Although half of you reading this have discounted me as just another Boise-hating BCS honk, writing this because the Beavers lost, that's really not the case. I have been pulling for Boise State to get their chances on the big stage and didn't like how they usually get screwed by the BCS system. We lost to TCU, and I have nothing but respect for their program.
Disclaimers done, let's start back at 2008 in Autzen Stadium. People watching the score saw a 37-32 victory by Boise State, but people like me watching the game saw a grab-bag of cheap shots on Oregon players whenever the going got tough for BSU. (For those who need a refresher course on that game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKQwuLjT09Q ) It was a close game at first, until Ellis Powers knocked Masoli out of the game with a blatant helmet-to-helmet late hit. Powers should have been ejected right there for that scummy play. Instead, Boise gets a 15-yard penalty and a huge dent in the Duck offense.
"But hey, let's not get carried away there. I mean, that was just one player, right? Someone on every team pulls crap once in a while." I hear BSU apologist in my head already. The cheap hits stopped as backup Chris Harper took over for Masoli and the passing game collapsed. Oregon did little but get runs stuffed for a quarter before Belotti burned Darron Thomas' redshirt and put him in. Thomas led an amazing comeback, throwing great passes and putting Oregon back in the game. How did BSU respond? Bronco players started targeting defenseless players, until the refs FINALLY called Jeron Johnson on a ridiculously cheap hit on a receiver and ejected him. Johnson left the field, scoring low-fives and congratulations from his fellow Broncos all the way.
I lost much respect for BSU after that game, but fast forward to 2010. Every time Boise State comes up in the media, I hear about what a great coach Chris Petersen is, what an upstanding guy he is, etc. etc. I figure, "okay, every team has a game they're not proud of, and Coach Pete (as he is called by adoring fans) probably turned things around since 2008." Boy, was I wrong. We've all seen the game recently, so I don't need to go into a ton of detail on every point. Quick rundown:
- BSU defender drills Quizz back 15-20 yards and shoves him in the ground after his helmet is off and the whistle is blown
- Tommy Smith swinging at two OSU players after a kickoff return (does not excuse Beaver retaliation)
- BSU defender trying to spear Katz
- Leading with head on James Rodgers on that infamous play that knocked him out of the game
BSU fan insists James was throwing a block and just got the worse end of a clean hit, and in my earlier gullibility and wanting to believe in some sort of Bronco goodness, I believed him for a while. However, looking at the video again ( http://blip.tv/file/4169976 ) it became pretty clear that he was SHOVED into the path of Venable who took the opportunity to lead with the head. Rodgers wasn't blocking, he was bracing himself.
BSU fan far too often has an innocent explanation for every late, dirty, or dangerous hit on an opposing player. I'm 99% sure that if Venable had grabbed a baseball bat and started wailing on Ryan Katz, Bronco Fan would insist Katz should be more careful when he has the ball.
That brings me to Coach Petersen. I really want to like the guy, but I just can't when he has had two years since the 2008 Oregon debacle, and he still hasn't instilled the proper discipline in his defense. Because the dirty plays keep coming out in these big games, it makes me wonder if such plays are tacitly approved. If the players knew that their coach was serious about these issues, and/or the players were being appropriately disciplined, these issues would stop. It is the responsibility of the head coach to make sure that happens. Coach Petersen either doesn't truly care about his team playing recklessly as long as they win (I hope this isn't the case, and I doubt it is), or he just isn't doing what it takes to stop such play. Whatever the case, the results are what matter in such an important issue as safety, and that is on him.
I am in no way suggesting that everyone on the team is a dirty player. Far from it, I'm sure most of the players are very hard-working, respectful, and respectable. (I like Kellen Moore, in particular.) We saw great displays of sportsmanship by the Beavers and Broncos after the game, which was very heartening. That doesn't change the fact that BSU, on the whole, plays a reckless and dangerous brand of football. If you have a bucket of the best ice cream in the world, but it has an ounce of poop in it, no one's saying you have a bucket of ice cream. They're saying you have a bucket of poop. The dirty-hitting defensive players are the poop in the Bronco ice cream (Just had to go Calipari on it there.)
I watch a lot of college football, and I'm well aware it's a violent, physical sport. However, I don't see the level of nasty, unsportsmanlike, and downright dangerous play from other teams that I do whenever I see BSU playing OoC games. They say teams leave Bronco Stadium in body bags. That great teams go there to die. If things don't get under control with that program, I'm afraid those sayings will eventually become true.
(note: edited Sept. 29 at 12:29 AM to be more constructive and less combative)