LAS VEGAS, Nev. – From 2010-2013 the Mountain West Conference experienced several high-profile changes with realignment, institutions leaving and others joining.
Could that soon happen again?
With reports of Oklahoma and Texas joining the Southeastern Conference, could that set off another realignment wave involving several other conferences?
“Texas, Oklahoma, potentially, could be a tipping point,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said, per The Athletic at the MWC football media days in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Thompson was asked directly about how the news of Texas and Oklahoma could affect the Mountain West during a Q&A portion of his addressing the media about the upcoming season.
“I’m not a hypothetical guy,” he said. “I don’t even want to venture a guess because I don’t know the validity of the (Houston Chronicle) report. … My pocket has been buzzing. A couple of athletic directors and others called, asking ‘what does this mean?”
It could mean another shake-up.
TV contracts will also be a hot topic if the realignment talk continues.
The Mountain West is in the second year of a $270-million six-year deal with CBS and Fox that runs through 2025-26.
REED II: University of New Mexico senior defensive back Jerrick Reed II was named to the Preseason All-Conference Team by the league’s media. Reed is the first Lobo to receive the preseason honor since OL Aaron Jenkins in 2018.
Reed led the MWC in interceptions (4) last year when he was named first-team All-MWC as a safety. UNM had not a first-team All-MWC non-specialist selection since 2014.
Reed’s four interceptions last season put him at No. 5 in the nation in interceptions per game, and he added three pass breakups, a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery.
“Accolades like that and preseason polls are rated as the same thing,” he said while in Las Vegas for the MW media days. “I still have to go out there every Saturday and play. I just have to go out there every week and do what I gotta do. Me being a preseason pick doesn’t mean anything unless I go out there and make plays. It doesn’t mean anything unless we win games. At the end of the day, that’s our main goal: winning five, a fifth conference championship (in UNM history).”
Reed was the lone UNM player to make the preseason all-conference team. Nevada junior quarterback Carson Strong was named the preseason offensive player of the year, San Jose State senior defensive lineman Cade Hall the defensive player of the year and Utah State senior kickoff returner Savon Scarver the special teams player of the year.
LOBOS-BULLDOGS: Fresno State senior defensive lineman David Perales believes the Bulldogs will be a much different team this season, and UNM is playing a part in their work during the offseason. Perales said Fresno State has been focusing on how to finish after losing to the Lobos 49-39 in Las Vegas to close out the 2020 season.
UNM plays at Fresno State on Nov. 13.
“That game did leave a bad taste in our mouth, but at the same time it’s motivation,” Perales said. “This whole offseason training, it’s just about finishing. We were up in that game; we just couldn’t finish in the fourth quarter.”
For the Lobos, the win gave them momentum into their off-season, as it was their second straight victory in a 2-5 season.
“It showed us glimpses of what we can be,” said Kyle Stapley, UNM’s 25-year-old “super senior” (returning for his NCAA-allotted extra season of eligibility) center. “I still don’t think we even played as well as we could have in those games. But it did show us if you put enough plays together you can win games. It doesn’t matter who is running the offense or what we’re running. If you do what you’re supposed to, play the game the right way and at the end of the day you come out with the win.”
Reed said the wins gave UNM confidence and the belief it could win games. Its 17-16 victory over Wyoming in Las Vegas ended New Mexico’s 14-game losing streak.