Mark, we have gotten into many a debate about Boise State throughout this season, arguing the merits of non-automatic qualifiers vs. AQ conferences. I defend the Broncos. You rip the Broncos. Why such little regard for the “little guys"?
Mark Schlabach: I'm not against the "little guy," and I’m certainly not an elitist. I’m just more of a results guy and base my opinions on what I see on the field. I think college football should determine which teams play for the national championship by those teams’ résumés and overall bodies of work. When I look at Boise State, I see nothing more than a two-game schedule.
Andrea Adelson: But if you are a results guy, then how can you argue with what Boise State, TCU and Utah have accomplished? All three have been perfect in the regular season in 2008 (Utah, Boise State) and 2009 (TCU, Boise State). All three have been to BCS games; Boise State and Utah have each won one. All three are perfect again now. You don’t just roll your helmet out onto a field and win, no matter the opponent. Ask Texas about that. It takes hard work, good coaching and great talent to win all your games.
The teams outside the power conferences can't help that they are in a weaker league. It's not up to Boise State to join the Pac-10. If it was, the Broncos would already be in there. So how should we judge these teams?
Schlabach: For whatever reason, I think there’s almost a sense of entitlement among some Boise State fans. Since they beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a few years ago, and then beat TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, they feel like they’ve earned the right to play in the BCS National Championship Game. I want to see Boise State do what Bobby Bowden did at Florida State in the 1970s or what Pat Hill did at Fresno State in the early 2000s. Go play anyone and at any time. Go play at places like Ohio State, Oklahoma, LSU and Nebraska. Don’t worry about a return game. Play on the road and prove to people that you deserve a spot among the big boys.
Adelson: Playing Virginia Tech at FedEx Field is not proving it? Playing at Michigan State in two years is not proving it? It would be great to not worry about a return game, but you have to remember that Boise State’s athletic budget is peanuts compared to LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Boise State needs to make money for its entire athletic department off its football games. That’s why it either needs a return game, or tons of guaranteed money. Boise State has taken criticism for that, but the Broncos have to find a way to pay the bills. It just doesn’t seem fair to keep using strength of schedule against them when they have proved they can win BCS games, and games against AQ opponents.
Schlabach: A lot of teams can get ready for a BCS bowl game with 30 days to prepare. In my opinion, the debate is more about whether or not Boise State could survive the week-to-week grind of an SEC, Big 12 or Pac-10 schedule. It’s much easier to play Oregon State in late September and not play another really challenging game for a month and a half.
Adelson: Those 30 days have really served Ohio State well when preparing for a BCS game, huh? People talk about the grind, and I understand that concern. But if the Broncos were in one of those conferences, they would have resources they don’t have right now, including more money, better facilities, bigger recruiting budgets and access to four- and five-star players. That being said, there is no way you can tell me Boise State, TCU or Utah wouldn’t contend to win any conference in America this year. It amazes me that everyone loves the Butlers of the world but wants to be rid of Boise State.
Schlabach: Butler proved it on the court by beating higher-seeded teams in the NCAA tournament. I know it's not Boise State’s fault that college football doesn’t have a playoff format, but Butler went through the rigors of beating several good teams.
Adelson: Because they got that opportunity! If not, they would have gotten left out in the cold. Pat Forde talked to Butler coach Brad Stevens, who is firmly on the side of Boise State. So if it’s not Boise State’s fault there is no playoff, what is the solution? Should they not be included in the championship discussion?
Schlabach: Moving to the Mountain West Conference might help Boise State’s case, and it might try to more aggressively schedule more difficult nonconference games.
Adelson: Being in the Mountain West hasn’t helped Utah this year, and it isn’t helping TCU, either. The only solution I see is a playoff, because no matter what these teams do, critics are always going to find a way to say they don’t deserve to be in the conversation.