July 22, 2013 Updated: July 23, 2013 at 9:29 am
LAS VEGAS - The Air Force football team finds itself in a familiar position, at least as it is viewed through eyes of others.
The Falcons were picked to finish third in the six-team Mountain Division as the Mountain West preseason media poll was released Monday at the Mountain West Football Media Day.
The Falcons were picked behind Boise State and Utah State and ahead of, in order, Wyoming, Colorado State and New Mexico.
Air Force placed no players among the conference's first-team preseason selections. Only Hawaii, UNLV and Wyoming failed to get at least one first-team pick.
News of the snubs didn't sit well with Falcons center Austin Hayes.
"It kind of ticks you off, but just where you want to go out and work harder," Hayes said. "It just fuels you and motivates you to do better."
The Falcons ought to be used to this. In the past seven seasons they have outperformed their preseason expectations four times and have failed to match the early poll on just one occasion.
Such a track record might have been used to give Air Force some benefit of the doubt, but that instead went to Utah State.
In the Aggies' first season in the Mountain West they must replace a star running back, their top receiver, their top defensive back and adjust to a new coach. All of this while stepping into a conference much more difficult than the WAC, which it won with an 11-2 record last season.
"It's just one of those things," Hayes said. "If you do well, you can say, 'Hey, looked where you picked us. What do you have to say now?'"
Media Day, held at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, included a full schedule for the players Monday. Coaches and commissioner Craig Thompson will talk with media Tuesday.