The 2021 football season is officially over for the Mountain West. It ended with mixed results, as the Mountain West had the best bowl record finishing 5-1. However, two bowls were cancelled due to COVID issues within the Boise State and Hawaii programs. For the next three weeks, we are going to focus on major storylines from each team and the conference as a whole. This week, we focus on the good, bad, and ugly storylines that impacted the conference as a whole.
The Mountain West is the Top Group of Five Conference
The Mountain West has played second fiddle to the American for a long time. The Mountain West may have lost when it comes to the race for a spot in the New Year’s Six. but from top to bottom it was the better conference in 2021. Five 10-win teams and a ton of victories over Power 5 schools give the Mountain West the title of Best Group of Five Conference for 2021.
Other Teams Emerge
Utah State and Fresno State emerged from down season to become two of the most entertaining teams in the conference. Utah State was easily the biggest surprise, using a new coaching staff and the transfer portal to propel themselves to a conference championship. Fresno State has an excellent chance to be the favorites heading into 2022 as most of their best weapons return from an electric offense.
The Transfer Portal Wreaks Havoc on Mountain West Teams
Nevada players headed to Colorado State and San Jose State; Wyoming players headed to Utah State and Power 5 schools; Hawaii’s entire roster is basically gone. There are a number of Mountain West schools that fell prey to the transfer portal in a very big way with the above mentioned schools taking the biggest hits. The resiliency of those programs will be tested this fall.
Consistency Proves Difficult
Coming off a championship season, San Jose State failed to qualify for a bowl game in 2021. They were hampered by injuries and proved that they don’t have the depth to contend on a regular basis. New Mexico started the year strong but fell off a cliff. UNLV was the opposite; they started the year slow but finished strong. Next year will be about finding consistency if they want to contend with the heavyweights in the conference.
Jay Norvell Leaves Nevada in the Dust
What Norvell did to Nevada was cold, really cold. Norvell seems like a good football coach and a quality guy. Moving from one conference school to another is one thing (he got a significant raise), but gutting the Wolf Pack roster and having all of those guys follow him to Fort Collins was fairly unprecedented. I don’t think we have ever seen this quantity of players follow their coach to a new school. Say what you want, but I’m not a fan of this approach and hope this doesn’t become a trend.
That is it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” How do you feel about Mountain West football heading into the spring? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.