Location: Elmer's Pancake and Steakhouse in Boise, Idaho.
Date: Saturday morning, December 5, 2009 around 9:00am.
Scenario: Eric Poms, Chief Executive for the Orange Bowl selection committee, and John Junker, his counterpart for the Fiesta Bowl, are in town to watch Boise State play its final game of the season against New Mexico State. They run into each other at the local restaurant.
Eric Poms: ...and I'll have the triple stack of potato pancakes. What do you put on those by the way? Syrup, sour cream, butter? Because...
John Junker: Eric Poms! Is that you, you Florida cuss?
Eric Poms: Hey Junker! I thought I might see you this weekend.
John Junker: Son, do NOT get the potato pancakes. Those babies will block you up like Phoenix rush hour traffic. Get the Mexican Omelet and sprinkle it with this here.
[Junker holds up a bottle of tobasco]
It'll keep you clean as a whistle. Ma'am, would you kindly order us two Mexi omelets, one with extra green peppers, and I'll have some coffee. Mr. Poms, you'll thank me around 1 o'clock this afternoon. Mind if I join ya?
Eric Poms: Please do. I'll have a coffee too and some fresh squeezed orange juice.
Waitress: Alls we got here is frozen mister.
Eric Poms: I'll just have the coffee then, and maybe some water.
John Junker: So you looking at Boise are ya?
Eric Poms: Gotta look, right?
John Junker: Yeah, came up here in '06 before we got ‘em for the Oklahoma game.
Eric Poms: That's right...that was a great game.
John Junker: Well, Okie just shat themselves and played like a dog. We thought Boise could maybe last three quarters and make it look good enough, and we knew it was the right thing to do. But ‘ol Stoops there, well, he just can't get out of his own way. They bring a helluva crowd them Okies though.
Eric Poms: Yeah, how were your numbers for that one anyway?
John Junker: Ticket sales were fine. Like I say, the Okies will buy you out of house and home if it'll get ‘em the fifty-yard line. I think the whole God damned state of Oklahoma might of showed to be honest. But, them TV ratings were ‘nother story, second lowest ratings in the BCS era for us...right behind Utah and Pitt in '05. Good God were those awful bowl teams.
Eric Poms: Utah and Pitt?
John Junker: God yes...sold tickets that year good enough, but our TV numbers were in the toilet. As I recall, in the ratings rankings for the day we were just behind a Mr. Belvedere marathon on Lifetime.
Eric Poms: The old Bob Uecker sitcom? Jesus!
John Junker: Imagine that, huh? Live and learn I say.
Eric Poms: So who all you looking at?
John Junker: We'll after Texas does a Chuck Norris on the Huskers, we're pretty much down to four teams. What about you?
Eric Poms: Assuming Clemson wins, and we've been pretty religious in our prayer rituals to help us along on that one, we're looking at three to five teams.
John Junker: Don't want the Nerds to get the auto bid, eh?
Eric Poms: Oh please no. We need to make a profit this year. Truth be told, we should find a way to break our contract with the ACC. They're just killing us.
John Junker: I hear ya. We ain't looking at any of them boys and haven't for years. That conference can't play with anything but a round ball. I pity you for havin ‘em.
Eric Poms: Yeah. We're not opposed to a playoff if we're going to be stuck with them. So obviously you're looking at Boise, just like us. What do you know? How did they pan out last time?
John Junker: Nice enough team. They got them a nice coach. He'll do whatever you ask him. But don't no one in America know who the hell he is. They play in front of 35,000 on a sunny day. They're on TV at godforsaken hours of the day on godforsaken days of the week. Never on a damn Saturday. They probably have a east coast following of paramedics and bartenders, ‘cause they kick-off at two in the morning or some such. West coast people like ‘em I assume.
Eric Poms: That's it? 35,000?
John Junker: Oh, yeah. Gotta do your homework son. The stadium used to hold 17,000 but they expanded a few years back. I know what your thinkin, most Texas high schools play in front of more than that. It ain't a lot of bee-hinds, I'll give you that.
Eric Poms: 17,000 is about how many can be seated in the sky boxes at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
John Junker: I know. Well, it ain't a big state to begin with though.
Eric Poms: What else?
