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LAS VEGAS — Utah State football was overlooked by most everyone in 2021.
Betting lines and predictive metrics tabbed the Aggies as underdogs in the majority of their games, and doubt of Utah State’s validity from opposing fan bases and the media persisted, even after they clinched the Mountain Division of the conference.
How did Utah State respond? The team beat up a one-loss San Diego State team 46-13 to win the Mountain West Championship and then coasted to a victory over Oregon State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl. Surely, those wins were enough to eradicate any accusation of flukiness.
But any external vindication that came from last year’s achievements is fleeting.
The Aggies lost 45% of last season’s production but return 12 starters, had the majority of their coaching staff return, and added a bevy of transfers, but they’re being doubted once again.
In the preseason media rankings released on the first day of a two-day Mountain West media period, Utah State was picked to finish third in its division, behind Boise State and Air Force. And on Thursday, the media voted no Aggies players into its preseason All-Mountain West football team.
The Aggies’ most recognizable players, quarterback Logan Bonner and running back Calvin Tyler Jr., failed to make the cut. But the offensive player of the year and quarterback award went to Fresno State’s Jake Haener, who passed for over 4,000 yards last season; and the running back award went to Air Force’s Brad Roberts, who rushed for 1,300 yards last year.
But zero awards? Surely, there was a spot for the Mountain West championship game MVP Byron Vaughns and the brawny senior Hale Matu’apauka on the defensive line — or at least 2021 All-MWC honorable mention Alfred Edwards on the offensive line.
Instead, San Diego State, which lost 46% of last season’s production, filled in eight of the 25 spots; and San Jose State, which went 5-7 last year and lost 43% of its production, got three accolades on the team.
In reality, preseason rankings are all meaningless, an annual way for college football conferences to drum up attention. What does a handful of media members scattered across the west, from the Southern California metropolis to the greater Denver area really know what’s going on in Logan anyway?
But in a world where validation from your peers matter, so do baseless polls and awards.
“At this point they blatantly disrespect us,” Tyler tweeted Thursday. “What’s the vendetta?”
At this point they blatantly disrespect us. What’s the vendetta ?
— Calvin Tyler Jr ⁶𓅓 (@BlessedAthleteC) July 21, 2022
Vendetta or not, it’s not surprising for those who care about the Aggies. In a media day interview with 1280 The Zone Wednesday, head coach Blake Anderson predicted how the preseason awards would pan out.
“I doubt we get any,” Anderson …….