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: May 14, 2008
Posted on: June 8, 2009 5:43 pm

Picking the Mountain West

I think I see why he's saying going from Ball St to San Diego St could be a lateral move: going from the top of the MAC this season to the bottom of the MWC every season could be seen as lateral.  I don't think it is, but that's my opinion.

Since: Dec 28, 2007
Posted on: June 8, 2009 2:52 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.


Since: Jan 27, 2009
Posted on: June 8, 2009 11:50 am

Picking the Mountain West

I'm a Cougar and I pick the Cougars to win.  Not just because I'm a Cougar, but because they have their major conference opponents at home.  Teams like FL come into Cougar stadium and they fold (See Miami #1 getting dismantled by BYU in Provo).  Whether its the altitude or just the stadium, who knows.  But Bronco has the Cougars winning all their home games for the last few years.

Now as to 12-0.  That is the definition of hopeful in my opinion.  Oklahoma is L-O-A-D-E-D and we get to play them in their backyard for an opener.  Prognosis? Not good.  Sure we could sneak away with a win.  Maybe we could pounce on them somehow.  There's always a chance.  But I'm not going to lose any sleep over it unless it comes from a pick six in the last minute to give OK the win.

Since: Jan 27, 2009
Posted on: June 8, 2009 11:42 am

Picking the Mountain West


Since: Aug 25, 2007
Posted on: June 8, 2009 8:44 am

Picking the Mountain West

BYU has no defense, and with a preseason schedule that includes Oklahoma, Florida State, and a conference schedule with TCU and Utah, I have a hard time thinking they will run the table. They may win the MWC this year, but 12-0 seems very unlikely this year. I think BYU will put up some points in the opener, but I think Oklahoma will name their score.

Since: Nov 5, 2008
Posted on: June 8, 2009 12:39 am

Picking the Mountain West

I think that the Mountain West's top 3 will be tight for conference champ. Utah will and should be somewhat worse, maybe by a loss, after losing their kicker, can't place his name. What of Brigham Young? I think they can be a good team, barring strong performance in their running game. TCU needs a QB. it's pretty obvious, but I give the crown to BYU, going 12-0 and reaching the Sugar Bowl to play Ole Miss. What do you think?

Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: June 6, 2009 12:46 am

Picking the Mountain West

It's tempting to put BYU ahead of Utah, simply because they get Utah and TCU at home this year. Except for Oklahoma, BYU's toughest opponents are coming to Provo. If we're talking power ratings only, and not predicted order of finish, I give the nod to Utah, just because I think they would play better on the road than BYU would.

Since: Jun 5, 2009
Posted on: June 5, 2009 5:21 pm

Picking the Mountain West

Yeah, Hoke went to SDSU because they're paying his assistants more. There's also that small factor playing in that they nearly tripled his salary!

Ball State was paying him 275,000 per year. SDSU is paying him around 750,000. You add in athletic budget, recruiting area, etc. and you have a deal.

Also, where would you rather live? Indiana or San Diego......

Real tough choice there!

Since: Sep 24, 2008
Posted on: June 5, 2009 3:20 pm

Picking the Mountain West

Utah finished #1 in the computers. #2 in the AP. It was the Coaches that voted against them. Gary Pinkel had Utah 15th before the Bowls.

Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: June 5, 2009 2:21 pm

Picking the Mountain West

I want to start off by wishing Brady Hoke success at SDSU, even though the move is still baffling to me. He is the reason that Ball State recovered from the Post-Bill Lynch era at Ball State (See Lynch's record at Indiana now). Hopefully one of the MWC schools can earn another BCS bid this year, Utah proved to be in my opnion, one of the better stories for sports in 2008. BYU will probably put up huge numbers against their oponents this year, and barring a mid-season hiccup, very well may be a 1 loss team heading into the Holy War. November 28 will definitely be one of the most important games of this up-coming season for college football.

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