By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The Mountain West Conference held its Football Media Days event yesterday and today in Las Vegas, building excitement and anticipation for the coming season. Here are assorted notes and highlights:
♦ In a MW media preseason poll, the University of Hawaii was picked to finish fifth in the conference’s West Division. Nevada was tabbed as the favorite to win the division, followed (in order) by San Jose State, San Diego State, Fresno State, Hawaii and UNLV. Boise State, as usual, was picked to win the Mountain Division, followed by Wyoming, Air Force, Colorado State, Utah State and New Mexico.
♦ In an interview with ESPN Honolulu’s Josh Pacheco, UH head coach Todd Graham said he was not bothered by the Rainbow Warriors’ ranking in the media poll. “None of those things mean anything because it’s all just speculation. The great thing about it is, we get to play the games on the field. I’ve got a great belief in our football team and where we’re at. Our [team] leaders get it. They know they need to have the other 10 guys on the field to elevate every single day. I love the humility and closeness that we have … I won’t make any outlandish predictions or anything like that, but I’ll tell you this: We don’t need some poll to motivate us. We represent the great state of Hawaii. We represent our families, we represent our community and we represent our fan base. We’ll let our play on the field speak for itself.”
♦ Coach Graham on his goals for the UH program: “I came to Hawaii because I wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives and do for them what my coaches did for me. I [also] came here to win championships and to build a championship program and to transform this place in every way possible. I’ve got a great belief in our team, and I look forward to kicking it off on [Aug. 28] and start our quest to be champions.
♦ Three Rainbow Warriors were selected to the Preseason All-Mountain West Team. Linebacker Darius Muasau and cornerback Cortez Davis were named to the All-MW Defensive Team, while returner Calvin Turner was picked as a top Special Teams player. Muasau was the only underclassman selected among the 26 players named to the preseason team. Nevada QB Carson Strong was selected as the conference’s preseason “Offensive Player of the Year,” while defensive lineman Cade Hall was named preseason “Defensive Player of the Year.”
♦ This morning on “The Bobby Curran Show,” Hawaii’s Cortez Davis said he was excited about UH’s defense: “It’s been a process, but I think I’ve fallen in love with [our defensive scheme]. It fits me. The defensive coaches are putting us in positions so we can win. That helps us as a team when we have that mindset. Every player is in a position we’re comfortable in, and so we’re playing confident and dominant at the same time.”
♦ In a press conference, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said that while there is no league mandate for teams to be vaccinated, there will be consequences if COVID-19 prevents a team from playing. “The Mountain West does not plan to reschedule, postpone or cancel any games,” Thompson said. “If the game is scheduled to begin at 1 o’clock on Saturday and team X is not available to play, it will be determined a forfeit.”
♦ Thompson also discussed college football’s proposed 12-team playoff format. “Our [conference] football coaches are very excited about its potential. What it’ll mean is that a one- or two-loss Mountain West team has a very strong probability of being in the 12-team playoff because that would get them one of the six highest rated spots as a conference champion.”
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