The college football season begins in 24 hours, the final season before yet another seismic change in the landscape. But before Nebraska bolts to get their ass kicked by Ohio State instead of Texas and Colorado moves to become irrelevant on the west coast, there’s still one last chance to challenge the system as is.

Boise State for the national championship.

This kid could be Tim Tebow if he were from, like, Florida.

The Broncos were thought of as a cute little sideshow for beating Oklahoma in 2007. Two consecutive undefeated regular seasons later, they’re being scolded for wanting to leave their little niche in search of a BCS-level program. Kid Cudi can’t empathize here- the haters won’t even shake the Broncos’ hand.

As pointed out Tuesday evening by Michael Wilbon on Pardon the Interruption, the anti-Boise backlash is generated by and large from the Southeastern Conference. How apt. Because you could change the scene to the Augusta National Golf Club, put Nick Saban and Urban Meyer on the board, and change Chris Petersen into the one gentleman who isn’t a WASP applying for a membership. The scene is exactly the same.

Idaho? You must be a Mormon! Take your seven wives elsewhere.

The hater’s number one argument for keeping Boise down is the schedule argument. They say the only reason they are any good in the first place is because they play a cupcake conference schedule against the likes of Idaho and New Mexico State and only have to worry about one or two games a year where they really need to show up. Inevitably this is followed by the “Well, what if they were in the SEC/Big Ten/Big 12 et al?” bit.

Well what if studio heads prevailed in 1996 and Matthew McConaughey was cast in “Titanic” over Leo DiCaprio? Would Jack have been some easy-going Texas boy? Would there be an abdominal-centric scene like every other McConaughey movie? We don’t know the answer to that, and we only like to think we know how Boise State would fare in a major conference. Can we please be educated people for once and put to rest an argument that is pure speculation and adds nothing to the discussion?

"Heh heh. Thanks for letting me draw ya nekkid, Rose."

Speculating is a safe argument of course because no major school actually wants to schedule Boise. They are so eager to prove themselves, they offered to come to a BCS school’s site and play the game with no home-and-home series involved. They will see the only school that bit Monday.

And just for the sake of fairness, the scheduling argument always earns Boise a slap on the wrist while my school, Ohio State, always gets a free pass. The Buckeyes have infinitely more resources- than any school, much less Boise State- and they can be called favorites for the title game because they only have to get through Miami and Iowa. We all know Michigan isn’t going anywhere this year. And Penn State’s always kind of there, but they’re to OSU what Fresno State or Nevada are to BSU. Those two put together decent programs for what they have, and through the last decade at least one of them managed to sneak into the Top 25 toward the end of the season. They’re victories, but they make your schedule look a little better. (And don’t think I’m comparing these schools head-to-head, only to scale. If you think otherwise you’re twisting words.)

If the haters want to have an argument that is halfway legitimate, it’s that Boise State will hit a ceiling eventually solely because the school is so young. It didn’t become a four year institution until the late 1960s; consequently it’s still a college primarily serving undergraduates. They have no law or medical school so their donor base is significantly smaller. The Boise metro area continues to grow to the point that it’s third in the northwest behind Seattle and Portland, but it’s an isolated area in a state that still very much resembles the frontier. In short, the football team has grown at a rate that far outpaces its school as well as its state. Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman covered this, and he shares the belief that rapid growth supports the team now, it will be too much whenever they stumble to an 8-4 finish.

Another frantic day in southern Idaho

Of course this might all change when the BCS re-evaluates things in another year or two. It’s unlikely, but it’s a possibility. It’s all based on mathematics and the Mountain West Conference isn’t looking as strong now that Utah and BYU have left- the former understandable, the latter incomprehensible- but boasting Boise State and TCU should at least put up a fight against a Big East that picks a conference champion out of a hat. I’ve seen preseason predictions saying Connecticut will represent them in the BCS this year, never mind that they have an even shorter football history than Boise State.

The last point illustrates how much better it is to be in the clubhouse, and I wouldn’t argue with that. But college football is more different than ever now, and yet it’s operating under an old-boys system model that still lets Notre Dame be relevant. Boise State may hit the ceiling one day, but at this moment they’re an unparalleled player in trying to break the feudalism. Forget the scheduling because it’s inherently unfair to them. Forget the gimmicks and the excuse that a blue field equates to a home-field advantage because then you’re just covering for your own deficiencies. Remember that 22 of 24 starters are returning off an undefeated season. Hope they keep the sanitizer on deck.

Marc (And should you take issue- yes, I am a Bronco fan. Since 2002)

Photo Credits: chris-petersen-782985.jpg,