I was on business in SEC country all of last week. Of course I wore my 2007 Fiesta Bowl hat, which proudly displays the final score. I always wear BSU hats/shirts whenever I travel, which is two or three times a month. I always get comments about BSU or 'the game'. There are rabid fans all over the country (I travel from east to west) It's fun and it's neat to see how many people want to talk Boise State football. However, nothing prepared me for my last trip. I spent several days in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. I couldn't go out to eat without several people wanting to talk Boise State. Most were fans, some were admiring fans of other teams, but surprisingly, many were bitter SEC fans wanting to take the opportunity to throw a few shots my way.
Take the jump and hear my story and take the poll.
One gentleman cornered me at a bar and started the conversation by saying he was a Mississippi State fan. I was excited and shook his hand. The first thing out of his mouth was, "Aren't you glad you don't play in the SEC. We play the toughest schedule and if we loose a couple games by just a couple points no-one talks about us. Then we got to listen to everyone talk about Boise getting robbed of a BCS bowl when they don't really play anyone. Don't you think that's a bit unfair?" I honestly didn't know what to say. I don't believe in trading insults in the 'who can burn who the worst' game. I'm more of a put my arm around you and find what's in common. I find that If I do that I get to leave a morsel of BSU with them that I hope increases their chances of thinking possitive about us.
So, I said what Coach Pete always says. "ESPN focuses on that kind of stuff, we just play who we can get to play us and let our games speak for us. Can you get us a game with Mississippi State?" He bought me a beer and we had a long chat about BSU and I had the chance to correct many many missconceptions he had about us.
This happened a bunch (sans the beer offer) while I was there. And of course, I heard the most frustrating statements repeated over and over again. 1) If Boise State played Georgia 10 times Georgia would win 9. 2) Boise State caught Georgia at a bad time. They couldn't beat them right now. or, 3) Georgia just overlooked BSU. I've been hearing this crap since Boise beat Oklahoma in 2007. Man it gets old.
I've been on the road most of my career, including over the last 15 years of Boise State Football's rise to prominence. I remember the days when we were Boise-Who, then were were just known for being Boise-Blue, and now, at least in the SEC, we're thought of as Boise-Boo-hoo. They don't just think they're better than the rest of the country. They think that they are not being treated fairly by the BCS. Several suggested that the SEC should have four teams in the BCS (LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, and South Carolina), and that the politics of the BCS screwed them out of two bowl bids. Wow. I really wanted to get in a few fights (verbal and physical).
Yet, I still believe that it's better to draw them in than to push them away. I'll keep being respectful and hopefully, someday, I'll hear, "You guys shouldn't have won the national championship. If you replayed it 10 times So-And-So would beat you 9." I can live with being the underdog. I've actually come to identify with it. I'm not sure I ever want to be the favorite. Would we be Boise State if we were?