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2009 Talent Analysis Part V- The Conferences #7 The Non-BCSConferences

Some good football gets played in the Non-BCS Conferences and they are home to a handful of fringe type "spoiler" teams. I enjoy keeping an eye on these conferences and they do play some games during the season that are hidden gems. Not to mention having a good working knowledge of the upper level teams in these conferences is always the difference in winning or not winning your office bowl pool. There is some good talent and in some cases outstanding coaching to be found amongst these teams but the overall talent level is significantly behind all of the BCS Conferences. The Mountain West harbors the most talent of any of these conferences with an overall rating of 82.04 which is still almost 30 points behind the BCS bottom feeder Big East.

Mountain West at 82.04
The Mountain West is home to three teams that have a tendency to make some noise throughout the season and are absolutely prone to upsetting BCS Conference schools.
Utah at 57.8- The Utes have the most talent of ANY Non-BCS Conference school and has a couple of BCS Bowl victories to prove it. Urban Meyer really set the stage here and Kyle Whittingham has kept it going with great coaching and program health. You’ll be hard pressed to find a BCS Conference team that wants to mix it up with the Utes.
BYU at 64.2- Great coaching and program health continue to get the most out of the talent on hand. Lavelle Edwards built a very solid program here and even won a National Title in 1984. Bronco Mendenhall is currently at the helm and the Cougars continue to remain a factor on the fringe.
TCU at 57.8- In 1998 Dennis Franchione took over, hired Gary Patterson as his DC and lucked into a kid from Waco named LaDainian Tomlinson. Next thing you know TCU was a factor. Three years later Fran jumped ship when Tomlinson left and Gary Patterson stepped in as the Head Coach. The Frogs haven’t missed a beat since and continue to play at a high level.
Air Force at 111.2- Air Force utilizes highly intelligent players, to flawlessly execute an old school option offense to even the playing field. No one gets more from less than Air Force. Except Navy of course.

Conference USA at 82.10
Southern Miss at 57.2- By far the most talented team in CUSA the Golden Eagles will become a mainstay at the top of this conference under Larry Fedora. His spread offense was effective at Oklahoma State and will consistently dominate against CUSA foes.
Tulsa at 76.4- Utilizing a highly effective spread system the Golden Hurricanes have been pretty decent under Todd Graham. OC Gus Malzahn has moved on to Auburn but these guys will give Southern Miss a run for their CUSA money.

Sun Belt at 86.84
Troy at 74.4- By far the most talent in a conference riddled with "Who" teams you’ve probably never heard of. Troy picks up a lot of SEC scraps in recruiting and as a result has a pretty decent football team.

WAC at 91.13
Boise State at 72.2- The Broncos have truly outstanding program health and great coaching has continued under Chris Peterson. As a result they give Utah a run for their money for the title of non-BCS darling.
Fresno State at 74.4- Another fringe factor Pat Hill’s teams are well coached and do more with less.

MAC at 91.74
There it is, the MAC is officially the least talented of all D1 football conferences. Primarily home to kids that didn’t get picked up by Big 10 schools I think the MAC tends to suffer in the recruiting rankings for the same reason the Big 10 does. SPEED. Pure speed plays a significant factor in the ratings of individual players which directly translates into overall team recruiting rankings. Speed is a huge difference maker and the Midwest is short on it. I truly believe this is why both the Big 10 and MAC have struggled in bowl games the last few years. You have to go all the way back to the 2003-2004 season when the MAC went 2-0 to find either of these conferences with a winning record in bowl games. In the 2008-2009 season that just ended the Big 10 went 1-6 and the MAC went 0-5. With that there is nothing of note in recruiting for any of the MAC schools. They range from 74 to 103 in the rankings and there’s no rhyme or reason to how their conference standings shake out as a result.