Our position preview is behind us and now it is time to move on to the men in charge. There has been a lot of coaching turnover in the Mountain West the past few seasons, and many coaching staffs are still in “prove it” mode. This season will be huge for teams like Boise State, Colorado State, and Fresno State. Their coaching staffs need to show results, and all three teams should be improved this season. Let’s take a peek at each head coach in the Mountain West.
San Diego State
I wondered if the Aztecs were making a mistake by rehiring Brady Hoke. But it was easily the most logical hire, and it has proven to be a great hire. The Aztecs were the most consistent team in the conference last year, but a disappointing performance in the championship game has surely left a sour taste in their mouths. It will be interesting to see how this coaching staff bounces back.
The longest tenured coach in the Mountain West, Troy Calhoun, has built a consistent program that is still looking for their first conference championship. This year they are already getting buzz as the favorite to win. It will be interesting to see how the Falcons respond, as they are used to playing the underdog.
The Bulldogs may have lost Kalen DeBoer to the Washington Huskies, but it isn’t unreasonable to think that they made an upgrade with the return of Jeff Tedford. My one concern for the Bulldogs is whether or not Tedford can be the recruiter that DeBoer was. The Bulldogs should be one of the favorites in the West this year and will likely have the most exciting offense in the Mountain West.
Blake Anderson was a home-run hire for the Aggies, winning a Mountain West Championship in his first year. The mission for Anderson and his squad now will be proving whether or not they can be an annual contender. The Aggies should be in the hunt again this year, as they have one of the easiest schedules in the conference. But the Aggies and their fans will have the match-up with Boise State circled on their calendars, as they will be looking for some revenge.
I contemplated where to rank these last four teams, but decided to give each the benefit of the doubt for the time being. Andy Avalos is a Bronco through and through, and the team showed glimpses last season with narrow losses to Oklahoma State and UCF. They also showed offensive ineptness throughout the season. Avalos made several changes to thecoaching staff. Will it make a difference in the fall?
In the most shocking hire of the offseason, Colorado State managed to hire Jay Norvell away from Nevada. Rams fans are praising this hire and are excited to see what the Air Raid offense looks like in Fort Collins, but is Norvell’s ceiling being a good coach? Or can he be a great coach with more resources? I would argue that he underachieved last season; he needs to prove himself with a quick turnaround for the Rams.
I saw some Wyoming fans calling for Craig Bohl’s firing after a disappointing season last fall. I get the frustration; the Cowboys have had the same issues on the offensive side of the ball for the majority of his tenure. There is no denying that Bohl can improve, but he has built a consistent program in one of the toughest places to entice recruits.
San Jose State
Brent Brennan and the Spartans had a rough 2021 season after managing to capture the conference championship in 2020. Brennan’s team showed a lot of flaws that he will need to fix on both sides of the ball. The addition of Hawaii transfer quarterback Chevan Cordeiro should provide a major boost for the Spartans. Brennan loves this program and will do everything in his power to make them a contender again.
Nevada needed to hire a guy that would be loyal to the program and there are few people who fit that bill more than Ken Wilson. Before becoming the head coach, Ken Wilson had been an assistant in Reno for 19 seasons, but he is inheriting a really tough situation and a depleted roster. We won’t know if this was a good hire for at least a couple of seasons.
Similar to Nevada, Hawaii needed to hire a coach that would be loyal to the program and have strong ties to the state. Nobody fits that description more than former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang. I like the long term potential of this hire, but it is going to take time to fix this roster and improve recruiting.
Marcus Arroyo has proven himself as a recruiter, but the results on the field have been a massive letdown for a program that is looking to build on the excitement of a new stadium. The Rebels showed some progress late in the season, but progress only really counts if it results in wins. This is a huge season for Arroyo; I think they need to be close to bowl eligibility for him to keep his job,
When this job became open, Danny Gonzales was the first name that came to mind for most people that follow the Lobo program. Gonzales was a proven defensive coordinator and a New Mexico alum that seemed up to taking over a program that was in shambles. Honestly, I have not seen a lot of progress from this program the past two seasons. I don’t think Gonzales is quite on the hot seat, but that might change if New Mexico doesn’t win a few more games this season.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Who do you think is the best football coach in the Mountain West? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.