Reading Between The Lines: Interpreting MWC Media Day
By Ken Pomponio
Another Mountain West Conference media days shindig has run its course, wrapping up Tuesday amid the surplus of stimuli in sun-splashed Las Vegas.
And what did we really learn from the 15th-annual gathering of coaches, players, officials and notepad- and camera-toting media folk?
Glad you asked.
In the first half of Football.com’s two-part MWC media days review, we offered 10 takeaways from the two-day affair. Now, in Part II, we’re reading between the lines, cutting through the coach- and player-speak to decipher some of the event’s more notable quotes.
So let’s have a little fun. The first element, in quotes, is from MWC communications reports or other media as noted, followed by my italicized interpretation.
Here goes . . .
• “I didn’t want to tell anybody because I didn’t want it to distract our team. It hurt to sneeze, let alone play football.”
– Fresno State quarterback and 2012 MWC Offensive Player of the year Derek Carr on playing last season with a painful abdominal tear suffered during fall camp. Carr still threw for a conference-record 4,104 yards and 37 touchdowns as the Bulldogs averaged a MWC-high 37.9 points per game en route to a share of the conference’s regular-season crown.
“Buckle your defensive chinstraps. Now that I can throw without feeling like my midsection is coming apart, I’m shooting for 5,000 yards and 50 TDs this year, and we’re going to hang half-a-hundred points a game on people.”
• “It pisses me off. I’m pretty sure it pisses everyone on the team off.”
– Nevada defensive tackle Jordan Hanson, reacting in the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal to the media’s prediction of a fourth-place West Division finish for the Wolf Pack.
“It pisses me off, but I’ll be Kanye-goin’-off-on-paparazzi pissed if we allow 34 points a game again this year and prove you guys right.
• “For the first time, I feel comfortable with our team. I like where we’re at.”
– UNLV coach Bobby Hauck told the Las Vegas Sun. Hauck enters 2013 on the hottest of hot seats after winning exactly two games in each of his first three seasons with the Rebels, but figures to have his best team at UNLV with a league-most 19 returning starters and a manageable schedule.
“Man, if we can’t make a serious run at .500 this year, I give up. I’ll resign before the axe falls and look at opening up a wedding chapel here or something.”
• “(We have) questions across the board. I think we’re really excited because there are so many unknowns.”
– Boise State coach Chris Petersen, responding to Idaho Statesman reporter’s question asking where his Mountain Division-favored Broncos stand entering fall camp. BSU, by the way, owns the best record (117-14) in the FBS during the last decade.
“We’re the team to beat again, and everybody here knows it. Say, were you meaning to talk to (Colorado State) Coach (Jim) McElwain or (New Mexico) Coach (Bob) Davie?”
• “Now you pick one true winner, and it’s over with. You never deal with it again. I know a lot of our guys were like, ‘Oh, a tie, all right.’ It’s kind of like we didn’t win. Are we going to chop that trophy up?”
– San Diego State defensive back Nat Berhe, on the expanded MWC adding a championship game this season, a year after the Aztecs, Boise State and Fresno State shared the 2012 regular-season conference title.
“Naw, we didn’t have a championship game in 2012, but we did beat Boise in Boise, and 20 years from now, I’ll be telling anyone who will listen that we were the undefeated and undisputed 2012 Mountain West champions.”
• “I think it comes at a good time coming off last season’s finish and a Top-25 national ranking. That was exciting, but our players know that one season doesn’t mean you’ve arrived.”
– First-year San Jose State coach Ron Caragher on his program joining the MWC coming off an 11-2 season in the WAC a year ago. The Spartans will have a school-record six nationally-televised games this season.
“You know, I’ve checked our schedule several times and I don’t see Idaho, UTSA or New Mexico State anywhere on there. I’ve been in the FCS the last few seasons, so what conference did you say we’re in now?”
• “I want to be the difference-maker. I want to be there for the change. All the seniors say they want to be there for the change and get it going in the right direction. That’s just what we need to do.”
– Colorado State linebacker Shaquil Barrett told the Loveland (Colo.) Reporter-Herald, explaining the Rams’ senior-class hopes of making it to the program’s first bowl since 2008.
“This is it for me, and, hey, after all these practices, summers of two-a-days and dollar-store-butterknife-dull position meetings, I’m telling you Albuquerque will be Pasadena as far as I’m concerned if we can somehow, some way just sneak into the damn New Mexico Bowl.”
• “I wouldn’t be surprised if pressure builds, and the public will clamor. It’s going to be four (teams) for a number of years, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all, if, before the 12-year contract expires that it is rewritten.”
– MWC commissioner Craig Thompson, on whether he believes the College Football Playoff system, set to take effect next season, will expand.
“Pressure will build, and we plan on doing some big-time clamoring ourselves. But even if it expands to 32 teams, we all know they’ll still find a way to screw us over.”
• “I can see three of our teams winning our division realistically. Not to disparage UNLV or Hawaii, but based on a year ago, they’ve still got a ways to go.”
– Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter, sharing his West Division outlook.
We close with a rare breath of unfiltered honesty.