Chance to set BCS landscape ablaze
By Ferd Lewis
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Pre-Fiesta Bowl instructions to Boise State and TCU:
Be scintillating. Be exciting. Now is not the time to be bad or boring. People will be watching, and you're hoping the nation knows you as well as those snooty teams from the SEC and Big 12.
(Note to nation: TCU will be the team in purple).
If you're going to be trailblazers, this is the game to blaze.
Happy BCS Buster Day.
For the wannabes of college football, today is a national holiday. One Fiesta Bowl, two unbeatens, and not a blueblood in sight. The commoners have taken over the castle, if only for a night. The winners get to be king — until Alabama and Texas play, anyway.
"We're here representing maybe a landmark ballgame," TCU coach Gary Patterson was saying yesterday of a matchup that "has changed the landscape of college football forever, so far as the BCS is concerned."
"Two examples," Boise State coach Chris Petersen concurred about the participants, "of how things change."
Change in this sport is like highway construction. Slow, noisy, plenty of traffic jams. Zero is not just the number of defeats for Boise State and TCU. Zero is the chance the winner has to be named national champion.
Still, this game would have been unimaginable 10 years ago, unless you had the Humanitarian Bowl in mind. These two teams — a combined 48-3 the past two years — reflect the current cream of the non-BCS subspecies, and now they're trying to get to the very top of the food chain.
It is college football evolution, conducted in prime time at a major bowl. The next reasonable step is not winning a national championship, but making enough people believe that one day they can.
"Finish among the few, that's all you can ask for," Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore said. "And let the debate go on."
"I think you should always take notice," Patterson said, "of people that win."
They're trying hard, anyway. Patterson said he has been studying Boise State game films — from the past five years.
Noticeable in their Sunday pre-game press conferences was how both coaches have taken a cool-headed approach in trying to lead a college football revolution. They want this game to be a whine-free zone. They did not sound like talk show callers shrieking for a playoff tomorrow, oblivious to the complexities involved.
They sounded like coaches whose programs — along with 2008 Utah — have done the most to force rethinking of what a national championship contender should look like. They are here to win, not posture.
Petersen: "We're making progress, there's no question. Nobody has the perfect answer. I know a lot of people think they have the perfect answer."
Patterson: "We're going to have to get to that point if we want to play for a national championship, where people don't feel like we're a Cinderella. . . . The way to do that is not to beat our chest. I think the best way to do that is go out and play.
"I think there is no way that you ever get anywhere, when you make everybody that votes on it mad. It doesn't work for me at home, I can tell you that."
Patterson has sensed the change of national attitude inspired by TCU and Boise State, even surrounding his own image. Take his game-day emotions, which sometimes come right out of the microwave.
"The perception when I started (was), 'This guy is out of his mind on the sidelines,' " he said. "And now I have a passion."
That passion gets center stage tonight, along with Petersen and two remarkable records and the entire power structure of college football.
"You are going to be the only show in town," Patterson said. "And we both need to come out and play as such."
It is no night to blow up. Something can be won, and not just a game.