The face of non-BCS football (2009 edition)

Last year I presented a similar case establishing the face of non-BCS football. I came to the conclusion that Boise State, two seasons removed from its Fiesta Bowl victory, had clearly -- and dominantly -- established itself as the face of the non-BCS teams. 

Well today, College Football News asked the same question. Their consensus seems to be that Boise State is that face, though they even concede it's easy to make a case for Utah, BYU and TCU. 

But since much has changed over the course of a year, I thought it would be interesting to reestablish these rankings. 

This time last year the Utes had yet to even claim a share of a conference title since the Urban Meyer era and that obviously hindered their prospects in the rankings. BYU, though, appeared poised for a BCS berth and we all know how that ended. 

With that change in mind, I also believe it's appropriate to alter the original list of non-BCS teams I listed. 

Here are the teams I listed last year: 

 

  • Boise State
  • Brigham Young
  • Fresno State
  • Hawaii
  • Texas Christian
  • Toledo
  • Utah
Out of this list, Boise State, BYU, TCU and Utah are no-brainers. They remain.

That leaves Fresno State, Hawaii and Toledo.

Fresno State was coming off a 9-4 season in 2008, however, followed that up with a rather lackluster 7-6 campaign. 

In fact, they haven't really been relevant on the national stage since their game against USC in 2005. 

That's quite a few years ago. 

So we'll remove them.

Hawaii had just gone 12-1, but I mentioned back then that prior to 2006 and then 2007, they hadn't really done anything. Their two-year run was solid and they deserved mention, but they seem to have returned to mediocrity. Because of this, I don't think I can justify putting them on the new list.

Then there is Toledo. This is one isn't hard at all. In 2008, they went 3-9, their third straight losing season. They're gone.

That leaves us a list of: 
  • Boise State
  • Brigham Young
  • Texas Christian
  • Utah
Now are there any teams that can make a legitimate claim to this list? Maybe Navy prior to Paul Johnson leaving for Georgia Tech, but I have a hard time putting them on the list now.

Ball State? They finished last year 12-2, but fizzled at the end and then lost their coach. Outside of that one season, though, they haven't done anything impressive. Beyond the teams listed in the revised list, no other non-BCS program finished in the top-25.

So I think that seems like a good starting point. Which explains why CFN admitted any of those four programs have a legitimate claim here.

But I do believe there are varying claims and that's what I want to explore.

I'll do this through my new and improved 2009 list, ending with -- in my opinion -- the face of non-BCS football.

#4. BYU:

This is actually a pretty far fall for the Cougars, who were ranked #2 on my list last year. But they did finish 10-3 and with this race extremely tight, any slipup can send a team tumbling back.

Last year I said if BYU managed to make a BCS bowl game, they'd shoot to the top of the list. They didn't and they also failed to win the Mountain West. That neutralizes their amazing two-year stretch in 2006 and 2007. 

#3. TCU: 

The Frogs have the best record of any non-BCS team to never play in a BCS bowl game. Gary Patterson is a fine coach, who has established a great power in Texas, but there is that one nagging issue: he's yet to guide them to the elite of elite. 

That isn't to say they haven't been close, but every year where it looks like they may just bust into the BCS, there is an inexusable loss along the way. For the Fort Worth faithful, they're hoping that changes this season. If it doesn't, you've got to wonder if the Frogs will ever make a BCS bowl and if they don't, can they ever really be considered the face of non-BCS football? 

#2. Boise State: 

Last year's #1 falls a bit after an undefeated regular season. This isn't a knock on Boise State, though, rather a statement of how impressive the #1 team actually is. Anything short of perfection and a BCS bowl victory would have kept the Broncos in the #2 slot with all Utah managed to do.

#1. Utah:

The Utes were #3 last year and managed to climb to the top-spot with another BCS bowl victory. They're the only team from the non-BCS to not only play in two BCS bowls, but win two BCS bowls. They're also the only team in college football to go undefeated twice in the BCS era. That has to count for something, even if the years between 2004 and 2008 were hardly great. 

These results will probably change next year, especially if Boise State is able to go undefeated again and win a BCS bowl.

But until then, Utah is clearly the #1 team. I'm open to debating this, but I think you'll lose.
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