Let us recap what happened at media days for the non-AQ conferences, starting with the Mountain West.
Preseason favorite: No surprise here. TCU was picked to win its second straight MWC title in the poll of media members last week in Las Vegas. The Horned Frogs received all 31 first-place votes. After going 12-1 last season with an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, TCU returns seven starters on defense and nine on offense and should be a preseason top-10 team.
The rest: Here is the rest of the preseason order:
4. Air Force
6. San Diego State
7. Colorado State
9. New Mexico
Seen and heard: TCU coach Gary Patterson addressed the preseason ranking, saying he tries not to pay attention. “We understand we’ve got quite a nonconference schedule ahead of us. If you win those kinds of games, for us to start as high as we’ll start in the preseason rankings gives us the opportunity to reach the top of our pyramid. That’s what our goal is.”
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall on the BYU-Utah rivalry changing once the Utes go to the Pac-10: “There’s no way the rivalry can be quite the same.” Indeed. The game will most likely move to either September or October, rather than serving as the regular-season finale for both.
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said Boise St. will replace Utah in the conference schedule for 2011.
Speaking of Utah, coach Kyle Whittingham said his team won’t lose focus on the MWC even though this is its last season. “We obviously have change on the horizon, but we’ve got challenges ahead this fall that require all of our attention.”
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun on what it will take to crack TCU, BYU and Utah: “We’re to the point where we have it layered the way you’d like to have it at the Academy. You never stop developing. It’s during January and February. For our guys, it’s finding their own way.”
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen on building off last season: “We harp on consistency on a daily basis. We never look too far ahead. It’s a process of building this program. We’ve laid a really good foundation and now we’ve got to build on that.”
UNLV coach Bobby Hauck on top priorities: “The first priority has got to be improve on defense. Fundamental work. As we move through camp we’ll continue to educate our team on the intricacies of the game.”
New Mexico’s motto for this season: All in. Coach Mike Locksley said his team is buying into his program, and he is very optimistic about the 2010 season.
Top San Diego St. recruit J.J. Whittaker, a defensive back, tore his ACL and is out for the season.
Colorado St. ended the season on a nine-game losing streak, but coach Steve Fairchild has high hopes going into the year. "I'm dumb enough to think we can win a national championship," he said. The Rams are still undecided at quarterback, but a freshman will start for the first time in school history. The job will go to either Pete Thomas or Nico Ranieri.