The Mountain West Conference had its annual media day in Las Vegas, Nevada, and according to their poll, the University of Hawaii Warriors will finish seventh. The Boise State Broncos are the favorites to win the conference title. This will be the Broncos second and last year in the Mountain West. The 10-team conference poll is chosen by 30 media personnel who cover league play (source - Mountain West Conference).
2012 is the Warriors first season in the league after 33 years in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and this season will also represent head coach Norm Chow's first year at the helm of Hawaii - Chow is a native Islander. Two other teams will also be joining the Mountain West from the WAC: Fresno State Bulldogs and the Nevada Wolf Pack. Nevada was selected as the second place team and Fresno State follows right behind them in third.
The Broncos garnered 27 of the 30 first place votes while the Bulldogs received two votes and San Diego State Aztecs had one first place vote. The Aztecs were picked fifth overall.
The Wyoming Cowboys, who were somewhat of a surprise last season, are slotted in at the fourth spot in the poll. The Falcons of the Air Force Academy were chosen sixth overall. Sitting in eighth behind the Warriors are the Colorado State Rams with the Rebels of UNLV picked ninth and the New Mexico Lobos holding up the rear in tenth.
Even though Boise State has several key players from last year who have graduated or moved on, they were a solid choice for the top spot. The Broncos will be leaving at the end of this season and joining the Big East Conference, as well as San Diego State.
Hawaii's predicted finish of seventh is more than likely based on a new coach, a new system and a lack of a bona-fide starter at quarterback. It's possible the Warriors may be somewhat overlooked, considering their solid defense, especially in the secondary. Plus, Hawaii will have several excellent players at the skill positions on offense.
The only player named to the preseason first team All-Mountain West for the Warriors is 6'3" 245 pound junior defensive end Paipai Falemalu.
Along with Hawaii, Fresno State and Colorado State have new head coaches as well. Tim DeRuyter is the Bulldog head coach and the Rams new coach is Jim McElwain. Last season, DeRuyter was the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, while McElwain was the national champion Alabama's offensive coordinator. Both schools have most of their starters returning so the talent may be there for both teams to do well.
Fall camp starts August 1st for the Warriors with their first game in Los Angeles against the nation's provisional #1 heading into 2012 season, the USC Trojans. Hawaii's first conference game will be at Aloha Stadium versus the Nevada Wolf Pack on September 22nd.
Sources - Mountain West Conference, University of Hawaii
Through thick and thin, Daryle has been a huge fan of college football as well as Hawaii, visiting there as a second home for over 40 years. Go 'Bows!