Monday, July 21, 2008 | 4:13 p.m.
There's nowhere to go but up -- again -- for the UNLV football team.
The Rebels received 59 points in today's Mountain West Conference media poll, which would be great in golf. But in college football, it was only good enough for ninth place -- dead last -- in the annual preseason prediction of who is going to finish where.
Two-time defending champion BYU topped the poll with 299 points and 29 first-place votes. Rival Utah was the only other team to receive first-place votes -- it got five -- and finished second with 274 points.
Here's the poll, with first-place votes in parentheses and comments you won't find on the official transcripts from football media day at Green Valley Ranch Station:
1. BYU (29) 299 pts.
Las Vegas Bowl director Tina Kunzer Murphy says the bid's in the mail.
2. Utah (5) 274
The last time I heard I heard the Utes held in such high regard was when Joe Pesci defended them in "My Cousin Vinny." (Although I think he meant "youths.")
3. TCU 239
I've got a Frog on my throat and on my ballot.
4. New Mexico 197
I thought the New Mexico Bowl was something archaeologists unearthed on the Navajo Reservation.
5. Wyoming 156
There should be a Wyoming Bowl this year just in case the Cowboys get to seven wins. Or even if they don't.
6. Air Force 141
No respect for the option. But you better make sure you assign a man to the trailing back.
7. San Diego State 92
Too bad Marshall Faulk is 35 years old. And Don Coryell is 83.
8. Colorado State 73
It's a good thing Fat Tire beer is brewed there or people who live in Fort Collins wouldn't have anything to cheer about.
9. UNLV 59
Rebels without a clue -- I mean cause.
----- Wide receiver Ryan Wolfe was the only UNLV player selected to the preseason All-Mountain West football team although Randall Cunningham probably would have received an honorable mention had he not used up his eligibility in 1984. BYU quarterback Max Hall, TCU linebacker Jason Phillips, Utah punter/kicker Louie Sakoda and TCU defensive end Braylon Broughton were named the offensive, defensive, special teams and freshman of year, respectively. These awards basically are based on last year's stats and how well their school's sports information directors treat the media.
----- Every e-mail that goes out of Mountain West headquarters these days has a special logo celebrating the league's 10th year as a card-carrying conference followed by the warning -- er, advisory -- that "The Mtn. will be available on DirecTV channel 616 beginning August 27." It didn't say Aug. 27 of 2008, but I think that's really the case this time.
----- Speculation Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host next year's Indy Racing League season finale increased over the weekend as Fox Sports jumped on the bandwagon. Then Danica Patrick and Milka Duno, two of the IRL's three female drivers, got into a cat fight on the pit lane and the rumor sort of died.
The two biggest sports stories in Las Vegas today were a basketball practice (Team USA) and a football spit-and-whittle session (Mountain West media day).
I liked July better when you'd gather at the water cooler and talk about hitting the cutoff man and taking the extra base. And whether ol' Case had lost his marbles by pulling his starting pitcher in the ninth and putting that wet-behind-the-ears rookie into the game.
But I must confess this wool uniform I'm wearing is really hot and it kind of itches.