Monday, May 31, 2010

Mountain West Recap: 2005-2009

Two weeks ago we looked at the WAC, a league that has been dominated for the past 5 years by one team. Now we turn our attention to the Mountain West, a league that has been dominated by a mid-major triumvirate.

First off, here are the combined Mountain West standings from 2005-2009.As you can see, BYU, TCU, and Utah have dominated the league over the last half-decade. In fact, the only other team with a winning record in that span is Air Force. BYU is the only Mountain West school that has posted a winning conference record each season since 2005. Utah and TCU both suffered through 4-4 seasons, with Utah's coming in 2005 and TCU's in 2007. Outside of records posted by BYU, TCU, Utah, and Air Force, there have only been 3 other winning conference seasons. Colorado State went 5-3 in 2005, Wyoming went 5-3 in 2006, and New Mexico went 5-3 in 2007. Against all conference foes not named TCU and Utah, BYU is 29-1 since 2005. Against conference foes not named BYU and Utah, TCU is 28-2 since 2005. Against conference foes not named BYU and TCU, Utah is 23-7 since 2005. I'll do the math for you. Since 2005, BYU, TCU, and Utah are a combined 80-10 against the rest of the conference.

Now here is the standard deviation of each team's conference record (in wins). Teams are ranked from the most inconsistent to the least.Colorado State has been the league's most inconsistent team over the past 5 seasons. They finished the 2005 season with a 5-3 record, but immediately fell on hard times in 2006, dipping to 1-7. They stayed near the bottom in 2007, finishing 2-6, before rebounding to post a 4-4 record in 2008. They then plummeted to the bottom of the standings once again in 2009, finishing 0-8. This marks the lone winless league record since 2005. UNLV has been the league's most consistent team, winning just a single conference games for 3 straight seasons (2005-2007) before winning 2 in 2008 and 3 in 2009.

Now here is each team's point differential in conference play since 2005.BYU owns the league's best record, but TCU has been the most dominant team in the Mountain West over the past 5 seasons. The main reason BYU has the better record is thanks to their sterling record in close games. Both BYU and TCU have played 11 one-score league games since 2005. TCU owns a decent 6-5 record in those games, but BYU is 9-2 in such contests, having not lost a close game to a conference foe since 2005. On the other end of the spectrum are the Rebels from UNLV. As noted earlier, UNLV has lost the most conference games of any Mountain West team since 2005 (32). Even worse, more than 70% of their losses (23) have been by double-digits.

With this being the end of the decade, here's the tally of conference titles.I bet you forgot about Colorado State. The Rams won 2 titles, early in the decade (2000 and 2002), continuing their solid run from the mid-90's. In the 9-season span from 1994-2002, the Rams won or shared 6 conference titles in the WAC and Mountain West. However, since 2002, the league title has been won by either BYU, TCU, or Utah. Over the past 6 seasons, the Mountain West champion has emerged with an unblemished league record (Utah in 2004, TCU in 2005, BYU in 2006 and 2007, Utah in 2008, and TCU in 2009).

And finally, what was the biggest takeway from the 00 decade in the Mountain West?
I would have to say its the rise, at least at the top, to almost a BCS-caliber league. Case in point, in the past 6 seasons, at least one Mountain West conference team has finished in the top-20 of the final BCS standings. On 3 separate occasions (2004, 2008, and 2009) the league has placed a team in the final BCS top-10. And twice more (2008 and 2009), the league has placed 2 teams in the final BCS top-15.

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