Blog Entry

Bob Kustra, anti-BCS crusader

Posted on: June 4, 2010 5:30 pm

BOISE, Idaho -- Bob Kustra is my new favorite CEO.

College CEO, so don't get any wrong ideas. This academia, not Enron.

Oh, and it's Bob -- not Mr. Kustra or Dr. Kustra. The man has earned the formal titles with a PhD from Illinois and as a two-term lieutenant governor of the state of Illinois. He is on the powerful NCAA board of directors.

But on this day he is a fan. And on this day and every other, he hates the BCS.

"To me this is about fairness," said Kustra, in his seventh year as Boise State's president. He is getting going on his anti-BCS rant.

"This is about being fair and equitable. There's about 6,000 student-athletes who begin every football season having no real chance, unlike basketball. Every kid who plays basketball knows they have a chance to be Butler. It makes no sense to me why the NCAA plays a major role in one sport and turns its end on the other."

Part of Boise's second-class citizen status is Darwinian theory. The power conferences have long controlled college football because they grew up different than everyone else. There are 88 championships awarded by the NCAA. The BCS and wire services declare mythical champions in football. It's been that way since 1936.

However, Boise State is about to cross that line from being non-BCS to becoming BCS. The school is expected to be invited Monday to join the Mountain West Conference.
"This is going to be a bizarre moment," said Kustra who will be in WAC meetings Monday morning at the same time Mountain West presidents will be voting on his school's inclusion in Jackson, Wyo.

"I told these (WAC) guys three years ago, at our annual meeting, 'Look guys, I love you dearly, but you have to understand if we have a chance to go to the Mountain West Conference, we'd be foolish to turn it down,' " Kustra said.

And so Boise State won't turn it down. This is their golden ticket. When Boise accepts it will shift from being one of the disenfranchised non-BCS schools fighting for financial and athletic scraps, to becoming one of the power elite. With the addition of Boise, the Mountain West is hoping to gain BCS conference status in 2012 and 2013 -- at least.

"I do feel a little bit like Lucy setting up the ball for Charlie Brown," Kustra said.

Nothing is certain, of course. The ball could be snatched away before Boise State kicks off in the Mountain West. Seven of nine MWC presidents need to vote Boise in and Kustra has been let down before.

Leaning up against an office wall is a framed autographed jersey of Chicago Cubs hall of famer Billy Williams. Like me, Kustra is a St. Louis native. Unlike me, he is a Cubs fan. That's OK. The jersey is a tribute to his son Steve who died of testicular cancer a year ago.

Steve was 37, lived in San Francisco, played in a band, was a Little League coach and about to be married. He had beaten cancer once but when it returned, he couldn't afford the rising insurance rates. Ignoring the signs of cancer reoccurrence, his father said, Steve dropped his insurance.

"That's really dedicated to my son," Kustra said, pointing to the framed jersey. "He was a victim of what I think President Obama was trying to do with health care ... They kept increasing his [insurance] rates ... He kept it [cancer reoccurrence] from us. I would have paid the premium in a hot second. He dropped his insurance. When he dropped it, all these things are happening to his body. By the time they diagnosed him two years ago, it was really bad. He fought it for 15 months. I commuted to San Francisco where he lived.

"I'm a Cubs fan in his memory because he was such a diehard Cubs fan."

It is the first time in the 43-minute interview that the animated Kustra isn't. You can probably tell the Boise State president is my new favorite CEO because he is human.
As I mentioned in Friday's story on the site, Kustra has been working the phones to those MWC presidents like a good politician.  While the rest of the country speculates about the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-10, a river runs through it at the understated Boise State campus.

The Broncos are about to become big time. If the votes are there.

"I'm not counting it until Lucy leaves that damn ball in place," Kustra said.

Category: NCAAF

Since: Mar 15, 2008
Posted on: June 7, 2010 12:28 pm

Bob Kustra, anti-BCS crusader

anyone who is against the BCS, for any reason whatsoever, is on the right side. 

Since: Nov 26, 2007
Posted on: June 6, 2010 8:38 pm

Bob Kustra, anti-BCS crusader

Very nice piece on the Boise State president. I love the Peanuts references. Also nice to see some buying into the idea that the MWC plus the Broncos could be a BCS conference.

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