Blog Entry

Picking the Mountain West

Posted on: June 4, 2009 1:05 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2009 1:36 pm
The Mountain West needs to focus, look closer. Capitol Hill's favorite conference spent the offseason pitching its case to Congress and challenging the BCS.  

But let's be clear. It was the coaches poll -- the prove-it-on-the-field guys -- that hit Utah with a lead pipe with its final regular-season poll.

The Utes finished No. 7. Seventh, for what turned out to be the nation's only undefeated major-college team. Utah's chances were dead before it got that Sugar Bowl bid. Great result and all that in New Orleans but let's analyze why the Utes couldn't play for it all.

There's a bias, all right. It comes from the coaches. The Harris poll also voted Utah seventh before the bowls but it almost gets a pass. The Harris voters aren't in the business, lining their pockets with bowl money, at the same time denying two major-college teams (Boise was undefeated in the regular season too) a better bowl fate.

The coaches, dear Mountain West, are the ones who have drawn the line -- and it clearly doesn't include teams from below the BCS level. Is that about to change? We'll see with the Mountain West sporting three possible BCS busters again this season (Utah, BYU, TCU). 

Only the top two teams in the BCS play in the national championship. The winner gets the coaches poll automatic No. 1 vote (or is supposed to). 

Heck, Utah was only able to make it up to No. 4 in the coaches after beating Alabama by two touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl.

The BCS might be unfair to the great unwashed non-BCS school but it is unfair mostly because the voting coaches -- by and large -- don't take those schools seriously. (Remember, Utah finished second in the Associated Press media poll. It was fifth among the computers.)

Guess who had the majority of the coaches votes last season? Thirty-seven of the 61 voting coaches came from BCS conferences (61 percent). The power conference schools make up only 55 percent of Division I-A. 

The Mountain West voters were New Mexico's Rocky Long (Utah, No. 7 before the bowls); TCU's Gary Patterson (No. 7) and Utah's Kyle Whittingham (No. 5). Whittingham voted his Utes No. 1 after the Sugar Bowl.

The Mountain West has done its best to make all of this clear.  Unfortunately, it will be another five seasons, at least, before any kind of playoff can be staged.

Until then, there is a hope. Short of a playoff, we learned in January that the Mountain West could gain automatic BCS access by 2012
The noble fight goes on in 2009 with Utah expected to repeat as conference champions. Don't tell TCU and BYU, though.

Picking the Mountain West ... 

1. Utah -- Give Whittingham credit. He didn't mope around after getting shafted. He didn't skip town for a bright, shiny new job. He stuck to the task. Losing quarterback Brian Johnson, kicker/punter Louie Sakoda and defensive end Paul Kruger won't be hard with 24 redshirt freshmen returning, not including three players back from missions. Remember the name Corbin Louks at quarterback. 

2. BYU -- Along the Wasatch Range they're talking about the Cougars the way the rest of the nation is talking about Utah. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has won 32 games the past three seasons while winning two Mountain West titles. This year's team is loaded and gets the Utes at home to finish the regular season. Best sign? The last four times BYU has had a senior quarterback, it has won the league. Senior Max Hall is the Mountain West's best at his position. Defensive end Jan Jorgensen is the league's career sack leader.

3. TCU -- Coach Gary Patterson specializes in taking high school running backs and turning them into defensive terrors. Get ready, then, for All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes to cause more damage. Hughes was handed a defensive number when he got to Fort Worth and went to work. Last year he led the nation with 15 sacks. TCU's unit as a whole led the nation giving up only 47 rushing yards. If the Frogs are going to jump over Utah, they can't get bogged down offensively. Last year's 13-10 loss in Salt Lake City was a killer.

4. Air Force -- It has been a seamless transition from Fisher DeBerry to Troy Calhoun who has won 17 games in his first two seasons in Colorado Springs. The option offense continues to be the great equalizer. The Falcons should win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Beyond that, we're wondering if Air Force is the team that started 8-2 in '08 or the one that lost its last three.

5. UNLV -- Mike Sanford likely saved his job by winning five games last season. Bowl eligibility is a definite possibility this season. That's saying a lot for a program that has had one winning season in the last 14. Ryan Wolfe is the leading returning receiver in the league (88 catches, six touchdowns).

6. New Mexico -- First-time, first-year coach Mike Locksley has made his share of waves since arriving in the high desert. He injected some energy in what had become a lazy program. He used his recruiting prowess to snatch a few players from the Washington, D.C. area. Above all else, Locksley, the former Illinois OC, needs a Juice Williams-like presence at quarterback. Recruit Emmanuel Yeager left school recently to go back to D.C. That might have set the position back considering incumbent Donovan Porterie was recruited by Rocky Long to run the option. 

