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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Mountain West Coaching Hires

Taking a look at which school hit the jackpot

Army v Navy Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

In this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” we are going to take a look at each coaching change in the Mountain West and how it impacts the future of that program. There is no doubt that some schools made splashy hires while others decided to keep it in the family. Let’s take a look at the Good, Bad, and Ugly coaching hires for the 2024 season.

The Good

Boise State (Andy Avalos→Spencer Danielson)

If I was grading this hire a month ago, I would have maybe had a different view. As a Boise State alum, I initially hoped that we would go the offensive route. Spencer Danielson is pressing all of the right buttons so far. The additions of Stacy Collins and Tyler Stockton should pay off immediately. But more importantly, Danielson was able to build the top recruiting class in the Mountain West, a feat that didn’t seem possible in November. The additions of Malachi Nelson and Cam Camper are huge on the offensive side of the ball. I do wonder if Danielson was a little too loyal when it came to some of the staff members he retained, but only time will tell.

New Mexico (Danny Gonzales→Bronco Mendenhall)

I love this hire! Mendenhall has a reputation for building winners and improving culture within programs. I didn’t think New Mexico would be able to persuade a coach like Mendenhall to take over a program that has been in shambles, but they did. I hope Lobo fans are patient with Mendenhall. It takes time to shift a program that has been a perennial loser, but Mendenhall and his staff will get this team back on track.

San Diego State (Brady Hoke→Sean Lewis)

San Diego State took the approach that Wyoming should have taken, they identified what the major weakness of their program is and found a coach that should be able to fix it quickly. Lewis is an excellent offensive coach and has the ability to recruit and develop the quarterback position. The passing game has been the glaring weakness of this program. I also like what Lewis has done as a recruiter. The Aztecs are going to be a bowl team this fall, and it wouldn’t shock me if they are in the hunt for the championship game.

Nevada (Ken Wilson→Jeff Choate)

With the way the last few seasons have gone, I think any coaching hire would have likely been considered an upgrade. We know how badly Choate wanted the Boise State job. He is going to have a major chip on his shoulder, and Nevada will benefit from his intensity. Choate is a fascinating hire. He gave up a great gig in Austin and took a pay cut to be the head coach at Nevada. I think he will do everything in his power to bring a winning program back to Reno. My biggest concern with this program isn’t the coach; it is their lack of investment in football. Will they be able to catch with teams like Boise State? I’m doubtful.

The Bad

San Jose State (Brent Brennan→Ken Niumatalolo)

This might be a little harsh. We know Ken Niumatalolo is a solid coach and a good human being, but there are major questions in how he can build a program without the triple option. San Jose State has the potential to be a consistent Group of Five program, but investing in NIL and the modern era of college football will determine where this program goes. I’m not sure Coach Niumatalolo is the man to take them to the next level.

The Ugly

Wyoming (Craig Bohl→Jay Sawvel)

Sawvel will likely continue operating the program the way his predecessor and mentor, Craig Bohl, did. This is great for a program that doesn’t mind mediocrity. I feel like this was the safe hire for the Cowboys. I would have liked to see them make an emphasis on the other side of the ball. Laramie isn’t an easy place to recruit to, and this program has struggled to land and keep skilled talent on the offensive side of the ball. An offensive-minded head coach could have gone a long way in helping this program take the next step.

Which team made the best hire? Which team made the worst hire? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.