By Andy Staples
August 04, 2009

To: Gene Bleymaier, athletic director, Boise StateChris Hill, athletic director, UtahTerry Holland, athletic director, East Carolina Tom Holmoe, athletic director, Brigham YoungDanny Morrison, athletic director, Texas Christian

Re: A humble suggestion to help all of you fill your coffers and one of you maybe crash the BCS title game.


As you know all too well, it's a lousy time to run a Football Bowl Subdivision program that stands outside the high walls of Castle BCS. Not only must you fight for every dollar to keep your operations afloat, you also have to listen to Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman offer a cruel but entirely true explanation for why some schools get considered for the national title game and some don't. When Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch asked what Utah could have done in 2008 to play its way into the BCS title game, Perlman said this: It could've played the schedule Nebraska played last year. Then, after Hatch suggested Utah played a decent schedule, Perlman said this: That's the way the world is, I'm afraid.STAPLES: Recession widening gap between college's haves, have-nots

Thanks to the freshly signed BCS agreement, the world will stay that way until 2014. So, it's time to stop complaining and start taking action. Perlman is absolutely correct; that is the way the world works. But you all can change that, and not through legal action, congressional debate or whining. You can use the system as currently constituted to help remedy both your major problems. You can be the Cesar Chavezes of the non-BCS conferences while fattening your wallet like Gordon Gekko.

I chose the five of you because your football teams are best prepared to attempt this little experiment. In fact, one of you inspired this idea. Gene, didn't you say in June you'd seek out more guarantee games? And then didn't you go out and schedule a 2010 game against Virginia Tech in Washington? Your idea is to send the Broncos for an occasional one-off game against a major power and collect a check in the neighborhood of $900,000 to $1 million. My idea is for the five of you to take that plan to the next level.

Eliminate the fluff from your schedules and play your non-conference games for pay. You don't play the kind of schedule a Nebraska, a Texas or an Alabama plays, but you can fix that and get richer in the process. Schedule as many payday games as the FBS rules, which require at least five annual home games, allow. Go to Columbus, Athens and Austin and charge those schools a premium for the privilege of scheduling a matchup that makes BCS-conference television rights-holders drool. Of course, it may not be that simple. Alabama will pay $1 million for a visit from San Jose State in 2010, but the Crimson Tide or any other wealthy power may not pay as much for a visit from a BYU team with an actual chance of winning. But hey, if a program ducks any of you, feel free to leak evidence of that school's cowardice to the press. If enough schools run for cover, then Sen. Hatch might have real evidence of collusion.

If you can schedule those games and one of you goes undefeated, the humans and computers that pick the participants for the BCS title game will have no choice but to invite that team. Tom, you're playing Oklahoma (at a neutral site) and Florida State (in Provo) this year. That's a great start. Just think bigger. Gene, you already scheduled home-and-home series with BYU and Utah in 2011 and 2012 for the purposes of upgrading your non-conference schedule. That's a good idea, but all of you would make more money and increase your chances of playing for a national title by rearranging those games a bit and sending your typically excellent teams to whip BCS-conference teams for a hefty appearance fee. Just try it for a season or two. If you lose a few, it proves you didn't belong in the national title conversation anyway. You can take your extra dough and go back to the way you always did things. If you win, you can fundamentally alter the system and possibly play your way into a national following and an invitation to a wealthier conference.

Obviously, all five of you can't put this plan into action immediately. Contracts have been signed, and none of you wants to be that guy. You know, the one who bails on a game with less than two years notice. So let's shoot for 2012. That year is significant for two reasons. Like 2008, that season will set the agenda as BCS leaders discuss in 2013 how to alter the process after the bowls of 2014. Second, it will allow your coaches to adjust their recruiting.

All five of your coaches have proven themselves excellent judges of talent. They see gems where the big boys see pebbles, and, in some cases, they beat out the big-money teams for recruits. Now they'll have a few aces in the hole. First, they can promise national television appearances. If ESPN/ABC has the option to televise Eastern Michigan at Michigan or TCU at Penn State, which one do you think the network will choose?

