In this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” I will be looking at where each team in the Mountain West finished their season. For the sake of fairness, I have decided to add a new category for this edition.
The Bulldogs rode a dominant defense and great quarterback play to a conference championship. Jeff Tedford has done a wonderful job in Fresno. His hiring was questioned by a number of people, but he has been a home run. It will be interesting to see how the Bulldogs handle the attrition they are facing and who will take over at quarterback.
The Aggies were expected to finish fourth in the Mountain West by many experts. They finished the season with eleven wins and a dominant bowl victory. Now the real question arises, can Utah State deal with the loss of their coach and have another successful season? The Aggies have had some great seasons in the past, but consistency has always been an issue.
This one was close, but ultimately winning the bowl game put the Wolf Pack in this category. I’m afraid that this will be a short term spot for the boys in Reno, as they have to deal with some major transfers and the graduation of their star quarterback.
The Rainbow Warriors were expected to be bad this year, but they exceeded expectations. I contemplated putting Hawaii in the next category, but we need to be realistic and understand that the back half of their schedule was much more challenging than the first half. The Warriors started the season on fire; they looked like a major challenger in the West, but they just aren’t there yet. They have a long way to go on the defensive side of the ball.
Am I being too tough on the Broncos? Probably. Most schools would kill for a 10 win season and a division championship, but most schools are not Boise State. The Broncos have one main goal entering each season and that is to win the Mountain West Championship, and they fell short. The Broncos entered the season with sky high expectations; a senior quarterback, a 1,000 yard rusher, and stacked defense will do that. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the injury bug hit them early and often. And we can’t forget about the canceled bowl game. That was just odd.
The fact that the Cowboys worked themselves into this position is a testament to the great work that Coach Bohl and his staff are doing in Laramie. The Cowboys looked dead in the water, but a strong finish to the season allowed them to finish with .500 record.
The Falcons showed flashes of potential over the course of the season. They beat Navy and looked poised to play spoiler in the Mountain. Except things never came together and the Falcons missed out on a bowl again. Has Calhoun lost his magic in Colorado Springs?
I was critical of the Tony Sanchez hiring from day one, and I remain critical of his work. The Rebels had to deal with an injury to their star quarterback, Armani Rogers, but they were a miss during the majority of conference play. A win over their rival, Nevada, kept them out of the ugly category.
San Diego State
I strongly considered putting the Aztecs under the ugly category. Recent success has resulted in high expectations for the SDSU program. While a 7-5 season would be acceptable at many schools, the way the Aztecs finished the season was perplexing after their victory in Boise. SDSU was absolutely destroyed by Ohio in the Frisco Bowl. Is Rocky Long losing his touch? I guess we will find out in 2019.
San Jose State
I’m going to be honest, I think the Spartans improved as the season progressed. Are they anywhere close to competing consistently? No, but they looked competent on offense and gave the Aztecs a run for their money. I think SJSU has an excellent shot to win three or four games in 2019.
You know your athletic department is a mess when you keep a coach like Bob Davie around. Most respectable programs fire coaches that are surrounded by controversy, especially coaches that aren’t winning games. The Lobos fell short of a bowl game and don’t look close to improving. The New Mexico program has resorted to relying on junior college players and hoping they can strike gold. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were a Lobo fan.
The Rams had arguably the most disappointing season of any team in the conference. They were dealt a tough hand, as they had to deal with the health issues of their head coach, Mike Bobo. But, they had promising talent on the offensive side of the ball. The Rams have continued to struggle on the defensive side of the ball under Bobo. A new contract and significant buyout have put the Rams in a tough spot.
Stay tuned for the next edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” as I will be breaking down the biggest moments of the 2018 Mountain West football season.