No. 6 Boise St. puts schmooze on BCS

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A glow streamed from athletic director Gene Bleymaier's suite high above Boise State's funky blue turf.

Not because his team was about to win its 24th consecutive regular-season game. He was inside schmoozing BCS bowl executives wearing garish, brightly colored blazers.

It seemed to be working.

"This is a great scene," Orange Bowl chief executive Eric Poms said at halftime outside the suite, his smile as bright as his orange sport coat.

Below him, Boise State's band spelled out "BCS 2010" on that fake blue grass.

After the No. 6 Broncos (12-0, 7-0 WAC) won at least a share of their seventh conference championship in eight seasons with a 44-33 win over Nevada late Friday night, coach Chris Petersen strayed for his usual, tempered BCS talk of "it will all work out." He was campaigning.

"We've got one more game (against lowly New Mexico State) and if we win, we've done everything we can possibly do. And we've done it for two years in a row," Petersen said, hoping the executives from the Sugar and Fiesta bowls also inside Bronco Stadium were listening.

"We have confidence in the system and faith in the system that it should take care of the teams that should be in there."

His players and fans? They spent Saturday rooting for Oklahoma to beat Oklahoma State. Normally, that's a game no one in Idaho would lose any fly fishing over.

The Sooners routed the No. 11 Cowboys, eliminating one lower-ranked big boy from possibly trumping Boise State for an at-large bid to the BCS. It wouldn't be a total shock if the governor of Idaho issued proclamation of gratitude to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.

Unsightly begging to get into a broken system? Or is the system turning college football into a sport with more national interest?

"I think it's been great for college football," said Poms, before he headed to Fort Worth, Texas, to watch No. 4 TCU - the highest-ranked outsider in the BCS - on his trek to find an at-large team to play opposite the Atlantic Coast Conference champion in Miami Jan. 5.

"In South Florida, there's a lot of buzz for TCU and for Boise. They have great stories."

But is there a place for two so-called outsiders - teams that play outside the six conferences with automatic bids - in the BCS? Will the bowls begrudgingly take the Horned Frogs and the Broncos?

"The way the system is, we include the champions of the six conferences, (the) historically 'power' conferences, with automatic bids," Poms said. "When it comes to the at-larges, it's anybody."

To a degree.

Conventional thinking says a team's ability to have swarms of fans fill hotels and bowl-game seats is an overriding factor. If so, the empty seats the bright-blazer guys saw on a cold, wet Thanksgiving weekend night in Boise, with scalpers unable to dump tickets offered for as low as $20 each, might work against the Broncos.

TV ratings play a part, too. Will more fans tune in to watch Joe Paterno lead Penn State than Petersen lead Boise State?

"There are elements to each entity involved," Poms said. "Certainly, there's television and the title sponsor. Plus, we want to look out for the best interests in South Florida, especially in these tough economic times."

Petersen, of course, wants the BCS to look out for Boise State's interests. It did in 2006, when the Broncos earned an automatic bid that will go to TCU this season. The Broncos went to the Fiesta Bowl for what became a thrilling, overtime upset of Oklahoma. Complete with a deciding, Statue of Liberty play by Ian Johnson - and then Johnson dropping to a knee on the sidelines to propose to his cheerleader girlfriend. The Broncos became instant darlings.

Yet the system jilted those darlings just 12 months ago when the BCS left undefeated Boise State out of its party because it had already included unbeaten Utah, the highest-ranked outsider. The Broncos were relegated to the ho-hum Poinsettia Bowl.


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