Over the rest of the season, Boise faces an indisputably weak schedule including one FCS foe (UC-Davis) and eight other teams ranked between 60th and 105th in CollegeBCS.com's simulated BCS standings. Should they keep winning late into the season and start knocking on the title-game doorstep, we'll witness something else: significant outcry from those who feel the Broncos are undeserving.
However, there's very little precedent for voters suddenly downgrading a team without cause. And contrary to what you might believe, the BCS computers aren't likely to cause the Broncos' undoing. For one thing, they only account for one-third of the overall standings, not to mention an unblemished record goes a long way in the computers' eyes. Last season, both Utah and Boise State actually finished the regular season ranked higher by the computers than the voters. The Broncos may get docked a couple of "style points" should they endure an undue scare against a San Jose State or Idaho, but realistically, the only way they could fail to make up three spots in 10 weeks is if the voters start vaulting other, more "deserving" teams above them following a big win or two.
I'm not sure if Mandel is saying that the prospect of major conference teams vaulting Boise State because of big wins is "without cause." If he is saying that, then Mandel is both insane and violating his statement in December 2006 that the pollsters were not unreasonable in vaulting Florida past idle Michigan:
Carr was 100 percent correct when he pointed out Sunday night: "[Florida] would not have moved ahead of us had USC won its game" It's true. No one would have bothered re-ordering No. 3 and No. 4.
But the pollsters don't operate in a vacuum. They knew exactly what the stakes were when they turned in their ballots, and quite frankly, I don't think they felt comfortable playing God. They didn't feel comfortable relegating a 12-1 SEC champion to the Sugar Bowl based solely on their subjective belief -- check that, their assumption -- that the Gators wouldn't give Ohio State a better game than Michigan did.
If Mandel is OK with the notion of, for example, USC vaulting Boise State if the Trojans win at Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame, then we have nothing to argue about. However, this paragraph makes me think that Mandel really thinks the former and not the latter:
That said, realistically the Broncos would not take down a Florida or Texas in a championship setting, and there will probably be any number of other teams with better résumés. But the pollsters have set a precedent by ranking Boise this high this soon. If they suddenly turn around at the end of the season and blatantly manipulate the rankings to exclude the Broncos, the BCS is going to have yet another credibility issue on its hands.
How exactly is it "blatant manipulat[ion]" for the voters to reward teams for big wins by placing them over Boise State? Mandel's characterization concerns me because it creates a narrative for the Orrin Hatches of the world to complain when Boise gets put behind teams that defeat quality opponents. The Broncos are like a fantasy football team that has a big total because all of the team's players put up numbers in the Sunday 1 p.m. time slot. Boise has no remaining opportunities to pick up points, whereas other teams (including TCU) have a number of opportunities to impress.
And yes, there is some silliness in me playing the role of Kremlinologist about a writer whom I have previously criticized as a lazy thinker on a number of occasions.