7. Colorado State -- Steve Fairchild took the Rams from 3-9 to 7-6 (and a bowl win) in his first season. That tied for the most wins since 2002. The defense must get better after giving up 30 points per game. A veteran offensive line could spring junior tailback John Mosure for a big year.

8. Wyoming -- Dave Christensen, his Hog and his spread offense blew into Laramie from Missouri promising  more appealing football. Christensen was the OC at Missouri for Chase Daniel and the Tigers' record-setting offense. Last season Wyoming's offense averaged less than 13 points per game. There's no one on the roster close to resembling Daniel. Let's hope that Christensen's motorcycle isn't the program's most entertaining feature.

9. San Diego State -- Still trying to figure out why Brady Hoke made this lateral move from Ball State to take this job. Sure, Ball State wouldn't bump up salaries for Hoke's assistants. Is that a reason to go to the worst program in the Mountain West? Brady, your career is at risk here. 

Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: June 9, 2009 12:34 pm

Picking the Mountain West

4.  LOL @ parody in the MAC.  Please look up that word.  You actually made your own joke.  You meant parity.  And you're right about parity to a point.  But, Utah is the only team in MWC history to run thru conf play unbeaten. Good call on that, ha.

Yes, the MAC is on the Disney Networks more.  Not due to any bias.  It's called TV contracts.  The MWC doesn't have one with Disney.  They actually have their own network, which was a stupid idea. I had no idea the Mountain West had their own TV network. I guess i'm not suprised, heck, the Horizon League has one.

Also, according the BCS rules, the MWC if it keeps up what it did will secure a BCS bid in 2012.
I thought 2012 was the year where all conferences are re-evaluated. The MWC isn't guaranteed a BCS bid now. During the last review of the BCS and the conferences, as sad as it is, the Big East was rated higher than the MWC.


Since: Jun 24, 2008
Posted on: June 9, 2009 10:23 am

You Can't Dodge the Big Boys and then Complain...

If Utah wants recognition, they should not have dodged a date with Texas this September.  Texas had a last-minute opening in its 2009 schedule, created when Arkansas decided lastyear's beat down by the Horns was enough, so mack Brown called Utah head ocach Whiitingham.  Whittingham dodged the date because Texas could not reciprocate with a Utah home date any time in the near future.  So, if you don't want to play with the big boys, then shut up and take your Mountain West trophy.  TCU played Texas recently, BYU is playing OU this September, but Utah dodged a date against Colt McCoy and the Longhorns!

Since: Aug 23, 2007
Posted on: June 9, 2009 3:52 am

Just one correction for you Stoner

Utah is not the only team in MWC history to go undefeated. TCU did it in 2005, and BYU did it in 2006 and again in 2007.

Everything else considered, going to the MWC was the smart move. All they have to do is be .500 against BCS teams they will easily beat out the Big LEast for the Auto Bid in 2012.

Since: Dec 28, 2007
Posted on: June 9, 2009 2:49 am

Picking the Mountain West

1-2.  Okay, cost of living does somewhat balance out the salary increase.  I've been to Ohio...not Muncie.  But not many people want to spend their vacation in Ohio.

3.  Yes, I know you have defensive players returning, and a bowl game next year.  Compared to last year, you're getting worse.  And that "good" D was ranked 69th in the nation in total defense last year.  That's what I meant about Ball State having no where to go but down.  I understand they will be in a bowl.  Something SDSU hasn't been in since it was a WAC member.  But, no way they will the duplicate what they did last year any time soon.

4.  LOL @ parody in the MAC.  Please look up that word.  You actually made your own joke.  You meant parity.  And you're right about parity to a point.  But, Utah is the only team in MWC history to run thru conf play unbeaten. 

5.  Lateral move?  That's funnier than your parody comment.  Ball State had record attendance in 2008.  Yet, it still didn't match one of the worst years in attendance in SDSU history, which was also last year.  SDSU offers a larger buget, closer access to better recruits and potential to grow, which was he already capped out at Ball St.  Also, according the BCS rules, the MWC if it keeps up what it did will secure a BCS bid in 2012.  The MAC was rated the worst league in all of FBS football, except for the Sun Belt.  The MWC was actually rated higher last year than a few BCS conferences.  Yes, the MAC is on the Disney Networks more.  Not due to any bias.  It's called TV contracts.  The MWC doesn't have one with Disney.  They actually have their own network, which was a stupid idea.  Especially since it said no to the Disney Sports Networks.  So now it's either games on Versus or the Mountain or CBS's cable toy.

