Behold the power of six returning starters. The only team to return even as few as seven starters in 2011 was Auburn, and they dropped off the map, from national title contender to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The effect of extreme numbers of returning starters, either good (20) or bad (six), is typically rather exponential, which does not say good things about the Broncos' 2012 season, even if 61st is almost certainly too low.
Connelly had the Broncos at No. 15 in his way-too-early Top 25, based on factors like Boise State's' legacy of success and Coach Pete's inexorable charm. His formula-driven Top 25, based on statistics and lies, had the Broncos at No. 61.
To his credit, Connelly believes that Boise State is far closer to a Top 25 team than a Top 60 team. He even goes so far as to compare the upcoming Bronco season to TCU's 2011 season, a comparison that is both sorta flattering and sorta mean.
Breaking in that many new starters certainly makes projections for Boise State a giant crapshoot, no matter how well you or I think we know how BSU's new starters. But for a football program that just wins no matter the circumstances or surroundings, is the trivial matter of 16 new starters really going to turn 2012 into an Angela Lansbury miniseries? The luxury of a winning system is not one that all schools can rely when they have to essentially rebuild the roster. Boise State may be a mystery next season, but there is a giant mound of forensic evidence that makes me think the Broncos will be just fine.
Do you think Boise State is one of college football's biggest mysteries? What makes you nervous and what gives you hope about next year? Share your thoughts in the comments.