My initial answer is yes. Yes they could compete right now. There are several concerns I have with how they might do throughout a season. At the same time, there are several factors I don’t think anyone ever considers. First, the very thought is pure speculation as it has never been proven so how could we ever know until it happens. However, every bit of evidence from the past shows that Boise State would be very competitive in a big conference. We have consistently beaten big schools and have continued to win almost all the games we should win anyway.
The concerns I would have:
Throughout a season, your body wears on you to a point where it hurts constantly. There are injuries that happen and players are always playing hurt towards the end of the season. When you look at depth charts at bigger schools, there 2′s and 3′s can often resemble the same physical talent as their starters do. With Boise State, we just haven’t gotten to that point yet. We are getting closer and closer, but at this point, if a starter goes down, the 2′s and 3′s are usually significant downgrades…not always, but usually. The advantage Boise State has is that most players are so well coached and so smart that their physical shortfalls are made up by their football intelligence. However as the season wears on, or a physical and fast paced game progresses, it would be nice to rotate guy in consistently at many positions more often.
2. Size, Strength, and Speed
Let’s face it, on paper when we play a big school, we should lose most the time. We just aren’t as big, strong, or fast as those bigger schools tend to be. Throughout the coarse of a game, your body gets tired and legs start to feel like jello, and sometimes that just allows other teams to dominate more in the run game and hit some big passes on your linebackers and DB’s.
We don’t have the budget yet that other schools have. That limits a bit the recuiting, facilities, and “perks” you get as a player. It has gotten much better in the past decade with the emergence of the program and community support, however it would have to continue to improve for us to be more competitive consistently in a big conference.
4. Fan support
Boise State has amazing fan support. However we need to work on our student section being bigger and more noticeable. When we have 33,000 people in the stands for kickoff, and only 25,000 there at the end of the game, that hurts us over the long run. The things no one ever considers that would easily address those concerns.
5. We have only been in division 1A football for just over a decade
We are still growing. The leaps and bounds we have had as a program since the 90′s is unbelievable. We have become an elite program in a tenth of the time everyone has had. Give us more time to continue perfecting our system, our facilities, and our fan support and traditions and we would no doubt have the same “reputation” as the bigger guys.
6. Recruiting pool
This is my biggest area I believe no one considers. It is true we don’t have the size, speed, and strength of all the big guys across the roster. However, because we are in a smaller conference we have limited recruiting pools. If we simply moved to the PAC or SEC and were able to recruit out of the same pool everyone else does, we would explode. We do find diamonds in the rough recruits that others overlook, and we would continue to do that, but then also have the floodgates open to those big, strong, fast kids that supposedly is the reason we can’t compete in the first place. So if we are beating big schools now with the recruiting pool we have, and the money we have, then imagine the potential if we could recruit like the rest of you! If we had the budget like you do! We beat you all and are competitive and that’s with a tenth of the budget and a much more limited recruiting pool!
Bottom line is…yes, we can compete, and if we moved conferences, we could compete now, and it would only get better with the recruiting potential and money changes.