Today opens the 2006 Mountain West Conference media blitz and the traditional preseason conference rankings have been released.
- Air Force
It's not surprising that TCU was picked to finish first, it is surprising that BYU was picked to finish 2nd. Mostly because BYU needs to go on the road to face TCU, Utah and CSU. So I'm assuming the Mountain West media thinks BYU will go 2-1 in those three games, with their most likely loss coming to TCU. That would mean BYU would need to come into Salt Lake City and beat Utah, something they haven't done in four years (and they haven't won in Salt Lake City since 2000). Not what I'd call playing the odds.
But we can't take too much stock in these preseason picks because last year TCU was picked to finish 6th, while Utah was picked to finish 1st and we know how that turned out.
However this does show Utah still can't garner the respect locally (regionally) that it has been able to get nationally. For the first time in many years, the Utes are picked to finish better in the conferences by preseason magazines than they are by the regional media of Mountain West Conference members.
Some other preseason picks by the media:
Offensive Player of the Year: Beck
Defensive Player of the Year: Weddle
Freshmen of the Year: Jacobson (WR, BYU)
So what we can decipher from this is that the Mountain West media is high on BYU. Finish 6-6 with two straight losses and you're suddenly back to the glory years of 11 win seasons. The media has also soured on Wyoming, which is odd considering last year Wyoming was the media darlings (picked to finish 2nd in the poll). While the Pokes struggled, I'm not about to say they're going to perch themselves at the bottom of the conference just yet.
As a comparison, here's my preseason Mountain West preview and my take on how the conference will shake out in November:
*Utah: 7-1 (11-1)
*TCU: 7-1 (10-2)
*BYU: 5-3 (7-5)
Wyoming: 4-4 (6-6)
Colorado State: 4-4 (6-6)
*New Mexico: 4-4 (7-5)
*San Diego State: 3-5 (6-6)
UNLV: 1-7 (3-9)
Air Force: 1-7 (2-10)
* Bowl teams.
Well either I'm really far off, the media is far off or none of us know what the hell we're talking about. The only picks that match up are the TCU one -- which isn't exactly true either because I have TCU and Utah tying for first -- and UNLV finishing 2nd to last. We'll have to revisit these picks when the season is over and see who came the closest.
There will be more media day events later today, which can be watched live via the Mountain West Conference website.
Kyle Whittingham and other Mountain West coaches should be interviewed later tonight.