- Graham Watson, College Football
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The Western Athletic Conference is using Boise-based PR firm Scott Peyron & Associates to help Boise State's football team in its push for a BCS bowl.
The firm was put on a monthly retainer this summer to help promote Boise State as a legitimate participant in a BCS bowl should it go undefeated regardless of whether another nonautomatic qualifying school is ranked ahead of it.
Last season, the Broncos were undefeated during the regular season and ranked No. 9 in the BCS standings, but Utah was ranked ahead of them and earned the guaranteed spot to a BCS bowl.
This season, Boise State is in a similar situation. The Broncos are No. 7 in the current BCS standings, but TCU is No. 6. Both teams are undefeated, but under the current BCS rules only the highest-ranked team is guaranteed a BCS bowl berth while the other is available for an improbable at-large bid.
The role of Scott Peyron & Associates is to keep Boise State in the forefront of the minds of the media. It does not lobby voters or coaches. It does email a weekly list of talking points regarding Boise State's accomplishments to members of the national media. It also sets up interviews for WAC commissioner Karl Benson and prepares statistical information for him to use to make a case for the Broncos.
"We've found that people just want to go back to the Fiesta Bowl win in 2007 and talk about that being a fluke and haven't really done their research in terms of [Boise State's] home game winning percentage or other interesting facts over the years," said Doug Cole, a group practice leader with the firm.
"They'll forget about the Hawaii records and all that. So, we just constantly remind people of the storied recent history of the WAC and Boise State and get them to consider that when they write their stories."
Two of the firm's biggest pushes have come during the past couple weeks. After TCU defeated then No. 16 (BCS and AP) BYU, it earned enough strength of schedule credit in the computer rankings to push past the Broncos. Cole said the immediate move was to make sure that people didn't forget Boise State.
"We made sure to let the national press know that a win against the 16th ranked BYU, which is now unranked, is not as strong as Boise State's signature win against No. 16 (AP) Oregon, which is now ranked eighth," Cole said. "Those are the types of things that dictate what our positioning is in terms of reminding media and getting stats in front of [the media] just so they can be honest and not ignore Boise State."
After Oregon's win over USC last week, the firm reminded media members that Oregon's only loss came at the hands of Boise State and that the Broncos held the Ducks to several season lows, including points and total yardage.
This isn't the first time the WAC has sought the help of a PR firm to get one of its members into a BCS bowl. In 2007, the conference hired Bob Rose, a former Stanford sports information director, to conduct a similar campaign for Hawaii. The Warriors went undefeated that regular season and were selected by the Sugar Bowl. Rose also helped push Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan for the Heisman Trophy. Brennan finished third in the voting.
Benson said prior to the TCU-BYU game that the message he and Scott Peyron & Associates tried to convey was that Boise State should have an opportunity to play for the national championship. Once the Broncos were passed by TCU, the message changed to Boise State should get an opportunity for an at-large bid.
The WAC doesn't care where Boise State gets into the BCS, just that it gets a spot.
"This is not a lobbying effort," Benson stressed. "We are not lobbying pollsters, we're not doing anything direct to the coaches poll or to the Harris poll voters. We're simply trying to maintain a message that brings attention to what Boise State has done over the course of the last six years. They certainly have established themselves as a credible, legitimate, bona fide top 10 team."
Graham Watson is an ESPN.com football blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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