The light bulb went off in Karl Benson's head last week. What was happening in his conference vaguely reminded him of March Madness. Like the rest of us, the veteran WAC commissioner fell in love with George Mason last spring.
|Boise State breaks into the BCS, and shows there's need for a plus-one. (AP)|
Which leads us back to that light bulb. It clicked on about the time Benson realized that an 11-year-old Division I-A football program from his under-funded, under-respected conference could be the George Mason of football.
"The answer is whether we're ready for it or not," Benson said.
Boise State winning a national championship.
College football getting its own George Mason to have and to hold. Is that cuddly enough for you?
Maybe not, but it's too late to put the Broncos back in the corral. The skeleton is now in place for a modest "plus-one" playoff. Beginning this season, the BCS is streamlined to that point, right down to the five-game format that ends with a championship game in the second week of January.
We're not quite there yet. The presidents refused a true "progression" playoff when they tweaked the system a couple of years ago. The four traditional bowl games leading up to the Jan. 8 BCS title game are basically glorified exhibitions.
But any playoff would have to account for any deserving non-BCS school that qualifies by finishing in the top 12 of the final BCS standings.
"I think that is kind of an interesting possibility," said Broncos coach Chris Petersen, who had his own light bulb moment last week. "That's kind of the beauty of this country and a system like that. This country is all about the underdog. Maybe that gives the underdog a long, long shot team at it."
Think of Boise State as a symbol as it gets ready to play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. It represents the 56 schools below college football's Mendoza Line.
Next year it could be Bowling Green, Utah, Fresno State or TCU. The issue is more about tradition being broken. If you thought an undefeated Auburn being left out two years ago was the worst, how about a ticker tape parade in downtown Tulsa?
"It certainly crossed our mind," Boise AD Gene Bleymaier said. "If you look at where Louisville was, they were in a position to play for the national championship. That was pretty obvious."