NCF Nation: WAC 072609

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

The coaches and media selected Boise State to win the WAC this season. Nevada came in second and earned a first place vote by the coaches and three first place votes by the media. Fresno State and Louisiana Tech, which finished third last year, were selected third.

Earlier today, I posted my WAC poll. And although I originally left off San Jose State (I did leave a spot for them, but didn't type them in), the top of my poll and the media and coaches' polls are similar. I value Idaho a little more than Utah State, but more or less the bottom of the conference is the same.

2009 Coaches' Poll (first place votes in parentheses)

1. Boise State (8) 64
2. Nevada (1) 55
T3. LA Tech 45
T3. Fresno State 45
4. Hawaii 36
5. San Jose State 34
6. Utah State 21
7. New Mexico State 13
8. Idaho 11

2009 WAC Media Poll

1. Boise State (55) 519
2. Nevada (3) 444
3. Fresno State 365
4. Louisiana Tech 360
5. Hawaii 275
6. San Jose State 263
7. Utah State 170
8. Idaho 110
9. New Mexico State 104

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Colin Kaepernick, Nevada

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Kyle Wilson, Boise State

My WAC preseason poll

July, 29, 2009
7/29/09
9:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

With the WAC media days underway in Salt Lake City today that means the WAC preseason poll is coming out today. So I'm going to offer my preseason poll first.

I know this particular post is the favorite of the Boise State fan nation, but I hate to disappoint; I'm picking the Broncos first. Don't worry, you can still disagree with me in terms of the rest of my conference picks.

*UPDATE* I forgot San Jose State in my previous post. I've updated it and placed them fifth (I did leave a spot for them though. Just didn;t type the name). Also, the WAC doesn't select a special teams POY, so I moved Kyle Wilson to Defensive Player of the Year and eliminated the special teams award. I originally had Wilson as my defensive POY, but I didn't see another player that topped him in special teams and I didn't want to vote him for both. 

GRAHAM'S WAC PRESEASON POLL

1. Boise State
2. Nevada
3. Louisiana Tech
T-4. Fresno State
T-4. Hawaii
5. San Jose State
6. Idaho
7. Utah State
8. New Mexico State

CO-OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Kellen Moore, Boise State
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Kyle Wilson, Boise State

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

WAC media days begin today. Although I'm not there, I'll have updates throughout August from some of the teams around the conference.

While some consider media days the start of the season, the official start of the WAC season kicks off on Aug. 5 when Boise State, Fresno State and New Mexico State begin fall camp. The other teams in the conference will follow throughout the week.

I've listed the WAC's fall camp start dates below and also added some tidbits from the 2008 season just in case you needed a primer for 2009.

WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

• Boise State won the conference championship and completed an undefeated conference campaign for the fifth time in the past six seasons.

• Nevada had the No. 3 rushing offense in the country with 277.77 yards per game. Both running back Vai Taua and quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed for more than 1,000 yards. It's the second consecutive season that a Nevada running back has rushed for more than 1,000 yards.

• Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore was the WAC Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American.

• Both Idaho and New Mexico State underwent coaching changes. Former Utah defensive coordinator Gary Andersen takes over at Utah State and former UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker takes over at New Mexico State.

• Louisiana Tech finished with its first eight-win season since 1999.

• Fresno State won fewer than eight games for only the third time this decade.

• Hawaii finished its first single-digit win season since 2005.

• For the first time since 2005, the WAC finished with just one team with double-digit wins. However, it also was the first time since 2004 that the conference didn't have a team with one or fewer wins.

WAC CAMP START DATES

AUG. 5
Boise State
Fresno State
New Mexico State

AUG. 6
Hawaii
Nevada
Utah State

AUG. 8
Idaho
San Jose State

AUG. 9
Louisiana Tech

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

For months there has been speculation that Boise State was entertaining ideas about leaving the Western Athletic Conference and moving to the Mountain West. While neither Boise State nor the Mountain West have explicitly said that the move was going to happen, there have been signs that the two parties are growing closer.

Boise State helped the Mountain West by testifying and supporting the conference's playoff proposal while the WAC as a whole stayed out of the ordeal. During Mountain West media days last week, commissioner Craig Thompson said that his board of directors have been talking about the pros and cons of expansion, but didn't mention a specific team.

Still, it has become all too obvious to WAC commissioner Karl Benson that something might be up.

"It's distracting and disappointing at times, but I think that the interest shown by Boise State for the Mountain West has been done in a upfront manner and that is appreciated," Benson said. "It doesn't make it any less distracting or disappointing, but at least I think I know where some of my membership comes out when it comes to membership options."

Benson knows this scenario all too well. In 1998, eight teams broke off from the 16-team WAC and formed the Mountain West Conference. The defection caught the remaining WAC teams and its commissioner, Benson, off-guard. But Benson said with the media coverage and general talk about Boise State and the Mountain West, he's ready if one of his team decides to leave.

"I'm not losing sleep at night worrying or wondering if or when they'll do it," Benson said. "Just like the WAC analyzes whether a nine-team league is better than a 10-team league, I'm sure the Mountain West has done the same analysis. If and when they decide to add a 10th team, it doesn't necessarily mean that that team would come from the WAC.

"We do have to face the speculation, but I do appreciate that I know where my membership stands. Unlike what happened in the spring of '98."

The potential loss of Boise State isn't the only thing that Benson has found disappointing this offseason. Benson, like the commissioners from the other nonautomatic qualifying conferences, was uneasy about the Mountain West breaking off and challenging the BCS alone. Benson said that he thinks more could be accomplished if the conferences had stuck together. But Benson hopes that the WAC and Mountain West can work together during the next four years to instrument some sort of change that benefits the group, not just one conference.

"Had the group of five been together in some type of reform recommendation, we may have been able to see a change in the access structure in this next four-year cycle," Benson said. "But it didn't occur. Our presidents have gone on record acknowledging the Mountain West's attempt to change the system. Again, they're disappointed that they elected to do it on their own, but acknowledging that reform was needed. And now that the Mountain West's proposal has been dismissed, I could see our presidents working with Mountain West presidents to put forward some change for the future."

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