Nine down, one to go (although this series will continue on Monday). Today's occupant of the hot seat comes from One Bronco Nation Under God, more commonly just referred to as OBNUG. Drew Roberts (@mybrainissmart) is the head honcho over there, and he joins us to tell you all the great things you need to know about Boise State.
Jon: First off, on a scale of 1-10, how badly does the fanbase want the Big 12 to extend an invite?
Drew: That's been hard to gauge. I think the lion's share of the fanbase wants P5 status even if it means taking our lumps (losing a few games), but there doesn't seem to be a plurality that think the Big 12 is THE spot. Ultimately, most of the Bronco fanbase is rational enough to know we can't look a gift horse in the mouth and any CURRENT *cough* Big East *cough P5 invite is a ticket to much larger TV deals and better access to the CFP. Boise State has been succeeding for a long time as a "have not", but I think plenty of people are curious as to what their fortunes would be as a "have". So, Power 5 status would be a 9 or 10, but Big 12 specifically... probably a 7.5.
Jon: How about the administration? Any sense of their enthusiasm beyond the obvious financial benefits?
Drew: Boise State's administration was enthusiastic enough about "AQ" status a few years ago that they were willing to leave the geographic fit and BMOC status that was afforded by the Mountain West to join the Big East (don't just blame us... San Diego State was going to do the same). I get the feeling that that desire is still there, but the landscape has shifted with the addition of the College Football Playoff and I think Boise State wants to find a conference where all (well, most) of their sports can reside. I haven't got the impression that Boise State has been lobbying as hard for Big 12 invites as some of our counterparts, but our administration is always looking to expand their footprint and secure a financially sound future—they'd be crazy to not at least be on the phone with some of the powers-that-be.
Jon: We'll get to the things which the suits will focus on -- money, academics, and success -- in a minute. What wacky benefits which the administrations don't care about at all would Boise bring to the Big 12?
Drew: Well, I get the feeling that the conferences don't care all that much about level of competition. That's the sad reality of this whole bi-annual dog and pony show. If competitive football were the key component, I think Boise State has a better case than virtually anyone. Call it a "wacky benefit" if you'd like, but I think Boise State brings more credibility on the gridiron than at least a few current Big 12 members BUT we all know that other things are in play that are far out of Boise State's control.
Jon: If Boise State joined, who do you think they'd quickly form rivalries with? What Big 12 cities are you most excited about potentially visiting?
Drew: I think the "BCS-buster" storyline would quickly pit us against TCU as a key rival. A few years ago, Boise State, Utah, and TCU were annually then "non-BCS" darlings. Utah and TCU got called up to the "bigs" and Boise State—arguably more successful over that same stretch—did not. I'd think the "other" new Big 12 additions would become rivals with Boise State in short order too (especially if BYU was one of the new kids... Bronco fans don't care too much for BYU, but then again, who does?). On the flip side... I'm sure Oklahoma might want another crack at Boise State and our history would probably make us fast frenemies. As far as places to visit I think Austin and Norman would be high on the list.
Jon: Why do WE want to come visit BSU? What's great about Boise? What's your fanbase REALLY like (warts and all)?
Drew: Boise really is a bit of a hidden gem and nearly everyone that visits here seems to be rather shocked that it's not dairy farms and potato fields. It's far from podunk, with a metro area of close to 700k and the downtown area near the campus is positively metropolitan (and growing rapidly). Boise has a vibrant arts and entertainment scene and is close to all manner of outdoor diversions. You could literally kayak to work if you worked downtown or go fly-fishing on your lunch break. The fanbase can be a little sensitive since they've dealt with years of derision from traditional powers, but you'd also be hard-pressed to not see mountains of blue and orange within 5 minutes of arrival in our fair city. The Broncos are the biggest ticket in town by a long-shot and a huge source of pride in the community. The stadium isn't terribly large in it's current iteration (~37k) but visiting teams are always surprised by how LOUD it is (extremely).
Jon: And now, the big one. Pretend we're the Big 12 Board of Directors. Why should we invite the Broncos as opposed to anyone else? SELL US.
Drew: Boise State has won more games since 2000 than any team in the country. They've won 3 Fiesta Bowls and play an exciting, innovative brand of football. Boise is a burgeoning city and Boise State a rapidly growing campus... both in size, scope, and prestige. U.S. News & World Report has listed Boise State as one of the top up-and-coming schools in the nation for regional universities twice and though they aren't academically in the same class as other Big 12 institutions, the meteoric rise of the school's athletic programs suggest they could be sooner than later. Boise State has long been known as a school that does more with less, with more funding and more stability, the sky's really the limit.
And there you have it. The ten major candidates are on the board. Is Boise worth the hassles (and there are hassles), or is it just too much trouble? Gracey will respond later this afternoon, and if you've followed this series so far you know the answer.
But we're not done. Since we started this project, other parties have become interested in EXPANSIONPALOOZA. So next Monday, we'll examine the surprise application of a certain fanbase whose colors rhyme with "craze and whoo".