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If you read any of the national championship coverage today you will notice one common theme: Butler is playing for all the small schools of the world. They are going to show everyone that it is possible for a small school with a small budget in any sport to make it to the big game and become champions. How inspirational. The movie is likely already in the works. Too bad it's just a load of crap. Butler may be playing for the underdogs of basketball, but they certainly aren't playing for the underdogs everywhere.Butler is often compared to Boise State. And how can they not be? The comparisons are endless. Both universities start with a B. Boise State had inhabited the small and weak WAC for a decade while Butler has been hanging out in the lightly regarded Horizon League. They have young brilliant head coaches and lightly recruited players. They both have been really good for the last decade and have become known for slaying the big boys of their respective sports. They both have had all this success with limited facilities and resources.
That is about where the comparisons end though.
Do you want to know the one monumental difference between the two programs? Respect.
Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against Butler. I hope they win the national championship tonight. They are a good school with a good coach and I wish them the best of luck. No, I guess my big problem is the difference in how both Butler and Boise State are perceived. If you read any the previews for tonight's game, they will gush about Butler and how they were able to make a second consecutive trip to the national title game. About their classy program. About their brilliant and squeaky-clean head coach. About their under-recruited players who have made a name for themselves. About how professional they are. About the small school with the limited facilities and resources that has been able to compete for the national championship. Do you know what you won't hear? You won't hear one strength of schedule debate. You won't hear BCS fans tearing Butler down because they dared to have success and make it to the national title game as a non-traditional power. You won't hear about how they couldn't win the Big East. You won't hear about how they got knocked out of the national title chase because of a three loss stretch earlier in the season in which they lost to Youngstown State. You won't hear Dick Vitale or Jay Bilas trashing them because they compete in the Horizon League. Most of all, you won't hear that they don't deserve to be in the national title game. See what I'm getting at? Yeah, you won't hear one ounce of disrespect leveled at Butler.
Yet, Boise State has become a lightning rod in college football. You are either are a fan or you're a hater, there is really no middle ground. You can't mention Boise State anymore without starting an argument or a flame war. That really infuriates me. Answer me this: What is one thing Boise State has ever done that is any different than what Butler has done. Boise State has a classy program and a brilliant and squeaky-clean head coach. They have become known for slaying the big boys of college football. They have lightly recruited players and have competed for the national championship with limited facilities and resources. They have never publicly complained about how they are treated and have always been very professional. Yet, there has always been a shocking amount of venom directed at Boise State that is not directed at Butler. Why is this? I have absolutely no idea. Before you tell me that it is because of the differences between football and basketball, consider this: most college football fans despise the BCS. They would much rather have a playoff in place, just like the playoff in college basketball that lets underdogs like Butler compete for a national championship.
In the end this isn't so much about the chance to play for a national championship as it is for respect. I am confident that Boise State will get the chance to play for the title one day. What I just can't understand, though, is how the same fans that trash Boise State in football can cheer on Butler in basketball for the same exact reasons.