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Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Take Two: Boise State and the SEC

By Chris Low and Edward Aschoff

Boise State thoroughly outplayed Georgia 35-21 last Saturday in the Bulldogs’ own backyard, fanning the flames of what’s become a popular debate in college football.

Today’s Take Two topic: How would Boise State fare in the SEC?

Take 1: Chris Low

Doug Martin
Boise State thoroughly outplayed the Bulldogs in a 35-21 victory.
I’ve admittedly changed my tune on this. In the past, I fell in line with the rest of the SEC diehards and didn’t want to hear any talk of Boise State being able to compete in the SEC at the highest level. Sure, I had great respect for what Chris Petersen had built on the blue turf in Boise and had seen with my own eyes his Broncos cut down teams from BCS conferences on a regular basis. But surviving the SEC grind? I wasn’t buying that … until now.

I realize there’s a huge difference in getting up to play Georgia one week and then having four straight weeks of playing teams you’re going to beat nine out of 10 times as opposed to facing Georgia, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Florida and LSU in successive weeks. But watching Boise State win the battle up front against Georgia, play smarter than Georgia and play with more discipline than Georgia was enough to sway me. It wasn’t just one game, either. The Broncos did the same thing to Virginia Tech last season and the same thing to Oregon in 2009.

I’m not suggesting that Boise State would become the new Alabama or the new LSU in the SEC, but I am suggesting that Boise State would be a factor in the league race most years. In fact, put that same team I saw play last Saturday night in the Georgia Dome in the Eastern Division this season, and that team (Boise State) would be back in Atlanta this December playing for the SEC title. Some years, Boise State may dip to 8-4 or even worse. But in most years, the Broncos would be a contender. I don’t have any trouble admitting it. I’m a died-in-the-blue believer.

Take 2: Edward Aschoff

While I respect your open-mindedness, I just can't agree that Boise would be a contender in the SEC ... even this season. Personally, I love watching Boise State play. I think that for four quarters they can beat anyone in the nation and I hate the fact that the Broncos have to not only go undefeated every year in order to make it to the national championship but they have to get a ton of help. Honestly, I think a one-loss SEC team makes it to the national championship before Boise ... again.

But when it comes to playing an SEC schedule for an entire season, I just don't think the Broncos could keep up.

For the most part, I think recruiting would be a major battle for Boise. I know, the Broncos haven't needed five-star athletes to win in the past and probably won't need any to win in the Mountain West going forward, but to compete in the SEC each week, Boise would have to up its recruiting. The Broncos have speed, but not SEC speed. Hard-nosed, overlooked, two-star prospects can always get up for one game, but try getting up for eight -- and Alabama, LSU and Arkansas are waiting.

Since 2006, Boise State has signed 119 plays and zero have been members of the ESPNU 150, but more importantly, only one has come out of the Southeast. That player is former Lakeland, Fla., Kathleen quarterback Antwon Murray, who signed with the Broncos in 2007. What is he doing now? Well, he's a backup cornerback who had five total tackles heading into this season. Basically, he isn't much of a factor.

Boise hasn't tried to recruit the Southeast because it hasn't had to, but if it joined the SEC, it would absolutely have to. And right now, there aren't enough inroads at high schools in this area and all Boise is is a fun team to watch on TV to most prospects here. I'm not saying the Broncos' staff couldn't recruit in this part of the country, but getting the top athletes and consistently battling the likes of Florida, LSU and Alabama ain't happening.

Would a couple of top prospects take the chance and move across the country to no-man's land? Of course. Boise could dink and dunk here and there, but at the first sign of trouble in this conference -- and I think it comes sooner rather than later upon Boise's arrival -- these southeast athletes aren't going to take that chance as much. Did I mention Boise plays in Idaho? Sorry, but consistently recruiting in this part of the country is key to winning the SEC and I don't see Boise being able to do it at a high enough level.