at the highest level of college football, the BCS cartel, which benefits from such discrimination, prevents a playoff from occurring.

"... A BCS spokesperson stated that 'the best reason for supporting the BCS can be summed up in three words: every game counts.' But how do Boise State's games count under the BCS when four of the past six years we went undefeated in the regular season, and yet never even came close to having an opportunity to compete for the national championship? ... In two of those four seasons, Boise State was foreclosed from even playing in a major bowl. ...

"A BCS spokesperson said the current system may remain in place through 2040. In my view, this current system shouldn't remain in place 30 more days, let alone 30 more years."

Go Broncos.

GORDON MONSON hosts "The Gordon Monson Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 AM The Zone. He can be reached at gmonson@sltrib.com.

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