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MW Media Day two: Coaches’ unity

The underlying camaraderie that drives the conference

MW commissioner Gloria Nevarez with the 12 conference coaches during media day, Las Vegas, NV, July 20, 2023
photo by: Vic Aquino

Day two at the Mountain West media days presented coaches in near lockstep on the path and progress of the conference.

With their own brotherhood apparent and transparent between each other, the battles they fight and support are many. From all that is football in terms of recruiting, retaining, training and competing, each realize more than ever the need to be an even better ambassador.

The coaches’ view on the state of the conference

“From our strategic planning committee meetings, where good ideas usually go to die, it wasn’t the case for our conference,” said Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl in his typical endearing fashion. “With all our partner schools, we looked across the top 10 conferences and concluded we’re at least sixth; regardless of any conference - all thanks to our great head coaches and players.”

MW commissioner Gloria Nevarez no doubt has a plan and though not fully known, its underpinnings are in motion with the coaches that run our conference.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got a great conference,” said Utah State head coach Blake Anderson. “We’ve played well across conference lines. We’ve held our own in big environments over the years and I believe in these head coaches, which is not something you normally see.”

The new CFP landscape expects to blur the lines, though it will take time until the big money and big resources with some schools can also be counteracted.

“Regardless, the gateway is there,” said Nevada head coach Ken Wilson. “We don’t talk about power five this or that; just that what we got ahead: USC, Idaho, Kansas coming up. We’ve got great tradition and we’re building it back up. In the end, the conference will be great.”

USU’s Anderson added, “With all the movement and all the attrition happening across the country, the Mountain West is still stable. With some new changes, we’re right where we need to be to move forward as a conference.”

“With the lay-of-the-land changing and with 12 good members and schools,” said Bohl. “We’re excited and on the forefront.”

Where content is king

A basic commodity to improve upon that helps the cause is pushing out content, which the Mountain West has already good at. Content makes the world go around and it’s a fundamental step to execute at a high level.

Whatever the public mindshare needs to be or go with regards to the conference will absolutely be determined by winning first, but all else around it is the narrative to also perpetuate the brand of the conference.

“I think we’re doing a really good job in terms of telling the stories of the players and the conference and getting out content,” said San Jose State head coach Brent Brennan. “We have to continue doing a good job with that in getting our stories out. It’s a must.”

Wilson adds,” “With Gloria and San Diego State still with us compared to the heavier turbulence hitting other conferences, we know we can push harder to do all those content-related things better and keep pushing our narrative out there and continue with success against other conferences on a national stage - we can do all that.”

When the CFP landscape shift is fully realized, the brand path is a slow, constant value build that needs to occur in parallel.

The coaches’ brotherhood

Brennan had jokingly mentioned at the start of his coaching career that he wished there was a college head coach manual.

Better than that was what was at his fingertips.

“Sometimes I’ll call Jeff (Tedford) and Brady (Hoke),” said Brennan. “Those guys have been amazing for me. I’d call Blake too and lots of the guys and ask for help, especially if you’re a new head coach or with something you’ve not gone through before.”

Cross checking the sentiment, it became clear that perhaps the value and unity of the Mountain West coaches is certainly a hidden plus that offers great benefits not only for the student-athletes, but to the media, public, donors and especially recruits.

“It certainly has,” said Bohl on the head coach camaraderie. “They’re all intelligent and very capable and we get along very well.”

“Yeah, we’re going to compete like heck, but I trust all these head coaches,” added Bohl. “You can go into other situations where you can cut the tension with a knife. Not here.”

Thursday morning breakfast among the coaches probably showed a butter knife at most. They genuinely look to enjoy themselves vs. what the press or public might like or prefer to see otherwise.

“We do reach out to help each other,” said San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke. “It’s certainly a great group of great coaches.”

Hoke added, “With Jeff (Fresno State), yes, we recruit against each other and it’s competitive and all, but it’s awesome what we have.”

There’s a sitcom in there somewhere. Perhaps an anti 30-for-30 episode, since this story would lack the drama.