Howdy! This blog has remained silent for too long, and I am as much to blame as anyone. But this year is going to be different. It’s game week for every school in the Big Sky, and darnit, I’m excited as… as… well a person who has a very good reason to be very exited. I plan to do a weekly matchup and prediction blog on Wednesday’s, as well as a recap of the week’s events every Sunday, with my own ingenious insight added for good measure.
So to kick this party off, let’s talk about the one thing, the word of the year in the Big Sky: uncertainty.
The league lost some amazing talent this last year: two of the elite running backs in the Sky and all of FCS in Alex Henderson & Trevyn Smith. An accurate passer who decimated the Sky for four years, Matt Nichols. Gone are 5 of the top 6 receivers in terms of yards per game in the Sky, including Marc Mariani, Tim Toone & Tony Davis. Hell, even one of the best tights ends this decade in the Big Sky is now departed in Nathan Overbay.
It doesn’t end with players though, as there were a couple coaching changes in this past offseason. Bobby Hauck, after leading his Grizzlies to a national championship appearance, left to take the reigns at FBS UNLV. The Jerry Glanville experiment in Portland ended with a dismal 9-24 record in 3 seasons. Robin Pflugrad takes the reigns from Hauck after serving as wide receivers coach for UM last year, and Nigel Burton takes over for Glanville as he hopes to revamp the PSU offense (and uniforms, apparently).
So what, every year there are players graduating, and coaching carousels.Â So why male models?Â Well there is also this whole FBS conference re-alignment that is shaking up the college football landscape as we know it.Â Heard of it?Â Well the word around the… internet… is that the WAC, which is in a serious crisis right now, has possibly set its’ sights on a few Big Sky schools, namely UM, PSU, Sac & a distant MSU.Â Everyone seems to love talking about how their team would compete, what they would need for a move up, etc etc.Â But if even just two teams leave the Sky, it creates a gap in scheduling for the remaining members and the future of the conference would be in jeopardy, and would likely go shopping for another west team or two, and there isn’t a lot of options out this way (Southern Utah anyone).Â But enough of that, that is a topic worthy of a full-fledged post in the near future.Â In the meantime, you can read an article by Mark Vinson of the Helena Independent Record if you need a move up discussion fix like STAT.
But just as there is uncertainty, there is clarity.Â True, some of the great offensive weapons have graduated and moved on to bigger and better things.Â But defensively, the Sky is brimming with stars returning for another crack at opposing offenses.Â Aside from a few standouts now in the NFL in some capacity (Dane Fletcher, Schann Shillinger (sorry if I missed anyone)), much of the defensive specialists are back, including 3 Buck Buchanon award nominees: J.C. Sherritt, Trumaine Johnson, & Christian Clark.Â Returning a solid group of defenders will certainly help ease the replacement of some of the offensive firepower.
It should be a very interesting year in the Big Sky, and many of these pressing questions will be answered in just a few short weeks.Â Until then, nobody is certain.
I also apologize for the formatting, it is being very stubborn.