CFT predicts: the Mountain West

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One more year with Boise State and San Diego State and the Mountain West will look a lot like the WAC used to. Such is the life on the lower end of the totem pole of conference cannibalism (some of you may know it as realignment).

The Broncos failed to win a conference championship in 2011, but are the overwhelming favorites to end their brief stint in the MWC atop the standings.

Looking ahead to the 2012 season, here’s how I think the Mountain West shakes out:

(Let it be known that I reserve the right to change my mind at any time without notice.)

1. Boise State (last season: 12-1; won Las Vegas Bowl) 
Boise State only loses its greatest player in the history of the program in Kellen Moore. Oh, yeah, and the team returns practically nobody. No biggie, right? Thankfully for the Broncos, the Mountain West also loses TCU, the team’s biggest competitor for a conference title, and keeps coach Chris Petersen.

2.Nevada (last season: 7-6; lost Hawaii Bowl)  
The Wolf Pack only return 12 starters, and there are changes being made offensively, but I’m never one to doubt Chris Ault. Nevada’s defense has a lot to replace too.

3. Wyoming (last season: 8-5; lost New Mexico Bowl)
Dave Christensen is building a strong program at Wyoming and he has a solid quarterback returning in Brett Smith. There’s some questions on defense, but I like the Cowboys’ chances of making a run at a MWC title in 2012.

4. San Diego State (last season: 8-5; lost New Orleans Bowl) 
The Aztecs lose quarterback Ryan Lindley and stud running back Ronnie Hillman, but gain former USC receiver Brice Butler and Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz. Both are immediately eligible and should be able to compete right away.

5. Fresno State (last season: 4-9)
It’s going to be weird to watch Fresno State this season and not see Pat Hill on the sidelines. Hill was the face of that program, but former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter inherits a talented team with plenty of returning starters. Losing top receiver Jalen Saunders hurts, however.

6. Colorado State (last season: 3-9) 
Former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain takes over a Rams program trying to get back on track. He’ll have 18 starters from a year ago to help him out. The first half of the schedule doesn’t lend CSU many favors though.

7. Air Force (last season: 7-6; lost Military Bowl)
Air Force recently announced that five key contributors on both offense and defense had been removed from the team. That’s not counting running back Asher Clark, who was dismissed in the spring. In general, it’s been a crappy offseason for the Falcons. It’ll be a mediocre regular season too.

8. Hawaii (last season: 6-7) 
Norm Chow finally gets his chance to be a head coach (not counting BYU’s freshman team in 1975) after serving as a longtime assistant at various stops. However, his time at as an offensive coordinator at UCLA and Utah was forgettable. Will a new job in his home state rejuvenate the 66-year-old?

9. UNLV (last season: 2-10) 
For as good as the Mountain West has been at the top of the standings in recent years, the bottom of the conference has been dreadful. Coach Bobby Hauck was tremendously successful at Montana, but it just hasn’t translated at UNLV — yet. It also say something about the program when the marketing campaign leads off with “WE DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK!!!!

10. New Mexico (last season: 1-11) 
Boy, this is a program that’s fallen on hard times, eh? The worst thing New Mexico has done recently was hire Mike Locksley, which led to the best thing New Mexico has done recently: fire Mike Locksley. Bob Davie is an interesting choice to replace him, but he’s going to have little to no help this year.

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Interested in our other 10 conference projections along with Division 1-A (FBS) Independents? View ‘em all below by clicking the individual links or our projections landing page HERE. And don’t forget to check out CFT’s preseason Top 25.

Big East
Big Ten
Big 12
Conference USA
MAC
Pac-12
SEC
Sun Belt
WAC
Independents

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including Alabama-USC confirmed for 2020 opener and a book claiming Texas, boosters offered Nick Saban $100 million-plus to leave Crimson Tide

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The sports world, including college football, had essentially screeched to a halt in the spring as countries around the world battled the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there was a dearth of college football news as the sport went into a COVID-induced hibernation.  Slowly, though, the game is coming back to life.  Hopefully.

