The Art of Defending Your Team (Building A Better Fan Week)

Mikrino (not pictured, I don't think) teaches Boise State football fans how to debate like champions. (via img.timeinc.net)

As Bronco fans, our days in the WAC have seen many twist and turns. From demoralizing road openers in Athens, Georgia, to Fiesta Bowl ecstasy, twice, Bronco Nation has been along for the ride. Along the way there seems to always be detractors casting doubt from the outside, despite the Broncos owning the nation's best record in the last ten years, its best offense, and its best home team. This for me brings much weeping and gnashing of teeth, and the propensity to unleash a scathing rant upon any who tread wrong on Boise State football.

You with me? If so, nod in agreement at everything I say after the jump. If not, break out your pen and paper for a mandatory lesson on the art of debate. Class is now in session.

OBNUG is proud to feature the work of reader Mikrino as part of Building A Better Fan Week. Want to become a better Bronco fan? Well you're in luck. This week and next, OBNUG will be featuring a series of fan-related advice and coaching designed to make you a better fan and, therefore, a better person. You're welcome, society.

Sound familiar?

"They don't play anybody."

"Anyone could go undefeated in that conference."

"They haven't earned anything."

"Your team needs to hit the road, like my team did in the ________ (insert decade here)."

"Sure nobody schedules them; they want a million dollars or a home and home. Are you a big dog, or aren't you?"

" Don't be a Debbie Downer. It's ugly, and you need all the help you can get."

We've heard them all. We're still going to hear them for another year. And if Boise State happens to run the gauntlet this year, the cries will mount like never before against Boise State in a National Title appearance. So we as protectors of the Bronco faith have a sworn duty to uphold the integrity of our team.

Follow me as I run down the myriad ways that you can defend your Boise State Broncos and their reputation from the envious, insidious, wordmongers out there. And everyone else not named Gene Wojciechowski.

 

The SOS conundrum and how to disarm it

If you've been talking Boise State football online for any length of time, you've no doubt encountered the Strength of Schedule scenario. The simplest of antagonist approaches is to point out how the said team plays no one of importance, and therefore cannot be accredited with any actual achievement. The implication is simple, the schedule is perceived as weak, and so the undefeated team carries the same banner. Any manner of words can be used to form this argument. Generally, the foe in this battle has not thought ahead and is posting in an effort to raise your ire. Respond accordingly, with deliberate wit, a calm reserve, and name-calling.

Therefore, the good fighter will be overwhelming in his assault, and deliberate with his timing.

- Sun Tzu, the Art of War

The Rebuttal

First and foremost, point out the overwhelming subjectivity displayed in saying "They don't play anybody." New Mexico State might suck the chrome right off a trailer hitch, but they are still a Division I opponent, and therefore, have an opportunity and resources to win, no matter how fleeting that opportunity might be. Assuming Boise State is weak because their opponents are is a misstep of monumental proportions. Not to mention a poor attempt at transference.

Boise State's average conference game score since joining the WAC is something like 56-17. They're not just dominating them, these teams are getting dropped like hot rocks. But sadly it's how many outside the realm view Boise State; a good team in a horrible conference, that wouldn't be near as good anywhere else. Assume they're all retarded if that is their only stance.

Scenario 1: Argument about SOS

Antagonist (Someone else): Anybody could go undefeated with that creampuff schedule, you Idaho Spud Smurf Lover!

Protagonist (You): Really Corky? Name me another team that is doing it in the MAC. C-USA? Sun Belt? All those conferences are obviously weaker than the WAC right? But no dominant teams year in year out right? You sir, have been punk'd!

Antagonist: What a breadth of knowledge and wit you possess mighty Bronco Fan! I am amazed!

Protagonist: You're welcome.

Point out that going undefeated in any conference in FBS football is a rare feat, and the mere fact that Boise State does it routinely is an indicator of the greatness that is Boise State, not a trademark of weak conference counterparts. Be prepared for the obvious; "Anyone/Their team/Texas High Schools/My Grandma could go undefeated with that schedule."  Retort; Then why don't they? 

I don't see any MAC, C-USA, or Sun Belt teams running roughshod in their weak schedules for years on end. Houston, Ball State, and East Carolina all had brief glimpses of domination, but none - NONE - could sustain it for more than 8 or 9 games. Boise State's domination of the WAC (and 92 percent of everyone everywhere the last five years), no matter how weak it may be, is a testament to their strength and perseverance - something that is rare at any level of sport.

