The Mountain West Wire Staff Ranks The Mountain West’s Football Coaches
If you’ve wondered about who our writers consider the best football coach in the Mountain West, wonder no more.
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The conference has some quality coaches.
This year’s race to the top of the Mountain West seems more unpredictable than ever, and a significant part of it might come down to coaching. Who has the edge in that department?
Our writers put their heads together to answer this very question. Here are the results.
12. Brent Brennan, San Jose State
Someone had to finish at the bottom, though its probably no fault of Brennan’s own. The former Oregon State wide receivers coach is familiar with the challenges of winning in San Jose, and he has a track record of developing quality receivers (most notably Brandin Cooks), but it’ll probably take more than a year for the Spartans to get things together and become a contender.
11. Jay Norvell, Nevada
Norvell makes two straight selections who are making the jump from wide receiver coach to head coach. Perhaps helping to coordinate some powerful offenses at Oklahoma a few years ago made the difference here, but there was a lot of roster turnover in Reno this offseason and, as with Brennan, patience will be a virtue for Wolf Pack fans.
10. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State
The new Bulldogs head coach received a lukewarm reception from our staff. His previous experience at Cal can be considered a positive, and the moves he made in recruiting and building his coaching staff were generally well-received, but skepticism remains after having been out of the college game for most of the last five years.
9. Matt Wells, Utah State
2017 is likely to be a crucible for Wells after two straight losing seasons, though it’s worth noting that last year’s 3-9 record included an 0-4 mark in one-score games that’s not going to happen again. If regression to the mean is kind to Wells and the Aggies, a bowl berth should be enough to remove him from a warm seat.
8. Tony Sanchez, UNLV
This is probably the point at which some coaches began to get squeezed by the numbers, as the last couple years’ progress have been obscured first by inexperience and then by injuries. It may take another year for the Rebels to truly contend, but with a highly regarded quarterback, Armani Rogers, set to take over this fall and a young offense around him, Vegas is trending upwards.
7. Nick Rolovich, Hawaii
If we were to rank the Mountain West’s coaches by social media presence, Rolovich would be hard to beat. As it is, there may be a little bit of “prove it” left here after exceeding expectations in his first year at the helm. He unearthed a quality quarterback in Dru Brown and recruited the program’s best class (per 247 Sports) since 2013, though, so don’t blame Hawaii enthusiasts for their optimism.
6. Bob Davie, New Mexico
No one in our staff poll had a wider spread in their results than Davie, who received both a 2nd-place vote and a 10th-place vote (and pretty much everything in between) en route to the middle of the pack. Constructing the nation’s most powerful rushing attack and disrupting the Mountain division are huge points in his favor, but the Lobos defense will have to come around for New Mexico to remain competitive.
5. Mike Bobo, Colorado State
The results haven’t yet caught up to the potential in Fort Collins, and this year’s expectations for Bobo and the Rams are sky high. After recruiting top-two classes in 2016 and 2017 and finishing as the nation’s hottest team last fall, the name of the game is avoiding another slow start. He isn’t on the hot seat, but New Year’s Day bowl aspirations might make Bobo the man with the most pressure on him.
4. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
The Mountain West’s longest-tenured coach pulled the Falcons out of a midseason rut and, despite some questions about the significant turnover on this year’s starting defense, set themselves up to be a dark horse conference title contender yet again. With the dynamic Arion Worthman under center and a deep stable of efficient running backs, don’t sleep on Calhoun.
3. Craig Bohl, Wyoming
Besides our number one selection, Bohl was the only other coach to receive first-place votes from our staff. And why not? He brought a future first-round quarterback to Laramie, then rode a quality offense to Wyoming’s first Mountain division title. Despite losing some talent at the skill positions, the bend-don’t-break defense should benefit from better health and make up for those losses.
2. Bryan Harsin, Boise State
The margin between Bohl and Harsin was razor thin — the two were separated by just one point in our results — but there’s little doubt that Harsin has more pressure to deliver, at a minimum, a division title back to the blue. Even if the wins haven’t quite matched up to his predecessors, four of Boise State’s seven losses from 2015-16 were by one score and Harsin still has a talented defense one of the best quarterbacks in the Group of 5 leading his offense.
1. Rocky Long, San Diego State
Hard to argue with back-to-back conference titles, right? You know what you’re going to get from the Aztecs on both sides of the ball, and in the last couple of years it’s hardly mattered: Among other achievements, Long has constructed the Group of 5’s best defense and developed the FBS’s all-time leading rusher. As one of the few teams with New Year’s Day aspirations, this spot is well-deserved.