That being said, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 16, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football down-time, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Big 12 coordinator of officials clears up when ‘horns down’ is and is not a penalty
THE SYNOPSIS: Amen.  It’s about time someone looked out for the feelings of those associated with the University of Texas’ college football team.  [/wanking motion]

2018

THE HEADLINE: Lincoln Riley suggests there is a competition for QB that nobody should believe
THE SYNOPSIS: Kyler Murray was the presumptive front-runner.  And he won the starting job.  And the Heisman Trophy a few months later.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Les Miles’ daughter is trying to convince him to be a broadcaster but Mad Hatter still wants to coach
THE SYNOPSIS: In December of 2018, Miles was named as the head coach at Kansas. But not before building up his acting résumé, though.

2016

THE HEADLINE: THE Michael Jordan to serve as honorary captain for Michigan’s opener
THE SYNOPSIS: Since becoming part of the Air Jordan apparel family in 2015, U-M has finished third, third, fourth, tied for first and third in the Big Ten East.  And has stretched its losing streak to rival Ohio State to eight straight and 15 of the last 16.  The Jumpman logo on the uniforms does look cool, though.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Clemson K charged with coke possession ‘will miss some time’
THE SYNOPSIS: Courtesy of Clemson, the first cocaine kicker in the College Football Talk collective.  What a proud moment.  Both for that and the alliteration in this synopsis.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Alabama-USC set for 2016 opener in Arlington
THE SYNOPSIS: Yeah, not so much.

2014

THE HEADLINE: New book: Texas, boosters offered Nick Saban $100 million-plus to leave Tide
THE SYNOPSIS: Saban and his wife both very vociferously stated they weren’t leaving Tuscaloosa.  Saban’s high-powered agent, Jimmy Sexton, though, reportedly played point man in at least a couple of meetings with those connected to the Longhorns football program.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Butch Davis says he wants to coach again
THE SYNOPSIS: This pronouncement came two years after his NCAA-induced departure from North Carolina. And five years prior to his return to the coaching game at Florida International.

2010

THE HEADLINE: NCAA probe into UNC football program ‘sounding very serious’
THE SYNOPSIS: Speaking of Butch Davis

2019 finalist Chuba Hubbard, 2018 finalist Travis Etienne two of the 76 Doak Walker Award watch listers

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If you’re a starting running back at the FBS level, there’s a fairly good chance you are part of the Doak Walker Award watch list.

Monday, it was the Bednarik Award kicking off watch list season.  Tuesday, the Davey O’Brien Award joined in.  A day later, the Doak Walker Award joined the burgeoning list of honors releasing their preseason watch lists.

This award, given annually to the nation’s top running back, features a whopping 76 preseason candidates.  Included in that are 2019 finalist Chuba Hubbard of Oklahoma State and 2018 finalist Travis Etienne of Clemson.  Last year’s winner was Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.

Every FBS conference is represented on the list.  The Big Ten and Pac-12 lead the way with 10 apiece, followed by the ACC and SEC with nine each.  The other Power Five, the Big 12, landed five. Wih seven apiece, the Mountain West and Sun Belt led all Group of Five conferences.

Of the more than six dozen watch listers, 30 of them are seniors.  Another 28 are juniors while the other 18 are sophomores.

Below are all 76 running backs who make up this year’s Doak Walker Award preseason watch list.