Refusing to acknowledge that is ignorance, and ignorance cannot be tolerated during debate. This is where you resort to name-calling. Be creative.

Scenario 2: Boise State would go 6-6 in a BCS Conference

Joe BCS (Not you): If Boise State played in the Pac-10/Big XII/Big Ten/SEC they'd be 6-6. 8-4 at best. They definitely wouldn't be undefeated every year like they are now playing high school teams.

John NON AQ (you): If Boise State played in the Pac-10/Big XII/Big Ten/SEC they'd have BCS conference money, BCS conference facilities, BCS conference recruiting, and BCS conference appeal. With the exemplary coaching and Athletic Department they already possess, it'd be scary to see them in your conference. Not to mention since Chris Petersen took over as head coach in 2006, Boise State is 4-1 against BCS teams.

Joe BCS: Yeah they lost to Washington in 2007. Oooh, Wash-ing-ton WOW!

John NON AQ: You don't know even know what you're talking about. Boise State took 2007 off from football and didn't even play. They always do that between undefeated seasons. Get your facts straight, genius.

It's hard to quantify how well Boise State would do, right now, in a BCS Conference. There are so many variables involved that you, or anyone else, can't accurately predict the outcome of a given team. It's speculative. Don't listen to morons who run down a list of SEC opponents and how the Broncos would fare against them. They'll be biased, subjective, and most of all, they'll be guessing. Just do this instead:

"Nanny Nanny boo boo."

Build an arsenal of information, and use it to make fun of people

That's how I roll. I use lots of stats, numbers, and bad math to show just how dominant Boise State has been in the last decade. There are many websites out there devoted to college football statistics.

To name a few:

Use these to your advantage. Statistics are tricky; you can make them say just about anything. And Boise State's numbers are staggering. I'd run some down to you but it takes awhile and I'm lazy. 

They are the most dominant team in the last decade in several categories. Compile these numbers, memorize them, and embrace them anytime you're affronted with a typical Negative Nancy. The sheer breadth of Boise State's statistical dominance is enough to numb the mind of most resisters.

If that doesn't compel them to leave well enough alone, stoop to the dubious; compile their teams' stats (only those of negative connotation, i.e. arrests, academics, NCAA violations, and any poor game stats) and present them with a painfully sardonic approach. Compare them to Boise State if you like; be aware you run the risk of returning to SOS land here. Mostly though, point out the audacity of trying to castrate Boise State's achievements whilst completely ignoring their team's lack thereof. Inundating someone with their team's own misgivings is a good approach to take them off the scent. Use it whenever you need more time to build your defense.

That or just make fun of the state they live in. That works.

You can ensure the success of your attacks if you only attack undefended places.  You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.

-Sun Tzu, the Art of War

You might recall a certain Fan Post from last season. Sometimes going on the offensive is required. Lost in the state-hating madness of that post is the genius of its design. Iowa blog Black Heart Gold Pants completely crumbled without a fight. They banned me, and I barely even set foot on their blog.

Rather than deal with the heat being dealt them, they got out of the kitchen. What better way to dispose of naysayers then having them quit before they ever started? Has anyone been accosted by a guy wearing Gold Pants lately? I didn't think so, and you're welcome. I will note that this approach will not always work and could blow up in your face, or spawn Big Brother. But if it works, there is a sweet, sweet joy that accompanies it. Travels these waters at your own peril; I myself, am captain of my pirate ship.

Do's and Don'ts of online squabbling, a.k.a put away the spell check you're going to poke someone's eye out

Do take every advantage to knock down your adversaries' argument every time.

Point out the stats that are wrong, even question his ability to fact check. Give him the link to the correct answers along with calling him "Corky" every time you adress him after that. Ask if he's secretly Graham Watson. One of the worst things you can do is improperly present the facts only to be proven wrong with basic math. It's demoralizing, and no worthy Bronco fan should let this go unpunished.

Don't take the time to point out your foe's spelling and grammatical errors.

