The year was 2004. Friends was entering its final season, Will Ferrell told us to “Stay Classy” in Anchorman, and rapper Lil Jon said, “Yeah!” in a bunch of Top 100 songs. It was also the year that college football was thrown into chaos.
Just before bowl season, the sport had five teams that went undefeated in the regular season: USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, Utah, and Boise State. The matchups that year had #1 USC facing #2 OU, #3 Auburn against #9 Virginia Tech, #10 Boise State versus #7 Louisville, and #5 Utah playing #19 Pittsburgh. In the end, we were left with three undefeated teams: USC, Auburn, and Utah. Critics slammed the idea of multiple teams going undefeated and called for a playoff.
Two seasons later, Boise State, now under new head coach Chris Petersen, went undefeated once again along with Ohio State. However, they never faced each other. Ohio State ended up losing to Florida, and Boise State beat Oklahoma in one of the craziest bowl games fans have ever seen. Boise State was the lone undefeated team — yet they received no other accolades except winning a bowl game.
Flash forward to the end of the 2009 season, when Boise State and Alabama were the only two undefeated teams. The pressure to create a playoff system grew exponentially after having multiple teams go undefeated season after season. A system that would let multiple teams play for a championship, and give schools like Boise State a chance to play for said championship. A team who, mind you, had four undefeated regular seasons in six seasons, but had zero opportunities for a national championship. Well, now we have a college football playoff system to prevent something like this, right?
Wrong. In 2017, UCF went undefeated in the regular season, but was ranked 12th going into bowl season. They were below numerous one-loss teams, two-loss teams like Miami, Washington, and USC, and a three-loss Auburn. It was then that UCF would shake up the college football landscape.
After beating the Auburn Tigers in stunning fashion, Athletic Director Danny White looked into a camera and just said three words, “National Champs. Undefeated.” It was those three words that divided college football. Some called it, “petty” and “it should be earned,” while others applauded the claim. They’re still divided even though it’s recognized in the NCAA record book, thanks to the Colley Matrix.
Now we’re in 2019, and coming off the heels of upsetting Florida State, Boise State took to Twitter and simply said, “Any place, any time.” A mantra used by FSU’s Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden, however, it was used to attack one another because it’s the internet.
While it may be a line used to attack Florida State, others took it as a jab at UCF resulting in the two fan bases fighting with one another.
When you think about it, both programs are very similar. Both have multiple undefeated seasons, high powered offenses, and been snubbed by college football. Whether you like it or not, we need each other. Some Boise State fans didn’t like the Danny White “National Champs” video, but if their athletic director, Gene Bleymaier, posted a bulletin on Myspace or Facebook saying “National Champs. Undefeated,” we would get behind it. And UCF fans, we should respect Boise State and the path they have helped made for us.
Boise State and UCF have traveled similar paths, some longer than others, but the endgame is the same: to gain the respect of the committee and play in the College Football Playoff.
“Well, they should schedule better teams.” — Complaint from a keyboard athletic director.
If it was simple, everyone would do it. However, we also have to realize that college athletics is a business. We could get the bad end of the deal and take endless 2-for-1s, but what good would that do? Not to mention the parity in college football — look at the once-dominant teams like Florida State and Miami. You could take a 2-for-1 deal, but if that team ends up performing poorly, it doesn’t help you.
“Yeah, well they need to get into a better conference.” — Guy who “knows college football” but thinks Jimbo Fisher is an outdoor clothing brand,
It’s not that easy. They can’t pull a Captain Philips and say, “Look at me, I’m in the conference now.” (Admit it, you read that in his voice.) Conferences have to be willing to add more teams, and with more teams comes restructuring TV deals, scheduling issues, etc. The Big 12 was looking to expand, but chose to stay with 10 teams in 2016. That said, with the ACC getting more money from the ACC Network, the Big 12 could expand just to revive the Big 12 Network. If that’s the case, this could help UCF since Orlando is a top 20 market, and Boise State is in a top 100 TV market. It isn’t much, but it’s better than the Lubbock, Texas market. Not to mention that Boise State is the premiere team in the Mountain West.
“Okay, I’m tired of reading, what’s the point of this?” — You, right now.
Right now, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Despite creating a playoff system that was supposed to help Group of 5 schools like Boise State or UCF get in, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Plus, the committee won’t expand until at least 2025. So either they both sit back and hope something happens, or they build off each other and apply some pressure to college football. It’s no longer Boise State/UCF versus whomever is on their schedule. It’s Group of 5 versus the world — and Boise State and UCF should be leading the charge together.