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P.S.R. Op-Ed

Boise State’s “Competitive Advantage”

Welcome to the Mountain West. Now leave your jerseys at the door. Boise State’s new conference has made the following decree: the Broncos cannot wear their all-blue-on-blue uniforms during home games in conference play. Think back and recall new San Diego State coach Rocky Long’s statements back in April, when he claimed that Boise’s all-blue look — blue shirts, blue helmets, blue pants, blue field — gave it an “unfair” advantage. To Long, the monochromatic color scheme made it difficult to scout Boise in advance, since the players did not stand out on film, and it takes player at least a quarter to get used to the field. According to Long.

When he made his statement during the Mountain West’s spring conference call in April, it seemed like a throwaway: Long just nudging the new guy a bit, more or less. That it became a story at all was due to the timing, as there’s nothing going on in April, but it also illustrated the fact that incumbent M.W.C. coaches weren’t exactly jumping for joy over Boise’s arrival.

Did Long get this ball rolling? Yesterday, M.W.C. commissioner Craig Thompson cited the following when making his statement regarding Boise’s uniforms: “What we heard from our coaches is a ‘competitive advantage.’ It’s as simple as that.” The university was forced to accept the mandate as part of its agreement to join the league, so it’s not as if Boise could afford to draw a line in the sand and make a stand.

Though Boise may have wanted to. Chris Petersen found the decree “ridiculous,” saying the blue-themed uniforms are “who we are.” Fans don’t like it, and understandably so. The university signed off on the Mountain West’s decision, but again, it’s not as if president Bob Kustra and athletic director Gene Bieymaier had a choice in the matter. Pick your battles, in short.

You can see where each party is coming from. To a degree — the decision is absolutely ridiculous, in my mind. You see that Thompson really has no choice but to follow the lead of the majority of his conference, if his statement about “our coaches” means every coach but Petersen, not just San Diego State’s first-year coach. What you can’t understand, however, is why a testy Thompson responded to one question on the topic by saying Boise “could have said no” to the conference invite. That’s as dumb a statement as any conference commissioner this side of Dan Beebe has made since last summer’s expansion melodrama.

You see that Petersen, Kustra and Bieymaier had to go along with the decision, even if Petersen is free to voice his indignation. Boise State has yet to play a game in the Mountain West, and while this is not a great way to start a relationship the Broncos are clearly happier in the league’s more competitive environs than in the rapidly decomposing WAC.

You see why the fan base is upset. You know that blue field, blue uniform, blue theme that the team trots out every Saturday? That’s what Boise State is, in a way, in that the look is what first defined the football team before the Broncos became better known for winning 61 games in five years. It’s a vital piece of the program’s identity. And that the Mountain West opens up what could be a wonderful relationship with this slight does not get the conference and its soon-to-be standard-bearer off on the right foot.

You can see why the coaches called for the decision, but not for the reasons given by Thompson and Long. The only real advantage Boise holds over any visiting opponent is that the Broncos have a better coach, better players and a better system. That’s all. So even if we lend credence to any claims that blue field gives the Broncos a “competitive advantage,” that particular advantage probably falls no higher on fourth on the list of advantages Boise holds over the opposition.

In other words, Boise could wear pink-on-pink and still beat you in Bronco Stadium by 30 points. The Broncos could wear pink-on-pink with ankle weights and beat you 14 points. The whole “unfair” advantage thing is true, if the fact that Boise State’s coach, players and system has it ahead by a touchdown before kickoff can be deemed “unfair.” It’s almost funny, in a way: Boise has been in the Mountain West less than a month and the rest of the conference is already running scared.

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Comments

  1. NICK says:

    Should be an NCAA rule that all fields must be green. Boise State is just trolling the masses.

  2. taybax says:

    If the MWC doesn’t like blue-on-blue, they should leave the unis alone and target the ridiculous turf.

    Paul: Boise would go Independent before it joined a conference that made it go green.

  3. NICK says:

    Welp, NAIA would be waiting with open arms i’m sure.

  4. taybax says:

    “Boise would go Independent before it joined a conference that made it go green.”

    Sure, but that doesn’t change the fact that the blue field is a gimmick that helps keep some people–maybe even some poll voters–from taking the program seriously.