Drake Anderson (So.), Northwestern
David Bailey (Jr.), Boston College
Max Borghi (Jr.), Washington State
Rakeem Boyd (Sr.), Arkansas
Gary Brightwell (Sr.), Arizona
Kennedy Brooks (Jr.), Oklahoma
Shamari Brooks (Sr.), Tulsa
Christopher Brown, Jr. (Jr.), Cal
Journey Brown (Jr.), Penn State
Spencer Brown (Sr.), UAB
Noah Cain (So.), Penn State
Jamale Carothers (Jr.), Navy
Stephen Carr (Sr.), USC
Michael Carter (Sr.), North Carolina
Andrew Clair (Jr.), Bowling Green
Elijah Collins (So.), Michigan State
James Cook (Jr.), Georgia
Jashaun Corbin (So.), Florida State
ReMahn Davis (So.), Temple
Travis Etienne (Sr.), Clemson
Demetric Felton (Sr.), UCLA
Alex Fontenot (Jr.), Colorado
Kenneth Gainwell (So.), Memphis
Tyler Goodson (So.), Iowa
Eric Gray (So.), Tennessee
Breece Hall (So.), Iowa State
Najee Harris (Sr.), Alabama
Javian Hawkins (So.), Louisville
Justin Henderson (Sr.), Louisiana Tech
Kylin Hill (Sr.), Mississippi State
George Holani (So.), Boise State
Chuba Hubbard (Jr.), Oklahoma State
Caleb Huntley (Sr.), Ball State
Mohamed Ibrahim (Jr.), Minnesota
Keaontay Ingram (Jr.), Texas
Deon Jackson (Sr.), Duke
Jermar Jefferson (Jr.), Oregon State
Josh Johnson (Sr.), ULM
Amare Jones (Jr.), Tulane
Lopini Katoa (Jr.), BYU
Wesley Kennedy III (Sr.), Georgia Southern
JD King (Sr.), Georgia Southern
Brenden Knox (Jr.), Marshall
Bryant Koback (Jr.), Toledo
Kobe Lewis (Jr.), Central Michigan
Vavae Malepeai (Sr.), USC
Kevin Marks (Jr.), Buffalo
Jordan Mason (Jr.), Georgia Tech
Kevin Mensah (Sr.), Connecticut
Dedrick Mills (Sr.), Nebraska
Elijah Mitchell (Sr.), Louisiana-Lafayette
Marcel Murray (Jr.), Arkansas State
Richard Newton (So.), Washington
Jaret Patterson (Jr.), Buffalo
Trey Ragas (Sr.), Louisiana-Lafayette
Miles Reed (Jr.), Hawaii
Ronnie Rivers (Sr.), Fresno State
Larry Rountree III (Sr.), Missouri
Mekhi Sargent (Sr.), Iowa
Stevie Scott III (Jr.), Indiana
B.J. Smith (Sr.), Troy
Isaiah Spiller (So.), Texas A&M
SaRodorick Thompson (So.), Texas Tech
Toa Taua (Jr.), Nevada
Corey Taylor II (Sr.), Tulsa
Xazavian Valladay (Jr.), Wyoming
CJ Verdell (Jr.), Oregon
Quardraiz Wadley (Sr.), UTEP
Gaej Walker (Sr.), Western Kentucky
Kenneth Walker III (So.), Wake Forest
Jaylen Warren (Sr.), Utah State
Nakia Watson (So.), Wisconsin
Zamir White (So.), Georgia
Charles Williams (Sr.), UNLV
Javonte Williams (Jr.), North Carolina
D.J. Williams (So.), Auburn

Multiple Power Five teams already expressing interest in Virginia transfer Ja’Quay Hubbard

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One erstwhile Virginia football player has already proven very popular in the transfer portal.

Late last week, Ja’Quay Hubbard was one of two Virginia football players to enter the NCAA transfer database.  Less than a week later, it’s being reported that multiple Power Five schools have already reached expressing interest in the offensive lineman.  Among those?  Florida, Iowa State, Michigan, Mississippi State, Pitt, Rutgers and West Virginia.

Reportedly.

Pitt is on Virginia’s 2020 schedule, it should be noted.  The Cavaliers are scheduled to play host to the Panthers on Nov. 21 of this year.

Hubbard will not be leaving the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, it should also be noted.  He will have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves to another FBS program.  That would leave him with three years of eligibility starting in 2021.

In mid-March, Bronco Mendenhall revealed that Hubbard had decided to leave the Virginia football team.  At the time, the head coach stated that the lineman would be on the move to an unspecified junior college.  Whether that will still be the case remains to be seen.

Hubbard was a three-star 2019 signee.  He played in two games as a true freshman, which allowed the lineman to take a redshirt.

RB Malik Miller not coming back to Auburn for 2020 season

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It appears Auburn will head into the 2020 football season, if there is one, with a little less backfield depth than expected.

According to al.com, Malik Miller won’t be returning to the Auburn football team for the upcoming campaign.  No specific reason for the running back’s impending departure from The Plains was given.

The website wrote that it’s “unclear if Miller plans to seek a grad transfer opportunity, and his name is not currently in the transfer portal.” If he does ultimately enter the NCAA transfer database?  Yep, you know the drill.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Miller was a three-star member of the Auburn football Class of 2016.  He was rated as the No. 15 player in the state of Alabama regardless of position.

All told, Miller appeared in 35 games the past four seasons for the Tigers.  The back ran for 314 yards and five touchdowns on 81 carries.  He also caught 20 passes for another 217 yards and a touchdown.

Auburn has seen a bit of attrition via the football transfer portal over the past couple of months, but nothing significant.