John Junker: Well, they're an all or nothing team when it comes to competin'. Sure everyone remembers when they tossed the sevens against Stoops and Company, but we all know with all that rinky dink crapola they do, they could just as easily get rolled by 40.
Eric Poms: You know, I'll tell you the truth. I told our committee I would come look at them but we need our tickets sold this year and I just can't see the equivalent of their whole stadium buying a plane ticket to South Florida. We need schools to buy 18,000 tickets minimum but we expect 25,000 to 30,000 really.
John Junker: Then there's the culture shock. You do know that one of the largest sports events in the state this year was Monster Jam...40-some thousand.
Eric Poms: The Truck show? You sure?
John Junker: ...and Border Days too. They had a huge showing for that.
Eric Poms: What's that?
John Junker: A rodeo. Literally, dogs and ponies.
Eric Poms: Good God. I can't bring these people to South Beach.
John Junker: Not unless you wanna do a McCloud.
Eric Poms: McCloud?
John Junker: The ‘ol Dennis Weaver TV show on Sunday nights back in the day. Yeah, it flip-flopped with Columbo and McMillan and Wife. I just loved that 'ol boy. It was 'bout a Texas Ranger who finds himself solvin crimes in New York City, where he fits in about as well as jeans in a linen closet. But anyway, them Boise folks they like their football well enough. I wouldn't hold my breath waitin for 'em to hit the beach, but they'll be respectful and all.
Eric Poms: Didn't McMillan and Wife star Rock Hudson as McMillan?
John Junker: Yep. That's some acting there.
Eric Poms: So, you taking Boise with your first pick then?
John Junker: Hell no. We're either taking Iowa or Penn State with that one.
Eric Poms: We got them on our list too.
John Junker: Well, cross ‘em off then. We ain't letting them get by us.
Eric Poms: So Boise would be your second pick then?
John Junker: Between them, TCU and Cinncy, unless Pitt beats them ‘em of course.
Eric Poms: If Cinncy loses do you then look at Pitt? 10-2 at that point you know?
John Junker: Not a snowball's chance in Glendale. Those Pitt fans wouldn't attend the second ‘comin of Jesus Christ himself...even if it were in God damned Philly.
Eric Poms: Yeah, I've heard they're pretty provincial. They're not on our radar either. My concern with Boise--besides the number of fans--is that they might not be competitive.
John Junker: We'll, does a squirrel love his nuts? Of course they might not be competitive. They played half their games against the lowest ranked teams in the country. They played Miami of the Ohio variety for God sakes. Have you seen Miami play? Them boys can't call a coin toss without gettin injured or an unsportsmanlike. Aweful, aweful team.
Eric Poms: The old Roethlisberger school?
John Junker: He still claims them? Well, well. You know, Miami's got one victory this year, one, and it might have been a forfeit. Boise also played San Jose State. Well, you know about that team don't ya?
Eric Poms: No.
John Junker: Well, that San Jose team won one game against a FBS school, and guess who that was?
Eric Poms: I give.
John Junker: New Mexico State...the team Boise is playing today. The lord giveth, the lord taketh away. Blessed be the lord. My mama used to say that.
Eric Poms: I see. The schedule does seem a little cannibalistic. It's like Lord of the Flies but with cleats.
John Junker: Yep. The schedule of this here Boise team is a problem. It's filled with, this here's French, a poi pourri of teams that couldn't win a Division II title. I half expect some of them teams to drop football altogether about now. But, hey, they got that Oregon win.
Eric Poms: Yeah, that's what my committee said, "Hey, Boise beat Oregon!" So here I am. I also gotta see the blue turf.
John Junker: Used to be black turf when they were D-II you know.
Eric Poms: Black turf! Are you serious?
John Junker: Naw, just shittin ya. But it may as well be. You can't see a damn thing during the game because they wear them matching unis. Hell, after the first quarter I just went to the concession stand to get the chili fries. These people can do fries.
Eric Poms: Yeah, I wondered about that...the turf, not the fries.
John Junker: Let me tell you something. These Boise folks are crazy like a fox. This team's got it all figured out. The turf, the crazy damn plays. Listen here, they schedule one tough team every year, and pour the whole playbook into beating that team. Then after that game's over what's left is 11 weeks of the Sisters of the Poor. That is ‘til bowl season. And they're disciplined. They just wait out the BCS rankings, like a hostage negotiator. But, them boys in Fort Worth pulled a fast one on ‘em this year.
