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What's Your Beef With Boise State?

Hopkins Horn sort of introduced the topic yesterday, but if you waded into the game thread(s!) for any period of time tonight, you're aware that more than a few Texas fans were NOT HAPPY about the prospect of Boise State winning that football game.

And I can't say that I really get it.

A good bit of the animosity seems to be rooted in the perception that if Boise beat Virginia Tech, the odds suddenly look pretty good that the Broncos could win out and secure a spot in the national title game. Taken in isolation, there's something to this: Boise State could secure one of two all-precious positions in the national title game despite playing in an indisputably weak conference.

But there's a lot more to this story, isn't there?  Let's walk through this.

There's more than a little irony in fans of a monster program calling out an upstart for not playing a tough enough schedule. To begin with, non-conference scheduling amongst the big boys often borders on pitiful. But more importantly, Boise State has adopted an "Anyone, anywhere, any time" approach to their own scheduling. They're trying their damndest (including, of course, trying to upgrade their home conference itself), and to their credit managed to land Virginia Tech and Oregon State on the 2010 schedule. Still, their phone calls largely go unaswered, and we all know the reason why.

Moreover, its not as though Boise State has arrived out of nowhere. The system isn't exactly set up to allow non-BCS teams to swoop in and steal national title game bids on the heels of an early season upset and a clean run through the WAC. The Broncos have gone undefeated twice three times and been shut out of the national title game. Hawaii did it another time, and every bit of evidence we have is that the only shot a team like Boise State really has at cracking the BCS Title Game is a perfect storm. In fact, it's absolutely possible that they could run the table this year and get shut out again.

The anti-Boise chorus then pipes up to complain that now we're all going to be subjected to insufferable levels of ESPN bloviating about their title prospects. This, of course, is the most amusing of all complaints, as though a Boise loss tonight would have spared us a barrage of insufferable college football coverage. This message is sponsored by Tim Tebow and the 2005 USC Trojans.

Seriously, if that's your gripe, it's time to revise your expectations.

The bottom line is that Boise State might be the team that benefits from the borderline ad hoc nature of our system of crowning a champion. Every year two teams benefit from the inanity, and if you're lining up to oppose Boise State as a beneficiary, your guns are pointed in the wrong direction. Hate the game, not the player, etc.

May I humbly suggest that if you're upset about the possibility of Boise State playing for the national title this year, you instead direct your animosity towards the BCS system and just clamor for a playoff.

But even more than that, may I suggest that unless we're forced to revisit this in November because our beloved Longhorns are competing directly with Boise State for one of those two precious spots, you get behind the idea. Are they the "best" team in college football? Their personnel weaknesses were exposed tonight -- especially on defense, where Kyle Wilson is dearly missed -- and they are, in fact, going to benefit greatly from not being challenged on a weekly basis. And truth be told, based only on what I saw tonight I can't say I'd be likely to pick them through a playoff bracket.

But that, of course, is irrelevant. What we know is that they are an undefeated, highly-ranked team, and if they finish the season that way they'll be considered for one of the top two spots. They still might not get it, which is reason enough not to be hysterical so soon, but even if they do, it sure seems to me that if you're vehemently going to oppose the inclusion of Boise State, you'd might as well asterisk the whole system and declare your indifference to the formal crowning of a champ, as presently executed.

(Which is perfectly fine, by the way; it is, in fact, a silly mess. But if you want the glory for Texas, it seems to me you have to accept the possibility of Boise State.)

All this strikes me as good for college football. Boise State has done everything they possibly can, and though I'd reject Hopkins Horn's characterization of Boise State as a "plucky underdog" and suggest that -- given the underlying motivation -- it's counterproductive, I don't see any problem with wondering whether Boise State is the best team in the country this year and just wondering whether it's Their Year.

That's how it works, right?