With No TCU, Boise State Set for WAC 2.0
While TCU's leap to the Big East wasn't as stunning as Boise State's 34-31 overtime loss to Nevada, it was the final move that effectively muted Boise State's reasons for leaving the WAC in June.
Welcome to the WAC 2.0.
With plenty to remain dour about, Boise State coach Chris Petersen refused to let the news of TCU's departure bother him.
"I have no feeling on (TCU leaving) whatsoever, not even kind of (a feeling)," Petersen said. "The only thing I think right now is that we're still going to be in a better league than we're in right now, and that's no disrespect to anybody.
"I think we took the teams that we are always fighting with and put them in a different league with some good teams over there. And I think the fans are anxious to see some new competition. ... I think overall it's still better for us. I think it will be a really good conference."
Over the past five years, Boise State has been competitive against upper-echelon programs from automatic-qualifying BCS conferences. However, it was hoping to silence strength of schedule criticism within its conference through annual games against regular top 25 residents like TCU, Utah and BYU.
Then Utah jumped at an invitation to join the Pac-10 late last summer, while BYU chose to abandon conference play altogether in football, opting for the independent route.
TCU was the final holdout among the MWC's top three teams and a team Boise State was hoping to develop a good rivalry with after two classics in postseason bowl games over the past two seasons.
With Hawaii expected to join the Mountain West in football and Nevada and Fresno State set to join the conference in 2012, the conference merry-go-round has resulted in a simple replacement of the Mountain West's best teams for the WAC's.
The Mountain West's middle tier teams -- Air Force and San Diego State -- are relatively stronger than the WAC's, but bottom dwellers Colorado State, Wyoming, UNLV and New Mexico have combined for nine total wins this season.
Welcome to WAC 2.0.
It's only a slight upgrade for Boise State that will do nothing to quell its harshest critics.
It was difficult news to take after the cataclysmic meltdown against Nevada, another harsh aftermath Petersen was dealing with on Monday with the media at his weekly press conference.
"People take winning around here like getting up in the morning," Petersen said. "I don't think these coaches do or our players do for the most part. They have worked so tremendously hard and stayed so focused and paid attention to all the details we've given them -- and that's why they've been so successful. Most people can't do that."
Petersen talks about his paranoia regarding each game and discussed it again a few days before playing Nevada. On Monday, he reminded the media of that fact.
"I think you can understand why I'm so paranoid about everything," said Petersen, who, despite watching his team squander a 17-point lead in the second half, still had a chance to win the game with a 26-yard field goal on the last play of regulation before it sailed wide right. "People just want to write it off (as a win), but there it is, right there, loud and clear. You just can't take anything for granted, not even an extra-point type kick.
"These guys have made it look easy at times. But what we played on Friday night was real football. And that's the real world we live in.
"It was just one of those nights where we couldn't make enough plays. We couldn't get any of the breaks -- it seemed like we couldn't get one break. Sometimes you have those nights."
While the outcome certainly wasn't to Petersen's liking, he isn't oblivious to the fact that his players want to be tested each week -- and how much better it is for them as players and for the program.
"Our players like to be in those situations," Petersen said of playing in big games. "That's when you see the best in them. Our guys don't like to blow out somebody in the first half -- they like it when the stadium is packed and the opponent is ranked, like the Virginia Tech game this season."
Boise State will get to pick up the pieces from its dashed BCS dreams on Saturday in its regular season finale at home against Utah State, which is 2-5 in the WAC and 4-7 overall.