Thanks for the well wishes.  Just corrected some of the stuff you posted.  Odds are, Ball St. will have a better 2009 than SDSU.  But, not the case in 2010.

Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: June 8, 2009 10:58 pm

Picking the Mountain West

Dodd:  You need to have your head removed from your rectum.  Here’s why Hoke made the “lateral” move:

  Tripling his salary

Living in Indiana vs. living in San Diego..are you kidding me, Dodd?  A dead blind man could see this one.  As well as #1

  The cupboard was emptying out at Ball State and he had nowhere to go but down there

SDSU is indeed a morbid program, but it offers much potential with recruiting the very fertile So Cal region.  True, U$C and UCLA get the dibs on top tier recruits.  However, Boise State and other non-BCS schools have made a killing off So Cal 2<sup>nd</sup> tier talent and it’s time SDSU gets those recruits to SDSU.  He signed 4 of Orange County’s top 20 recruits in short time, including its POY Preston King, who was also first team all state.   So in short, SDSU has nowhere to go but up.

Is moving from the MAC to the MWC really a lateral move?  LMAO.  Come on, Dodd.  Get real.  

Before I go off into a rant, I will state by saying we all appreciated everything Coach Hoke did for the Ball State football program, and his decision was based off not getting raises for his assistants etc. etc. That being said,

1-2. Average price of a singe family home in San Diego, 440,000. Muncie, 59,300. Those statistics really make that salary increase worth while. ( Also Muncie is the most affordable FBS college town in the U.S., that's the difference of being in the midwest compared to the west coast. I understand San Diego is great, but as a Ball State student, Muncie is not bad at all.

3. The cupboard was emptying out? We lost Darius Hill and Davis, among others, but we still have a great tailback in MiQuale Lewis as well as a defense intact with another year of experience. I smell another year of Bowl-Eligibility.

4. True, San Diego State has nowhere to go but up. However, they aren't surpassing BYU, TCU, Utah or even Air Force anytime soon. There is alot more parody in the MAC than the other non-BCS conferences, and there isn't a group of front-runners year in and year out.

5. Yes, it is a lateral move. They both have the same access by the rulebook into the BCS. The MAC has 3 automatic berths to bowls each year, and the MWC has 4. Doesn't seem like a huge jump to me, and thanks to media bias tilting towards the east coast and mid-west, the MAC has more cable televised games than the MWC.

And with that all being said, respectfully, I wish Coach Hoke and SDSU luck in the future.

Since: Jan 17, 2009
Posted on: June 8, 2009 6:36 pm

Picking the Mountain West

This is easy.

BYU will run away this year. 

BYU has not lost at home in three years. TCU and UTAH come to Provo... also CSU and AFA.... game over.

11-2 is my prediction... 1 league loss on the road and Oklahoma.

BYU is 2-0 vs the sooners...  

Defense will be much improved.  Also Hall will be better with having to spread the ball around with Collie gone.

Utah 4 or 5th ...

Look for CSU to jump and AFA to move ahead of the Utes... They lost alot of key players... And 9-5 is normal for a UTE Rebuilding season.  To think they are going to win the MWC to me is nuts with BYU and TCU on the Road... No to mention AFA and CSU have a good record vs the Utes in Utah rebuilding seasons.

Since: Aug 23, 2007
Posted on: June 8, 2009 6:30 pm

Picking the Mountain West

BYU does have a shot at beating Oklahoma, but it will take a very good game on their part. Maybe if we could get Sam Bradford to stay in his hotel, then they could get the W.

Since: Aug 23, 2007
Posted on: June 8, 2009 6:29 pm

Picking the Mountain West

Please explain to me how BYU has no D? They are returning 8 starters on D. Yes they struggled on D the second half of the season, but BYU in 2006 and 2007 were top 20 D's both years. In 2008 they were replacing all but one of their 4 LBs, and 3 of their 4 DBs. This year they are replacing one LB and one DB.

Since: Aug 23, 2007
Posted on: June 8, 2009 6:26 pm

Picking the Mountain West

Saying that going from the MAC to the MWC is a lateral move is like saying going from the Big LEast to the BIG 12 is a lateral move.

Since: Aug 23, 2007
Posted on: June 8, 2009 6:24 pm

Dennis you need to do more research

Picking Utah to finish first shows you didn't do your homework. If Utah finishes third it will be a good year for them. And BTW, pimping Corbin Louks is a bad move. Even the ute coaching staff is hoping that he isn't their starter in the fall.

The real battle will be between BYU and TCU. Utah has to play both on the road. 

BYU has both at home and a senior QB who is also one of the best in the nation. BYU has also only lost 2 conf. games in the last 3 years. BYU is the odds on prohibitive favorite.  

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