  5. Colin says:

    As long as the turf is artificial, why not color it? If it needs to be green because that’s “real,” then why have artificial turf at all? That’s like saying all helmets should be brown because that’s the color of the old leather helmets. I see no inherent reason why an artificial turf should have a real-looking color.

  6. David says:

    There are reports in Boise today that the MWC did try to force Boise to change the field color. Apparently this happened prior to Boise joining and the initial invite required Boise to change the field color. Boise refused and the MWC countered with the uniform requirement, which Boise then accepted.

    And I’m going to disagree, Boise could have declined an arguably been in as good of (or even better shape) then they are today. As things have played out, if Boise would have stayed in the WAC then it would be the MWC in trouble. Utah would still have gone to the PAC, BYU would still go Independent, and TCU would have gone to the Big East.

    The difference would be, with Boise in the WAC then Fresno and Nevada wouldn’t have jumped to the weaker (without BYU and Utah) MWC. BYU, since the WAC would have been intact, would have joined the WAC for all sports by football. And the MWC would have been left with six teams, with Air Force the only football team with success recently.

  7. pjohn56 says:

    Most things that are counter-culture in nature start out as outcast and sneered at. It’s not until they gain significant traction that it becomes “cool”, “trendy”, etc.

    Boise St. should stick to it’s brand and continue winning. The nation’s outlook has changed significantly as a whole from year to year for about 4 years straight now. Don’t listen to the masses, set your own trends and determine your own fate. Like the old addage says; winning solves everything and this is no exception.

  8. BleedBlue says:

    the blue turf is now part of Boise States tradition. Asking BSU to take the blue turf out is like asking Georgia to get rid of their bull-dog mascot, or getting rid of the dog walk. Or asking LSU to get rid of the March Down the Hill. Sorry the Blue Turf is just a part of Boise State football and to take it out would be just as bad for Boise State football as taking out UGH from Georgia or the march from LSU.

  9. God says:

    Boise State needs to get out of the MWC, they should have never joined that conference. They can join the PAC-XX and dominate, I would love to see them in the PAC-XX.

  10. WEK says:

    The PAC won’t take Boise any time in the foreseeable future. Boise doesn’t come anywhere close to meeting the PAC’s requirements for academics, research, facilities, student body, athletics (other than football), or media market. If Boise fell short in only one or two of these criteria, it might be possible–but Boise falls short in all of them.

  11. Jeff says:

    Not actually all of them.. They are a member of the PAC in wrestling.. as far as other sports, you would be surprised on how well they are doing.. Basketball is the only sport they have not done well at, but they had a 20 win season last year and things are looking up. As far as the other reasons, it takes time to improve.. they will be in either the PAC or BIG-12 within the next 10 years.. at least I believe that..

  12. Bob says:

    They will be in the FCS in ten years. Nobody wants Boise in their league. They have Texas attitude without bringing any of the things that make conferences want Texas.

  13. Pete says:

    IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT COLOR THE FIELD OR UNI’S ARE!!!!

    Boise’s gonna destroy the MWC whiners and make them all look like a bunch of whiny bitchy losers, especially Rocky Long…. You can expect Boise State to keep their starters in all game against them and destroy them as in 89-0.

    Boise fans think it’s dumb, but it won’t change the outcome. In the end it will make the MWC coaches look really really stupid when Boise continues on its 16-1 destroying streak against the MWC.

  14. Wizardhawk says:

    Those of you who think Boise would destroy the Pac are really fooling yourselves. While I don’t believe they would be as low as WSU or even colorado are going to be, they clearly wouldn’t stand a chance vs UO, USC, UW, and likely the AZ teams. They would be middle of the Pac at best and everyone knows it. Running the table in a sub-sub-sub par conference has really over inflated your views.

  15. bowman says:

    uh, well, the MWC position is just dopey, if it is based upon “players’ perceptive adaptive times”. having played college football myself — admittedly, at a low-tier D3 school, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away — the reality is that the players on the field are all on the same level, elevation-wise, that is to say, when one is standing on the field and looking in any direction, the visual backdrop isn’t the green/blue/whatever color of the playing surface. and if my jersey color and that of my opponent is anything other than that of the ground-level background color, i’ll be able to pretty quickly figure out who “the other guys” are. (on the other hand, if there were a 10′ tall ring of walls or pads whose color matched that of our opponent’s jerseys, that might be a problem.) with that, i suspect the “competitive advantage” of which the other coaches complain is the fact that they have a harder time breaking down film, since it is shot from a higher angle. which, if mine is an accurate supposition, i respond: deal with it.

