Coming off a Mountain West championship, returning a senior quarterback and 10 of their top 11 tacklers on defense, it’s no surprise that the Boise State Broncos were selected as the unanimous Mountain Division favorite Tuesday.
Boise State earned all 22 first-place votes in the preseason media poll at the Mountain West Football Summit, while Fresno State got 16 first-place votes as the West Division favorite. The Broncos have been favored to win their division or the conference every year since joining the Mountain West in 2011. That year was the last time the Broncos were a unanimous choice.
The Broncos also picked up two preseason awards — senior quarterback Brett Rypien is the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and sophomore Avery Williams is the Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year. They are the first Broncos to earn Mountain West preseason honors since 2012.
Six other Boise State players were named to the preseason all-conference team — running back Alexander Mattison, offensive linemen John Molchon and Ezra Cleveland, defensive linemen Curtis Weaver and David Moa, and cornerback Tyler Horton.
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Check out replays of our Facebook Live interviews with coach Bryan Harsin, Rypien and Horton live from Las Vegas at www.facebook.com/boisestatesports.
QUESTION MARKS? A FEW: Boise State returns a wealth of experience, with six starters on offense, nine on defense and all its specialists. But there’s still plenty to be answered. Harsin pointed at one group in particular.
“I think we have a lot of question marks, and things we have to answer,” Harsin said “... I don’t know who on our team at the tight position has that feel yet.”
Sophomore John Bates had three receptions last season, most among the returning players. Harsin also pondered how Idaho transfer Tony Lashley will fit in at linebacker, and who will step up at wide receiver. The Broncos signed five newcomers that joined this summer as they seek to replace Cedrick Wilson and his school-record 1,511 yards in 2017.
“Who is that go-to guy? I didn’t see it in spring … we didn’t walk out of spring saying ‘there’s our answer,’” Harsin said.
Harsin also noted that there are no major injuries at the moment. Fall camp starts Friday, Aug. 3.
BOISE STATE WILL RETAIN TV RIGHTS: Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said Tuesday that when the conference renegotiates its television rights package, Boise State will still have its home games sold separately.
The conference will begin to negotiate with networks this spring, as the current deal with ESPN and CBS Sports Network runs through the 2019-20 season. It paid the conference $13.9 million last year, of which Boise State got $2.9 million. As part of the Broncos’ membership, they were allowed to have ESPN hold rights for their home games.
“Contractually, we’re obligated to negotiate their football home games separately,” Thompson said. “... that does come into play, which could be an issue. Who knows? Let’s say Network X wants the Boise State games and Network Y wants the rest of the package. You probably have devalued a little bit if you separate the two out.”
Thompson also said the conference likely will continue agreements with the Arizona, Famous Idaho Potato, New Mexico and Hawaii bowls. The conference reportedly will lose the Las Vegas Bowl after 2019, but Thompson said he is hopeful that regardless of what happens, a second bowl game is added in the city. He also was optimistic a third bowl game will be created in the Phoenix area, joining the Fiesta and Cactus. He also noted there have been no serious discussions with BYU about returning to the conference, having left for independence in 2011.
MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON POLL, ALL-CONFERENCE
Boise State (22) 132
Colorado State 82
Utah State 78
Air Force 52
New Mexico 23
Fresno State (16) 126
San Diego State (6) 116
San Jose State (25)
PRESEASON ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
QB Brett Rypien - Boise State
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
S Andrew Wingard - Wyoming
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Avery Williams - Boise State
Brett Rypien - Boise State
Lexington Thomas - UNLV
Alexander Mattison - Boise State
KeeSean Johnson - Fresno State
McLane Mannix - Nevada
Dax Raymond - Utah State
Ezra Cleveland - Boise State
Tyler Roemer - San Diego State
Keith Ismael - San Diego State
John Molchon - Boise State
Aaron Jenkins - Utah State
Carl Granderson - Wyoming
Curtis Weaver - Boise State
Youhanna Ghaifan - Wyoming
David Moa - Boise State
Jeff Allison - Fresno State
Jahlani Tavai - Hawai’i
Malik Reed - Nevada
Andrew Wingard - Wyoming
Tariq Thompson - San Diego State
Tyler Horton - Boise State
Dameon Barber - Nevada
Dominik Eberle - Utah State
Ryan Stonehouse - Colorado State
Avery Williams - Boise State