You don't have to always say B****

The slogan seems to keep growing. First used by Dean Lee, then picked up and taken to "the next level" by Gus Malzahn, used by Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson, you've certainly hear "Boise of the South" or "The Next Boise". Hiring former Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has made the slogan even bigger.

But does it have to Boise?

There have been quite a few "Boise's" before Boise ever entered the FBS ranks.

Those who made it had the right combination of good leadership and some luck.

Miami (FL) had posted two winning seasons in the past ten years under six coaches (including Lou Saban who left Miami to coach at Army). Facing financial problems and lacking the attendance that might resolve those problems the administration was divided on what to do. The choices seemed to be between dropping football to I-AA (today's FCS) or dropping football completely. A last minute push resulted in a decision to stay I-A and Howard Schnellenberger was hired as the coach of the Hurricanes. In his fifth season the 10-1 ‘Canes ranked 5th in the nation got the chance to play #1 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Nebraska passed on a chance to tie and instead went for a two point conversion for the win and failed. Helping the Miami cause, #2 Texas had lost earlier in the Cotton, while #3 Auburn kicked three field goals to beat #8 Michigan and #4 Illinois was trounced by an unranked UCLA. Miami parlayed that into greater success and later membership in the Big East and then the ACC.

Utah won its fourth conference title in 41 years in 2004. But it was their second in a row. Second year coach Urban Meyer led the Utes to the Fiesta Bowl making them the first BCS "Buster" since the series had started and the only one to do it when the rules required a "buster" to be rated in the top 8. They beat Pitt stretching their winning streak to 16 games. They would "bust" again four years later beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Three years later they were playing under the Pac-12 banner when the Pac-12's super raid of the Big XII fell apart.

In the Southwest Conference's lame duck final season, it was everyone gets a trophy time. Texas A&M, on probation, was ineligible for the the title so five of the seven eligible teams shared the league title that year (SMU and Houston were the one's left out but winless in league play SMU handed TAMU the only blemish on their league record by tying the Aggies). TCU's piece of the 1994 title was their first league title since 1959. From 1999 to 2011 they would capture 7 conference titles in three different leagues, bust the BCS twice, join and leave the Big East without playing a game there and land in the Big XII.

You've heard this story before. Program with no winning seasons in the past six years, two winning seasons in the past 12. Terrible facility, terrible attendance, financial problems and an administration considering dropping football to I-AA. Then at the darkest hour they hire Howard Schnellenberger. Three more losing seasons then the winning starts. The third winning season they go 10-1 and get their first big-time bowl invitation whipping Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl. Under Schnellenberger the Cardinals went to their 3rd and 4th bowl games ever. Finished in the top 25 and became relevant on the national stage. Schnellenberger quit when the Cardinals agreed to put football in Conference USA but shortly thereafter they moved to the Big East and when Maryland left the ACC they landed in that league.

Va.Tech had won 17 games over 4 years when they joined the Big East. The Hokies weren't a lock to be part of the league when it formed.Frank Beamer's predecessor had left to coach Wake Forest. For a league mostly based in large cities, Blacksburg, Virginia , with a city population of about 20,000 less than Jonesboro and a metro population about 40,000 more than Jonesboro doesn't look like a natural fit. The Big East only managed to form because the effort by the Hokie's league (Metro) to add football fell apart when Louisville coach Howard Schnellenberger pulled Louisville out of the plans to build the conference. He did not believe the league would give him the opportunity to compete for a national title. So when the Big East picked up the pieces to start football, Louisville was not on the list but Virginia Tech who had been part of those earlier negotiations was. Frank Beamer, who went 24-40-2 his first six years there, got the program going winning three Big East titles. Then when the ACC was looking to expand, political pressure forced Virginia to not for any ACC expansion that didn't include Va.Tech, without Virginia there were not enough votes to expand. The Hokies made it into the ACC and have won four league titles plus five division titles there.

While Boise State is the flavor of the day, when coming up with the name of a program that is doing what Arkansas State aspires to do, they are far from the only example we have to follow.

Of all of those examples, all but Boise and Utah are southern teams and when it comes to the size of the local community, while Boise is similar as I pointed out in this earlier article, Virginia Tech is even more similar. They are in the Roanoke TV market which is smaller than Little Rock and they are about forty miles from Roanoke.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be like Boise State, but they aren't the only program to go down the path we want to follow.