  16. Noefli says:

    Queue DMK’s “Boise is terrible/overrated” comment.

  17. Ryan says:

    Boise would stand no chance versus Oregon, huh?

    Sure about that one?

  18. Wizardhawk says:

    yes, dead sure oregon would have a much better record in the pac than boise and I doubt anyone would argue that with any seriousness.

  19. havik says:

    Ok then, why don’t all the other conferences ask the teams with all green unis not to wear theirs?

  20. schedule nit says:

    …Or teams with white uniforms when they’re standing along the hash marks, right?

    But seriously their hame games may be *slightly* less annoying to look at now.

    Wasn’t there a study that showed Boise got an extra 3 points per game advantage out of their turf/uni combo over the years, and that they in fact have the largest home-field advantage in CFB by a wide margin? Only their fourth most important advantage huh? Why should they get a fourth when nobody else does? For a conference to say, “No we will not allow you an extra 3 point advantage per game based on field/uni color.” strikes me as perfectly reasonable.

  21. GTWrek says:

    Uh, I think it’s pretty obvious to this neutral observer and any other serious CFB fan that Boise owns Oregon. I have no doubt that Boise could have won the PAC-12 last year.

  22. JSTmadUdidntTHINKofITfirst says:

    Haters gonna hate… It’s just what they do…

  23. Seth says:

    @taybax–”Sure, but that doesn’t change the fact that the blue field is a gimmick that helps keep some people–maybe even some poll voters–from taking the program seriously.”

    If that’s really what you think then why should you care if we continue to hurt our program by keeping the blue field? If it means that your team has a better shot at rankings because voters don’t take us seriously. I have a hard time seeing that, outside of a few coaches and poll voters and those ones have been well documented haters of non-AQ teams in general…has nothing to do with a blue field. If the majority didn’t take us seriously how would we have ever become ranked #3,4,5 and top 10 so many times in the last few years…obviously many voters take us seriously, the numbers disagree with you.

  24. JSTmadUdidntTHINKofITfirst says:

    Hmmm…. people are mad because something is of a different color than what they think is right… why does this sound familiar???

    What would happen if the blue turf sat in the front of the bus??? or drank from the green turf’s water fountain??? That’ll be the day…

  25. Seth says:

    @Wizardhawk–you are the one fooling yourself. Boise State could have plowed through the PAC-12 last year and handled Oregon with ease. That is a gimmick offense and Boise has proven they can stop it, even in Autzen. You’re off your rocker, USC barely beat Hawaii and you saw (well, you obviously didn’t) what we did to Hawaii. Stanford might have the best matchup vs. Boise State but those Arizona teams can’t stop our Offense (I live in AZ and watch them) and their Offenses are easily stopped by a good defense.

  26. NTXCoog says:

    Not the first time a conference has done something like this. When Houston joined the Southwest Conference, UH had to get permission to play their home games at their home stadium, the Astrodome, for 2 years. Most opponents forced them to play at Rice Stadium.

  27. WizardHawk says:

    lol, I’m not a hater in any way. I simply do not think its fair to compare teams from mid majors to those from any of the AQ conferences. Boise has had a good run, but you can’t seriously tell me a team who only faces 2-3 reasonable challenges a year isn’t at a major advantage for season wins vs a team from a conference with actual challenges. And I didn’t say Boise couldn’t beat Oregon head to head, I said Oregon would have a better record in the Pac. Boise had only a couple of challenges in the WAC and didn’t they lose to Nevada as it was last year? How much smack can their fans actually talk then?

    Beating Oregon in a first week game two years ago is far from ‘owning’ them as a supposed neutral poster wrote.

    For the record I hate Oregon as much as is possible and laughed when they lost to a much worse Boise team that year. They embarrassed themselves and I loved it.

