UPDATE 2:43 p.m. — Boise is ranked No. 69 in the Sporting News' annual Best Sports Cities rankings. The city was 85th last year.
Pittsburgh is No. 1 this year. Boston, No. 1 last season, is No. 3.
Other Idaho cities: Moscow (128), Pocatello (181) and Idaho Falls (375).
Other WAC cities: San Jose (24), Reno, Nev. (93), Logan, Utah (101), Ruston, La. (108), Fresno, Calif. (110), Honolulu (116) and Las Cruces, N.M. (125).
This year's list includes 399 cities and towns in the U.S. and Canada.
From the Sporting News:
"Boise has a lot going for it, and really has become part of the national sports scene with Smurf turf and the Boise State football team,” said Sporting News chief of correspondents Bob Hille, who has coordinated the rankings since their expansion 13 years ago.
“We know, though, that win or lose the fans there are going to support their teams in that community.”
The cities are ranked by a system that assigns points to a variety of categories, including a city’s number of teams, their regular-season won-lost records, playoff berths, bowl appearances and tournament bids, championships, applicable power ratings, fan fervor, attendance and more.
“We identify with our sports teams as cities and communities, and, right or wrong, that affects how we feel about ourselves, not just as fans but as citizens,” Hille said. “That’s what we’re getting at with this list. We’re not just celebrating success but that sense of community in so many great sports cities in the U.S. and Canada.”
The full list can be found at here.
Sporting News began its Best Sports Cities rankings in 1993. Past winners:
Note: There was no Best Sports City in 1996 as the ratings were expanded and refined.
UPDATE 2:14 p.m. — Boise's favorite national columnist, CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel, says BCS title game is for big boys, not Boise State or Cincinnati.
1:19 p.m. — What if is one of the greatest questions in sports.
What if Barry Sanders had played for those great Dallas teams and Emmitt Smith had played for the lowly Lions? Would the Cowboys have won all those titles? Would Smith be the all-time leading rusher in NFL history?
After watching the ESPN documentary on Wayne Gretzky’s 1988 trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles, what if the Oilers had held onto the Great One? Would they have won four more titles? Would hockey have expanded into the Sun Belt without Gretzky going to L.A.?
But here’s one I got to thinking about last week — after watching Colorado and Louisville get torched on consecutive nights on national television: What if Chris Petersen had gone with Dan Hawkins to Colorado?
It’s not out of the question.
In fact, Petersen was planning on going with Hawkins to be his offensive coordinator after the 2005 season. But, after about three days, Petersen decided he would rather remain in Boise and become the head coach of the Broncos.
With Petersen as his offensive coordinator, is it possible that Hawkins’ disastrous tenure with the Buffaloes is instead a success? Hawkins is 14-26 at Colorado and 8-16 in Big 12 play. He is on the hot seat with fans and the media.
If Petersen had left with Hawkins, the then-Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe would have been among the leading candidates for the Boise State job. Kragthorpe was a hot commodity at the time.
He had just led Tulsa to a 9-4 record and a victory in the Liberty Bowl in 2005. He was 21-17 with two bowl appearances in three seasons with the Golden Hurricane at the time.
Kragthorpe would coach another season at Tulsa, going 8-5 and reaching the Armed Forces Bowl before getting the job at Louisville.
At Louisville, Kragthorpe is 12-16 and 4-11 in Big East play. He is most definitely on the hot seat.
If Petersen had left, what happens to Bryan Harsin, who Petersen elevated to his offensive coordinator? Does Harsin go to Colorado, too? Justin Wilcox was the linebackers coach at California. He is probably not the defensive coordinator at Boise State if Petersen is not here.
Meanwhile, Petersen is 40-4 as the Broncos head coach, including 24-1 in the WAC. Boise State won the 2006 Fiesta Bowl and is aiming for its third undefeated regular season in his four years. The Broncos are currently No. 6 in the country — and Boise State certainly is a better job than Colorado or Louisville at the moment.
Is Colorado better if Petersen goes with Hawkins? Almost assuredly yes.
Is Boise State better if Kragthorpe replaces Hawkins? There’s almost zero chance of that. There's no Fiesta Bowl. Probably no Kellen Moore on the blue. No No. 5 ranking.
Shows you how easily history can be changed.
• ESPN.com’s Pat Forde hit on the troubles of Louisville and Colorado in his weekly Dash.
• CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd thinks it’s unfair that Boise State is being treated differently than other teams in the Top 25.
One shocking line in the column: A coach has Boise State No. 18 on his ballot.
• ESPNU will televise four WAC women’s basketball games, including Boise State and Idaho.
Here are the games slated for ESPNU:
Louisiana Tech at Nevada, Jan. 26, 9 p.m.
Boise State at Fresno State, Jan. 27, 9 p.m.
Louisiana Tech at Idaho, March 3, 9 p.m.
WAC Tournament championship game, March 13, 2 p.m.
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Brian Murphy is co-author of "Blue Magic: Boise State's Unlikely Journey to a Fiesta Bowl Win." Click here to learn more about or purchase the book.