This Day In Sports: Couldn’t the Broncos have played someone else?

December 6, 2009: Boise State makes history by becoming the first non-BCS school ever to get an at-large berth in a BCS bowl, accepting an invitation to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The sixth-ranked Broncos’ opponent would be fourth-ranked TCU, the team that beat them out for the automatic BCS berth that goes to non-BCS teams. The Horned Frogs had also beaten Boise State the year before in the Poinsettia Bowl, 17-16. The pairing of the two BCS-busters against each other generated a lot of debate around the country.

This was the Fiesta Bowl’s choice. The BCS was guaranteed to have a non-BCS school win one of the big bowls for the fourth time, but it also assured that it’d impossible for two non-BCS schools to win that season. It was not a conspiracy, though—it was a strategic decision by the folks in Glendale. “We really looked at only trying to arrange the most compelling matchup possible and we were delighted,” Fiesta director John Junker said. “When you have the chance to match two undefeated teams, it was a very compelling story and one that we think will be of great interest to the country.”

It was interesting to monitor reaction to the Fiesta Bowl selection from national writers. Cory McCartney of had some of the more acerbic observations. “The Fiesta Bowl has created a matchup that seems more like a cop-out than an achievement; denying the two unbeatens a chance to validate their seasons against the big boys on the sports’ biggest stage and opening up an entirely new chapter of BCS bashing/collusion allegations,” wrote McCartney.

“I’m reminded of the opening scene of Animal House, when Kent Dorfman and Larry Kroger knocked on the door of Omega Theta Pi during rush. After being quickly paraded around and given a glimpse of all the beautiful people, they’re summarily banished to sit on the couch with Mohammet, Jugdish, Sidney and Clayton, a motley crew deemed more on their level.” The result on the field, of course, was a defensive slugfest four weeks later, with the Broncos edging the Horned Frogs 17-10 to win their second Fiesta Bowl.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *