Aztecs make most of bad division

Aztecs make most of bad division

Sarah Smith, Staff Photographer

by Ethan Bailey, Senior Staff Columnist

Way back in September, in The Daily Aztec’s football special issue, I predicted the Aztecs would win all of their home games and have a chance to compete for the Mountain West Championship.

On Saturday, part of that prediction came true. The Aztecs did indeed win all their home games but the stars weren’t perfectly aligned enough to have a chance at the conference title, as the University of Hawaii fell to the California State University, Fresno Bulldogs.

Sure, it’s disappointing for the team not to make an appearance in the championship, but head coach Rocky Long said after Saturday’s 38-7 drubbing of the California State University, San Jose Spartans his group of players is special.

“I’ve coached all over the place,” said Long. “And our players … If you just tell them the truth they react the proper way. If you try to blow smoke, they know you’re full of it … so we just tell them the truth.”

Well, I hope that truly is the case because I’m about to drop a truth-bomb up in this: The Mountain West Conference was a disaster this season.

The Mountain division was actually pretty respectable, with Boise State University and Colorado State University finishing with 10-2 overall records. To put things into perspective, Air Force Academy finished fourth in the Mountain Division with two more wins than the Aztecs. The Aztecs technically have the best record in the West division at 7-5.

Heck, before the Aztecs speared the Spartans on Saturday, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors had an outside chance to win the MW West division — with a 4-8 overall record.

Yeah, it was just that kind of year for the MW, especially in the West division. The University of Reno, Las Vegas finished a putrid 2-11 conference record while the Spartans weren’t too far ahead with a 3-9 record to end the season.

Let’s just say those schools won’t be hanging their schedules showing wins and losses on the fridge anytime soon.

It’s OK, though — true followers of Aztecs football likely already realize the MW isn’t exactly the Pac-12, and it’s important to take the MW for what it is: a mediocre football conference.

Regardless of that the Aztecs have guaranteed a ticket to a bowl game which is commendable. It’ll be the fifth straight bowl game appearance for the Aztecs — concrete proof SDSU is committed to putting a quality football team on the field to represent the school.

Long said after the game if the Aztecs didn’t have a shot at the championship, the practices leading up to the bowl game would be less intense. Long said he sees bowl games as a reward for having a good record at the end of the season.

So to the players: enjoy this upcoming bowl game. You played hard all season long and deserve to play in one more game, especially the graduating seniors.

No, the MW isn’t quite a power conference but that’s not the team’s fault. It played through the schedule it was given and missed a chance at the conference championship by one game, even though it was tied for the best record in the West division.

It was a good season and if the Aztecs get a bid to play at home in the Poinsettia Bowl, I’ll certainly be there.

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