Eric Poms: Fort Worth?
John Junker: TCU.
Eric Poms: Oh, right!
John Junker: Course, TCU only played two teams this year themselves. But it's a real enough conference they play in. You know, I do believe if you shipped these Boise boys into that Mountain West Conference there, they'd get a heavy dose of Whup Ass. Don't ask me 'bout them going to a Pac-10, I'm a family man.
Eric Poms: I can't figure you out Junker. One minute you sound like you're going to invite them, the next minute you don't.
John Junker: Well, I guess we'd invite them this year.
Eric Poms: You would? But...
John Junker: Hell, if we get Penn State or Iowa---and we will get one of ‘em---we might sell out the stadium just with them. With either of those two schools you could play a God damned scrimmage, shirts and skins with yellow flags danglin off their hips, and they'd sell that son of bitch out. So our second invite don't matter a whole hill of beans.
Eric Poms: But you want a competitive game though. Right?
John Junker: Damn tootin.
Eric Poms: So you picking Boise or not?
John Junker: If TCU get's gobbled up by you, then probably.
Eric Poms: We don't want TCU because that would mean the Nerds won. TCU and Clemson already played and we don't want a rematch. Also, TCU can't sell out a home game. So major red flag.
John Junker: God no. A rematch in a bowl game is like sittin through David Mamet's Oleanna. My daughter got the little lady and me tickets to that in NYC one year. ‘Bout ripped my ears off after 10 minutes of that damn Meisner technique shit.
Eric Poms: Meisner technique?
John Junker: You know, where the actor says the same lines over and over again but with different intent.
Although, I gotta say that I liked the repetition in Glengarry, Glen Ross...but not in a bowl match-up.
Eric Poms: We'd like to get Iowa to be honest, or Penn State. The last time we had Iowa there were 35,000 inside the stadium and 8,000 people just sat outside the stadium all though the game. It was amazing. Just tailgating and having a good old time. They wanted in of course, but the game was way sold out. Those were some serious numbers.
John Junker: Forget about the Big Ten son. Don't even say it in your sleep. They're gone. We won't let ‘em get to you. You need to focus on Clemson, they're your only hope for ticket sales.
Eric Poms: But don't you want a match-up of the undefeateds? You could match-up Boise and TCU or TCU and Cinncy?
John Junker: No way Jose. I'm not much interested in matching up two cowboy schools. Last I checked, the Marlboro man weren't much of a shopper. They'll buy a T-shirt from an illegal vendor outside the stadium, but more than few will probably sleep in their F-150s, and show five minutes before kick-off and skedaddle out of town five minutes after the final gun. We need some tourists son. From what I've heard from the Outback and Cap One boys, these here Hawkeye fans are like Daryl Hannah in Splash...they'll come down here and buy out the town.
Eric Poms: I was afraid you'd say that. We'll we might be stuck with the Boise team then. If Clemson wins we'll have them or Cinncy and Cinncy was a disaster last year. No one on our committee wants to see them again. They don't travel and they don't make the networks happy.
John Junker: Take Boise. You may not sell out and you might not do your local economy any favors but at least you'll be the good guy this year.
Eric Poms: Being the good guy doesn't pay the bills though.
John Junker: Well, it's all moot anyway. Obama is going to force a playoff on us all.
Eric Poms: If the alternative is being stuck with TCU, Cinncy or Boise...that may not be such a bad thing.
John Junker: You're going to be stuck with them with a playoff too! Anyway, once they force the playoff I'm outta here. That'll be the end of the junkets, the gifts, and the free meals. Hell, as far as I am concerned once they dump the bowl system, batten down the hatches ‘cause here comes the socialism.
Eric Poms: But at least I won't feel like I'm forced to take a Boise. In the current system I practically have to invite them. The system makes it appear as though I want them. I want Notre Dame! I want Florida, Miami, or Florida State. I want Oklahoma or Texas.
John Junker: Eric, you got a lot to learn son. Some of the freest markets have some of the greatest restrictions.
Eric Poms: Huh?
John Junker: So, you gonna eat that last potato cake there?
Eric Poms: No, you can have it. I've lost my appetite.
John Junker: Don't mind if I do.