Welcome to a new short summer series here at MWCConnection. I had the thought a few weeks ago that myself and others on the team here have formed thoughts and opinions over the years from following and writing about the Mountain West. But what does an “outsider” think about the Mountain West? So on Thursdays going forward, hear from different bloggers, reporters, coaches, and others as we ask them a few questions to get their perspective on the MWC. Enjoy.
Today’s initial post features Clayton Trutor.
Can you introduce yourself and where you fit in the world of sports?
I am an author, historian, and freelance writer. I serve as the editor of Down the Drive, SB Nation’s Cincinnati Bearcats blog. I am the Vermont state chairman of the Society for American Baseball Research. I am the author of Loserville: How Professional Sports Remade Atlanta—and How Atlanta Remade Professional Sports (University of Nebraska Press, February 2022).
How often do you watch Mountain West sports?
I don’t actively seek out Mountain West football but end up watching several Mountain West games each season. Wyoming has my favorite uniforms in college football and I find it hard not to stick with them for a while if they appear on television. I can’t recall the last time I watch a Mountain West Conference basketball game, men’s or women’s. I see them exclusively if they are playing a team I follow in the first semester or in the NCAA Tournament/NIT.
Can you name all 12 football-playing schools (without looking it up)?
Let me try: Wyoming, SJSU, Hawaii, Boise State, San Diego State, Air Force, UNLV, New Mexico, Utah St, Colorado State, Fresno. I count 11. I missed somebody. (I missed Nevada, which is really stupid since I recalled UNLV).
Is there one sport where you think the conference is known for or excels in?
When I hear Mountain West, I think football. I assume it is the straw that stirs that drink in their respective athletic departments.
What do you think are the strengths of the conference and what do you perceive as the growth areas?
I think merely surviving and fielding competitive FBS teams is the strength of the conference. As well as the league’s geographic continuity. When compared with the geographic mishmash of the American Athletic Conference, the Mountain West feels like a real league with real rivalries and a genuine geographic setting.
What do you think the Mountain West needs to improve or change in order to be more competitive?
In terms of football, I think continuity is the conference’s strength. The longer the league can maintain this corps of teams in a league that actually makes some geographic sense, the stronger it will seem. In its early years, the Mountain West seemed on the verge of being regarded as a major conference. The losses of Utah and BYU certainly hurt the quest for national prominence but the Mountain West has proven itself to be a survivor. Whereas the American is a marriage of convenience—a reheating of the original Conference USA, the Mountain West is the real deal. And, as an outsider, I’m rooting for them.