6/29 Roundtable - The Best Non-BCS Program
Boise State QB Kellen Moore
Boise State QB Kellen Moore
Posted Jun 29, 2009

6/29 Roundtable - What's the best non-BCS program? It's the Monday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

June 29

What's the best non-BCS program?

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
June 26
What rule would you like to see changed?

June 25
What is wrong with the Big Ten?

June 24 The 3 big non-conference games

June 23 The Coach On The Biggest Hot Seat Is ... ?
June 22 The No. 5 team will be ... ?

June 19
The most underrated team will be ... ?

June 18 The most overrated team will be ... ?
June 17 The sleeper national title teams
June 16 Do 40 Times Really Matter?
June 15 Does college football need a Rooney Rule?
June 12 Should Alabama vacate wins?
June 11 Should college football players be paid?
June 10 Is the recruiting hype too much?
June 9 If you were starting an NFL team ...
June 8 Where would you take over as head coach?
June 5 Who does the least with the most?
June 4 Who does the most with the least?
June 3 The star players of September
June 2 The star teams of September
June 1 The coach you'd want for one game
May 28 Should the Big Ten expand, and if so, then what team should be added?
May 27 Should the Pac 10 expand? If so, then what two teams should be added?
May 26 Chizik, Kiffin or Mullen?
May 25 Heisman race sleepers 
May 22 2009's most interesting teams

May 21 Is Tebow the best QB ever?
May 20 When should preseason polls come out?
May 19 Does 2008 Utah have a beef?
May 18
No BCS, No Weis?

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at twitter.com/CFN_Fiu and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: What's the best non-BCS program?

In terms of wins and losses over the last decade, it's Boise State, obviously. The program has set the bar ridiculously high when it comes to consistency, especially in WAC play, and it has more than held its own with the big boys (even though I think the defining win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl was an aberration). An argument could be made that in an on-field discussion, TCU is in the Boise State stratosphere with three 11-win seasons in the last four years and five double-digit win campaigns in the last seven while playing in tougher conferences than the Broncos (Conference USA and then the Mountain West starting in 2005).

However, when it comes to the best program, and not just the best team, then other factors have to come into the discussion like infrastructure, talent base, revenue, etc. As far as the health of a program, no stat is more telling than attendance. That's what drives the revenue for the program, that's what shows the health of the fan base, and that's where everything starts from. Boise State sells out every game, and even goes over, averaging 32,275 fans per game last year. Meanwhile, BYU, who also has had its share of big moments against BCS programs, more than sells out every game and averages 64,102 fans per game. Utah averages 45,592 per outing.

It's the ongoing argument between the haves and have-nots in college football. How can Kent State, who averages just over 10,000 fans a game, and that's being generous, compete with Michigan or Tennessee or Penn State, who all average well over 100,000 fans a game? That extra money brought in makes for a night and day difference for a program. One of the most glaring examples was the 2008 Sugar Bowl when Georgia faced Hawaii. The difference in facilities, athletic budgets, and everything that goes into making a football program was the difference between the pros and high school. The same goes for the non-BCS schools at the high end of the spectrum.

BYU is probably the best non-BCS program as far as being at a BCS level, while Utah isn't far behind, but it's all about the on-field production. If might be the WAC, but Boise State in the discussion.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: What's the best non-BCS program?

It’s awfully close, but I’d have to give the nod to Boise State. And not just this year, which could be another special one for the Broncos, but in general terms as well.

Listen, you can make a case for one of the teams in the Mountain West, Utah, BYU, or TCU, and get few arguments. However, Boise State’s past decade stands alone among the non-BCS schools. Over those 10 years, the Broncos have gone 118-20, never winning less than eight games in a season and taking eight Big West or WAC championships. It’s their consistency, whether it’s Dirk Koetter, Dan Hawkins, or Chris Petersen calling the shots, which has made the run so remarkable. Plus, unlike the Utes, Cougars, and Horned Frogs, their history isn’t nearly as rich, their facilities are limited, and their ability to attract talent to Idaho remains an annual chore. Boise State perennially gets the players that the Pac-10 can’t use, and has had just three players drafted in the first two rounds this decade, yet the wins and points just keep on flowing.

Boise State has become a machine, which doesn’t rebuild, regardless of the changes on the coaching staff or the roster. With that system in place, the departure of Petersen or a couple of all-stars isn’t going to knock this school off the tracks, which is something no other non-BCS program can boast.  

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: What's the best non-BCS program?

Well, this demands two answers: On an all-time basis, Army is the best non-BCS program. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the team that so often clashed with Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium was Army. The proud bearer of Mr. Outside and Mr. Inside, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis? Army. The team with even more long-term cachet than early-era college football powers such as Harvard, Chicago, Minnesota, TCU, and Georgia Tech (among others)? Army.

In the present day, the answer is Boise State. Utah has had its transcendent moments, to be sure, and BYU snagged the 1984 national title (not as legit a feat as Utah’s 2008 season, truth be told) to stake a claim to modern-day might and manhood. If you awarded this based on the past 35 years, BYU probably would deserve the honor, but if you narrow the question and its focus to the 21st century, one has to value BSU’s annual consistency over Utah’s two spectacular seasons in 2004 and ’08. If you wanted to argue for Utah, you’d have a credible case; it’s really a matter of how and where one places the point/s of emphasis

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com

Q: What's the best non-BCS program?

A: When you’re trying to qualify a program as the best “non-BCS” program, then you really have to look at how the programs have done since the inception of the BCS system.  Before that, these teams were still mid-majors, but they weren’t so strictly defined as outsiders.  So even if Notre Dame was an option here, I don’t think they would make the cut.  They haven’t won a BCS game, and just finally won a bowl game for the first time in forever over Hawaii last year.  Not super impressive.

So, when looking at how the kid brother schools have fared in the BCS era, it’s hard to argue against Utah.  No other team, regardless of conference, has managed to run the table twice during this time.

On two separate occasions, with two separate coaches, the Utes have finished unscathed, capping their season off with bowl wins over more prominent programs.  The Pitt team that reached the Fiesta Bowl in 2005 was perhaps the worst BCS conference representative in the history of the system, but the Utes still won the game.  And that win propelled Urban Meyer to his current post at Florida where he’s won two national titles.  And last years whooping of Alabama was perhaps the biggest BCS upset ever.  Alabama was missing Andre Smith, but the Utes were clearly the better team that night.

Boise State is a strong candidate for number two, but the WAC is not as beefed up as the MWC.  Utah’s conference schedule includes TCU, one of the best defensive programs in the country over the last few seasons, and BYU, a program with plenty of history and offensive firepower of its own.  Boise’s a great program, but beating up on Hawaii, and even a flailing Fresno State, just isn’t as impressive.

Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: What's the best non-BCS program?

Boise State has the best winning percentage of any team in college football over the past decade, Texas Christian is #9 and Utah is #13.  Utah has two wins in BCS bowl games, including this past year's impressive triumph over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.  Boise State's Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma is one of the most exciting bowl games in history, and that 2006 Boise State team was legit.  Navy was working their way into the discussion, but the Paul Johnson era is finished.  Boise State plays in the WAC, which is far inferior to the Mountain West.  The MWC has Utah, TCU & BYU, so you know their champion had to deal with a more challenging league slate to be in position as a BCS buster.  But Boise State can ill afford one loss if they want to be in the hunt, and they have been right there.  Right now, I'd go with Utah, with Boise State just behind them and TCU running third, with BYU right on their heels.