LAS VEGAS — The unofficial kickoff of the Andy Avalos era at Boise State arrives Wednesday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas with his first appearance at Mountain West Media Days.
All 12 of the league's head coaches will speak with the media Wednesday to preview the 2021 season, while players from each team will appear on Thursday.
The Idaho Press will have a reporter on site to cover all the action.
Here are four things to watch as the action gets going Wednesday morning from Las Vegas:
Mountain West Media Days return after a one-year break due to COVID-19, but with a new format and a new — but familiar — location. After a few years at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Casino in Henderson, Nevada, the Mountain West is returning to The Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas strip. But instead of the previous Mountain Division/West Division two-day format, the league will instead have all 12 head coaches speak on Wednesday while two players from each of the 12 teams will meet with the media on Thursday. Avalos is scheduled to take questions on Wednesday afternoon, while wide receiver Khalil Shakir and defensive back Kekaula Kaniho will go on Thursday. Also new in 2021, the league will break up the preseason media poll into two announcements on two separate days. The predicted order of finish and division champions will be announced Wednesday morning, while the preseason all-conference team and awards will be revealed on Thursday. Boise State has been picked to win either its division or conference in each of the past 13 years — and that streak is likely to reach 14 on Wednesday.
CRAIG THOMPSON’S COMMISSIONER ADDRESS
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson — the only commissioner in the 23-year history of the league — will hold court with reporters for his annual ‘State of the Mountain West’ address Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. MDT. The press conference will be streamed on the Mountain West Network. Thompson has several issues to discuss, including the league’s plan for COVID-19 testing and protocols for football games this fall, as well as the proposed 12-team College Football Playoff. Thompson was one of four members of the College Football Playoff committee who researched and proposed to increase the playoff bracket from four teams to 12. New name, image and likeness rules also will be a topic of discussion.
MOUNTAIN WEST STORYLINES
Nevada quarterback Carson Strong is being mentioned as a possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He’ll be on hand in Las Vegas on Thursday to answer questions from the media. … San Jose State returns 18 starters from a group that surprised everyone by winning the Mountain West Championship a year ago. Quarterback Nick Starkel is back and will be in Vegas, along with potential preseason defensive player of the year Cade Hall. … Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay and Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers are considered the top two running backs in the Mountain West. Both will represent their schools on Thursday. … New Utah State coach Blake Anderson will make his first appearance at Mountain West Media Days. He arrives in Logan after eight years at Arkansas State. … Eight of the 12 coaches will be making their first trip to Mountain West Media Days with last year’s event being canceled due to COVID-19.
BLUE TURF SPORTS COVERAGE PLANS
Beat writer B.J. Rains will have wall-to-wall coverage from Las Vegas both in the print edition of the Idaho Press and online at BlueTurfSports.com. Avalos, Shakir and Kaniho will participate in live video interviews with Rains on the Idaho Press and Blue Turf Sports Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages. Commissioner Thompson also is scheduled for a live interview with the Idaho Press on Wednesday. BlueTurfSports.com will be updated throughout the day both Wednesday and Thursday with news, notes, videos, podcasts and more, while The Idaho Press will have multiple stories in the paper both Thursday and Friday recapping all the action. Make sure to follow @TheIdahoPress and @BlueTurfSports on Twitter and Facebook for live coverage from Las Vegas.