Also, the coaches can sell your new, brutal schedule as an opportunity to stick it to the man. Teenagers love rebellion, and this is an uprising in its purest sense. Let's say Utah schedules a payday game at USC in the future. When Utes coach Kyle Whittingham recruits against UCLA and Oregon, he can legitimately tell players the Utes have as equal a shot at the national title as the Bruins and Ducks, because, let's face it, none of them has a chance if they don't beat USC. As Perlman would say, that's the way the world works.

So just imagine if Boise State dropped its previously scheduled game with Miami (Ohio) and played this schedule in 2012:

WAC home games: Fresno State, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Utah State.

WAC away games: Idaho, Nevada, San Jose State, New Mexico State.

Non-conference games: at Michigan Sept. 1, at Oregon State on Sept. 15 (already scheduled), BYU on Sept. 22 (already scheduled), at Texas on Sept. 29.

Assuming Michigan has rebounded from its recent woes and Texas and Oregon State remain at their current levels, that'd be a vicious schedule. But it's not an impossible one if Boise State can use those future games to recruit even better players than it already has. Meanwhile, lets say Gene and Chris talked and agreed to move the Broncos' 2012 trip to Salt Lake City to 2014 or 2016. Here's what Utah's schedule might look like, assuming the Utes also drop their game against Utah State and convince Colorado to buy out its 2013 return trip:

MWC home games: UNLV, Colorado State, TCU, BYU.

MWC road games: Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico, San Diego State.

Non-conference games: Washington State on Aug. 30 (already scheduled), at Miami on Sept. 8, at Colorado on Sept. 21 (already scheduled), at Georgia on Sept. 29.

Miami is the ideal target for schools in your situation. The Hurricanes seem to be improving, but they have a fair-weather fan base that doesn't fill the stadium except for an interesting opponent. You are all interesting. Georgia is another program that doesn't seem afraid to schedule a tough out-of-conference game, though the Bulldogs may rethink that philosophy after a 2009 meat grinder that begins at Oklahoma State.

The fact is, Perlman's scheduling assertion is correct. Because Nebraska belongs to the Big 12, it played a 2008 schedule that included two of that season's elite teams (Oklahoma and Texas Tech), two pretty good teams (Missouri and Kansas) and one up-and-coming team (Baylor). For good measure, the Cornhuskers also tacked on a game against Virginia Tech, the eventual ACC champion and Orange Bowl winner. Sure, their conference schedule provided them with some weak sisters (Iowa State and Kansas State) and they wrote checks for what they hoped would be easy wins (Western Michigan, San Jose State and New Mexico State), but those are the spoils of decades of beautiful tradition. You don't have that luxury, and besides, you already have four or five built-in wins in your conference schedules. Chris, Tom and Danny, you have to play one another, but the Mountain West is top heavy. All of you should go undefeated against Colorado State, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming most years. Air Force is decent and New Mexico has potential, but your mid-level team's don't include an Arkansas or an Iowa, teams that, given the ideal set of circumstances, can beat a national title contender.

The same goes for you, Gene and Terry. The WAC and Conference USA aren't as good top-to-bottom as a BCS league, so stop trying to justify the competition in your conferences and go out and whip the big boys on their home fields. The computers will love that. Terry, you're almost there already. East Carolina's 2009 non-conference schedule includes games at West Virginia and North Carolina. You also have Virginia Tech coming to Greenville. Now, just replace your season-opener against Appalachian State with a visit to Gainesville or Norman, and you've got yourself a national title contender if the Pirates could survive.

There is one potentially thorny issue, especially for faith-based schools BYU and TCU. To pull off this plan, your coaches may have to take some chances on talented recruits the elite football schools don't want. That means you may have to admit some thugs or some players who need a lot of academic hand-holding. This, of course, is the price of contending for the national title. And the first time one of your at-risk recruits gets drunk and walks into the apartment of a sorority girl he doesn't know and makes himself a sandwich, the media will rip you for lowering your standards. But don't take us too seriously. If you reach the point where you're regularly contending for a title, we'll treat every open-container violation like a triple-murder charge.

While that wouldn't be fun to deal with, it'd sure beat sweating over every penny. So please, give this idea some thought. If it works, I'm only asking for three percent of the gross and a sweet gig as an associate AD.

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