Believe me, it's a huge pet peeve of my own (I coined the term munson'd, but I meant it to be self-imposed). If you are in an argument and you are reduced to lambasting your enemy over the placement of their commas, you've already lost this one. Bow out gracefully, go drum up some stats and come back with real ammo. As the saying goes; "Making fun of someone's typos on the Internet is akin to winning a race in the Special Olympics; sure you won, but you're still retarded." It's a lame attempt at jeering them, and they usually don't care anyway.

Do have credible sources for all the claims you make, and provide links when necessary.

It's important to be ready when the need arises. Bookmark links that you can use later. Paste quotes and links to them in Word documents for quick reference. I'm always bored when I confront someone who blindly recites "facts" with nothing to fall back on. It's an easy win simply because they look stupid, or like they're making it up. Have your ducks in a row when you need them.

Don't pass off someone else's research as your own.

Kevan has posted before about the travesty that is plagiarism. People are too dumb, too busy, or too conceited to properly give credit when it's due. Even worse, when you're found out, from that point forward any credibility you might've had is blown. You'll have to join a carnival just to get an ego boost from a guy with three teeth and grim reaper tattoo, because you'll find no quarter here.

Do try to keep a certain amount of levity whilst bemoaning your contestant's inconsistencies.

You might be reading this and thinking I'm the wrong one to say it, but the truth is, whether I‘m getting kicked off of blogs or raining down insults over at Addicted to Quack or making fun of those blasphemers up in Iowa, I'm smiling all the while. No matter what insults may come back at me, I laugh heartily and carry on my day. Don't get caught up in the emotion that exists inside College Football fans. Coach Pete would be very disappointed in you.

Don't take anything too seriously.

This is a blog where we convene because we all have the same passion for College Football. There are many detractors out there against Boise State. Some have a national voice, others have a national sized ego to protect, and others still are just crazy football fans that are envious of the success and accomplishment our team has wrought. Even in argument, we should remember that our antagonist has the same passion and conviction for his team that we hold for ours. It's what really makes this sport great. So by all means, split them stem to stern in debate, but keep in mind it's all for fun too.

The art of war teaches us to not rely on the chance that the enemy will not come, but on our own preparations to receive him; not on the chance of an enemy not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.

- Sun Tzu, the Art of War

Invading enemy territory with stealth and sputtered sentence fragments

SBNation is home to a plethora of college football blogs dying for you to engage in intelligent debate about why their team sucks. Stepping outside the kingdom of Blue and Orange bliss can be intimidating to some, and downright nauseating to others. But we all need to fly the coop at times and imbibe with the mortals. In so doing, one can find themselves in situations better left alone. Having been one to bandy about on theses pages, I can provide some insight on how best to defend the Broncos, all the while, avoiding the nasty banhammer.

The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.

- Sun Tzu, the Art of War

"I shall smite thee from thy blog if thine benevolence is met with insolence."

Some blogs will claim to be no-holds-barred and then just when you least suspect it, BANNED. Tread carefully at first in these places. Test the waters. Make small nondescript comments here and there. Always compliment the thoughtful posts, and disagree with others without leaving openings for an attack. Wit and a tempered response can go a long way to loosen them up. If you come across as stupid right away, expect not to be invited back.

No ALL CAPS. It's annoying anywhere, and it tells everyone that you're thirteen, or a girl, or both.  It's a clear lack of respect that will likely get you a ticket to Ban Land. Instead use capitals for emphasis when you want to be sarcastic or even sardonic. I prefer the italics and bold type and refrain from capitals most of the time.

Follow blog guidelines as long as those around you are cordial. Going out of your way to blast someone unwarranted will be seen as trolling, and is almost universally frowned upon. By no means does this mean you must take a beating from a regular on that blog. If you get accosted on foreign territory, fight back, just be relevant to the argument. More often than not you'll be given a bit of respect for having an opinion and backing it up. Bumbling around with no real point will get you tossed or at the very least laughed at. We can't have you representing Boise State like that, so cut it out.

The idea is to invite colorful discussion and broadcast Boise State in the process. Be aware of that. I've been there seen it before when I someone leaves a blog up in arms only to have them follow me you back to OBNUG to continue where I you left off. Visit other blogs, have an opinion, and remember Hammurabi‘s Code anything you do on another blog can rear its ugly head here.

Feel free to leave your own tip and tricks on defending the Broncos in the comments. Got a good burn you're dying to try out? Now's the time. Bounce it off a fellow OBNUGger before you go flaming over at The Buckeye Battle Cry.

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