November 05, 2009
Back at the end of September, Boise State hit No. 5 in both major polls, and a round of stories came out wondering, "Wait a minute -- can Boise State play for the national championship?" The consensus then was "No," because of the Broncos' sketchy schedule, and with the scorn of the BCS computers dropping Boise all the way to seventh in the latest standings (last among the nation's seven unbeaten teams), nobody is even asking that question anymore.
In fact, with a remaining lineup of Louisiana Tech, Idaho, Utah State, Nevada and New Mexico State diluting the Broncos' strength of schedule even further and keeping them firmly off the national radar over the last five weeks of the regular season, the WAC is shilling for a public relations firm to help keep Boise in the mix for any big-money game, period:
The role of Scott Peyron & Associates is to keep Boise State in the forefront of the minds of the media. It does not lobby voters or coaches. It does email a weekly list of talking points regarding Boise State's accomplishments to members of the national media. It also sets up interviews for WAC commissioner Karl Benson and prepares statistical information for him to use to make a case for the Broncos.
"We've found that people just want to go back to the Fiesta Bowl win in 2007 and talk about that being a fluke and haven't really done their research in terms of [Boise State's] home game winning percentage or other interesting facts over the years," said Doug Cole, a group practice leader with the firm.
Boise may be right to be worried: If the rest of the season plays out as expected, the Broncos will forfeit the lone automatic BCS bid for high-ranking non-"Big Six" teams to TCU; assuming the SEC runner-up is assured of landing in one of the other three at-large slots, that potentially leaves Boise to fend for one of the other two against heavyweights USC, Notre Dame and the winner of Saturday's Ohio State-Penn State showdown, any of which is capable of overcoming the Broncos' advantage in the polls with guarantees of big ticket sales and TV ratings (and the WAC's history with at-large opportunities suggest the bowls will go for the sure thing). If TCU keeps winning, even the highest ranking in school history won't guarantee Boise a berth. But maybe the Peyron and Associates can bridge the gaps the ranking in and of themselves cannot.
This has been a persistent issue for Boise State in the past, of course (see their BCS snubs behind undefeated Utah in 2004 and again last year, when undefeated teams were relegated to the Liberty and Poinsettia bowls, respectively) and will continue to be until it buffs up its non-conference schedule enough to overcome the always dicey WAC slate -- a tall order when most prestigious opponents want nothing to do with BSU, for obvious reasons. The Broncos are opening up next season against Virginia Tech in Washington, D.C., but have no "Big Six" conference schools on their 2011 schedule and seem to be running into walls in every direction in their effort to add one. Either way, frankly, if the same walls are still standing after four unbeaten regular seasons in six years and arguably the biggest regular-season win in school history this year, over Oregon -- and there's a good chance that the Ducks might eventually jump BSU in the polls if the keep winning, as they already have in the computer polls -- I can't imagine a realistic scenario in which they're going to come down.