    Isn’t that a far cry from saying Boise would have beat everyone else in the Pac that year? Until those indy teams or mid majors play a schedule worthy of comparing to teams from the majors there is simply no way you can say their record shows dominance.

    Beat 9 SEC teams in a season. Beat 9 Pac teams in a season. Beat 9 Big 10/12 teams in a single season and then talk smack.

    When you play 8 fluff teams a year your team is not challenged with the mental and physical depth of a major conference team. Period.

  28. WizardHawk says:

    Oh, and just to put this to rest once and for all, upsets in the major conferences are the rule, not the exception. Saying Boise WOULD have beat so and so because of prior games means zero, zilch, nada. Any team going through a major conference has to be at the top of their game every single week without fail. Boise had to play well twice a year and lost one of those two last year as it was.

    Do I think Boise is a bad team? Of course not. They have had some impressive wins and are a respectable .500 in bowl wins over their last 10. Do I think they would be bottom dwellers in a major conference? No. I still think they would be 3rd to 5th in the Pac AT BEST and maybe 4th – 6th in the SEC at best. Those are opinions and are no less valid than anyone else’s opinions.

    But accepting a deal that requires you to stop wearing your colors at home is silly. It is no more intimidating to go into the blue out stadium than it is to play at a dozen other places in the country. Home field advantage means something. Learn to beat them and stop worrying about their color advantages.

    I just wish they would have joined an AQ so we could put this issue of strength of schedule to rest once and for all.

  29. NTXCoog says:

    The PAC-10 had 2 teams that finished ranked last year, the same as the WAC and CUSA.

    Oregon played one team in the regular season that finished ranked. They played 4 teams in the regular season that finished with a winning record. They almost played as many teams that won 2 games or less (3 teams) as teams with a winning record.

    Boise played more teams that finished ranked (2). They played more teams that had a winning record (5). They played less teams that won 2 games or less (2). AND they didn’t play an FCS school like Oregon did.

    Tell me more about the juggernaut schedule that Oregon had.

  30. DMK says:

    Boise is terrible/overrated.

  31. mrpiggy says:

    You’re way off on this one Paul. Blue-on-blue aside, the blue field is a huge advantage in itself, as no humans’ eyes are used to picking up contrasting colors against a blue backdrop unless they’re used to it from practicing there all the time. Eyes are used to the green backdrop because that’s a typical backdrop that occurs naturally, which is why even when there’s a team with green unis on a green field it doesn’t pose a problem (and why, to whoever asked, turf is colored green and not any number of random colors). Blue-on-blue makes it doubly bad though, so this is at least a small improvement. Boise will prob still smoke all the terrible teams that come play at their field though…

    And like WizardHawk says, Boise’s ability to win one or two games a year against marquee teams doesn’t mean a thing. Their whole season is geared towards those games, whereas big conference teams have to play somebody at least halfway decent most weeks.

    The argument about rankings doesn’t work because it’s tied to schedule / conference opponents. Chicken and the egg problem which can’t be solved unless there are a lot more out of conference games b/t big teams in the middle of the season (or a playoff). If you want to brag about victories over ranked teams, look at Auburn’s or Arkansas’ schedule from last year and tell me how any school on the entire west coast gets any respect. Actually, that’s not a bad question. West coast college football is a joke (and I live in California).

    Paul: There’s no question that the blue field does make things more difficult for those up in the box, the announcing booth, what have you. Of course, Pat Hill complained enough heading into last season’s game that Boise State wore orange… and won 51-0.

  32. WizardHawk says:

    NTX, look up the record of every non ranked WAC team vs every non ranked Pac team. Go ahead. I dare you.

    I have said it is more than just how you do vs ranked teams. Teams from the Pac and SEC have to play non ranked teams that actually can upset them. When was the last time a team other than Boise st or Nevada has done that?

    You talk like Boise State is simply unbeatable and point to a couple of Pac 10 games and totally ignore others like losing to a UW team that won a total of 4 games that season. This is my point entirely. Even a sub par UW team has the chance to beat a great team while the fluff of the WAC are of no challenge at all.

    You end up only needing to circle 2-3 games playing in a mid major and the rest of the season you can coast. Pac/SEC teams have to take every game seriously or they risk losing to a lower team. This means more mental and physical challenges for the AQ teams than the mid majors. There can be no argument against that!

