Discussion

Boise State's 'Moneyball' success

Updated: September 23, 2011, 11:43 AM ET
By Ryan McGee

"I don't do stars."

Dan Hawkins says it with a laugh and with an intentional double meaning. Now an ESPN analyst, it was Hawkins who transformed the Boise State Broncos football program from a "Where?" program into its current position as America's favorite BCS buster. (Boise enters the weekend ranked fourth in the country.)

But how? How did a school in Idaho, in a non-BCS league, bordered by talent-sucking Pac-10, Big Ten and Big 12 programs figure out a way to build a roster that could compete on a national level?

"USC and Alabama and Ohio State are going to get the five-star guys just because they are USC and Alabama and Ohio State," said Jim Grobe, who led Wake Forest to an improbable ACC title and Orange Bowl berth in 2006. "They still have to work hard at recruiting, but from minute one they're starting on a different level than everyone else. They're in Neiman Marcus and we're at Sears."

As we learn from "Moneyball" -- the film version of which opens Friday -- Billy Beane built the Oakland A's and their light checkbook into an organization that could compete with the Yankees and Red Sox using new math, pushing the art of sabermetrics and bending backward a century of conventional baseball wisdom to find inefficiencies in the market for players. But for Hawkins, successor Chris Petersen, Grobe and their brethren at other decidedly non-superpower programs, the formula is not nearly as complicated as Beane's.

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