King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Boise State as national champ? Get a grip, fellow Broncomaniacs. It's Central Washington.

By Salon Staff
Published January 3, 2007 5:00PM (EST)

Let's get one thing straight, fellow newly minted members of Boise State nation: Boise State is not your national champion. Not even co-champion.

Central Washington is your national champion. More on that in a minute.

Even in a perfect, wonderful world in which there's a college football championship system that isn't rigged for the big schools and corrupt to the very essence of its every molecule, Boise State wouldn't have earned a national championship with its thrilling overtime upset of Oklahoma Monday night in the Fiesta Bowl.

It would have earned another game, maybe a semifinal, and most likely against Ohio State, since Boise State seems like the kind of club that would be seeded eighth in an eight-team tournament. And that seems to be what our heroes are asking for, any grass-roots movement to try to persuade voters in the non-BCS Associated Press poll to rocket Boise State to No. 1 and give it a share of the public-opinion championship notwithstanding.

"We went 13-0 and beat everyone on our schedule," Broncos quarterback Jared Zabransky said in a USA Today story hyperbolically headlined "Boise State Wants Share of National Title." He went on, "We deserve a chance at the national title."

OK, Boise State choir, fellow Broncomaniacs -- and by the way wait till the first time Boise State shows up on TV next season and you get a look at that blue artificial turf -- I won't bother preaching about how obvious it is that Division 1-A college football should have a tournament if you promise to stick with Zabransky's sentiment and not the one expressed in that headline.

Because let's not get ahead of ourselves. Boise State didn't win a share of the national championship Monday night. The Broncos won a football game against a very good team. They deserve a shot at another good team, then maybe another if they win that one.

Which would be highly unlikely.

Boise State played a great game, don't get me wrong. But let's say the Broncos are going to line up against Ohio State or Florida or USC next week and I want to bet $100 on Boise State's opponent, straight up, no spread. You take that bet? Didn't think so. How many points you want? Would seven do it?

What Boise State proved is that the rigged BCS system is unfair, which is a little like proving fire is hot. Sophisticated equipment is not necessary. The Broncos showed that the best so-called mid-major or small-conference or whatever you want to so-call them teams can play with the so-called power conference teams. To quote the analysts at your local middle school: no duh.

That doesn't mean the Broncos deserve to be crowned champs, any more than George Mason deserved to be crowned basketball champions for beating Michigan State last spring, thrilling as that was. Or even for beating Michigan State, then North Carolina, then Wichita State, and then Connecticut.

But it does mean, as if this weren't already obvious, that the disadvantage smaller-conference schools face, the discount they must endure in the rankings because their schedules are filled with other smaller-conference schools and not the power-conference schools that don't want any part of playing them, is unfair.

Boise State giving Oklahoma hell gives the lie to the idea that you can eyeball various powerful teams without their playing each other and figure out which two deserve to play for the title. No system that doesn't give every team a shot at the championship can ever be fair, but a system that lets eight teams into the party rather than two is four times more fair, is it not? Arguments over who's No. 8 are a little less urgent than arguments over who's No. 2.

But I said I wasn't going to preach that sermon. What I want to do is nip in the bud this idea that Boise State deserves a shot in the title game not because the top handful of teams should get a chance to play each other, but because of this sequence of events, which I've seen spelled out in various places, including the aforementioned USA Today article, which I'll just quote:

"The Broncos beat Oregon State, which beat Southern California, which beat Michigan, which narrowly lost at Ohio State, which is a favorite against Florida." Ergo, I guess, Boise State deserves to play Ohio State. Or Florida, I'm not sure. This argument would have been better if Michigan had beaten Ohio State. Of course, then USC wouldn't have beaten Michigan.

Doesn't matter, though. The real champion, by this way of argument, is Central Washington.

The Wildcats finished tied for fifth with Western Washington and Augustana in the Division II North Central Conference. They were 3-5 in the league, 6-5 overall. They missed the Division II playoffs, and football is so important on campus that the official Web site hasn't been updated since before the last game of the season.

In case you're wondering, Central Washington lost that Nov. 11 finale to Nebraska-Omaha, 48-14.

But Central Washington did beat Eastern Washington, which beat Montana State, which beat Colorado. And Colorado beat Iowa State, which beat Missouri, which beat Mississippi, which beat Vanderbilt. And Vanderbilt beat Georgia, which beat Auburn. And Auburn beat Florida, which gets to play Ohio State for the championship.

Since Ohio State's too chicken to play Central Washington, we should declare the Wildcats your 2006 national champions.

OK, I'm kidding.

Really, the champion is Grand Valley State.

You see, Nebraska-Omaha did make the Division II playoffs after its season-ending win over Central Washington. The Mavericks got a bye in the first round but lost a humdinger in the second to North Dakota, 38-35. North Dakota in turn lost in the next round to Grand Valley State, which then beat Delta State in the semifinals and Northwest Missouri State in the title game for the Division II championship.

See? A tournament would work. Division II's tournament crowned a champion that, using the Boise State argument, beat Florida. Go Lakers!

Previous column: Fiesta Bowl: Exhibition game of the century!

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