Updated: July 22, 2009 at 12:00 am
LAS VEGAS — The bottom three teams in the preseason Mountain West Conference media poll released Tuesday were New Mexico, San Diego State and Wyoming.
Not coincidentally, those are the three teams in the league with new coaches.
But while the programs have rebuilding to do, they should benefit from the element of surprise — especially in the first few weeks of the season.
“It definitely creates some problems, at least early in the year, when there’s not a lot of video out there of what you’re doing,” first-year New Mexico coach Mike Locksley said.
This affects Air Force more than the rest of the league. The Falcons face New Mexico and San Diego State in their third and fourth games of the season, respectively. The only other MWC team to face one of the three teams with a new coach in the first five weeks is UNLV, which plays at Wyoming in the fourth week.
AFA, which begins game-planning for its first few opponents in the summer, also faces a Minnesota team with new offensive and defensive coordinators in the second week.
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said he tries to look at lineage. With New Mexico, for example, Locksley was the offensive coordinator at Illinois the previous four years, and his defensive coordinator, Doug Mallory, spent four years at LSU. So Air Force coaches have been studying tape of Illini offense and Tiger defense.
“It’s been a challenge,” Calhoun said. “Just trying to dig out tape and just trying to find out is this really what we think they’ll do.”
Falcons picked to finish 4th
Air Force’s respect level in the Mountain West Conference appears to be growing.
The Falcons were picked to finish fourth, behind TCU, BYU and Utah, respectively, in the preseason media poll released Tuesday. It marks the first time in coach Troy Calhoun’s three seasons that Air Force has been placed in the top half of the league.
Two Air Force players were selected to the preseason all-conference team — senior guard Nick Charles and senior strong safety Chris Thomas.
Jefferson on track
Calhoun said sophomore quarterback Tim Jefferson should be with the team when practice starts Aug. 3.
The 2008 MWC Freshman of the Year missed most of spring practice to concentrate on academics and is taking his second class of the summer. Calhoun said Jefferson is on schedule, “but there’s still work to be done.”
Football team has avoided outbreak of swine flu
Calhoun said that as of Saturday, none of Air Force’s incoming freshman football players has been quarantined because of the swine flu outbreak at the academy.
Air Force to face Army at Yankee Stadium
An official announcement is expected today that Air Force will play Army at the new Yankee Stadium in 2012.
The Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., first reported the story.
Thompson gets extension
The MWC Board of Directors announced that commissioner Craig Thompson has agreed to a contract extension through June 30, 2012. Thompson has been the league’s commissioner since its inception.