Game Day: Should You Be Nervous?

I'm not implying that Boise State University, Head Coach Chris Peterson, sophomore quarterback Kellen Moore, or anyone else associated with "the little engine that could" is a dishonest or unethical entity or human being.

Nor am I suggesting that a heightened level of distrust should be attached to a team and/or fan base who's become College Football's Little House on the Prairie, Hannah Montana, or any other family-friendly programming aptly suited for the Disney Channel, ABC Family network, or Nickelodeon. But what I am saying is that in spite of its Dick Van Dyke/Mary Poppins persona, the Boise State Broncos want desperately to be taken seriously…and they'll do anything for it.

I know, I know, how dare I splatter such a squeaky clean program with innuendos of malice? One would never get away with similar acts aimed at national treasures the likes of O.J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, Britney Spears, and astronaut Neil Armstrong? After-all, each and every one of the aforementioned celebrities was once considered to be on the Mount Rushmore of celebrity role-models. If not for a robbery and kidnapping conviction, an alleged double murder, erroneous pledges of abstinence, and an overzealous appetite for a not-so-small wager or two, all of the above would still be adorning the walls of our youth by way of a pin-up poster, trading card, or autographed memorabilia. Sure, Commander Neil Armstrong's image is seemingly intact, but I've heard rumors of that so-called "moon-walk" being nothing more than a second-rate movie filmed in a third-rate Nevada studio! (Hey, I read it on the internet, so it must be true.)

Okay, maybe my previous examples are extreme cases of celebrities gone wild, but it's far from uncommon for perception to inaccurately depict reality.

Things are not always what they seem.

Maybe I should rein-in my pop culture references and veer back towards the arena that is college football to better prove my point. Allow me to present you with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish; a brand force-fed to us via a major television network, countless motion pictures, and nearly century-old pundits incapable of rinsing "Touchdown Jesus" from their age-old mouths. How many college football curmudgeons have you heard in recent weeks include the "domers" in their National Championship conversations? My total is greater than or equal to five. For the record, that's five more than an acceptable amount. Notre Dame is 20-18 in their last three seasons, 7-6 following the 2008 campaign, and prior to last year's Hawaii Bowl victory had lost 9 consecutive bowl games! Is that the recipe for a National Championship? If so, I'd also like to include the Arizona Wildcats, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and Nevada Wolfpack in that discussion.

Allow me to next present you with the Heisman Trophy; an award given to College Football's most outstanding player. This would be far closer to the truth had Geno Torretta, Rashaan Salaam, and Danny Wuerffel not hoisted the bronze statue. Not to mention Ron Dayne, Chris Weinke, and Eric Crouch. The Heisman Trophy may be presented to you as a representation of the best, but reality defines it as the most prominent player on the most prominent team.

Do you see my point?

Perception is only reality if you take it at face value. If I listen to commentary anointing Notre Dame as a legitimate championship contender and omit reason and sound rationale, then it may seem like fact. If I accept the winner of the Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football without intelligent debate, I potentially fail to recognize greatness. And if I paint the Boise State Broncos as a biblical David continually forced to slay the Goliaths of the College Football world, then I am perpetuating a myth created by those outside the Boise State program, but repeatedly fed to us by the Bronco constituents.

When I say you can't trust Boise State, it's because I don't know who or what to believe. The coaches say they're at an athletic disadvantage against a team like Oregon, but their fans will spend hours arguing the heightened level of their athleticism. The coaches speak to the fallacy that is Oregon being the underdog in this game, but their fans are quick to point out their dominance on the home turf. Their coaches along with their fans speak endlessly to the lack of respect they, their city, and their program are afforded by those outside their conference and region, but they're repeatedly ranked in the top-20 by the coaches and media alike.

Which is it? Are you the Little Giants or Kevin O'Shea's Urbania Cowboys? Are you the Bad News Bears or the Yankees? Are you Hickory High or South Bend Central? To be honest, I don't care which one you are, but pick a lane!

I believe the Broncos lie somewhere in-between. They are a formidable foe, but they're not the Florida Gators. They are a well-coached, fundamentally sound team, but they're not the New England Patriots. And they are a good story, but angelic movie studio martyrs they're not.

I'm looking forward to this game. There is revenge in play, respect in play, and endless unknowns regarding both teams. New players, new coaches, and a new rivalry enhanced by an upset, a couple late hits, and an Idaho-sized chip on the shoulders of those in blue. Should "Oregon Fan" be nervous about this game? Yes, according to Boise State. But the question remains; can you trust them?

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