So easy, even a caveman ... er, columnist ... can pick ’em
THOSE guys at the Western Athletic Conference never learn, they keep asking me for my opinion. They probably shouldn't. The "idiot factor" -- I know less than Sgt. Schultz. Nonetheless, they asked again. So here it is, my preseason 2007 WAC Football Media Poll. Buckle up.
1) Boise State. I don't know if these guys have it in them -- with a quarterback and assorted other bodies to replace and coming off a fairy-tale season -- to do it all over again. Last year having Chris Petersen as a new coach was the perfect changeup to spur the players into an undefeated year. Now he isn't new anymore, now he isn't refreshing -- he's just the coach. This year we'll see how good he really is. It'll be tougher to maintain excellence than it is to achieve it, as it always is. All that said, that's exactly why Boise is Boise. That's what it does, is find a way to win every single week, even when it shouldn't (see Bowl, Fiesta). Until proven otherwise, the Broncos are the kings.
2) Hawaii. Our Dave Reardon says it best -- this is a team that has a chance to win all its games. That it certainly does. But there's a difference between that, and actually doing it every single week for an extended period, which is incredibly tough (see Boise, above). The offense will be overpowering, but with this schedule the 'Bows will have so many blowouts it could be a jarring adjustment when they actually end up in a close game.
3) Nevada. Is Caleb Spencer coming back for his ninth season? No? Then the best I can do is put the Wolf Pack in the top three. Still, the Pack are gritty customers, and Chris Ault has turned Nevada into a consistently decent program.
4) San Jose State. To be bowl-eligible in the WAC, all you have to do is beat all the bad teams and pull out one or two tough ones because your team wants it more. Dick Tomey can do that.
5) Fresno State. With the level of talent and the foundation here, you would have to think last season was just a blip. But the meltdown was so monumental, so complete, it's hard to get past it. Idaho scheduled these guys for homecoming.
6) New Mexico State. Best uniforms in the WAC. (What? You wanted me to talk about the lawsuit against the head coach that was just settled?)
7) Idaho. The Dennis Erickson thing was just devastating. But I have a feeling these players were so personally offended by it that they'll whip themselves into a fury and play over their heads all season. Yes, I know I have them finishing seventh.
8) Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs have a recent history of some good teams ... every five years. This is not one of those years. But this program has tremendous potential down the line if new coach Derek Dooley (Vince Dooley's kid) has the game to go with his famous name.
9) Utah State. Oh, good Lord.
10) Northern Colorado. No, the Bears are technically not actually in the WAC. But what the heck. Has anyone called to see if they're up for it?
Offensive player of the year: Colt Brennan, Hawaii. It's going to be insane.
Defensive player of the year: Ian Johnson, Boise State. Who is going to do more to keep the opposing offense from scoring than the guy who keeps them from even getting on the field? Plus, he'll have so many carries he'll wake up feeling like he played both ways.