By Brian Murphy
Why now? Why is Boise State able to land home-and-home football series with Michigan State, Virginia and, perhaps the biggest of all, Florida State now when such series were beyond the Broncos’ grasp in previous years?
Here are a few theories:
1. College football’s new playoff structure dictates that teams improve their non-conference strength of schedule. This is particularly important for schools that are not in the SEC. The ACC, in particular, suffers from a perception problem — that the league is not on par with other power leagues.
“Adding the Broncos to our football schedule continues our commitment to bringing top quality opponents to Doak Campbell Stadium. With our neutral site game versus Oklahoma State in 2014, the addition of Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC and now this series, we feel we are putting our football program in the best possible position to compete in the new BCS beginning in 2014,” Florida State Athletic Director Randy Spetman said in a statement.
2. Attendance concerns. Schools are worried about competing with “man caves” and giant HD television screens. They have seen attendance decline, especially for games against lower-level opponents. In order to keep the fans coming to games, schools are going to have to schedule better opponents.
3. TV partners. ESPN (and Co.) are paying more than ever to televise college football games. Conferences and athletic departments need that revenue. Well, who wants to televise (or watch) lopsided games. The more compelling content you can provide to your television partners, the more they’ll be willing to pay. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Mountain West and Boise State are negotiating a television contract for the Broncos’ home games right now.
“What gives us the best opportunity to have a game that’s attractive to TV and has a chance to be attractive to our fans at home so we get a sold-out stadium?” Athletic Director Mark Coyle told the Idaho Statesman last week.
4. Boise State’s reputation. The Broncos survived their first Kellen Moore-less season, went 11-2 and, once again, finished in the top 20. Coach Chris Petersen stuck around, too.
“We’ve proven ourselves (on the field),” Coyle said last week. “We need to convince some of these BCS teams to come and play on our field. That’s what has us excited about Virginia – it does show other schools out there that you can come play in Boise and (the Broncos) will do a return game.”
5. One of the main reasons Boise State and President Bob Kustra wanted to join the Big East was to expand the Broncos’ “brand” to big markets on the East Coast. That plan fell apart. But Boise State is still finding ways to get into those markets with non-conference football games.
“The thought process is how can we continue to build our brand – from a recruiting standpoint, more national exposure,” Coyle said last week.
6. Kustra has long wanted the Broncos to increase the Broncos’ strength of schedule. He even tried to add bonuses into former Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier’s contract to reward tough non-conference games. Now it appears the president — with a new athletic director — is getting his way.
Boise State’s future non-conference games (as currently scheduled):
at Washington (Aug. 31)
vs. Tennessee Martin (Sept. 7)
vs. Southern Miss (Sept. 28)
at BYU (Oct. 26)
vs. Ole Miss in Atlanta (Thursday, Aug. 28)
vs. BYU (Oct. 25)
at BYU (Sept. 12)
vs. Washington (Sept. 19)
at Virginia (Sept. 26)
vs. Washington State (Sept. 10)
at Oregon State (Sept. 24)
vs. BYU (Oct. 15)
at Washington State (Sept. 9)
vs. Virginia (Sept. 23)
at BYU (Oct. 7)
vs. BYU (Oct. 20)
at Florida State (Sept. 7)
at BYU (Oct. 12)
vs. Florida State (Sept. 12)
vs. BYU (Oct. 17)
at BYU (Oct. 9)
vs. Michigan State (Sept. 17)
vs. BYU (Oct. 8)
at Michigan State (Sept. 16)
at BYU (Oct. 14)