|Posted July 11, 2008|
Football team that much closer to playing ball
RMAC's football media day features ThunderWolves, provides debut of conference's preseason football poll.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's annual football media day, held in Colorado Springs, the home site of the RMAC offices, always lacked a local angle for the visiting media to tackle.
Prior to 2008, the most "local" football program to the Colorado Springs area was Colorado School of Mines, hailing from Golden, just outside the Denver area. Beyond that, the Front Range-centric media had little to turn to.
That was until the CSU-Pueblo football program, and head coach John Wristen, rode into town to take part in this year's RMAC Football Media, held Friday at the northside Old Chicago restuarant in Colorado Springs. The ThunderWolves program held the unofficial title of the "hometown program" for the RMAC's media day.
Six media organizations from the Colorado Springs/Pueblo area, including three of the four local television stations, came out to cover the event, focusing chiefly on the ThunderWolves. One issue of contention to the media - why the heck were the ThunderWolves, a new program, picked to finish dead last in the RMAC's preseason football poll, also released at the event?
The incredulous reception of that fact made one thing clear - despite having a new program, expectations are high, even if the RMAC coaches don't share that belief. The RMAC preseason football poll and all-conference teams are chosen by the conference's head coaches.
"Last place is right where we're supposed to be," Wristen retorted. "We haven't done anything yet to warrant not being picked last."
"But these polls aren't important to us," he continued. "We need to focus on building a team and getting ready to play [for the season-opener against Oklahoma Panhandle State] September 6."
The rejection of the poll's prediction was a running theme of the media day event. As each RMAC school's head coach addressed the media, they were quick to take the route that preseason polls don't count in the final standings, including the heads of the two school's who got picks to finish first, Mesa State's Joe Ramunno and Chadron State's Bill O'Boyle.
"When I first got here four years ago, we were ranked number one and we were lucky to win four games that season," O'Boyle said. "We can't place that much importance on preseason polls."
With the politically-correct panning of the polls out of the way, Wristen and the RMAC coaches previewed their seasons, talking depth charts and returners. The ThunderWolves didn't have such things to talk about.
"I can't spend much time on our returners, because we don't have any," Wristen said. "But we're doing something that hasn't ever been done, and that's building a football program from the ground up in just 365 days. The only thing that's for sure is we'll be ready to play against Panhandle."
Notes: The ThunderWolves were the unanimous choice to finish last, according to the RMAC coaches, and were one of three schools in the conference to not get any entrants onto the preseason all-RMAC team. Wristen is one of three new coaches in the RMAC for 2008, along with New Mexico Highlands' Chad Roanhouse, and Adams State's Marty Heaton, who replaced Wayne McGinn, now the ThunderWolves' offensive coordinator.
The 2008 RMAC Football Preseason Coaches Poll is as follows:
|#||School (1st Pl. Votes)||Points||'07 RMAC Record||'07 Overall Record|
|1.||Chadron State (7)||12||8-0, 1.000||12-1, .923|
|2.||Mesa State (3)||16||7-1, .875||10-2, .833|
|3.||Nebraska-Kearney||28||5-3, .625||6-4, .600|
|4.||Colorado Mines||29||6-2, .750||7-5, .583|
|5.||Western New Mexico||48||4-4, .500||4-6, .400|
|6.||Adams State||53||2-6, .250||2-9, .182|
|7.||New Mexico Highlands||62||3-5, .375||4-6, .400|
|Western State||62||0-8, .000||1-10, .091|
|9.||Fort Lewis||65||1-7, .125||1-9, .100|
Chadron State quarterback Joe McLain is the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Chadron State linebacker Austin Bailey is the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Mesa State kicker Jared Keating is the Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year.
For the entire preseason all-conference team go to: http://www.rmacsports.org/sports/fball/2008/news/2008_rmac_fball_preseason_poll.pdf