    This coming season Oregon has to play Stanford, LSU, Nevada, USC, and a slate of mid tier Pac teams looking to topple them. Who do you play exactly? What is Boise St SoS?

    I seriously don’t see how this keeps coming up as a debate. It seems so basically clear that I can’t find logic in these arguments.

    Are you going to tell me you would rather face a non ranked Pac team than a Wac fluff? If so then be prepared for more losses and the end to the Boise St claim of dominance.

  33. NTXCoog says:

    But the point made was that Pac-10 teams have “to be at the top of their game every single week without fail.”

    Did Oregon have to be at the top of their game against mighty 1-11 UNM, 2-10 WSU (with 1 win against an FCS team), or the dreaded Portland St (2-9 in FCS)? That’s 25% of their schedule, killing your EVERY WEEK argument.

    That’s not even considering more debatable teams like a 6-6 ASU who beat 2 FCS schools (shameful scheduling) and only won 2 games against teams with winning (7-6) records.

    Oregon had to be at the top of their game in as low as 50% of their games, not every week.

  34. Wizardhawk says:

    i said every week of pac 10 play. That obviously doesn’t include whatever fluff any/every team tries to schedule in the first few weeks. I did also point out somewhere else that Boise St faced 2 ranked teams last year and lost to one of them. And have only faced 3 in the last 2 seasons not including bowls. Outside of those ranked teams was mostly fluff.

    Again, you try the so and so beat so and so to prop up a weak argument.

    If we look at conferences as a whole it is clear the mid majors have a much easier road to undefeated and there is no one (save some homers from mid majors) who would seriously argue otherwise.

    Even Paul seems to support Boise and their coach/players/record, but look at his preseason rankings.

    To make it easier lets break up teams in 4 tiers: 1-30 is tier 1, 31-60 tier 2 etc.

    According to Paul’s views there are a total of 5 tier 4 teams in ALL 6 AQ conf COMBINED and none at all in the Pac 12. How many are in your new conference? 3, and in your old conference? 3 again. Clearly a lot of bottom dwellers in both agreed?

    Pac12 has 4 Tier 3′s, 4 Tier 2′s, and 4 unknowns that are mostly Tier 1′s. Utah might be in before 30 and could swing to a 2.

    There are NINE teams yet to be covered from the SEC.

    How many Tier 1′s are there in the WAC? NONE Tier 2′s? 2 near the back end of that tier.

    You can talk about the record of any Pac 10 team (Pac12 moving forward) and attempt to compare them to yours but they will never compare. A 4 win Pac team beat Boise St didn’t they? Again, upsets happen in the AQ’s because even with their so-so records they ARE GOOD TEAMS that pretty much still beat the holy snot out of even good mid majors.

    Again, this all came because I said Boise St wouldn’t be at the top of the Pac if they were in it, and in fact would likely be middle of it. We could put Oregon St in the WAC and they would run the table. Its just not that hard. I will never be impressed by any team until they run through a real conference and the vast majority of people who really follow the sport would agree.

    This is an argument you cannot win. History and majority are on my side.

  35. DMK says:

    The debate seems pretty simple to me:

    There’s only one guy who ever turned water into wine, and his name was *not* Chris Petersen.

    Petersen sure knows how to make cucumber water with a twist of lime (or something like that), but until players with other options start flocking to Boise, it will be hard for long-view commentators to take them seriously as an elite team.

    Interesting? Fun? Intriguing? Exciting? Yes.

    Elite? No.

  36. Wizardhawk says:

    I will admit that Boise St will have a better case for deserving to be in a top 10 spot if they run the table next year when their new conf adds a couple of other decent teams. Still has a bit too much bottom feeders to deserve an AQ status, but enough talent across the others to make a more physical and demanding season.

    I will also be interested to see how Utah does in the Pac this year vs how they did last season.

    I do wish Boise St luck and still contend that making them change their uniforms is lame. The teams that complained weren’t beating them at their own stadiums either were they? Just jealous.

  37. Dan Fulton says:

    Boise State should have declined to the uniform change and the MWC would have probably let it go cause the Mountain West needs Boise more than they need the MWC.

    Dan Fulton
    bumpandrunblog.com

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