Scenario 1--A team is at the one-yard line on first down. All they have to do is punch the ball into the endzone for the win. They have a running back who is a proven commodity, and four tries to get it in. They opt to pass on first down, hoping to catch the defense off-guard. Interception.
Game over...New England beats Seattle in the biggest football game in the world.
Scenario 2-- A team has just scored and come within one point of tying a game and sending the game to overtime with a PAT. They opt to go for two instead. The commentators say, "Either this is a brilliant play call, or a foolish one, depending on how this plays out." The ball is thrown just out of the reach of the receiver. No flags.
Onside kick is recovered by Wyoming, they run out the clock and beat San Diego State by one point. Game over... I guess it was a foolish play call after all.
Scenario 3-- A team is at the two-yard line. The other team scored in one play in overtime, and this team had to convert on 4th down just to match the touchdown. They opt to go for two in order to win the game, rather than send it into another overtime. It's all or nothing.
Statue of Liberty to Ian Johnson. Game over, Boise State beats Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl 43-42 in the greatest game ever played on a football field.
Why have I brought up these three games, you might ask? They all involve games very similar to the one Boise State just lost in Colorado Springs. In each case, a team was faced with a game-winning/losing choice. Each coach had to weigh the performance of their team over an entire season, and try to guess how the defense would respond. These were tough decisions.
Some decisions were heartbreaking; just inches away from being glorious. Others are considered brilliant, even changing the way some view the pecking order of NCAA football. Perhaps one of these games signaled the death of the BCS, opening the door ever so slightly for a greater chance for mid-majors to win a Natty.
I'll be honest: The final scenario is the game that made me a Bronco fan for life. Before then, I didn't really watch college football; I was more of an NFL fan. Boise State made me so proud to call myself an Idahoan! I decided that night in 2007 that I would follow this team through thick and thin, I would wear Boise State shirts on Idaho State's campus, I would bleed blue.
I have been truly blessed to be a fan of Boise State!
What other fan can claim to have enjoyed more wins than we have since the turn of the century? Sure, we're been kept out of consideration for play in the national championship, but this is more a fault of an unbalanced system rather than a fault of our team.
Now people are calling for Harsin's job. I get it. You like to win. You're used to winning. Losses to teams we're favored against really sting, and they keep you and I up at night, replaying the game in our heads. Since you and I are not on the field, we look for someone to blame, and the easiest target is the man in charge.
But I'd ask you to take a step back from the tree and look at the forest.
Harsin was the person who called the Statue of Liberty as Chris Petersen's OC back in 2007. Some would consider that the call of the century. Heaven knows it worked out pretty well for Boise State. He also has been relying pretty heavily on a running back this season who is running all over the competition (over 200 yards and 4 TDs the week before against UNLV). I heard some people complaining in previous games that we should have stuck to the running game whenever Rypien was a bit off "because it works."
I believe many of these same people were complaining about all the run plays in the Air Force game. It seemed like McNichols kept running into a wall of defenders.
As we've all heard before: Hindsight is 20/20.
After all, McNichols started the game with a 70+ yard run and a TD. There was no reason to think he couldn't do it again. And when it came down to the goal-line stand at the end of the game, all I could think of was, "Feed the
Beast Weapon." Flashbacks of Superbowl XLIX came to mind all too quickly.
Truth to tell, there's any number of ways the game could have ended in frustration, no matter the call. What we tend to forget is that there's another team on the field who has prepared (year after year) to play Boise State, and they want to win just as much as we do. Sometimes, it doesn't come down to only coaching. There are always thousands of factors at play; health of players, opposing formations, snap count, weather, orange-colored uniforms, etc.
To place the blame on one person is pretty ludicrous.
Especially when he has done so much for this program. Bryan Harsin inherited a program whose top players left with Petersen, and still managed to take us to a Fiesta Bowl and win it in his first season. Yes, last year was a bit of a down year, but we still managed to get to a bowl game with a record that the majority of teams in the FBS did not. And we improved on that record this year.
If it suits you to drop this team because they don't meet your lofty expectations, I would ask: To whence would you go? Western Michigan is looking pretty good this year! They're Broncos, too, so it wouldn't be that much of a change.
Okay, maybe you're not so shallow as to leave this team just because of two losses. Maybe all you want is a new coach? Hey, P.J. Fleck is looking pretty good! Oh, in his first season he went 1-11. I can't imagine what our fanbase would do with a coach that had that kind of record, even if it was his first season. (Tar and feathering out of the question?)
All things considered, I think Harsin has done very well with having his coordinators poached year after year. (And sadly, will probably have to reset again next year. Consistency would be really hard to maintain, don'tchathink?) Some say the record doesn't represent the performance on the field, but I have seen really impressive playcalling week after week. You want trick plays? How many of our receivers have thrown completed passes downfield? You want planning for teams? How about never rushing more than three or four against Washington State and (while giving up yards) topping them in the only statistic that counts: Points.
I've seen awesome stuff from this team! And I admit, I'm as human as you when it comes to trying to reconcile what I've seen with my expectations, but when I take that step back, I can see how beautiful the forest is! I'm spoiled with this team, and grateful that I still get to wear these colors proudly.
Thank you, seniors, for all the hard work and leadership! Thank you, future leaders of the team, for stepping up with the will to win! Thank you Mario Yakoo, for being such a hulking mankiller. Thank you, city of Boise, for being such an awesome place to take my wife and kids to watch a game on a cold, autumn night.
Thank you coaches, for giving my privileged life one more fine form of entertainment!
No matter who we draw in a bowl game, I will be there, screaming my fool head off for the team I love!
Even if we only get to beat up on the 6th-sorriest PAC-12 team.